My favorite comic books growing up would take an established character and ask "What if?" The stakes were different in these "elseworlds": everything you hold as established story can be thrown out the window.
Who could forget Mike Mignola's visuals in Gotham by Gaslight? A Victorian-era Batman hunts Jack the Ripper?! It’s a precedent-setting “elseworld’ story. Another of my favorite titles back then was the X-Men Exiles series, helmed by Judd Winick. His slapdash cast is instantly endearing to the reader, with a character rotation that made Suicide Squad seem tame. These are stories that push the boundaries of the genre.
You can guess that I was more than intrigued when illustrator Dylan Speeg said he wanted to do a "steampunk" episode of MeSseD.
We have been supportive of the steampunk group Airship Ashanti. They are a fun gang of cosplayers. They are really doing some great character mashups, creating amazing costumes and putting on events that raise money for local charities. We have also seen a lot of amazing steampunk costumes on the comic con circuit.
Inspired by all this, I was thrilled when I saw the visuals that Dylan came up with. He got together with our model, Xu V. Chau, and came up with the artwork below. The costume elements especially trigger the imagination. That octopus on the shoulder is on point!
I'm hoping to script my first alternate timeline MeSseD story someday. I would love to adapt these images into a Victorian adventure for Lilliput and Akka, including:
Sewer machines powered by steam
The Cleacher, now a huge sprayer, the size of a barrel
The politics of establishing the first unionized sewer workers
Elaborate gothic style sewer structures
Maybe even a crossover with Creature from the Black Lagoon
Could MeSseD fit in an alternate universe or different timeline?
I'm inspired to think, "Where would the world be without its sewers?" Any time there's civilization, there's a working sewer and, of course, sewer workers. Any inhabited place, MeSseD might happen ...
Later, no gator,
THREE QUESTIONS WITH DYLAN SPEEG
What was it like reimagining the world of MeSseD?
It was actually the idea of the person I use to model for Lilliput in the comic. Xu V. Chau thought it would be something fun to do in between seasons while Jay is busy writing. It was fun to incorporate elements of the genre while making it still very MeSseD. We sketched it out, then built the costume. We had a photoshoot in my living room and I went to work drawing. It took about 2 days total.
What is it about "steampunk" style that attracts you?
I have always been a fan of the movie "Metropolis" and older visions of what the future would be like. Nobody can predict what's next. Steampunk is fun to draw and its style has something for everybody.
Any other elseworlds or alternate styles would you like to take MeSseD?
I would love to do a Manga style MeSseD. Or MeSseD in space? MeSseD itself is enough of a challenge most of the time. I feel my own personal style changing issue after issue.