Born in Detroit, Steve Nedvidek was taught by his father at an early age to draw and make plastic model kits, which quickly became a passion. The early 1970s saw his family move to North Carolina where he would create comic books and 8mm monster movies with his friends, putting him on the path to where he is today.
Now he's an author of graphic novels, an actor, teacher, and more. It's fair to say the world of arts has consumed him!
Celebrating his graphic novel series The Jekyll Island Chronicles, we asked him to let us in on what he and the book's other authors would like readers to know. Here's what he had to reveal...
1. The creators are three dads. In fact, we were looking for a way to get creative as we approached our 50’s, and our day jobs just weren’t doing it for us. So, we decided to start meeting at night to develop a graphic novel series of anarchists battling action heroes right after WWI. Our families were super supportive—and it costs a lot less than an annual golf club membership to do pursue this dream. This also means that we keep our content appropriate for young adults to read—but parents enjoy the series, too!
2. Our company name is a mash-up of where we live and a nod to Shakespeare. We decided to call ourselves the Lost Mountain Mechanicals. We all live close to Lost Mountain, in the northwest Atlanta, Georgia suburbs. The “Mechanicals” reference is right out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We truly identified with that troupe (a group of working stiffs trying to do something creative), so we combined the two.
3. Our story is classic action. Even though all three of us grew up reading sci-fi and comic books, we had noticed that the comic world had gradually changed. We were a little weary of the hyper-cynical, internally conflicted superhero who lives is a dark, brooding world. Our stuff is traditional good people versus bad people stuff. Our heroes are veterans of the Great War who aren’t perfect, but do recognise when it’s time to fight back…and whom to fight.
4. The Jekyll Island Chronicles is LOADED with real facts even though the story arc is fiction. We did a lot of research, looking for events that really happened in the era right after WWI and wove them into our narrative. There are so many things incorporated into the series, like blimps blowing up over downtown Chicago, anarchists conducting mail bomb campaigns, the creation of London’s Flying Squad, Woodrow Wilson’s stroke and the role his wife Edith played in the aftermath, and the 1920 Wall Street bombing, to name just a few. In fact, creative history and literature teachers have started using the series with students in the classroom. And if you look closely, the pages and panels are littered with Easter Eggs that are sure to make historians smile…
5. Jekyll Island is a real place. Most people think of Mr. Hyde when they hear the name Jekyll. However, there is a tiny island off the coast of Georgia where, in the early 1900’s, one sixth of the world’s wealth lived. Families like the Rockefellers, Pulitzers, Carnegies, Morgans and Cranes all called these islands home. They built very large “cottages”, hunted, and basically vacationed every winter on the Georgia Coast. Jekyll Island is where the US Federal Reserve was created and where the first transcontinental phone call was made. The beautiful thing about this place is, unlike Hogwarts, it really exists and you can visit there today and stay in the gorgeous Gilded Age buildings these industrialists created.
6. This is a global story. Settings are not just American locations, like New York or Jekyll Island. Readers will find themselves in the trenches of Belgium, atop the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis, and the Cologne Cathedral, in Portuguese salt mines, in castles in Romania and Albania, and of course, all over the UK. In fact, MUCH of Book Two takes place in and around London, like disused tube stations, the Brooklands race track, and the majestic Crystal Palace. The final battle of Book Two takes place south of the Thames and ends at Tower Bridge. Oh, and there is a lovely little scene that starts in Fionnphort, Scotland and ends in Fingal’s Cave on Staffa.
7. The Jekyll Island Chronicles takes place in an amazing technological age—and we put it on steroids. The design of our machines, costumes, and architecture all has a diesel punk flair to it. We push the tech of the time to be greater than it was, asking “what if?” What would Henry Ford’s personal car look like…and would it be black? How would Nikola Tesla design the outfit of an action hero? We combine tech that existed with experimental products of the day to create a swirling, unique world that captures the reader’s imagination.
8. Our heroes, and villains, come in all shapes and sizes. The original heroes we created are a mixed bag, but they are all mainly heroes of the Great War. We have Buffalo Soldiers from the US and an array of international vets of WWI. We have pilots (the aforementioned Flying Squad crew comes to mind). We have a Red Cross nurse, Helen Huxley, whose body was damaged in a lightning storm who must learn to deal with shocking everything she touches. We have Charles Proteus Steinmetz, the 4-foot tall contemporary of Tesla and Edison who outfits Helen with devices to control her energy. The villains are real, too, led by anarchists Luigi Galleani and Gabriella Antolini. And of course, a young Adolph Hitler makes an appearance or two.
9. This story is about teamwork. We live in a harshly divided place right now. One of the reasons we wrote this story was to remind people that there are some things that are worth coming together for. People with DIFFERENCES can actually make a DIFFERENCE when they work together for a common good.
10. It is NEW. We set out to do something different. Something unique. Don’t you need a breather from Marvel and DC for a while?
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