by Jarrod Jones. Zipping through the sapphire skies of a major metropolis towards a thrilling new adventure is Jupiter Jet, the dauntless character-wonder borne from the pure comics-lovin’ hearts of Ashley Victoria Robinson and Jason Inman. Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio, the second volume in the series, promises to push the alliterative ace to newfound heights and strange new worlds, as 17-year-old Jacqueline “Jacky” Johnson has her eyes opened to a few surprising truths about her world, her family, and the galaxy beyond.
But fans of ol’ Jupiter should rest assured that these startling new expanses will be navigated with the series’ trademark optimism and giddy reverence to the pulp comics that inspired her. “Sequels should always cover new ground,” Inman says. “Otherwise they shouldn’t exist. Now I doubt many readers, when they discovered our steampunk 1930s comic adventure in Volume One, thought we were going to send our character into space for the second volume [but] Jupiter Jet is a character that loved to soar higher and higher, so I hope it makes sense that she now wants to travel amongst the stars.”
Among the exciting changes in this sequel volume—which is illustrated by Ben Matsuya, colored by Elizabeth Kramer, and lettered by Taylor Esposito—will be, yes, Jupiter’s jet-packed ascension to outer space, but also a dark new threat, a planet populated by cowboys (Inman “has a long-standing love affair with the Western,” Robinson tells me), and revelations that just might alter the flight plan Jupiter Jet had set before her—forever.
But Robinson goes one further in assuring the readers who might feel reticent about these new paradigm shifts. “As long as Puddles the cat is around I feel confident we’ll be able to reach back and touch what connected with readers about the first installment.”
Needless to say this latest comics dazzler, published by Action Lab Entertainment, will have you looking up in the sky with a smile on your face.
Ahead of its November 11 direct market release, DoomRocket spoke with Ashley V. Robinson and Jason Inman about Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio, the various inspirations for their high-flying hero, and where they themselves might soar to if the sky was no longer the limit.
1. One of the first things that struck me when I first read ‘Jupiter Jet’ was how vivid the world is—bright, blue skies, gleaming city skyline, smiles and flight and joy. To begin, I want to talk about your respective mood boards. Which elements comprised the pop culture alchemy that spawned such an optimistic, energizing character?
Ashley V. Robinson: I think we each had very different inspirations and touchstones when we jumped into creating Jupiter Jet. For me, Sailor Moon (specifically Sailor Jupiter), and the “Magic Girl” manga tradition has always been an enormous influence on Jacky Johnson and her relationship to her alter-ego, Jupiter Jet. Kim Possible was also a huge influence—Jacky even resembles Kim in some ways. Readers who are familiar with the ending of the first volume of Jupiter Jet know The City and the world are not what they appear at first blush and the bright, clean aesthetics reflect this liminal state our story actually occupies.
Jason Inman: For me personally, this was always an homage to “pulp” comics. The Doc Savage stories, the Rocketeer comics and even the Indiana Jones series all served as a touchstone for the Jupiter Jet series. A pure method of storytelling driven by the emotionality of the adventure. The other common thread of those stories is joy. No matter how serious the adventures or trials become, those adventures feel happy, and we wanted to replicate that. That’s why Jupiter Jet has a cat. That’s why she enjoys flying, because you can’t have lows without optimism.
2. ‘Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio’ expands Jupiter’s horizons to the void of space, where mystery and danger does dwell. And as Elizabeth Kramer’s palette darkens, so too does Jupiter’s story—for a litany of intriguing reasons. By their very nature sequels are more treacherous ground, but you don’t want to completely disrupt the elements that made your readers fall in love with Jupiter in the first place. So how do you toe that line? How do you push your character to these emotionally challenging stratas while maintaining the positive elements that made Jupiter… well, Jupiter?
JI: Sequels should always cover new ground. Otherwise they shouldn’t exist. Now I doubt many readers, when they discovered our steampunk 1930s comic adventure in Volume One, thought we were going to send our character into space for the second volume. However, there is a big Easter egg pointing the readers towards the solar system at the end of Jupiter Jet, Volume One. I always feel that as long as the adventure and the tone of the original stories are present, readers will follow you. That’s how you “toe the line” so to speak. Jupiter Jet is a character that loved to soar higher and higher in Volume One, so I hope it makes sense that she now wants to travel amongst the stars. Jupiter Jet may not fight any mobsters in The Forgotten Radio, but those villains have now been replaced by cowboys. One of the funnest parts of sequels is seeing how the character reacts to new situations, so I hope our readers are equally curious to see Jupiter Jet tackle new and stranger situations.
AVR: The sophomore slump is for real, for real. You nailed the curious nature of sequels. Making sure we still had something to say with Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio carried with it much of the same anxiety we brought into writing Science! The Elements of Dark Energy—our second original graphic novel. “Toeing the line” was made much easier by the fact we have jumped Jupiter Jet and her world forward a year. Now we are getting to explore the world—and the galaxy—through the eyes of a 17-year-old young woman who has a year of superheroing and leadership under her belt. While Jacky is up exploring the stars another segment of Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio is very literally tethering us to Europa, to Jupiter, and to the first volume. Ultimately, what I’m getting at is as long as Puddles the cat is around I feel confident we’ll be able to reach back and touch what connected with readers about the first installment.
3. Europa reminds me of the Fleischers’ art deco interpretation of Metropolis, and don’t think for a second that I missed that ‘Action’ Easter egg! I know you’re quite fond of Superman, Jason—does co-writing ‘Jupiter Jet’ scratch any creative itches you may have in terms of exploring the Superman mythos?
JI: Good eye! As a farm boy from Kansas, it’s almost a requisite that I include Superman Easter eggs in anything I write. Jupiter Jet does scratch a lot of the same story beats as Superman, especially the purity of their ethics. 17-year-old Jupiter Jet has the same morality of Clark Kent before he became Superman. Willing to do whatever to save the day, no matter how it affects the bigger picture. Like Clark, Jupiter Jet wears her heart on her sleeve and there’s a lot of joy in writing a character that is so pure.
Fun fact: I’m actually working on my next project which is a direct exploration of the Superman archetype. It follows my character, Captain Terrific (a Superman analogue), and I’ve codenamed it Book: Best Friend. If you want to see some art from it, go check out my newsletter at www.jasoninman.com.
4. In ‘Forgotten Radio’, Jupiter gets to explore some of the star-filled expanses of that final frontier. She explores a strange new world, comes to understand and empathize with a new civilization—Ashley, it’s no secret that you’re a tremendous Star Trek fan. Was the creation of the planet Justus a deliberate nod to the various “more than it seems” planets that populate the various incarnations of the franchise? If so, how did it feel to flex that particular storytelling muscle?
AVR: Almost everything about Justus actually came from Jason. He has a long-standing love affair with the Western and came to the drawing board with this subplot well-formed.
JI: Sorry to jump in here, Ashley, but that’s correct! I’ve been begging Ashley to let me include a Western theme into one of our books for years. Like superheroes, I feel that Westerns are one of the true American creations. I love every aspect of Western mythos, and feel like a cowboy in my heart. I pitched Jupiter Jet wearing a duster and cowboy hat, her first time riding a Henson Lizard (read the book, Jetsetters!) and how this dusty chapter could move her story forward. Yes, it expands the “more than it seems” thread of the Jupiter Jet franchise. Would you expect to find an old West town on an asteroid in our solar system? I wouldn’t, but that’s what our heroine discovers!
In fact, Justus is named for one of film’s first cowboys. Justus D. Barnes is the cowboy who shoots in the screen in 1903’s The Great Train Robbery.
5. This is potentially a spoiler-y question, but I wanted to ask about the Children of Gaia. They’re the organization that keeps the city of Europa humming along, but that communal sense of safety comes with a terrible price. Do you think that the secrets the Children keep from the citizens of Europa are justifiable? What are the limits of power in the world of ‘Jupiter Jet’, and do you think the powerful should be held to account for deliberately maintaining such a paradigm-shifting deception?
AVR: A running theme throughout Jupiter Jet has been “the world is bigger than you think it is.” Sometimes we execute this quite literally (the end of Volume One), sometimes a little more deftly. The Children of Gaia have kept secrets not only from the citizens of Europa, but from Jacky throughout her entire life. In many ways they are the shadowy hands which most obviously illustrate the aforementioned theme. The limits of their power and what verdict may be passed upon its members is something readers will see more and more of in future volumes.
6. Another Star Trek-related question for Ashley: If Jupiter Jet blasted onto the set of a Star Trek series, which would it be, and which crew member would she get along with the best?
AVR: Star Trek: the Original Series is what I want my answer to this question to be. Much of Jupiter Jet and Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio follows in the footsteps of pulp stories and radio serials. TOS occupies this same vein. However, if we’re thinking about who she would get along with the best I’m going to have to go with either Deep Space Nine’s Jake Sisko—he’s about her age, he’s a great storyteller, he understand what it’s like to lose a parent—or Lower Decks’ Tendi; she’s positive, invigorated, really smart, and loves space.
7. Yeah, I have another Superman question for Jason. (I could talk about Superman and Star Trek for days, forgive me.) Other heroes in Metropolis aren’t unheard of, though they tend to keep to their own respective neighborhoods—Gangbuster hung around Suicide Slum, Guardian kept to Cadmus, etc.—if Jupiter Jet operated in Metropolis, where would she hang her jetpack, and which members of the Super-Family would frequent her adventures?
JI: You’re forgiven! Those are my favorite subjects. Jupiter Jet would live in the New Troy area of Metropolis where she would hope to catch a glimpse of the intrepid Lois Lane. Jupiter Jet would be so enamored with Lois’ bravery that she would hope Lois would take her under her wing. Also, I believe Jupiter Jet would eat lots of chicken wings at the Ace O’ Clubs with Bibbo. She loves wings, and Bibbo acts like her uncle.
8. Ben Matsuya’s artwork is absolutely incredible in ‘Forgotten Radio’—he’s really leveled-up. Like if Marguerite Sauvage finessed ‘The Rocketeer’. What’s your working relationship with Ben like? Are your panel notes for Ben as detailed as they seem, or does Ben fly solo on some of the visual decisions?
AVR: Jupiter Jet has always been a full-script series. We include a lot of details for everything from linework to colours to lettering. Our scripts usually wind up being almost equivalent to what a prose page would look like unless it’s a splash page. That in mind, any time Ben, Liz, Taylor, or Carlos had an impulse we always let them run with it.
JI: Ben’s work in Forgotten Radio astonished us. Even though we gave him a full script, he went “off script” many times and made our comic better for it. I appreciate his artist sensibilities. The look of Praetor Venus in this volume comes completely from Ben’s design skills. It was a look we had never considered.
9. I’m just curious: What are the most pronounced emotions the two of you feel when you see the latest ‘Jupiter Jet’ comic begin to take shape? Is there a ‘chicken and the egg’ kind of sensation when the energy you put into the book begins to energize you, personally, creatively?
JI: Happiness. I never thought we’d ever see a sequel to Jupiter Jet even though we loosely plotted out five volumes when we began. So the fact that Jupiter Jet has returned in The Forgotten Radio is amazing. It energized us so much that about a couple months ago, we started plotting new ideas for Volumes 3 and 4! The release of the book has become our “rocket fuel.”
AVR: Taking a new step for Jupiter Jet probably feels more like Neil Armstrong stepping down on the Moon for the first time rather than a chicken-or-egg scenario. It always feels like we are embarking on an adventure we think we have a roadmap to, but cannot possibly comprehend the weight of.
10. Let’s say the technology reaches a point where real-life jetpacks become safe—or, relatively safe. Would you ever strap one to your back and go for a soar? If so, where would you want to go?
AVR: Aries is my Zodiac sign. I’d be pretty tempted to go visit Hamal (the brightest star in the Aries constellation).
JI: Hell yes. In fact, tell me where to invest and I’ll help make this jetpack a reality now! In all seriousness, I’ll love to fly to the top of Mt. Everest with it. I’ve heard it’s a great view, but I don’t think my legs would like the hike.
‘Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio’ hits comic shops via Action Lab: Danger Zone on November 11. Contact your LCS to score a copy of your own.
Check out this 4-page preview of ‘Jupiter Jet and the Forgotten Radio’:
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