We sat down with Joe Wight, creator of Steam Wars: Strike Leader, to talk about the story's relation to the Original Trilogy and the freedom that is involved in using the steampunk and space opera themes in a story. Steam Wars has an ensemble list of players fighting against the Crimson Empire, and they'll have to use untested technology to do it! Steam Wars: Strike Leader is an intense and thrilling addition to Free Comic Book Day 2017!
Free Comic Book Day: Steam Wars clearly draws heavily from some of the most famous science fiction space opera epics—what about those kinds of stories translates well to the steampunk genre?
Joe Wight: Epic stories of any genre can easily be interpreted through a “steampunk” lens. Space operas in particular can open up the possibilities of fanciful realms, creatures, and technology that echo reality. The same way a space opera creates its own logic, history, and archetypes, one can apply a steampunk overlay. Space opera is like the fantasy genre in that regard, and steampunk is another interpretation of that limitless playground.
What does Steam Wars bring to the story that makes it more than a parody or homage?
JW: Steam Wars is definitely not a parody, but elements might be considered homage. Just as the Original Trilogy was inspired by legends and universal characters types, Steam Wars carries that inspirational banner into a different genre. In the same way The Lord of the Rings provided the inspiration for countless fantasy realms, the Original Trilogy compels people to want to see and experience more in that universe. My stories are driven by characters rather than plot, which is what made the Original Trilogy so enjoyable.
Take us through the cast of characters: who can we expect to see in this Free Comic Book day 2017 comic?
JW: The cast of Steam Wars: Strike Leader includes Lieutenant Jan Westbrook, a talented young pilot chosen for a mission to test a new strike fighter in an effort to stop the crushing forces of the Crimson Empire. She is reluctantly joined by Lady Redhawk, an aviatrix of noble birth and incredible skill, but definitely not a team player. Jan’s flight engineer and gunner is Ensign Ollie Green, a determined young man eager to do his part. They have all been handpicked by Wing Commander Able Sharpe, the best pilot fighting for the Free Realms against the rising Empire, and his colleague Ava Wright, an innovative aeroplane designer.
What got you reading comics? What are some series you’re reading today?
JW: I was always reading books as I grew up, and comics were a natural part of that enjoyment. They also provided so much visual talent and inspiration, and helped me foster my own artistic growth. As I began to write and draw my own comics, I was reading mangas like Outlanders and Appleseed, and other creators like Ben Dunn and Adam Warren. I read a few to this day, including Adam Warren’s Empowered and anything I can find from Brandon Graham.
What books would you recommend to new readers and why?
JW: A new reader has so many more choices than I had! If I were to recommend an example of an incredible imagination combined with inspiring art and storytelling, it would have to be Fred Perry’s Gold Digger. Fred has been writing and drawing his series for more than twenty years (in addition to many, many side projects and series). Gold Digger has to be seen to be believed. Brian Denham’s Airship Enterprise also shows off a great artist’s talent and imagination, and his amazing ability to take the reader to fantastic new realms.
Why do you think Free Comic Book Day is important to the comic book community?
JW: Free Comic Book Day is fun for comic readers and enthusiasts to share their love of the comic book medium. Like any community, FCBD unites us in the joy of seeing so much imagination and skill applied to one of the oldest forms of expression: sequential art. It’s also a great way to introduce new readers to all the worlds they can explore for the first time!
Why do you think local comic shops are important to the comic book community?
JW: The local shops provide us with the opportunity to explore the shelves, discover new favorites, collect old favorites, and to interact with other readers and staff to in a personal, human way, united in our love of the medium.
Joe Wight plans to spend his Free Comic Book Day at his local shop, signing books, meeting new people, and having some fun!