“Imagine having amazing skills and abilities, but forbidden to use them in case it caused armageddon!” Jon Laight on balancing home life and heroism in Away

Although it’s been available online since the spring, Jon Laight’s epic science fiction superhero adventure Away is making it’s comic convention debut at this weekend’s Thought Bubble 2018. So we thought it would be a perfect chance to catch up with it’s creator to find out more about the tricky act of balancing home life and heroism.

The premise of Away is a really interesting one – how would you sum it up for new readers?

Jon Laight: I’ve always liked a good alternate reality/multiverse story so wanted to try and an original spin on that premise.  Away shares the the incredible experiences of a normal man given an extraordinary task…not just save the world…but the entire universe he lives in.

The idea of being away from your family doing important things only to return and have to pick things up is a really strong central concept and feels like a rich vein for story telling? Was this concept the main inspiration for the story? Or was it one too many episodes of Quantum Leap?!  

JL: Ha ha…don’t diss Quantum Leap…well maybe the last episode you can!  With my job, there’s always a chance you can be away from home for a while and ever since I started my family, being apart from them gets more and more difficult.  I wanted to explore this further in Away and push it to the extremes in relation to the time away from your loved ones and the things you do to cope with the mental anguish of it all in otherworldly locations with impossible characters.   Imagine having amazing skills and abilities that could make a difference to the world but forbidden to use or divulge them in case it caused the armageddon you were meant to be preventing!

It feels like a very personal story, using your own background as a firefighter and also an emphasis on family – was important for you to put these parts of yourself into the book?  

JL: Firefighters do extraordinary, selfless things every day across the world to help complete strangers in their hour of need.  It’s hugely rewarding but can be a strain on families for several reasons as everyone wants to be able to go home at the end of the day.  Away throws that feeling into the wind…what would a person do to ensure that they could go home and see their family again with the caveat of saving the universe thrown in?

By setting the different adventures in different locations you get to really mix up the look and feel of each chapter, was that part of a grand plan to write different genres or a happy coincidence? And which has been your favourite genre to write?

JL: My real focus was on character and story so I wanted to be able to place ‘Jason’ into different scenarios to see how he would react and grow as completely different people/creatures but still be the same man within.  With the multiverse theme, there’s infinite worlds and stories to place Jason in but they must have relevance to his mission…he must learn new skills in order for him to be the saviour of everything he holds dear….as well as a few million galaxies or so.  I have so many concepts in mind for him but must choose carefully for the graphic novels as they can only be so big…I am considering a few spin offs and if any Netflix producers are reading, a six season TV series is easily doable through Partridge Productions!!  As for which genre I enjoyed the most…probably the Barbarian style general but I do have some sci-fi stories lined up for Book 2.

Tell us a bit about how you teamed up with artist Grant Richards – he’s got a beautifully classic style and some of the best cross hatching we’ve seen! It feels like a great combo!  

JL: I met Grant at Birmingham’s ICE convention in 2015.  We got chatting as we sat waiting to see comic publishers and I loved seeing his original paintings and work.  We swapped emails and I promised to send him some script to see what he can do.  Those first few pages he sent blew me away (pun intended) and we hit it off from there.  Grant is a purely traditional artist and I own quite a few of his original paintings and pages.  If this guy doesn’t reach some heady heights in the next few years, I’ll eat my laptop.

How has the exerience of working on this with Markosia been? And has it helped get your book out to a wider audience?  

JL: The amount of advice and support has been great.  They have a great international network so the opportunity to make a step up has been really appreciated.

And finally how many issues of Away will we see and have you got any more projects coming our way this year?  

JL: The main Away story will be told in two books with the chance of having one or two spin offs…it is a multiverse story after all.  Due to real world commitments, this year has been a relatively quiet one but the all ages comic Late Knights #2 should be out before the end of the year and I have one or two things coming out with Comichaus.  I have a few other pitch pieces being produced but the next real push won’t be until next year along with the final instalment of Brethren Born.  The official con circuit launch of Away will be at this years Thought Bubble in Leeds and we’ll have a few special editions with an exclusive sketch by Grant Richards inside.

You can find Jon Laight at Table 118-119 in the ComiXology Marquee and you can purchase Away from Amazon here.