Project Luna: 1947

Martin Hayes talks ‘Project Luna’ from Markosia

Project Luna: 1947Markosia‘s collected edition of Project Luna by Martin Hayes and Jim Boswell has just been relisted as on sale now in all good comic shops, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to present interviews with both creators conducted when the project was first announced earlier this year.

Set in 1947, amidst the largest UFO flap in history, Project Luna sees four disparate crew members are chosen to go to the moon to investigate a strange lunar signal that has been picked up by British radio astronomers. Their mission brings them into contact with mysterious British Intelligence Officers, deranged ex-Nazi scientists, CIA operatives, Scottish Highland Sheep, and the biggest, most insidious conspiracy the world has ever faced.

Writer Martin Hayes loved the comics medium for most of his life, so it’s no surprize he wanted to workin the industry.
“Thinking back on my boyhood days, growing up in Ireland in the 1980s, comics seemed to be everywhere,” he recalls.  “If you were going on a long car journey, you’d be given some comics. If it was your birthday, you’d be given some comics. If you were ill, you’d be given some comics. Every Saturday afternoon my Mum would bring me into the newsagents and buy me The Beano and The Dandy. I’d read other titles but those two were the bread and butter back then.
“I have two older brothers and that meant there were large yellowing piles of more grown-up comics like 2000AD around the house, waiting to be discovered when I was a little older. I grew up in a small town so Marvel and DC books were extremely rare and highly prized. I’d pick up odd issues of Batman, Spider-man and Werewolf by Night on infrequent trips to Dublin.”I drifted away from comics during my teenage years,” he admits, “but was drawn back in again in my early twenties. It was in my mid twenties that I started feeling the urge to tell my own stories so the comic medium was the first choice.How long has he been working in comics and what are your personal highlights?

“My first published comic work was in Issue 12 of the British comic Futurequake,” he reveals. “That was in early 2009. I’d been having no luck getting anything published so I decided to concentrate on writing prose stories, which turned out to be a lot easier to sell to magazines. But I stumbled upon the Futurequake website one day and decided to have another bash at it. I think they accepted the first short script I sent them, a four-pager. That gave me the boost I needed to keep plugging away at it.”

He also had a a four-page script commissioned by 2000AD writer Alan Grant for his anthology comic, Wasted. “I’ve always been a fan of Alan’s work (his Batman issues were really great) so it was amazing to have him buy a story from me.”

What or who would he say has influenced him the most and how is that reflected in his work?

“Alan Moore, definitely: particularly in the way in which he structures the flow of his stories. He’ll carry details over from one panel and page to another, using the images to lead your eye into the next scene. Grant Morrison: in the sense that you should never be afraid to do something completely mental.

“Nigel Kneale has been a huge influence on me, he still is. The Quatermass serials especially. My friend Brian Showers pointed out to me recently that Project Luna: 1947 had a distinctly Quatermass-y vibe to it. And I think he’s right, even though it hadn’t occurred to me before he said it. Kneale’s work on things like The Abominable Snowman, Beasts, Murrain and The Stone Tape continue to haunt me. His work almost seems to have a weight, a mass to it that pulls you back into his orbit continuously.

“Other influences would include Arthur Machen, JG Ballard, HP Lovecraft, David Lynch, Harlan Ellison, and Mike Mignola.”

Project Luna
Aliens attack in Project Luna

So – what is Project Luna about?

“I like to think of it as a pulp science fiction story,” says Martin. “Following World War Two, the US, France, Britain, and Russia have signed a pact promising that if the world is ever threatened again, they will pool their resources to combat that threat. It’s about a multi-national mission to the moon to investigate a strange signal picked up by the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. We’ve got everything in there: Battle of Britain heroes, CIA agents, brilliant French scientists, US test pilots, ex-Nazi rocket engineers, and grumpy Soviet generals.”I’d had the idea for the book lying around for a couple of years,” he continues. “When Futurequake accepted my four-pager (a thoughtful and deeply considered science fiction story called Intergalactic Bank Robbing Teenage Space Aliens On The Run) they teamed me up with artist Jim Boswell. Jim and I got on well, so when that story was published I asked him if he’d like to work on Project Luna: 1947 with me. Jim had just worked on an issue of Starship Troopers for Markosia. He showed the pitch to Harry Markos, the publisher, and they agreed to take it on.

“That was back in, I think, late 2008 or early 2009. Progress was slow at times due to Jim almost immediately landing lots of paying work. Obviously this had to come first so Luna had to go on the back burner at times. Jim was also doing all the art, colouring and lettering on the book himself.

 “But working with Jim on Project Luna: 1947 was great. Jim’s an amazing artist, seeing his pages coming in is always a thrill.”

Aleister-Crowley-coverSince the initial release of Project Luna, Martin has comtinued to be busy with his comics work. Markosia has also published his ode to Aleister Crowley,  Wandering the Waste, featuring art by Roy H. Stewart, lettered by Paul McLaren. “The original publisher collapsed like a badly cooked spite-filled soufflé and it took a while to get everything back on track,” says Martin of that project. “I’m honoured that we have a foreword by the Crowley scholar and biographer Richard Kaczynski. The book is 144 pages all in, including an extensive appendix.

Get It Down & Other Weird Stories, which collects fourteen of my short stories (ten previously published in magazines like Nature, Supernatural Tales and Innsmouth Magazine, along with four stories seeing the light of day for the first time) has also been released.”I’ve got an untitled 62 page World War Two/horror comic which should hopefully be out either late 2013 or early 2014,” he adds. “Art on that one is by Chris Askham and letters by Bram Meehan. I won’t give away the title here but it’s shaping up rather beautifully. We’re loosely going for a classic British war comic look, along the lines of Commando and Battle.And, in something of a full circle event, his story for Futurequake Issue 12, is to be reprinted in Markosia’s forthcoming British Showcase Anthology which is being put together by Adam Cheal and due to be published by Markosia soon.

“Jim has been busy changing grey-scale to full colour,” says Martin.  “It looks really good. It was a fun little mad-cap science fiction story, not the heartfelt think-piece you might be imagining from the title!”

Preview – Project Luna 1947 (PDF on Markosia web site)

Read our review of Project Luna 1947

• Martin Hayes is at: www.paroneiria.com

• Jim Boswell is at: www.jimmibo.co.uk

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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