Cool title. We’ll get to what it is in just a second, but first, I wanted to let you know why it exists. There are a decent number of reasons, but they all fall into two basic categories:
1. PLAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
So, I’ve spent the last couple of years helping head up the X-Men office at Marvel and it’s been a pretty fascinating ride. Tried a lot of stuff, learned a lot of stuff.
But the biggest thing I wanted to try never came to fruition because Diamond (our largest comic book distributor in the North American comic industry) was able to get back up in the middle of the pandemic and start shipping books again, when, for a few weeks, it looked like they might not be able to. This was a good thing, of course, but when the news first hit that they were halting distribution, Marvel paused a huge chunk of their line and I was pretty concerned that the company would make increasingly radical decisions regarding content and deliverability because the one thing Marvel doesn’t tolerate is a prolonged assault on profit margins.
So with the mindset of chaos breeds opportunity, I sat down and wrote up a plan to take the entire X-line digital.
Which went absolutely nowhere because Diamond and the market recovered. Again, that was great because everyone had their jobs restarted and the stores got to stay open and the fans got to have new comics to read, but there were some pretty great ideas baked into the plan I wrote and I was secretly kind of bummed that I wouldn’t be able to try them.
And then this opportunity presented itself.
The two biggest problems with the way we make comics now are: 1.) Because of the solicit/previews/pre-order hierarchy we’ve systemically erased surprise from the industry, and... 2.) We’re locked into a static storytelling format based entirely on an existing economic model.
I want the content of comics to be like it is now, where you can tell huge sweeping stories that are serialized and the art styles are varied and sophisticated. But I want the experience of comics to be like it used to be, where when you went to the store you had no idea what was going to be there, and when you saw the cover and the art it was for the first time.
I want to be able to tell stories of varying lengths. I want the format to be based on what the story demands instead of how many 20 page issues (chapters) eventually make up a trade. And most of all, I want to be able to drop a story without notice on any day we want and for it to just be sitting there, waiting for you, like the gift these things are supposed to be.
With all that in mind, the idea of doing this was too much fun to pass up. However...
2. PLAY IN A BAND
The last thing I was interested in, considering how the last year has gone, was sitting alone in my room, and working on stuff in isolation. Also, as much as I love working with a bunch of writers (like I’ve done at Marvel on the X-line), I’m really not interested anymore in replicating the assembly-line structure of how those books are made.
So I got together with two of the best artists in comics, Mike Del Mundo and Mike Huddleston, and we formed a company and an art studio. We did this because we want to create stories organically, from both ends, where the words inform the art, and the art informs the words, and we want to do this at the beginning -- where it belongs.
And in the spirit of riffing -- just playing -- we’re going to be inviting a bunch of our friends, from time-to-time, to come in and jam with us. For example, in the first month, while the Mikes and I are doing a bunch of character, environmental, and information design (with the great SASHA E. HEAD), we’ll also be doing a lot ground-level world building. So we’ve invited three of the smartest writers we know to play around with the various systems that make up the building blocks of the universe of Three Worlds Three Moons.
AL EWING (Immortal Hulk, S.W.O.R.D., We Only Find Them When They’re Dead) has designed the various religious systems of each world and moon.
TINI HOWARD (Excalibur, Euthanauts, X of Swords) has created a magic system that is, frankly, going to blow your mind.
And RAM V (These Savage Shores, Blue In Green, Swamp Thing) has done us the great favor of designing an economic model — both black markets and white — for the universe.
You’re going to love all this stuff.
Anyway, that’s basically the ‘why’ of why we’re doing this, leaving only the ‘what’ as the big question.
SO WHAT IS IT?
THREE WORLDS THREE MOONS is a concept universe. And we mean this in exactly the same vein as a concept album, where all of the individual characters/stories/things we create together add up to be part a much larger whole.
We also wanted this to be a completely transparent process, where each of you has a front seat -- and in some cases, a good bit of input -- in the primal process of creating a storytelling universe.
Now, I don’t want to sell this as purely a behind-the-scenes or a some kind of process blog. Sure, you can get a lot of that out of this if it’s what you’re looking for, but the point is to do all of this through story. Whether that’s why something is designed the way it is, or how a character looks being a product of their background or environment, or why certain places are located where they are on a map, and all of it will be unveiled narratively.
And then, of course, there will be an endless number of comics adding to this unfolding mythology. This is the launch of a new universe in comics, a new and exciting place to tell the best possible stories, with no boundaries. We are going to be telling those stories right here, delivering them directly to you as they’re born.
A lot of this will be behind a paywall after the first week or so, and will totally be worth it. But in the meantime, we wanted to offer you something of value, and something that would maybe help you understand what this is. But we also wanted to offer you a choice:
The first 500 of you who sign up as annual subscribers can receive a Collector’s Card from one of the Three Worlds, signed by me, del Mundo, and Huddleston. Or you can take THE COIN and see what it gets you.
The first 250 of you can receive a Limited Edition Print, signed by me, del Mundo, and Huddleston. Or, you can take THE MAP, and see where it leads you.
The first 100 of you can get, when it’s ready, our very first printed Ashcan, signed by me, del Mundo, and Huddleston. We will only print 100 of these, ever. Or, you can take THE KEY instead, and see what new world opens up.
And for all you who subscribe this week, annual or monthly, you’re going to get THE INVITATION. I’m going to be having a conversation with someone I very much respect and admire about all this, and I want you to be there for it.
(Oh, and if you sign up for that founding member tier, you get all of this. And more. We’ll talk about it soon. God bless you.)
All right, that’s the project. THREE WORLDS. THREE MOONS.
Seriously, such a cool title.
Stoked for more Hickman content!!!! What a team for this project🔥🔥.
Well, this was an instant subscription. Looking forward to what's coming!