There are many branches of historical and science fiction dealing with history's "what if" moments, major events where the tide of human events could have been forever altered by the slightest change. But what if these alternate scenarios happened within our own timeline, only to be erased by an otherworldly overseer?
This is the concept behind "Days Missing," a five-issue miniseries created by Roddenberry Productions executive Trevor Roth and published by Archaia Comics. The project will feature rotating creative teams, with Phil Hester and Frazer Irving providing the first and final issues, David Hine writing issue #2, and others to be announced later.
Following our interview with Frazer Irving, CBR News spoke with Trevor Roth and Archaia's Director of Development Stephen Christy about "Days Missing" and the Roddenberry-Archaia publishing partnership.
Christy compared the concept of "Days Missing" to that of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's "Planetary." "In 'Planetary,' it's the secret history we never knew because it was repressed through conspiracy; 'Days Missing' is exploring the secret history we never knew because it literally didn't happen, it was erased from time," Christy told CBR. "That, to me, is a really cool concept."
Roddenberry's Roth and Archaia's Christy both emphasize that giving each issue to a different set of creators plays directly into this concept, as every team will be working on a different missing day and perhaps a new perspective. "If collaboration is, in fact, the source of creativity, this book should be one of the most creative books out there, and that is something that we always strive for," Roth said. "To take each day and give it to a group of people is fundamentally related to the idea itself, and therefore not something that's problematic or just done for the hype of doing it."
The first and final issues will have Phil Hester writing and Frazer Irving on art, and Christy took the opportunity to announce exclusively to CBR that "Days Missing" #2 will be written by "2000 AD" and "Spider-Man Noir" scribe David Hine. "When it came time to put the creative teams together, it was great working with Trevor and everybody at Roddenberry because they're willing to take risks and do something different," Christy said. "I think we just sort of posed the idea of, what if we make this miniseries as accessible as possible? What's the best way to do that, what's the best way to get different readers in? And we thought the best way to do that would be to essentially bring in as many top-talented people as we could into this to put their own stamp on the idea. So far it's been a blast. From our perspective as comic book fans, I think it's awesome to be going out to the public with a comic book that is single issues where every issue is a new jumping on point for new readers. I just think that's something that isn't seen much today, and that's something that I miss a lot in the comics industry, that people can pick up a random issue and be fully immersed in a world right away without being bogged down in the continuity."
Future issues, with creative teams still to be announced, will include "an intellectual horror tale about the secret history behind Frankenstein" and "a kind of pirate story," Christy said. "Some of these days that we're doing stories about are hugely important historical events that were recorded and were written down in history, that we're revealing 'what really happened.' But there's other days where it's really small incidents in history that are completely forgotten or don't seem big, but could have been very important to the structure of the human race and how the human race evolved."
Roth drew a parallel with Roddenberry's most famous creation, "Star Trek," noting that the original television series also featured multiple writers and directors. "One of the strengths of the series, which is similar to how 'Star Trek' worked, is that it has tremendous flexibility to allow us to continue to create issues or stories in many, many different ways in many, many different genres, through the same characters and through the same methodology but really dig into different types of time periods and days and experiences."
"We're really excited about this and I think people are going to be really psyched when they see the rest of the people who are going to be doing this," Archaia's Christy said. "We have a lot of really talented creators. I'm actually just excited as a fan when we get new scripts and new art in. This is really a high-profile book and the creators are bringing their all to it. It's nice to be working on something where we have the opportunity to work with so many talented people, and many people who haven't worked with Archaia before."
"I think that it should be quite a ride," Trevor Roth said of the series. "It is something that I think people will be able to immerse themselves into from a ride-oriented kind of a way. There's a lot of action and a lot of thrills and a lot of thinking that goes into it."
Christy sees "Days Missing" as very much in line with the Roddenberry standard of intelligent science fiction. "The great way about how the series is designed, is that because we have this all-star rotating list of creative teams per issue, each issue is a completely standalone issue. So ideally we're creating this almost in the way that the original 'Star Trek' was created, in that you'd turn on a new episode or pick up a new issue, and you get a complete story in 22 pages that has a beginning, middle, and end, but is tied into the larger structure that is being built by us and by the 'showrunners' on the book, Phil Hester and Frazer Irving."
"Days Missing" is the first project to come out of the publishing partnership between Archaia and Roddenberry, which was first announced at New York Comic Con in 2009. "One of the reasons I was attracted to this for Archaia was, Roddenberry holds a really strong personal significance for everyone at Archaia because we all grew up with 'Star Trek,'" Christy said of the arrangement. "I can quote all the movies and TV shows chapter and verse, as Trevor knows. And I'm sure I've annoyed him many times at meetings doing so. It's a name that stands for quality science fiction and storytelling, and I think that's something readers know Archaia for in comics is its quality. When you pick up an Archaia book, you're going to something interesting, you're going to get something you haven't seen before and something that's hopefully really, really well put together. When Trevor gave me the overall pitch for the series and we started riffing and collaborating with each other about what this series could be, it was really exciting. And to get this kind of talent on the book--I'm a huge fan of Phil Hester going back to creator-owned stuff through Image and even back to the old Caliber days. It's been a great project, and it's been a lot of fun. I'm hoping that people will enjoy reading it as much as we've enjoyed creating it, and that we'll be able to do more projects together in the future."
"When we found Archaia it just seemed to be a really good match for us," Roth said of Roddenberry Productions' perspective. "We pride ourselves on being a premiere source of science fiction entertainment and I think that when we were looking for a partner for this particular story, and Archaia came along having a very high standard of what it puts out and a record of putting out high quality stuff, it seemed to match the legacy of Roddenberry very well and allowed us to feel comfortable working with them to bring to people a brand-new Roddenberry creation"
For fans that might still need coaxing, Christy returned to another feature of "Days Missing": its introductory price point. "The first issue is 22 pages of Phil Hester and Frazer Irving awesomeness for 99 cents. There's no way you can go wrong with that," he said. "We just want for as many people as possible to pick it up and get excited about it. There's no excuse for someone not to buy the issue when it's Hester and Irving with a cover by Dale Keown for $.99. I'm hoping people will give it a chance and will enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed creating it."
"Days Missing" #1 ships in August from Archaia. More information is available at www.daysmissing.com.