DF Interview: Josh Blaylock unveals new ambitious comics series, ‘ArkWorld’
By Byron Brewer
ArkWorld is an aspiring series of 48-page comic books that fuses science fiction, fantasy, archaeology and ancient – possibly alien-influenced – technology into an exciting new genre dubbed “archeopunk.”
Devil’s Due Comics publisher Josh Blaylock launched ArkWorld during October’s AlienCon Dallas, finally revealing what is a product of eight years of development and passionate research. Its story is set partly in the present, partly in what we know as the Paleolithic Era, and also much, much earlier. It takes the premise that everything we've been told about history prior to 5000 BC – that civilization only began 6,000 to 7,000 years ago – is wrong.
ArkWorld was created and designed by writer Blaylock, who is joined by illustrator Travis Hymel to bring to life these familiar – yet very different – worlds of the ancient past and present day. DF wanted to enter the realm of “archeopunk” and find out more about ArkWorld, so we sat down with Josh Blaylock.
Dynamic Forces: Josh, what is “archeopunk”?
Josh Blaylock: “Archeopunk” is a new genre of sci-fi inspired by the idea that civilization is much older than we’ve previously believed, and that humanity had a very high level but different kind of technology in the distant past. You’ve heard of steampunk? Cyberpunk? This is archeopunk.
These themes of lost ancient civilizations, ancient astronaut theory, and unexplainable megalithic structures that line the planet are growing in popularity at a rapid rate, but there hasn’t really been any fiction, at least that I’m aware of, that puts it all together the way ArkWorld does.
DF: Tell readers a little about the genesis of ArkWorld.
Josh Blaylock: I’ve been fascinated by this kind of subject matter as far back as when I self-published my first comic book ever, Minotaur, which was about an archeologist who stumbled upon the famous labyrinth of Greek myth. I also had, as a teenager, ideas for superhero comics that at their heart were really about ancient astronaut theory, but I didn’t have that vocabulary for it. Now there are literally guys on YouTube claiming the exact same concepts I’d made up are 100% fact, and that they’re government insiders. It’s pretty hilarious. What I wanted to do was create a fun sci-fi series that felt very modern, but took place in the distant past, and put some real effort into including all of the real, actual evidence that’s out there for a possible lost, highly sophisticated, pre-Mesopotamian civilization. And the parts I just make up, well, I proudly declare they are fiction and will not be coming out as a government insider or someone who has special inside info on an alien presence. For that, you’ll have to ask my Mom or Step-Dad who worked at Wright Patt AFB. Haha!
DF: Hah! … What is the book about? What kind of stories will a reader find there?
Josh Blaylock: ArkWorld is an epic that takes place as far back as 15,000 years ago, and jumps back and forth all the way to the present day. It’s a mix of Saga meets Ancient Aliens, but minus most of the definitive alien part of the equation. Our main protagonists are Seth and Cleito, a couple who find themselves thrown into a “deep state”-style conspiracy and a responsibility to stop the end of human life on Earth… and they happen to live in 11,000 BC. Eventually, we meet a random assortment of eccentric characters from across the globe who end up having a connected military past.
We meet them on the 10th anniversary of the day “the gods” left Earth, with no explanation as to whether they will ever return. Who were the gods? We don’t know, but it’s clear that the planet at this time is operating on a global, advanced level with high technology (different from our own, primitive in some ways, and far more advanced in others).
Meanwhile, there is another layer of story that runs through the present, and over time we will learn how it all ties together.
Seth is from a small city-state that will eventually become what we now know as Egypt, and Cleito is a native of the capital city of the one and only Atlantis -- the most technologically advanced city on Earth.
Cleito’s mother is a high-level figure in Atlantis, the “Secretary of Currents” who overseas the distribution of a wireless power grid across the planet. Seth’s father is the key engineer of Ra’tas in charge of building the local pyramid and obelisk complexes, and reverse engineering the few pieces of “god tech” left behind by their former rulers.
DF: Josh, will you be doing all the writing on the book?
Josh Blaylock: Yes, I have spent years developing this world, and personally designed the characters, the way the technology works, fashion, several vehicles and gadgets of all sorts. I had to have all of this done before handing it over to Travis Hymel for sequentials (and went through four different artists before landing on someone who mutually connected with what I was trying to do).
You don’t have to be a fan of all of this stuff to dive in and enjoy the story, but no one else could write this without having spent hundreds of hours researching a wide mix of ancient history, unexplained monuments on every continent, cosmic impact theories behind the end of the Ice Age, sacred geometry in ancient architecture, astronomy, a plethora of ancient mythologies, ancient symbology, and more.
I’m really doing my best behind the scenes to craft a fictional story around what could at its core be a real hypothesis, yet on the surface keep it all a deceptively easy read full of action, humor, sex, dope characters, fantastic settings and sweet-ass weapons that do cool sh*t.
Long time fans of Mercy Sparx will recognize some similarities in story structure, the way that on the surface you can enjoy the book but very big-picture elements come together over a long time for an epic event.
DF: Can you give readers a list of the artists who might be working on ArkWorld going forward?
Josh Blaylock: For now it’s Travis Hymel on sequentials, who I hope is in for the long haul, and Jasen Smith on colors, with Micah Myers lettering.
DF: Josh, aside from conquering archeopunk, what else is up for you as a creator?
Josh Blaylock: This month, I’m releasing the newest (FIFTH) edition of How to Self-Publish Comics: Not Just Create Them updated for 2019 with the latest changes in that space. Mercy Sparx #14 is in the works with Pat Shand co-writing and Larry Watts cranking away on pages, and they are looking beautiful.
I’m overseeing the sequel to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force: Squad Special, the sequel to the first volume earlier this year, and contributing a number of stories to it as well. That drops in December.
I’m also cooking up a sci-fi project with former X-Men/Devil’s Due editor and G.I. Joe writer Mark Powers, which hopefully will be out in mid-2020, and, fingers crossed, may be announcing a project soon with a major creator that had a false start years back but may have found new life!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Josh Blaylock for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. ArkWorld Volume 1 from Devil’s Due Comics is slated for a Spring 2020 release.
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