Julian was kind enough to answer my questions about the series. It's this kind of thoughtfulness, insight, and love of comics that makes Martian Comics
Why Martian Comics? What was your original motivation for the series?
But I love the title "Martian Comics!" It's such a throwback to things like Adventure Comics or Action Comics. And I meant that title as a kind of umbrella designation, indicating that we're building a universe here that's bigger than any single story.
What does "The Canals of Earth" bring to the series?
In terms of the larger series, this story occurs thousands of years prior to almost anything we've seen so far. Martian Comics is simultaneously running "The Girl from Mars" and these other stories. Those stories are part of a large short story collection. "The Canals of Earth" would be a very early story in that collection, in which we see Mars-Earth relations grow and change over millennia (and see lots of other stuff evolve too!).
"The Canals of Earth" does give us our earliest depiction of Martian society, a glimpse of early Martian religion, and reference to a Martian city we've never seen before. We're building something big. But you can enjoy "The Canals of Earth" without any previous knowledge! It's just a good sci-fi story.
What does the sophisticated reader take away from Martian Comics? What are you hoping they take away?
Second, I hope that people take away a kind of mind-bending way of imagining a very foreign perspective. We're not on Earth in this story. We're looking at how Mars has seen and imagined Earth. We're decentralized. And we're seeing Martians imagine that people on Earth would look like them. We're seeing how Martian science-fiction is a projection of Martian anxieties, and it's laughable but wonderful, in that old-school sci-fi way. Readers might be tempted to study the history of science-fiction after this issue! But I like this idea of a totally decentralized story, in which we're seeing a parallel of our own history but through alien eyes, and the entire story is this sort of distorted mirror that puts our own anthropocentric tendencies in stark relief. And maybe, just maybe, through that, some readers might see a parable of our own anthropocentrism and the need to imagine other perspectives! Maybe. In any case, there are things to think about here, places for the readers' brains to go! And I like giving readers these experiences, and seeing what they think about, which is never exactly what I'd think about -- and that's great!
Third, on a more meta level, I hope the sophisticated reader sees a comic that demonstrates that comics can do this -- make people think. So many of the comics that have most affected me were intelligent. Certainly, the truly classics are. And I think you can be intelligent and entertaining at the same time. But I think that there's a perception that most of the smart comics being made are autobiographical or "non-genre," whereas the genre work tends to be flashy but a little thoughtless. Martian Comics is here to say, "No, you can do smart -- even really smart -- sci-fi comics that are still sci-fi, and unembarrassed about their genre, and fun!" "The Canals of Earth," in particular, really reminds me of some issues of Planetary, which was intelligent and played with genre and had the same sort of mix of smart fun. Comics can do this. We know that. And we need to get back to it.