Welcome to this Inside the Autumnlands, a column focusing on the Image Comics series the Autumnlands written by: Kurt Busiek with art by Benjamin Dewey and colours by Jordie Bellaire. Every month we’ll read the current issue and ask Kurt Busiek some questions about the look. Now, onto issue #4!

Be aware that this column will contain SPOILERS for the specific issue and the Autumnlands series. If you are looking for this issue you can find it at your local comic book shop or on comixology

The Autumnlands #4: With the Great Champion away, the city is vulnerable to Goodfoot’s machinations.DIG053079_2

1. The world The Autumnlands feels very lived in with a rich mythos and culture to support it. How did you go about creating a fantasy world that feels like a truly established civilization? Was the process of creating the Autumnlands at all similar to creating Astro City?

Kurt Busiek: I’m sure there are similarities, but it doesn’t feel all that similar to me. ASTRO CITY is designed to feel like a big mess of history, the kind of thing you’d get if dozens of writers and artists were contributing to a shared universe over the decades, and this big ol’ spaghetti plate of history is the result. THE AUTUMNLANDS is a world with a specific history, a coherent backstory, not just a mess of happenstance. So everything in it is guided by that backstory, by the forces that shaped it.

Naturally, I won’t tell you what those forces are, since you’ll learn it alongside Learoyd and Dusty. But it’s a different kind of thing than what we did with ASTRO CITY.
Still, there’s a certain amount of piling up cool ideas and figuring out connections between them that’s probably similar, even if we’re fitting them together into a different kind of setting. Years of daydreaming, of cool images and ideas, of piling up repercussions of those ideas, stuff like that. And now that we’re on the road, as it were, when I get new ideas, we test them against the structure we’ve already got — does it serve the core ideas? Does it illuminate something about the world? If we handle it right, could it be a clue, a step toward where we’re going? If so, it goes in. If not, maybe it’ll still get used, but not for anything really crucial.
But there’s an awful lot of daydreaming involved…
2. Why call it “the Autumnlands”? Is this at all suggestive of a world approaching the winter of its existence?

Kurt Busiek: It is. We weren’t going to bring up the term until later, but when we had to change the title, we fastened on this. So it’s telling readers a little more about the world than they’d have ordinarily known, if we’d been proceeding with the original title. But we’ll be exploring it as we go, learning what it means.

As it is, Dusty knows the term, but he’s not really clear on what it means — he’s just heard it all his life. And Learoyd doesn’t know it at all. So they’ll find out, and so will we!
Autumnlands 1

3. Each issue of the Autumnlands has an accompanying prose excerpt – are we ever going to meet any of these characters in future issues or are they simply meant to provide deeper shape and meaning to the events of each issue?

Kurt Busiek: I’m not 100% sure what characters you mean. The characters in the excerpts? We’ve already met some — the first excerpt was all about Keniel on the day all the big stuff happened. The second was a legend of the Great Champion, although he turned out to be unlike the legend. The third was about a soldier in a hi-tech war, and I think readers know who he is. And the fourth was about a guy wandering around the foothills in a walking chair.

The question might be, are those excerpts accurate? Or, in the case of the one about the legend, at least accurate to the legend? Hard to say, at this point. And where are they appearing? What’s the context? That’s something we haven’t said yet either.
If you’re asking if we’ll ever meet the writers and artists of those stories…well, I know the answer to that, but I couldn’t possibly tell you at this point…
Autumnlands 2

4. What is it about Dunstan that allows Learoyd to trust him above anyone else? Is this their bond derivative of the “dog is man’s best friend” adage? 

Kurt Busiek: Well, Learoyd didn’t get along too well with Bhord the blacksmith, and he’s a dog too.

I’m not sure Learoyd trusts Dusty a whole lot…as we saw, Learoyd didn’t answer many of Dusty’s questions, and went off to talk to Goodfoot even after Dusty warned him about her. So he’s not trusting Dusty enough to share much, at least.
On the other hand, Dusty’s not very calculating, and doesn’t have an agenda of his own, like so many of the adults Learoyd is dealing with. So it may be relaxing for Learoyd to spend some time with someone who’s not telling him what to do or trying to manipulate him. His life’s been torn apart, and he’s been dumped in a place where he doesn’t know anyone or who to trust. So the fact that Dusty’s pretty guileless may well be an advantage.
Dusty, on the other hand, has had his world torn apart, too. He’s lost his dad, his home, his future…a confident, decisive older male figure is something that’s probably pretty reassuring to him right now.
Where all that goes…we’ll have to see.
Autumnlands 3
5. Why have a bear be your avatar in the letters column?

Kurt Busiek: I asked Ben to draw the two of us as animals for a fun promo thing, but I let him pick the animals. My one contribution was that when I saw it was a bear, I asked Jordie to color it gray, because I’m pretty solidly gray these days, no longer brown.

After Ben did those first two cartoon portraits of us, I had the idea for the first lettercol, and asked him to draw Jordie and JG too. He’s never met JG, so he had to work from photographs, but he did a great job.
And then it just seemed natural to use those portraits for the regular lettercol. It’s fun, it looks good and sets a nice tone, I think.
But the choice of bear, that was Ben.

About Author

Ashley Victoria Robinson is a Canadian girl by day and Robin by night. She lives in Los Angeles now and stars as Ensign Williams in THE RED SHIRT DIARIES, co-hosts the GEEK HISTORY LESSON podcast and writes for Top Cow.

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