I’m a sucker for the epic stuff.
I was in the theater for the first show on the day that “The Fellowship of the Ring” opened. And first in line when the DVD went on sale. Seeing “Star Wars” was a huge, formative experience in my childhood, and probably one of the main reasons that I do what I do for a living.
So when the opportunity arose to edit a post-apocalyptic retelling of one of India’s most famed epics, it was a no-brainer. When I agreed to take on some editorial duties for Virgin, we settled on three books in the Shakti line: Devi, Sadhu and Ramayan 3392 A.D. They were all, in one way or another, about the process of becoming a hero, one of my favorite subjects both as a reader and a writer. I’m a fan of Joseph Campbell’s work, especially his seminal “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” which explores the commonalities found in myths from many cultures. Not coincidentally, it was a big influence on George Lucas in his creation of “Star Wars.”
I liked the first bunch of Ramayan 3392 A.D. issues. They presented a completely new take on an ancient story, in a unique setting. They were … epic. But I felt like we could do better. I felt like we could keep that epic sensibility, but bring even more focus to the characters, to the people we’re supposed to care about. Because that’s really what keeps you coming back every month – you want to find out what happens to these people. The spaceships and lightsabers in “Star Wars” are great, but you come back because you want to find out what happens to Luke and Leia and Han Solo, not to mention Darth Vader. Most writers will tell you that any good story begins with character. We wanted to make sure this one did.
So we decided to bring Ramayan 3392 A.D. to a close, take a few months off while we retooled our approach, and then put our best foot forward. The result is Ramayan 3392 A.D. Reloaded #1, which we just sent off to press and should be on the shelf in no time.
For those of you who have been reading Ramayan from the beginning, the story continues. For those of you who haven’t been picking it up, this new #1 issue represents a perfect place to jump on. It tells you who’s who, what’s what, and how we got here in one fell swoop (as they say). You meet our hero, Rama, his brother Lakshman, the beautiful Seeta, and the inhuman villain Ravan. You’re introduced to the visually stunning landscape they inhabit, a far future where civilization exists only in pockets, savage beast-men roam the land, and a dark lord threatens to crush the world under his heel. Plus, you get a pretty nifty adventure while you’re at it, as Rama’s long journey in exile from his homeland continues.
Shamik Dasgupta remains as writer on the book. I can’t even count the number of e-mails he and I have kicked back and forth, honing our approach to the book, making sure the characters are front and center, and coming up with the most visual way to tell the story.
The “new guy” on the team is the supremely gifted artist Jeevan Kang, who already put his stamp on Virgin’s 7 Brothers. Jeevan has made the book utterly his own, spending weeks on design and exploration artwork before ever drawing his first page. When his first pieces came rolling in, both in pencil and in color, we knew we’d found not just the right guy for the job, but the perfect guy. Jeevan breathes life into the world and people of Ramayan 3392 A.D. Reloaded. We’re tinkering with a project now that will give you a chance to check out a lot of the amazing artwork Jeevan generated.
Since I didn’t want Shamik and Jeevan to have all the fun, I wrote a series of five short backup stories, one each for the first five issues of the series. Each story focuses on a particular member of the cast, fleshing out each character even more, and I invited five stellar artists along for the ride.
In issue #1, I’m joined by Mike Oeming as we tackle Rama. In issue #2, my friend and mentor Jim Starlin contributes the art for a tale of Ravan. My issue #3 collaborator is David Petersen, whose book Mouse Guard is a deserved sensation; David and I will be introducing Hanuman into the series. In issue #4, I’m joined by my Samurai: Heaven and Earth partner (and upcoming Devi cover artist) Luke Ross, for a story about Seeta. And my buddy Bart Sears contributes some eye-popping art for a Lakshman story in issue #5.
Like I said, I’m a sucker for the epic stuff. That’s exactly what Ramayan 3392 A.D. is. It’s also a damn good book, and I’m proud of it.
– RON MARZ
Pages 1-3 of Issue #1: