STARBURST: Who are the team behind The Imperium? Who are Biblical Comix?
Tzvi Lebetkin: Well, Biblical Comix is basically me, Tzvi Lebetkin - and it’s the studio I set up to publish my first solo book, Biblical. Thankfully Biblical has been reasonably successful and we managed to stay in publication with it, and we’re now working on issue 6, which completes the first story arc. So, we were in the position where we wanted to do more work, and increase our profile, so I roped in my old friend, Stefano Cardoselli, to do this Ice Warriors idea - which is essentially a series of one-page strips and tries to continue the tradition of the Dalek strips from the ‘60s, albeit quite a bit darker and more visceral.
What have you done before?
Stefano and I have been working together for years, off and on. Most notably in Heavy Metal, and we did quite a well-received sci-fi/sword and samurai mini-series called Bashido.
Why Ice Warriors?
Because the Ice Warriors are AWESOME! Lumbering reptilian giants, in bio-mechanical armour, and they have such a layered society - so they were just great fodder for fantastic storytelling.
What is The Imperium?
The Imperium is our attempt to tell bigger stories to the same Ice Warriors audience we’ve built up. Essentially it takes all that’s great about classic British tele-fantasy, and boils it down into one great stonking storytelling box of delights. It came about because I really wanted to do a super strip where I took all of my childhood heroes and have them play together. Now, of course, this couldn’t happen - because I don’t own James Bond or Doctor Who or Emma Peel. Then I had this lightbulb moment when I realised that if I unashamedly used these cultural icons as the starting point for the characters, and everything I loved about them, and developed new characters from there, we could be on to a bit of a winner. Much in the same way as Alan Moore did with Watchmen, as he wanted to use the Charlton superheroes but they became unavailable. And that really worked out for the best, because the characters in Watchmen are so much more layered and interesting because of it - but still maintain the essence of the characters they were spawned from. So, if we can do the same things here, and add little believable quirks that define personalities, again like in Watchmen or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - I mean, don’t we all love Rorschach eating cold beans out of a can with his mask pulled up over his nose, for example - to our beloved iconic characters, then that would just be one, extended fangasm of a read. Of course, we need to tell real stories about real people for it to work as well. It’s just these real people have been ripped from our childhood memories.
Is British tele-fantasy trapped in the ‘60s?
Oh, Heaven forfend. In fact, I’d say British tele-fantasy is going through a bit of a golden age right now. The Imperium is much more based on my love of British tele-fantasy of the ‘60s, and I think that love was spawned from watching it in the ‘70s as a child. I did have an interesting idea for a storyline, where our hero travels in time to the present day and they have to deal with the revamped and rebooted versions of themselves. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see how Sean Connery’s and Daniel Craig’s James Bond would interact together? I’d pay to see that.
Why has Spy-Fi endured so long?
How wouldn’t it? It’s just so cool! Done well, it’s a rollercoaster ride of action and adventure and sexiness and just extraordinary super cool people doing extraordinary super cool things. That never gets old. I saw the new Mission: Impossible flick the other day and just loved it. It delivers on all those things, and does it well.
How has The Avengers, James Bond and Doctor Who survived so long?
Have they all survived? The Avengers movie from the 1990s didn’t spawn the franchise that I think it was hoped it would. But Bond and Doctor Who have, despite fallow years where both franchises seemed dead. I’d say because when they get it right they take the essence of what makes those things work, and then reinterprets them for the current age, making it always seem contemporary, yet without betraying what the core DNA of what they are.
Why have a monkey in a spacesuit?
Well, why not? Who doesn’t want to see a monkey in a spacesuit? It does seem to gel very much with the 1960s vibe we’re going for - of burgeoning science and space exploration, and the unbowed optimism that came with such youthful naivety. Plus it gives us a character that can eat its own poop and yet still remained dignified - which to my mind is worth the price of admission in and of itself.
Because comics are a fantastic storytelling medium - and I can do them! I’d REALLY love to do this as a, like a three-episode British TV series, but at the same time I’d like to see it too. So by doing a comic, I can have something in my hand in a relatively short space of time that I don’t have to jump through a gazillion hoops and sit through countless committee meetings to get to.
Well, it’s the business model of the age isn’t it? And what’s great about crowdfunding is it makes things SO much more attainable for so many more people. You can bring a concept to market by connecting directly to your market.
How can we help?
Well, firstly buy it. Head over to igg.me/at/Imperium right now and show us your love. But we’re offering more than just selling you a comic book. We want to take you on a journey with us. We want you to come with us and see the pilot being made, and then be with us as we try and get a series commissioned from it. Think of it as a super cool reality show, which comes with a free comic!
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