New independent British publisher E.M.PRESS Publications has launched its Kickstarter for its first title, a stunning-looking, intriguing-sounding steampunk mini-series First Men on Mars, which features a terrific line up of talent, including Gary Erskine, Simon Fraser, Mike Collins, Paul McCaffrey, with Yel Zamor, John-Paul Bove and Annie Parkhouse.
The campaign has launched with multiple promotions, including a video trailer and a special print preview “Flip Book” in the latest issue of SHIFT (Issue 7), on sale now in all good newsagents and comic shops, which not only features a strip excerpt but background on the amazing amount of world building Gary Erskine has put into the project.
Written by Paul L. Mathews (based on an idea by Mathews and Dave West), First Men on Mars opens in the year 1890. Lady Lilian Wells-Cavendish is dispatched to a remote part of Africa to conduct a military tribunal.
The hearing aims to establish the facts behind a failed British military expedition to Mars, with the ‘truth’ revealed through the survivors’ often conflicting testimonies, each account drawn by a different artist.
By unravelling these stories, Lady Wells-Cavendish is able to unearth the truth behind the disastrous mission. In doing so she uncovers the dangers posed by not only Mars’ harsh environment and indigenous life, but by another, altogether unexpected threat…
Events on Earth are drawn by Gary Erskine (Captain America, Star Wars, Doctor Who) and each of the survivors’ stories are drawn by Simon Fraser (Nikolai Dante, Hershey, Judge Dredd), Mike Collins (Doctor Who, MARVEL Comics, His Dark Materials, The Witcher) and Paul McCaffrey (Anno Dracula, Adler, Captain Scarlet). First Men on Mars is coloured by Yel Zamor (MARVEL Comics, Dark Horse, Titan Comics, Archie) and John-Paul Bove (Transformers, GI Joe, TMNT) and lettered by Annie Parkhouse (2000AD, Judge Dredd, Renegade Arts).
The campaign is for the first 64-page issue, with an initial target of £15,000, with subsequent issues to follow via Kickstarter in 2022. As well as a cover by Gary, also to be offered (and yet to be revealed) are variant covers by Marc Laming, Staz Johnson and Lee Carter, plus a host of other add-ones, including a Kickstarter-only Victorian map of Mars, and more.
E.M.PRESS Publications is a new publishing company focusing on fantasy and sci-fi titles. Founded by writer Paul L. Mathews and by former Time Magazine contributor Andrew Fielden.
Gary Erskine is E.M.PRESS Publications artistic director and lead artist, a comics industry veteran whose work has featured in 2000AD, titles by Marvel and Marvel UK, DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse and others.
“I hope you enjoy the project as much as I do,” Gary says. “Should our Kickstarter campaign be successful then we will build on the world and story and bring in other artists to contribute to the series.
“The funding total is a big ask, but we chose to pay proper competitive rates to secure the talents of Mike Collins, Simon Fraser and Paul McCaffrey and other artists for our variant covers.
“The decision is a risk, but ensures we have a standard set for rewarding our talent beyond this first issue, rather than choosing a lower budget and struggling on continued favours and low page rates. We’ll see how that works out.”