You’ve been developing WASTED LANDS for nearly 20 years. What was the original inspiration for it, and what about it has stuck with you for so long?
DAVE DORMAN: The original concept was born of a video game entitled “Skyborg: Into the Vortex.” It was a game produced by Skybox, the card company, to cross over into video gaming. The style of the game was very Myst-like, but had a collectible card element. For the game, the concept was that there were five different worlds that the player would travel through. Each of those worlds was created by a different artist: Brom, Julie Bell, Brian Stelfreeze, Dave McKean and me. For that project, I created a set of characters and a semi-finished world to place them in. At the time, it was called “Projectile World.” Within that world were the main characters that eventually became the focus of my WASTED LANDS universe: Edge, Iguana, M. d’Cease, etc.
The world was realized enough to work within the game, but as I continued to roll the characters around in my head, a much different, grander story began to develop, which eventually lead to the RAIL: BROKEN THINGS graphic novel in 2001.
It stuck with me because I’ve loved the comics medium and storytelling since I was a kid. My career, however, has been mostly built on creating art for other characters and licenses. By creating these characters in this world, I have an opportunity to show my fans that I can do more than just work with previously established licenses. This is my opportunity to contribute to the media I’ve loved all of my life: comics.
There have been glimpses into this world released through a variety of outlets over the years, including prose shorts, graphic novel anthologies, and self-published single issues. How did you approach collecting all of these materials into a single volume and continuity?
DD: The graphic novel series that started originally with RAIL was intended to be a five-book series, following EDGE and his comrades through their adventures in THE WASTED LANDS. Unfortunately, after the release of RAIL, things got sidetracked both legally and financially. I was unable to follow up the book at that time with its continuation. However, over the years, it has lived as a reality inside of my head. I have been able to tell smaller stories through various avenues such as Dave Elliott’s A-1 anthology, the Penthouse Comics magazine and other media outlets. These stories give you a little more information about the characters and their world. Unfortunately, there’s no direct tie to any of these diverse stories because they were published as disparate entities.
Now that I am planning to continue the graphic novel series and finish the story of RAIL, we decided it would be good to bring all of these stories together as a bigger introduction for the new readers to get a little deeper into the characters and background of THE WASTED LANDS world. Along with the comic stories that have been published, we will be including two text stories written by my writing collaborator Del Stone Jr. Both stories–once again printed in very obscure media–will be reformatted, re-edited and contain new artwork by me and other renowned artists.
The characters in this world are all so well defined and unique – The Edge, Iguana, Skid, M. d’Cease, etc. What inspired these characters?
DD: The origins of the characters are very diverse, but the one tie binding them all together is they’re offshoots of my personal interests in various genres of storytelling – Westerns, police procedurals, noir detective stories, Asian film, surfing, etc. The original strong influence can be found in visual imagery suggested by Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. To put it in Hollywood elevator speak, it originally started out as a motorcycle western in the Sergio Leone feel.
The characters are drawn out of the style of storytelling — Edge could be considered the Clint Eastwood figure – the strong, morally direct hero. Iguana is the quirky inner city detective who is slightly “off.” M. d’Cease is the empowered, no-nonsense investigator/coroner for the Police State. The elements of fantasy (without giving away any spoilers) follow my particular interest in specific historical and fantastical legends in mythology.
The setting is also very rich and expansive, with aspects of classic westerns mixed with otherworldly sci-fi and fantasy elements. How would you describe the world beyond the boundaries of what is shown in this collection?
DD: Over the course of storytelling, within the graphic novel series, the world will be opened up greatly and surprisingly to my readers. There are many new characters still to be introduced, lands still to be explored, and surprises to be had; hints are given as readers stay with the graphic novels as well as some of the other stories that will be told of these characters.
What further adventures and expansions can readers look forward to after becoming attached to the world with this collection?
DD: In addition to the four other RAIL graphic novels, which tell the linear story of Edge and his companions, there is also a board game in development called RAIL: IRON WARS, which takes place chronologically BEFORE the timeframe of the first graphic novel. There are three text novels — each focusing on a different main character in self-contained adventures that will be released this year in eBook form as well as potential hard copy editions. There will be either a single issue one shot or a smaller mini series comic book stories featuring Iguana and M. d’Cease, one of which features Mortal City’s surf and drug culture, entitled RED TIDE. We have plans for figurines and other licensed products, so this is a very good time to pick up the WASTED LANDS OMNIBUS and start fresh in this renewed adventure.