Greg is a friend of mine from conventions and twitch. I was delighted by his first comic, Icarus. Now he’s doing a Kickstarter for the re-launch of the Icarus and Jellinek graphic novels. More over, he's writing what he wants to see in this world for his family and all of us.
I first sat down to write Icarus at a time when it felt like compassion and community was in short supply—and with my first child just about to arrive (my daughter was born about a week after I finished the manuscript), that sort of thing was really on my mind. The story, about a young man with wings who falls into the heart of the volcano and the creatures he finds there, was told from alternating perspectives, Icarus's (kind of the Queen's English, I guess) and Jellinek's (a four foot tall, red-skinned, gruff flamepetal prospector—kind of a Gabby Hayes, Old West type). The two characters seem as different from each other in demeanor, language, and outward appearance as one could imagine, but internally, they're much more similar than either of them realize. A lot of the story, which involves them running from the magisters who dominate the land of Vol and desire Icarus's powers for themselves, focuses on Icarus trying to regain his memory, with Jellinek trying to understand what the hell has just happened. But the heart of the story remains friendship and community: creatures coming together in common purpose, determined to stand with each other come what may.
When the graphic novel finally had its first iteration in 2016, a lot of this came through in the visual images and the script done by Keith DeCandido. But for a variety of reasons, we were only able to tell part of the story. Much of the rest of it—the ways in which Icarus, Jellinek, and their two-tailed, lava resistant companion Rig (kind of a big, lava resistant dog) try to escape their pursuers and unlock more of Icarus's mystery—was still to be revealed. When Athila Fabbio, our new artist, came on board for the entire story in this new edition, it wasn't so much his attention to detail and masterful grasp of color and shading which grabbed me, although those were awesome things too! But it was his ability to capture the characters' emotions, their care for each other, their generosity of spirit, which was most stunning…and moving. For the first time, I could see Icarus's sense of loss, his sadness and concern for his friends, Jellinek's desire to help Icarus in spite of every bit of history telling him you can't trust "others." A picture might be worth a thousand words, but these ones are worth a couple of deeply powerful emotions too.
My daughter is now eleven, and once again we're in a difficult, contentious time. And now my son, only three years old, has also joined the world. I think a lot about them in my writing; I wonder if they'll understand what it means to pull together, even when some around them are trying to push them apart. Part of that is my job as a parent…but part of it is also my job as a writer, and it's one I'm trying to take seriously. So really, Icarus and Jellinek is a story of hope; along with Athila's art, I'm doing everything I can to help that hope come across.
Gregory A. Wilson is Professor of English at St. John's University in New York City, where he teaches creative writing, speculative fiction, and various other courses in literature. In addition to academic work, he is the author of the epic fantasy The Third Sign, the graphic novel Icarus, the dark fantasy Grayshade, and the D&D adventure/sourcebook Tales and Tomes from the Forbidden Library. He also has short stories in a number of anthologies, and has several projects forthcoming in 2019. He co-hosts the critically acclaimed Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans (speculatesf.com) podcast, is a member of the Gen Con Writers' Symposium and other author groups, and is regularly invited to conferences nationally and internationally. Finally, under the moniker Arvan Eleron, he is the host of a successful Twitch channel focused on story and narrative, with several sponsored TTRPG campaigns. He lives with his family in Riverdale, NY. His virtual home is gregoryawilson.com.