Mile’s Greb’s first, highly successful comic on Kickstarter, After the Gold Rush, took a look at humanity’s future and its relation to science and skepticism. Greb’s next project, Clovis, currently on Kickstarter, turns its eyes to the past and what life was like for the very first people in North America.
AiPT! spoke to Greb as the Clovis Kickstarter winds down to find out what we can expect to see in this travel across the land before time.
AiPT!: Clovis is your first project since After the Gold Rush. What made you decide to try something new right now?
Greb: As a writer, I’m always way ahead of the art team, so I’m writing a bunch of different stuff. I have several issues of After the Gold Rush written. I’m pretty much acting as the producer on those while they finish them up. So, you know, I have a bunch of time to sit and make up stories.
I’ve really always liked the Pleistocene [epoch]; I don’t think it’s visited very much. You get those Frank Frazetta kind of sabre-toothed-cat-scurrying-around thing sometimes, but there’s not really a scientifically accurate look at the Pleistocene … and I thought it would be really cool to do that. The Clovis people never really get any mention. They are one of the earliest, perhaps the earliest, if not — it’s somewhat controversial in paleontology — but they were the earliest people in North America, and I thought it would be cool to do a story that highlighted them.
AiPT!: You’ve got another female protagonist in this one. Is that a conscious decision, or does that just kind of fit where the story’s going?
Greb: I don’t think it matters. You’ve got a 50 per cent chance, and there’s two — is that a trend? I don’t really care to advertise the ethnicity, sex or gender, or sexuality, of my characters. It is what it is with them. All those things matter to us culturally, but they don’t really matter actually. So I try not to write them as if that matters.
AiPT!: It sounds like Mea is going on something of a literal hero’s journey in Clovis. Tell us about that.
Greb: The story starts when she buries the historic person Anzick, who is the Clovis child we found with a bunch of artifacts. He’s probably the biggest find we have that tells us about the Clovis people, so it starts with her burying him, and then she sees a dark plume of smoke in the background, thinking it’s a sign that’s she’s never seen before … she begins following it across the wilderness. She ends up meeting a giant sloth that she dubs NoBear, and it’s mostly a journey of them across the wilderness, so you get to see a lot of really beautiful shots … and all the awesome makeup on Mea.
AiPT!: So this is grounded in reality, a little beyond the obvious, in that you’re sort of using a specific paleontological discovery in the premise of the story.
Greb: Yeah, we start directly at the Anzick site, and all the artifacts shown there on page one are the exact artifacts found there at the Anzick site, and that’s where we begin. We don’t know much about the Clovis culture, so I won’t be creating it from my imagination too much. Our protagonist will have her own activities and creations and style of talking, but she is by herself, so she’s not necessarily representative of whatever actual Clovis culture would be. So you’ll have to read to find out how that will be represented.
AiPT!: What other kinds of things is she going to be seeing along her journey?
Greb: There’s of course the Megatherium, the giant sloth, which are awesome. But there’s all kinds of things, like there were horses and camels in North America at the time. Of course woolly mammoths, sabre-toothed cat, there were giant condors back then … you can see some of those in the art. We’re being very scientifically accurate with all the fauna that is displayed, nothing that wasn’t in the region. You can see the giant beavers at the time, which were about 2.2 meters tall, so they’re really cool. There were tapirs in North America and glyptothereium, which were these large, armadillo-looking mammals. Pretty fucking cool. We have a poster on the Kickstarter which has all the megafauna displayed … so you can check that out.
AiPT!: Are there any supporting characters for Mea, or is she just kind of going it alone here?
Greb: It’s mostly her and NoBear.
AiPT!: Tell us about the art team on Clovis. How did you hook up with them, and what do they bring to the table?
Greb: Zak Hartong is the artist, and he’ll be doing the whole book. I met him on Twitter; he followed me a while ago, I liked a bunch of his stuff … so we got to talking. And I just felt that he had the right color palette and style to draw the story. He’s very good at natural tones, and of course you need that, so I really wanted to work with Zak. I also have — the cover art is by Naomi Franquiz … and I saw her do some watercolors, and I thought it would be really cool to have a watercolor cover, because you don’t see that in modern comics, pretty much at all. Jeffrey Veregge, who is a popular Native American artist who works in typical Native American style, he did an alternate cover for us, which is a dream sequence ….
AiPT!: This is full-sized graphic novel, not just single issues like After the Gold Rush has been. Why the change there?
Greb: It’s a smaller story, I don’t need as many pages to tell it as After the Gold Rush, so it’s easier to make it one complete graphic novel. That’s what I thought we should do. There’s the question of the danger of being hard to approach it, so working hard to get that budget met on Kickstarter, but I thought that was the best format for it.
AiPT!: What other material is included? There’s something else other than the main story, right?
Greb: If you remember Zoobooks, we have a Zoobooks-inspired section in the back, which is going to be 20 pages … and it’ll be infographic and scientific information on all the megafauna of the era, full of illustrations of all the different animals and the backdrops, and flora as well. And we’ll talk about what we know about them, what we don’t know about them — their sizes, their behaviors — and there’s a bunch of cool art detail in that. So if you remember Zoobooks, we do our best to approximate a megafauna Zoobooks.
AiPT!: What can we expect from After the Gold Rush? You said the second issue is coming out soon?
Greb: It’s coming out soon, and then we’ll start working on #3. I already have it written, and the cover’s done, actually. I’ll be showing that off on the last couple days here of [the Clovis Kickstarter]. So stay tuned for that. Isaac [La Russa]’s drawing it and everything, and it’s being lettered by Jamie [Me] at this very moment, so you can expect to get a whole bunch of new characters. It’s not just Scout; I just wanted to start with her because we’re all very fond of Scout. But there’s so many new characters being introduced, and you can expect issue three soon.
Clovis is on Kickstarter until Thursday, September 1, where you can get digital and physical copies of the book, posters and more.