“The story of Man’s first step on the moon is such an amazing, exciting, drama-filled tale that we were surprised nobody had done it as a comic yet” Chris Baker and Matt Fitch on Apollo from SelfMadeHero
For their follow up to the gonzo world of Last Driver and the future gazing of Adventures in Science, Chris Baker and Matt Fitch of Dead Canary Comics have another out of this world story to tell, but one with a much more down to earth core to it – the Apollo moon landing. Teaming up with veteran artist Mike Collins and publisher SelfMadeHero we find out more about why the moon landing was such a landmark event that warranted being immortalised in comic book form!
Tell us a bit about what inspired you to tell the Apollo moon landing story? Does it have a particular resonance for you personally? Or is it a particularly landmark event for you?
Chris Baker: The story of Man’s first step on the moon is such an amazing, exciting, drama-filled tale that we were surprised nobody had done it as a comic yet. Our original intention was to focus on Neil – we’re both Fathers and the tragic loss of his young daughter was something that resonated with us – but as we settled down to write it became more of an ensemble piece.
Where do you start in developing a story like this? What were your touchstones for building the story and making sure it was faithful and accurate?
CB: We consulted books, so… many, many books! NASA themselves were also very helpful, providing us with any mission facts and data that we requested. There is a wealth of information out there to tap in to, all in the public domain. Transcripts, photographs, contemporary reports and all sorts of other wonderful nuggets of detail. It’s easy to get lost in that candy store of things to write about.
Obviously detail is all important for a title like this. How much of the dialogue and events are based on transcripts and real-life accounts?
CB: We tried to make sure that every line was faithful but we did take one or two liberties. We’ll never know those intimate phone conversations Buzz had with his dad, or the things Neil may have said in his head to maintain that cool exterior. We bent elements and broke none if that’s a better way of putting it.
We’re guessing some of the later dream like sequences are your own creation though?
CB: The Michael Collins acid trip bit is sort of a beast unto itself. We just wanted to keep that theme of near death odes going and push Mike (artist) to draw some outrageous pages in what could be a straight played tale.
You don’t just focus on the moon landing, you also have scenes involving the pilots back story, the political impact of the moon landing, scenes in Vietnam, and also dream sequences. Was it important for you to focus on the human impact that the moon landing hand on America and the world in general?
CB: Our intention was to tell an American story. We love America and the modern mythology of the place. The most import things here were the human emotions be them good or ill and the idea that America is a glorious idea and can move mountains.
How important a moment in human history do you think the moon landing was? And do you think it’s lost a bit of it’s impact in recent years?
CB: The moon landing is one of those historic events that has almost been taken for granted. But when you look in to what they did, how many incredible challenges they faced and overcame to get those men there… Well, read the book and see.
How did you get involved with artist Mike Collins? Was he always your first choice for the project or did you develop the whole thing together?
CB: We met Mike at a con and just got talking. One night we sent him the second or third draft of Apollo and he got back to us in a few short hours saying he read the whole thing in a sitting. We got talking and the collaboration grew from there.
What does he bring to the project creatively and how much research and detail checking was required for the artwork?
CB: We got super lucky. Mike is space obsessed and can draw most if not all the Apollo mission craft near from memory. He’s literally a force of nature. Some of the moments in the book, such as the docking procedure, would have turned to dust in other hands.
It has a really nice vintage style to it, making it feel much more sympathetic to the time period (especially in the colouring), was that a conscious choice?
CB: Always, from day one. We wanted the book to feel pulpy and of that period to a degree.
You’re releasing it via SelfMadeHero, why go through a publisher and not release it yourself?
CB: We did many years in the self-publishing arena and have some amazing books to show for our time but Apollo was too ambitious for us to do justice to by ourselves. In short, we needed back up. SelfMadeHero are a publisher we really admire, they brought a level of professionalism that was a joy to work with.
And finally, given the chance, would you like to go to the moon? And do you think we will return there in the future?
CB: We’ll definitely go back. China will probably build a base up there! As for us… of course we’d like to go to the moon, what an amazing, humbling experience that would be.