Review Fix chats with Chris Mancini, the writer, and creator of Long Ago and Far Away, to find out what inspired the series and what makes it special.
Review Fix: What inspired this comic?
Chris Mancini: I was always a huge fan of the Chronicles of Narnia. “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” has my favorite opening line in any book I’ve ever read: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” I was always a sucker for kids going into a fantasy world and saving the day. But I always wondered what happened to those kids when they came back to our world and grew up. How would it affect them? What would they be like? And what if they had to go back into that world as adults? That’s what I explored in the comic.
Review Fix: How is it different from your previous work?
Mancini: Well, I’ve written soap operas, parenting books, horror, and comedy. They are all more closely related than people think. But this is one of those projects that I’ve been working on for years. The usual story: The funding fell through, the option expired, the company went out of business, etc. I could never get it out there until now. I’m really grateful to Starburns Press for picking it up. I’ve been wanting to work on a comic book for years.
Review Fix: How does your comedic background influence your work?
Mancini: I think it’s both my comedy background and my indie film background that influenced my work. I combine comedic timing with storyboarding as if it were a film to try and get the story and humor pacing just right. I like to put “pregnant pauses” into the panels, so there is a beat between the setup and punchline. Sometimes the heart of the joke is in the characters’ reactions to it.
Review Fix: What makes this comic special?
Mancini: It was one of those projects that when I sought out to write it I wanted it to be a big, broad, comedy fantasy. But then as I was writing the story became more and more personal, and it became more and more about Jason’s inner journey. So while it’s still a big fantasy comedy, it’s still a story about growing up, losing your way, and hopefully finding it again. At the beginning Jason is a complete asshole. He more than resists the call to adventure. He pretty much hangs up. And this is after him being a hero so many years ago. So part of the journey for the reader is to root for Jason to get his shit together.
Review Fix: What creators do you think have influenced you the most?
Mancini: Wow. Too many to mention! The creators who have influenced me the most are the ones who seamlessly mix genres, like Neil Gaiman and the films of Terry Gilliam. But I was also influenced by comic book creators growing up, from Stan Lee to Frank Miller. I would also always love the crossovers that made the worlds so much bigger. Spiderman wants to be an Avenger? Cool! One of my favorite titles was “Marvel Team-up”. Then I KNEW every month there was gonna be a cool…. Team up.
Review Fix: How do you want it to be remembered?
Mancini: As a cool and funny fantasy story but also a personal story about losing your way, finding yourself, and never giving up on your dreams.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Mancini: Well, you’re going to hear it hear first! I am working on a new book with the same team. (Artist Fernando Pinto and Letterer Troy Peteri) It’s called “Rise of the Kung Fu Dragon Master” and it is a action/martial arts/fantasy/comedy about a small time crook in Los Angeles who gets mixed up in a battle between good and evil from ancient China. The script is complete and we’re almost done preliminary artwork. Now if I don’t have to Kickstart it that would be even better…
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Mancini: Sure! You can hear me every week on the Comedy Film Nerds Podcast, as well as please check out my scripted horror anthology podcast Conversations From the Abyss that features comedians and comedy actors in creepy, supernatural conversations.