WONDERCON: Entering the Mesmerizing World of Archaia Entertainment (2011)

In a world where style is everything, Archaia Entertainment has cornered the market on both graphic and storytelling style.  Just one look at any of the covers of their graphic novels and you know you are looking at something unusual and special.  Not only does Archaia recruit some of the most talented storytellers and illustrators, it strives to produce a superior product that is by touch something extraordinary.  A name or a catch-phrase may catch your attention initially, but what Archaia hopes will really grab your attention are the weight, size and feel of their graphic novels.  Each feels like a rare collector’s item.  It is something you want to pick up and hold onto — it is something that silently commands you to take it home.

While at WonderCon 2011 in San Francisco, Archaia brought out its team of graphic novel connoisseurs from behind their magic curtain to share a bit about their upcoming projects and why you need to mark your calendars so that you do not miss a single one.

Perhaps best known for their “Mouse Guard” and “The Killer” series, the cutting-edge publishing house is not content to simply offer a wide variety of collectible graphic novels — they are looking for the best of the best.  They consider themselves adventurers in search of the lost treasures of the world.

In an era where books and magazines are on the decline, the time for graphic novels has never been more ripe.  2010 was the most profitable year ever in the graphic novel industry, and that may largely be due to Archaia’s relentless search for gems scattered across the globe.

One just such long lost treasure was the previously unpublished work of Jim Henson.  Widely known for his work on “The Muppets,” Jim Henson is also considered a pivotal visionary in graphic story-telling.  His work on “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” still stand out as beautifully creative works of visual art.  Upon learning that there was a previously unpublished work available, Archaia sought to obtain the exclusive project.  Working closely with Lisa Henson, Archaia will be introducing “A Tale of Sand” by Jim Henson to the world in September 2011.

Stephen Christy - (c) Photo by Jennifer Schadel, 2011

For Editor-in-chief Stephen Christy this will be crowning achievement for him.  As a long-time fan and enthusiast of Jim Henson’s work, this project is close to his heart.  It is a dream-come-true for him and nothing makes him prouder than being able to share Jim Henson’s “A Tale of Sand.”  Stephen proudly shared, “It is an honor and huge challenge — we want to give honor to Jim, his legacy and his creative talent.”  In describing what “A Tale of Sand” is about, Stephen described it as “127 Hours” meets “Alice in Wonderland.”  As hard to envision as that may sound, it will simply have to be seen to be believed.

Also upcoming that excites Stephen and the Archaia team to no end is the opportunity to partner with Relativity Media and bring the graphic novel “Immortals: Gods & Heroes” to life.  When first approached by Relativity to share in the “Immortals” world and tell a series of anthology stories to supplement the film by the same name which will be released next Fall, Archaia jumped at the chance.  “Immortals” was exactly the kind of project they are known for:  gritty, nasty, visceral and raw.  It lends itself perfectly to the visual art of graphic novels and its characters create a world of imagination intertwined with gripping, fascinating stories.

The key to Archaia’s success, as Stephen revealed, is: “We’re all working on stuff we’d want to read. . .  We only publish books we believe in.”

In an industry competitive by its own very nature in trying to capture the hearts and imaginations of fanboys, collectors and enthusiasts, Archaia knows that passion is what draws them — and if they are passionate about their projects, then fans will be too.  So they recruit talent on all levels, from writers to illustrators, in order to offer a superior product.

When queried about their emphasis on books that are “tactile oriented,” Stephen laughingly admitted that a book must feel cool if it is actually going to be cool.  Plus, to make their graphic novels “destination reading,” they must offer something more than any other competitor.  As Stephen good-naturedly emphasized, “We want you to get your money’s worth!”

Archaia is all about the reading experience.  Does it draw your eye?  Does it engage your mind?  Does it satisfy on all levels?

One oddity that is noteworthy though is Archaia’s firm belief that they will only publish original content.  They shy away from superhero stories simply because they feel there are a multitude of wonderful stories to be told — from all kinds of voices from around the world.  Their goal is to uncover those authors, creators, writers and expose them to the world.

Archaia is not just archeologists digging up buried treasure — they are adventures in search of stories being created right now.

Other original works Archaia will be offering this Spring and Summer include:

“OCB (Old City Blues)” by Giannis Milongiannis — which is a cyber-punk thriller set in Athens, Greece after it has been destroyed and rebuilt by the Japanese.

“Rust” by Royden Lepp — which is a charming family tale set in a harsh world turned up-side-down by a boy with a jet-pack who is being chased by a robot war-machine.

“Lucid” by Michael McMillian, with a foreword written by “True Blood’s” Alan Ball — which tells the adventure tale of a mage to the U.S. President — a kind of “Harry Potter” joins CIA kind of mash-up.  There is a magical cold-war going on and each country has their own mage to help level the playing field.

“Mr. Murder Is Dead” by Victor Quinaz — which poses the idea of:  what if Dick Tracy grew old and became a cantankerous old villain?  Then as the story unfolds, there are flashbacks to each era of his life and showing his life journey.

“Days Missing: Kestus” by Phil Hester, with foreword by Wil Wheaton — which is a sci-fi series based on a steward with the ability to fold a 24 hour period of time — to kind of rewind the clock — in order to influence a particular day’s events.

“Bleedout” by Mike Kennedy and Michael Menheim — which is based on the scenario:  what happens when the world’s oil runs out?  After a major oil spill, a micro-organism is created that literally eats up the world’s oil supply and post-meltdown, the modern world is over-ridden by crime.

With so many incredible works upcoming, Archaia is confident that their readership and the fans will be just as excited as they are.  For in the realm of graphic novels, it is not about sharing just a good book — it is all about sharing in the experience.

Where to find this article:

http://popculturezoo.com/2011/04/wc2011-entering-the-mesmerizing-world-of-archaia-entertainment/

Link to related article:

http://wormholeriders.net/MovieM/?p=6135

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