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The story of “Aladdin’s Lamp,” as it came from the medieval Arabic literature “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights,” has been translated to many different media and inspired countless stories over the centuries. The Disney film “Aladdin” with the voice of Robin Williams is probably the one remembered best by most readers. There’s another story inspired by the original that’s hoping to get a little attention as well. Out today from FC9 Publishing is “Genie,” written by Jim “Kep!” Keplinger. CBR News caught up the writer to see what sort of magic he has up his sleeve.
Keplinger told CBR News that “Genie” is an all-ages series about young Jeffrey Allen and the adventures he has with his Genie Xanda. “It’s also a detailed look into the mythology of the Genie and the Djinn and how they have been affecting our lives for thousands of years,” said Keplinger.
Jeffrey’s a good 14 year old kid with a fanboy complex (he collects action figures, comics, etc.,) who just jas too much time on his hands. He’s joined by his Genie Xanda, slave to the Djinn and forced to travel through time (forward and back) granting wishes to further the mysterious objectives of his master, Djinn Mumtaz. Two others round out the cast, Genie Shakar, a genie we meet in 1875 Baghdad, and Terry Royal, the local bully who’s chosen Jeffrey as his punching bag.
Before moving on to the story, let’s get some history. Who are these mysterious Djinn according to legend? “The Djinn are the magical power brokers. They control the ‘wish magic’ which they dole out as if by whimsy through the Genies,” explained Keplinger. “The Genies are their unwilling servants, and while they do have magic of their own, they are only conduits for the Djinns’ ‘wish magic.’
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“Where the Djinn come from is a mystery, but we do know they were enslaved in ancient Atlantis before escaping. That story is told in the first arc.”
As for the story in “Genie,” Keplinger says his first job in tackling this legend story was in deciding exactly what a Genie was. “I have never been satisfied with the typical bit where they granted three-wishes and moved on,” said Keplinger. “I wanted to know why and how. This story investigates those questions. We also didn’t want to just stick with the tired tale of a master and his genie running around doing cool or silly things. We decided there had to be ramifications for their actions that spanned space and time. If, for example, you are granted a billion dollars, that would radically change the economics of your local area (at least!), so we decided to explore those problems… what really does happen if great wishes happen to regular people.
“In the first arc we jump right in to what the Genie are and where they come from. From the beginning there’s a separation between the Djinn and the Genie and a large portion of the story is devoted to that difference. More importantly though, we meet Jeffrey, the hero of our story, who finds his very own genie and discovers that’s not such a blessing.
“The first arc stretches across time as we move between stories in 1875 Baghdad, ancient Atlantis, 22nd century Kansas and back to modern times and more. These times are all linked to the origin of the Djinn and the Genie and lead to why Jeffrey has to contend with a genie in the first place.”
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Keplinger said that he’s always had a fascination with Middle-Eastern mythology and that “Genie” allows him the opportunity to dig into those legends in a way he’s never had before. With a long term story plan already in place, he’ll have plenty of time to explore this new world. “We’ve set down the physics and reasons for the magic in the first four issues, and Jeffrey is granted his first wish. That leaves him two more. We will not be avoiding those, and he will get them before issue #12. However, the story of Jeffrey and Xanda does continue beyond the third wish is a way I think everyone will enjoy. Right now, I have plots for two years ready to go and there’s no reason the series shouldn’t continue past that.”
“Genie” started with FC9 Publisher Tilman Goins, who’s the creator of the book. Goins visited Keplinger’s studio forum and posted an ad for a writer. Keplinger sent him some samples and a couple of months later Goins rang Keplinger and gave him the job. Goins also brought together the rest of the team, which Keplinger outlined for us.
“Eliseu Gouveia is our artist and brings a truly unique vision to the work. He’s been knocking down doors in the industry for the last several years and this series really let’s his art shine.
“Kevin Volo is our colorist extrordinaire. Kevin and I have worked together on several projects over the last several years and I knew he’d be able to make Eliseu’s art shine. And he has!
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“Ray Dillon is the letterer on the team and I can’t stress how thrilled I am to have him here! He’s doing some particularly interesting things with Genie that are very subtle but enhance the reading experience nicely.”
Throughout recent history the legend of the Genie that grants wishes has been explored a number of times. From the previously mentioned “Aladdin,” to the Shaquille O’Neil vehicle “Kazaam,” the legend has been interpreted a number of different ways with varying degrees of success. Some of those interpretations have helped inspired Keplinger with his own story. “Robin Williams was genius in ‘Aladdin,’ of course (I’ve watched it 20 times),” said Keplinger. “I really dug ‘Bewitched’ as a kid as well as ‘I Dream of Jeanie,’ specifically the way they succeeded in bringing magic to a world of characters most people could relate to. In many ways, those shows were the springboard I leapt from. ‘Bewitched’ was especially deep (I use that word comparatively only) in delving into the mythology of the magic itself and how the characters have rooted themselves in modern-times.”
“Genie” #1 is available from FC9 Publishing at finer comic shops today.
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