The Winter King Shows Norse Gods in the Big City

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Christopher Moscardi is an unknown in the comics world... at least for now.  His debut graphic novel, The Winter King, is currently in production and will be released by Arcana Studios in late 2013 and he’s pounding the pavement to get the word out about his new book. Set in a world where one media company owns just about everything and the old Norse mythology still has a strong hold over a select few, The Winter King offers both modern myths and big explosions. He is currently running a Kickstarter campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1657278085/the-winter-king-a-new-graphic-novel-from-arcana-st) which is raising the money to finish the book's illustration with fellow up-and-coming artist George Zapata.

BROKEN FRONTIER: As many would-be creators already know, the comics industry is not an easy one to break into, but you have a leg up in that Arcana has agreed to release your book when it’s complete. How did you get to where you are?

CHRISTOPHER MOSCARDI: The script for this book has been through at least a dozen versions - it’s gone from a four issue series to a webcomic format and finally landed on this, a full OGN split into three chapters. I’ve had a few different artists attached to it from time to time, but it wasn’t until George and I put together a pitch that it garnered real attention. We were absolutely thrilled when Arcana said they wanted to work with us to get this released, but George is a full-time artist and Arcana, like any other independent publisher, doesn’t have the operating budget to pay up-front page rates so George and I parted ways and I went on the search for another artist.

I worked with a couple other people, really talented guys, but nothing really felt right to me and Arcana agreed. We just came to the realization that George had to be the artist on this, because his artwork is so entwined with the story. You can tell that he really enjoys the story and the themes and the environments here, he captures it all with his mixture of beauty and grunge which is at the very heart of the story itself. So here we are, Kickstarter kicking, trying to raise the money to bring this book to life!


BF: So let’s talk about the story. What’s this book all about?

MOSCARDI: Well, The Winter King is sort of my take on Norse mythology. That’s not to say I’m rewriting any one myth, or modernizing a certain myth, but instead I’m taking the ideas and characters and putting them into this new world and new situation. It marries Norse mythology with urban fantasy. Think steampunk meets Thor and you’re on the right track.

The story is about Gage, who is this shepherd living a very peaceful, rural life in the Outland until one day he discovers that his Drasil Tree, which is this sort of mystical branch of the World Tree, has been cut down and in its place is an enormous billboard that’s advertising the impending urban sprawl. You know, one of those “Coming Soon: The Newest Gated Community” type of things. And then, on top of that, a talking raven appears to Gage, and the raven tells him that he knows who cut down the tree and why and that all Gage needs to do is go to the city to confront this guy.

Well, “this guy” happens to be the head of Odin Enterprises which is the largest media conglomerate in the world. They own all the media outlets (except one) in the city, the entire police force, most of the national guard - I mean this is corporate stranglehold to the extreme. But of course you’re not going to have an enormous corporation taking over the entire city without some backlash, which is where the Fenris Wolf Pack comes in. These guys are hardcore, tagging the city with their anti-Odin message, rioting, blowing up Odin buildings - whatever it takes to bring down Odin Enterprises.

So Gage, when he gets to the city, is thrown right into the middle of this turf war going on between Fenris and Odin. And since he’s an “outsider” neither side trusts him as far as they can throw him (which is not far, because Gage is a big guy). All the while Gage is coming to the realization that his connection to the old Norse mythology is a lot stronger than he ever knew, and that there are a lot of different mystical elements at play even in the city. And he’s beginning to discover, more and more, that he’s the key to everything, he’s the connection that brings together Odin and Fenris in ways that none of them see coming.


BF: It sounds like there’s a lot going on here.

MOSCARDI: Yeah, there’s a lot of layers here, but the long and short of it is that it’s a story about talking animals, traitorous gods, insurgent punks, media moguls, corrupt politics, godly realms, and some very important trees. All in 124 pages of gorgeously stylized black and white artwork.

BF: It seems like you’re pulling from a whole lot of different inspirations for this. What were the strongest influences for this concept?

MOSCARDI: I like to say that this book spawned from my adolescent readings of Bulfinch’s Mythology and my more mature listenings of Pink Floyd (particularly Welcome to the Machine, Money, and the entire Animals album - those were basically on repeat for me). This book puts together all the things that I always loved about Norse mythology and mashes it up with this anti-establishment sentiment that resonates from music like Floyd. I mean, what if Norse gods lived today? They wouldn’t be revered the way they once were, not in the age of the almighty dollar. Consumerism is the new religion, and corporations reign like new gods. And for the old school, like Gage, it’s an uphill battle just to believe what he believes.

BF: So what will you do if you reach your Kickstarter goal? What are the next steps?

MOSCARDI: Well we’re trying to reach $9800 for the full 124 pages and as of this interview we’re about 20% there with 9 days to go. We need your help! I know it sounds like a lot for a comic book, but if you consider a typical page rate for professional art and the total number of pages, it begins to make a lot more sense. When we reach the goal, it’s work work work until the art is done. George can hit the pen and ink hard, and we’ll be working til our eyes fall out making sure that everything is absolutely perfect. And then we hand over the comic to Arcana, and they bring do what they do best, which is bring great comics to the market! All the marketing and distribution is handled by Arcana, and they have a global reach and a great digital presence. And of course, as soon as the comic is finished, we’ll get all the Kickstarter rewards out to everyone who pledged. We’ve got some really great rewards. Some typical stuff like signed copies of the book and original art, but also some not so typical rewards like a completely hand-written copy of the script, associate producer credits, a night out with me (if you’re in the Boston area) or you can even be drawn into the comic as one of the main bad guys!

You can check out The Winter King on Facebook at facebook.com/thewinterking and you can follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/kingsinwinter

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