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Pulp fiction gets a 21st-century update in The Winternational, a new comic launching today from new digital start-up Stela that offers old-school thrills, spills and daring escapes in a brand new format.
Written by Man of Action Entertainment’s Joe Casey — whose resume includes co-creating Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 with his fellow MoA partners, in addition to working on Disney XD’s Ultimate Spider-Man and the upcoming Capcom/Dentsu animated series Mega Man, as well as a slew of comic books starring Superman, the X-Men and his own creations — the series is described as “two-fisted pulp adventure along the lines of Doc Savage and Indiana Jones.”
Despite his experience in the superhero genre both on screen and on the page, the new series “actually draws heavily from pre-superhero fiction,” Casey told THR. “The pulps were themselves the precursor to comic books — they were stories for the Everyman, cheaply priced, unpretentious and fun.”
That appeal makes them perfectly positioned to appeal to non-comic readers who might be curious about Stela’s mobile comic reader platform. The company launched last week with an app for iOS devices that will deliver new content daily for a monthly fee (other operating systems are in the works, according to the company). “These kinds of stories are meant to be a roller-coaster ride, to keep asses in seats through sheer thrills,” Casey said.
The appeal of working in the pulp style isn’t a complicated one, Casey explained. “It’s fun stuff to write, pure and simple. We’re also leaning into the old movie serial format, where each chapter or episode would open with the characters in the worst possible situation and would end with a nail-biting cliffhanger. I think that’ll work great in this release schedule that Stela is doing.”
The veteran creator was lured into working with the start up by the promise of building something different.
“It seemed like a new way to approach the medium I love, and I’m always up for that,” Casey said. “The guys came to me fairly early on, so the initial conversations were about how the format would work, the vertical scroll, and how that would affect the actual content. They were still coming to terms with it themselves, just on a technical level. So I liked the idea of developing things on two fronts — creatively and technically — almost simultaneously.”
He continued, “It’s also a way, we hope, to make comics even more ubiquitous in the culture. I’m not talking about corporate IPs being adapted to other media and we all pat ourselves on the back. I’m talking about promoting and furthering the actual medium of comics.”
Achieving that goal is helped, he said, when the comics themselves look as good as the visuals for The Winternational. “Luke Parker’s art, colored by Brad Simpson, lettering and design by Sonia Harris…it all comes together in a very cool way.”
Readers will be able to judge that for themselves; The Winternational begins today on the Stela app (a preview of the first episode can be seen below). Casey hopes it’s the start of something that will continue for some time.
“I’m as committed to this as I am to any other creator-owned work I’ve done,” he said. “We all want The Winternational to run for a good long while.”
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