TAEM Interview with Comic Writer John Reilly

At the end of July, 2017, we attended Northern Virginia’s Nova Con, the first such event in the area. It was held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in McLean, Virginia.

The event was small in comparison to the larger Comic Con shows in Baltimore, New York and San Diego, but it was well organized and ample parking was available. The show was spread over three floors of the hotel and contained a food court, show room for artists and vendors, and meeting rooms for games and conversations with artists.

One such artist that caught our attention was John Reilly, whose work is titled ‘HERALD : Lovecraft &Tesla’.

TAEM- How did you get involved in writing graphic novels and what is your background for this?

JR-I was a writing professor for a decade before trying my hand at this kind of storytelling. My background is in English and literature and I have a PhD in Composition & TESOL, which sounds far removed from graphic novels but writing is writing. The short answer is, I wrote something I loved and got extremely lucky.

TAEM- Tell us about the genre that your writing is involved in.

JR-In broad terms, Herald is an adventure series with history/pulp/Lovecraftian horror elements. The other projects I’m working on gravitate toward adventure as well, though Herald is the most free-spirited.

TAEM- Tell us about the plot line for this series and about the characters in it.

JR-Herald takes place in 1923. Amelia Earhart is engaged to Nikola Tesla – she steals one of his unfinished prototype engines to cross the Atlantic on a solo and gets pulled into another dimension. While she’s in the Elsewhere dimension, Tesla teams up with HP Lovecraft, who knows about magic and other worlds – and with the help of Houdini, Einstein, Twain, and others, they get caught up in the global Cthulhu conspiracy.

TAEM- Please tell us what was the inspiration behind your creation, and those of your characters.

JR-Travis Pitts did an amazing print called “By Appointment Only” that has HP and Tesla together. When I saw it, I assumed it was already a comic and when it turned out that it wasn’t, I said, well damnit, it ought to be. That night I started writing the outline for what eventually became Herald’s 54-issue plan.

TAEM- Do you also do the art work for it, and if not, who does?

JR-The Amazing Tom Rogers does the pencils – he’s currently working on Marvel’s TL;DR video animation series, and Dexter Weeks does the ink, color, and letters – and he’s working on a Netflix show based on his book “A Cat Named Haiku.”

TAEM- How did you acquire your team for this work, and tell our readers where they are from and a little bit about them?

JR-For Tom, we looked at hundreds of artist portfolios for someone who could capture what I was looking for and Tom nails it – thankfully he’s a wonderful guy to work with as well. He’s in the Portland area. As for Dex, he’s from Jersey and he’s obliquely related to my wife and had been a comic pro for at least a decade. We sent him the idea one evening as a kind of “what do you think, is this worth moving forward?” and at best I was expecting a thumbs-up or some perfunctory encouragement, but within the hour he was asking to be a part of the project and we felt extremely lucky.

TAEM- What is the success of your series and how has it been received by the public?

JR-We were optioned for a live-action television show and Ravendesk Games is turning it into a tabletop RPG that will debut at GenCon 50.

TAEM- How many issues are there now, and what is planned for it?

JR-At the moment, there are 9 issues in print with the next three coming out later this year/early 2018. We spent a year outlining whole story at 54 issues, broken into 3 “seasons” of 18 issues each. It’s a long ride, but I think if you stick with it, it’ll be rewarding.

TAEM- What shows have they been displayed in and what is planned for it in the future along these lines?

JR-We’ve been to San Diego and New York, AwesomeCon, and Baltimore, as well as other story signings. We hit most of the east-coast shows and Tom lives on the west coast and he tables at Emerald City.

TAEM- Where can our readership, and your fans, find your work?

JR-You can find it at Comic Logic in Ashburn, online through Comixology, and you can order it at any comic store – which is much appreciated.

TAEM- Are there other series planned for your talents, and what is in store for you for the future?

JR-I’ve written four other mini-series that are currently in pre-production. Those should be out sometime next year.

TAEM- John, we want to thank you for your interview with us and I know that our readers will be excited to know all about you and your work. We wish you much luck in the future in everything that you do.

TAEM