Sean Fahey, founder of Black Jack Press and mastermind behind the outstanding weird west anthology series, Tall Tales from the Badlands, has begun a Kickstarter campaign to launch a new anthology, Sagas of the Northmen, featuring one of medieval Europe’s most feared cultures: the Vikings. On the Kickstarter page, Fahey states, “In the tradition of the medieval Icelandic Sagas, our book features tales about (seemingly) ordinary men and women finding themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The subject matter explored in this inaugural volume is expansive and includes stand-alone tales about the infamous raid on Lindisfarne, Leif Erikson, the Icelandic justice system, the Viking funeral ritual, the Varangian Guard, the Viking warrior ethos and Freydis Eiriksdottir’s expedition to North America.” These are some truly epic tales from Viking history. The raid on Lindisfarne was a brutal attack by the Vikings on English villagers and marked the beginning of the “Viking Age.” Leif Erikson was an explorer who built a settlement on Greenland, but also set foot on North America. The Varangian Guard was an elite military force comprised of Vikings who were sworn to protect the Byzantine Emperors. They also gave us the myths of Odin, Thor, and Loki, and their decedents, the Normans, conquered England and had a major influence on both the English language and culture. If you haven’t already figured it out, the Vikings are an important part of Western history and an anthology like Sagas of the Northmen is a wonderful homage to their legacy.
Fahey has brought together an impressive group of writers and artists to ensure the Viking legacy is treated with respect while, at the same time, being full of action and drama. Novelist, screenwriter, and producer, Mark Wheaton (Friday the 13th, The Messengers, The Cleaners); Eisner nominee, Derek Fridolfs (Batman: Li’l Gotham, Arkham City: End Game, Adventure Time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); comic writer and producer / host of Anime Vice, Tom Pinchuk (Hybrid Bastards, Max Steel, Roboy, Unimaginable); frequent Black Jack Press anthology contributor, Kenneth Elliott Jones (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Fearless Future, Tall Tales from the Badlands); and comic writer Susan Wallis (Sci-Fi Horror, Magic Bullet, To End All Wars) have all contributed scripts for the book to go along with two of Fahey’s own stories. Tales like Wheaton’s “Satan’s Hordes,” which details the raid on Lindisfarne (The Northmen raid on Lindisfarne in 793 A.D. is considered by many modern historians as the beginning of ‘The Viking Age.’ To the inhabitants of Lindisfarne, however, the raid was considered to be God’s Wrath.”), and Fahey’s story about Viking exploration, “Because it is There,” (“The Vikings braved vast stretches of the unknown to discover unexplored lands and challenge prevailing conceptions of the known world…in many ways, becoming the astronauts of their time.”) are bound to draw readers right into these modern renditions of Icelandic Sagas.
The artists are just as talented and just as diverse as the writers. Founder of “La Productora” a comic artist’s collective in Argentina, Jok (The Hill, Vengeance of the Vapor, Dungeons and Burglars); freelance illustrator and comic artists, Borja “Borch” Pena (The Gathering, Tall Tales from the Badlands, To End All Wars); former assistant to Jorge Zaffino on The Punisher, Conan, ‘Nam, and Hellraiser, Marcelo Basile (Columba, Eura Editrice, Dead Pop, Trident Comic, Milikio); Ezequiel Rosingana (Aurea Editoriale, Vincent Price Presents, Tall Tales from the Badlands, To End All Wars); Michael Kennedy (Neon Noir, Spiritus); and Todor Hristov (Soul Trader, Guardian of Junkyard City, The Forever Maps, To End All Wars) make up the story artist team. Additionally, the book will feature three, frame-worthy art pin-ups by Matt Smith (Barbarian Lord), Mario Guevara (Ultimate Fantastic Four, Victorian Undead, Solomon Kane, The Lone Ranger, Blackbeard, Nevsky), and Mauro Reifschneider (Puente, Norfolk, Deadball, The Gathering, Tall Tales from the Badlands). Judging from the quality of the art on the preview pages, this book will be worth every penny because these images are epic. These Vikings are rendered as realistically as possible with nary a sign of the stereotypical, but wholly inaccurate, horned helm.
Fahey is attempting to use Kickstarter to fund a “large scale print run” of Sagas of the Northmen, rather than the print-on-demand services typically used by Black Jack Press. The print-on-demand service allows for affordable yet high quality comic books, but it doesn’t allow for much in the way of profits for the artists and writers nor does it allow for profits to fund future projects. In Fahey’s own words, “Sagas of the Northmen, and more specifically this Kickstarter campaign, is the first step toward turning our hobby into a small business, while still maintaining the creative freedom that comes with being an independent publisher.” For more information on the Kickstarter campaign and Sagas of the Northmen please click here.