Smash Pages Q&A: Tyler Chin-Tanner, Matt Miner & Eric Palicki

‘Maybe Someday: Stories of Promise, Visions of Hope’ launched on Kickstarter this week, offering ’25 inspiring stories about a brighter future.’

Tyler Chin-Tanner, Matt Miner and Eric Palicki have worked together in the past on the anthologies This Nightmare Kills Fascists and All We Ever Wanted, both of which were published by A Wave Blue World. This is of course in addition to the many other comics they’ve written.

Their new comic anthology is Maybe Someday: Stories of Promise, Visions of Hope. I honestly don’t know whether this is the best or the worst time to kickstart an anthology of optimistic science fiction stories, but they’ve gathered a talented group of creators to tell stories about possibilities, hope and the promise that our struggles today will lead to a better tomorrow.

The Kickstarter just launched and the three were kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.

The first question I always ask people is, how did you come to comics?

Tyler: If you’re asking how I first started reading comics, it was from buying them off the spinner rack at the local pharmacy at the age of five or six years old. Took me a while to know I wanted to make a career of it though. My first job out of college was as a public school teacher, first in California before going abroad to Tanzania and then Costa Rica. That’s when I applied to The Kubert School. It was during that time I met my wife, Wendy, and we decided to form our own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, straight out of art school.

Matt:  I was hatched from an egg after Alan Moore sat on me for three months.  Not like a regular egg, but the kind you get from the machines with little toys inside.

This isn’t the first time you three have worked together. How did the three of you first connect and start working together?

Tyler: We first connected when Matt and Eric were putting together the anthology, This Nightmare Kills Fascists. I ran into Matt at the Five Point Fest in New York City. He invited me to take part in the anthology, first as a writer, but then as the book came together the two of them asked me if I wanted to publish it. That became the first of what is now three straight anthologies together.

So what was All We Ever Wanted?

Eric: All We Ever Wanted: Stories of a Better World is our Ringo Award-nominated collection of aspirational, positive future science fiction. As Matt put it, the goal was to deliver stories that are “more Star Trek, less Mad Max.” We gave our creative collaborators a tremendous amount of leeway with regard to interpretation, but most importantly, a few stories illuminated the possible path of how we get from where we are now to the “better world” promised in the title.

Where did the original idea for it come from? What was the impetus for it?

Eric: I recall it was a confluence of several different ideas. We wrapped up This Nightmare Kills Fascists, our anthology of politically inspired horror comics, only to find ourselves living in a world even more terrifying and unpredictable than what any of our collaborators had imagined. TNKF suddenly seemed almost quaint in comparison to what you’d find on the nightly news. 

Matt and I knew we wanted to work together again after TNKF, but we wanted to do something that wouldn’t be quite so psychologically taxing. At the same time, the Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” was on everybody’s mind, and both Star Trek Discovery and the (far superior) The Orville were about to launch on television. There seemed to be an audience for aspirational science fiction, and after putting ourselves through the emotional ringer with TNKF, we as creators needed an upbeat project to tackle.     

It’s interesting you say that because I’ve always thought of All We Ever Wanted as being in conversation with This Nightmare Kills Fascists.

Eric: Sure. Both projects reflect aspects of the same world we live in. One book shined a light on the dire state of the world as it is, the other on how awesome our future could be. In either case, I’m proud of how oblique an approach some of the creators took to the respective themes of those books.

What does it means that you made a sequel to All We Ever Wanted – and now?

Tyler: It means that All We Ever Wanted didn’t achieve its purpose and there’s still a lot of work to be done! Seriously though, the theme of positive vision sci-fi resonated with readers even more than we thought. The anthology sold really well, not only through the Kickstarter campaign, but at comic shops afterwards and even in the book market. Beyond that, there were more creators who came to us who really wanted to be a part of something like this. They wanted to tell their stories about how we could make the world a better place.

What do you think science fiction can offer, especially at a time when as a society we seem to struggle with the future and what it means?

Tyler: Science fiction can either serve as a warning for what could happen if we continue down the wrong path, or it can open up new possibilities of what we can achieve if we make the right choices. Or perhaps a bit of both.

As you’re thinking about this idea, how does one edit a book like this? Are you approaching everyone? How much guidance do you give people – after all, my idea of paradise might differ from yours.

Matt: I prefer the curated anthologies, so we approach industry veteran friends and colleagues whose work we like, while giving a few spots to newer known voices we know can tell a good story. Opening up the book to everyone would mean a lot of sifting through pitches, and I run a dog rescue, and I frankly don’t have the bandwidth to do that amount of work. Really impressed by anthology editors who do, though. As far as the interpretation of the theme, we leave that to the teams – we ask them to imagine what a better and more positive world looks like to them, and tell a story in that world.  

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