“Prohibition is the perfect backdrop, it’s such fertile ground for stories” we talk to Andrew Maxwell about the new issues of Rum Row now funding on Kickstarter

Set in a world of bootleggers, gangsters and airborne speakeasies, Andrew Maxwell’s Rum Row is back and funding a new issue on Kickstarter. With a new artist and a new adventures for his heroes in the offing we get the lowdown on the new run.

Rum Row is now funding issue #3 on Kickstarter – for new readers to the series can you tell us a bit about the concept and where the inspiration for the series came from?

Andrew Maxwell: Sure thing. Rum Row is a prohibition themed dieselpunk adventure. To avoid dry laws, rum runners and patrons alike take to the skies of New York City in giant dirigible speakeasies. Aerial dog fights, battling sky gangs, cops and robbers. Adventures ensue!

The premise itself is based on actual historic events surprisingly. During prohibition, bootleggers anchored their ships outside the maritime limits, so the coast guard couldn’t arrest them. They’d use speed boats to rush booze in and out of the harbor for thirsty clients. Of course rivalries and robberies were not uncommon. I read about that, and thought we have to take that same concept, but throw it in the air! Then of course, my childhood influences like The Rocketeer and Indiana Jones weighed pretty heavily in as well.

And for returning readers what can we look forward to in the new issue?

AM: This is the penultimate issue of the first arc. So we have some really big reveals and set ups for the big finale in issue four. We got a hint at the big bad in issue two, but we actually get to see the stakes and everything that could be lost for our main characters. Also, it’ll be a lot harder to tell who’s a “hero” and who’s a “villain”. The lines definitely get blurred. There’ll be some big surprises for people that have been reading since the beginning. But of course, all three issues are available in the Kickstarter for easy catching up for new readers.

What is it about the prohibition era that makes it so rich for story telling – especially adding in new elements like the dirigibles and the speakeasies in the sky.

AM: If you look at the roots of prohibition, and how it all started, it’s fascinating. So many reasons had nothing to do with alcohol. Then when you realize that they actually succeeded in making something like alcohol (especially in America) illegal, and it lasted for over a decade, it’s just insane. During the Great Depression of all times! I mean if ever there was a time to have a drink… Not to mention all the after effects it had on society and criminals organizing and adapting. Things were never the same. It’s such fertile ground for stories. I’m also such a big crime story fan, regardless of era. I feel like no matter what I write, crime elements start to creep in. Throw in my love for old movies, pulp stories, and Jules Verne. Basically I’m an 80 year old man, trapped in a 34 year old body. So prohibition was a perfect backdrop. Everything just kind of fit together perfectly.

The new issue sees you team up with Trolltooth Wars artist Gavin Mitchell on art duties, what made you choose him to work on the new issues and what does he bring to the title?

AM: Yeah, Gavin is amazing! His characters are so expressive. He actually likes drawing talking heads. Can you believe that? And I’d read an entire book of it too if he ever made one. He’s that good. I often find myself cutting dialogue on the lettering pass to let his art shine. Oh and of course his pacing and action are impeccable as well. Readers are in for a treat on the opening action sequence in issue #3. Its incredible.

Finding Gavin, was kind of a happy accident. When Michele, the original artist and co-creator, got picked up to do books for Marvel, we put the book on pause. We weren’t really sure what the next move was. At the time, I was also working on putting together an anthology simultaneously set in the Rum Row-verse. We wanted a way to explore the world, and cover a bunch of stuff we don’t get to see in the main series. It was also an excuse to work with some of my favorite fellow indie creators.

I had reached out to Tom Ward, the writer of Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman to write a story. He pitched Gavin as the artist. Little to say, Gavin absolutely nailed it as you can see for yourself.

It became something of an unofficial audition. He was so perfect for the world and setting. I asked him if he was interested, and the rest is history. Issue #3 is beautiful, and we all have Gavin to thank.

It’s been a while since issue #2, and in the interim, you have produced the Bawdy Tales of Lazlo Cale. Has working on that helped improve your writing do you think? And how does working on these two titles differ?

Heh, well hopefully my writing continues to improve. I’m always trying to get better. But I’ll let you be the judge of that. Lazlo was something I had wanted to write for a long time. It was completely different from Rum Row or my other title Aldous Spark. Rum Row being put on pause was a perfect excuse to finally pull the trigger and make it. Another good thing to come from it, was I got to take another couple cracks at tightening and doing rewrites on Rum Row scripts in the meantime, for issues three and four. We really wanted to try and make the best possible comics we could, and we’re really happy with the result.

One of your stretch goals is some excellent trading cards from Russell Olson, can you tell us a bit about what fans can look forward to with them?

AM: Oh man, I’ve been so lucky to collaborate with the artists I have! Russell is another example of that. As I’m sure many of your readers know, Russell’s Gateway City was phenomenal. Since that book has come out, I’ve got to talk comics and get to know him better thanks to social media. I pitched Russell the general idea, because pulp story telling is part of his DNA. He was fully in from the get go, and hit the ground running. I sent him a quick list of ideas and he’s elevated them a thousand percent. I cannot wait to show off what he’s come up with. They’re so much fun.

Will we see the fourth issue appearing soon and will that be the conclusion of this arc? And will you look to return to the world of Rum Row once that is done?

AM: Yes, and yes. Issue four is the end of the first arc, and fingers crossed we will have the next issue done by early 2020. Gavin has already been at work on four, so hopefully we can avoid the setbacks we’ve had in the past.

I have multiple arcs planned, but the first four issues are a completed story. We will also have the anthology as I mentioned, exploring more of the world. The plan, is to have that completed not far behind the first collection. Gavin and myself have already carried out a blood pact and other witchery to make sure this book is finished. So you readers have nothing to worry about.

You can support Rum Row #1-3 on Kickstater here and pick up issue #1 and #2 of Rum Row via ComiXology