Science fiction has been around in some form or fashion for many years. And while there have been attempts to record the genre’s history, it had never been done on a graphic novel format. At least until now. Humanoids, home of some of the most diverse and well received works of science fiction has added another unique work to their library. Coming November 23rd, writer/historian Xavier Dollo and illustrator Djibril Morissette-Phan bring their The History of Science Fiction to North American readers. It explores the many creators who helped to establish this beloved genre we know as Science Fiction. Telling this history in a exciting and a original way, thanks to the work of illustrator Morissette-Phan and the written expertise of Dollo. So let us explore this new book with Humanoids Publisher, comic writing veteran Mark Waid.

GVN: Thanks for sharing a bit of your time, Mark. As is my usual modus operandi, lets hit a bit about your background before we discuss The History of Science Fiction. You have been a successful comic writer working on titles such as The Flash, Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright, not to mention your work on Captain America, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil for Marvel Comics. During your writing career, did you consider getting into publishing at that time and how do you feel that your experience as a writer helped when you went into publishing?

MW: That experience–as well as my experiences as an editor, a comics-shop owner, and in general a comic book jack-of-all-trades–helped immensely. The more you know about the ins-and-outs of all aspects of the business, the better you’re going to be at seeing the big picture. Which is the number one job of whoever’s sitting in the chair marked Publisher.

The Origins for The History of Science Fiction

GVN: So now we can get into The History of Science Fiction. When exactly did The History of Science Fiction get on Humanoid’s radar and how did that connection with Xavier Dollo and Djibril Morissette-Phan’s project come about? Did they approach you with their book or did you approach them?

MW: The book was originally published in France by our Paris office and was sent to us with the recommendation that we might want to republish it here. I fell in love with it immediately even without yet seeing the translation. And even though it had already been issued overseas, it demanded an enormous amount of time and effort on our end. To that end, new pages were created to make it oriented a bit more towards American sci-fi. In addition,  every single one of the dozens of “if you enjoyed this section, you might like these works” sidebars had to be replaced with English-language works, but it was worth every late night.

The Charm of the Book

GVN: As for the book, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Writer Xavier Dollo did a masterful job of covering a large swath of science fiction’s beginnings. While at the same time, avoiding the pitfalls of being too obtuse. I loved how he framed the book, beginning with the robots and their search for their origins as well as the wonderful illustrations by Djibril Morissette-Phan. You are being taught Science Fiction’s expansive history without even realizing it as you proceed. As a successful writer in your own right, was this “subliminal” history lesson part of the projects charm for you and Humanoids?

MW: Ha! I hadn’t thought about it that way, but that’s probably because I’ve read the book 500 times now. No, to me a huge part of the charm is in the way it weaves back and forth between illustrated text and standard comics format. Showing in a way more effective than prose what a conversation between, say, H.G. Wells, Robert Silverberg, and Judith Merrit might look like. How fun is that?

The Diversity of the Humanoids Label

GVN: Quite fun, actually. Its that unique story angle that appealed to me so much. In it’s history, Humanoids has established a reputation for its very diverse and expansive embrace for all kinds of different literature genres (Science Fiction chief among them). How is The History of Science Fiction different than some of Humanoids previous books?

MW: It really is sui generis; not only have we never done anything quite like it in the way it intermingles text and comics, I can’t remember ever having seen another graphic novel like it. That said, it’s very much a Humanoids book in that it’s a beautiful, carefully curated package. I often think of us as the Taschen of graphic novels; we treat our hardcover books not just as publications but as upscale, collectible objects, and this is no exception.

What Makes ‘The History of Science Fiction’ Unique?

GVN: That’s a great lead in to my next question. Its time to become a salesman, Mark. Share your best pitch (you have already laid the groundwork) to our readers why Humanoids, The History of Science Fiction should be on their coffee tables or perhaps, on their Christmas Gift list? No pressure.

MW: In the 21st century, now that the nerds have finally won and rule the Earth, it’s impossible for me to imagine not at one point or another during the day brushing up against science fiction in some form, be it a blockbuster movie or a modern-day technological device predicted by someone like Arthur C. Clarke. Science fiction is a part of everyone’s existence, directly or indirectly, and The History of Science Fiction goes above and beyond being an absolute firehose of information; it also digs into gender politics and socio-politics to frame that information, brilliantly, in a larger historical context.

I cannot stress strongly enough how far-reaching and comprehensive this work is, from Homer and Mary Shelley to Rebecca Roanhorse and Ted Chiang, from Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth to N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, and everything in between. The index alone is five multi-column pages set in six-point type. This is not a one-evening read. You’re absolutely getting your money’s worth with this book.

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Humanoid’s Other Projects

GVN: Well done, Salesman Mark! You have obviously done that more than few times in your career. I’m sold. Thanks for sharing a bit of your time, Mark. Before I let you go, do you have any other Humanoid projects you can share with our readers?

MW: Where do I start? Under our main Humanoids imprint, there’s always the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky, not the least of which is his masterpiece with Moebius, The Incal, recently announced as a forthcoming motion picture by Taika Waititi. There’s Space Bastards, a wild, raunchy comedy about intergalactic couriers at war with one another. We have “Count,” a sci-fi updating of The Count of Monte Cristo by Ibrahim Moustafa.

Under our LifeDrawn imprint, we focus on more grounded, real-world stories, non-fiction, and biographies. One of our latest releases includes “Lugosi,” an excellent biography by Koren Shadmi, and “Painted,” an unflinching and unapologetic look at a group of modern teenage girls eager to lead a revolution against the local patriarchy. We even proudly publish kids’ books under our BiG imprint, most recently “Shy Ninja.” Which is about a young girl who finds her inner potential while combating the realities of a social anxiety disorder. All that–and I can’t wait for you to see what we have lined up for 2022.

Promoting Humanoid Books

GVN: The really cool thing about your list is that we have covered the majority of them and interviewed many of their creators. Including Ibrahim Moustafa of Count, Joe Aubrey, Eric Peterson, and Darick Robertson for Space Bastards. As well as Koren Shadmi for LUGOSI: The Rise and Fall of Hollywood’s Dracula, Kev Sherry & Helen Mullane and Katia Vecchio for Painted and Ricardo Sanchez for Shy Ninja. The only one missing is Alejandro Jodorowsky. We’ve apparently got work to do.

Humanoid’s The History of Science Fiction by writer/historian Xavier Dollo and illustrator Djibril Morissette-Phan hits stands on November 23rd.

Before we let you go, we have officially launched our merch store! Check out all of our amazing apparel when you click here and type in GVN15 at checkout for a 15% discount!

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