In August 2016 Max Brooks was interviewed at The Nerdist podcast. He spoke for a bit about his Cinema Purgatorio creation A More Perfect Union, illustrated by Michael DiPascale. Listen to the whole interview if you want all the details (including ideas behind Brooks’ earlier Avatar Press title Extinction Parade), but here are a few things he mentioned that shed light on where Union is headed. (starting at minute 15)
We’ll start off with pop culture… Alan Moore wanted to put together an anthology of horror stories and he got together the awesome-est of the awesome-est. Garth Ennis, Kieron Gillen, Christos Gage. So he got together this awesome team, and then me.
I had a story I wanted to tell, but it wasn’t what I consider to be traditionally horror. When I think horror, I think dark alleys, and AAAAH! and suspense… and mine’s not. Mine is actually a throwback to the old 1950s movie Them!, which was one of my favorite movies of all time. The one thing Them! never did was have a giant ant battle. Because they couldn’t afford it. They could afford like three animatronic ants and that was it.
So I actually went back to the studio and I pitched them Them!. Now we can finally do the Act III that they’ve never done. They loved it. I went up through the chain of command. Finally I got the note “does your giant ant movie have to be giant ants?” They said to me “do they even have to be giant?”
I said alright. We are done. Because it occurred to me, I only need you guys as a title – Them!. I don’t need you to do a giant bug movie. They’ve been done.
I thought as long as I’m breaking why does it have to be the 1950s when we had the technology to wipe ’em out. What if there was a giant bug war at a time when our technology was just in its infancy? Not so infant that we’d get slaughtered, but not so advanced that we would do the slaughtering.
1863. Battle of Gettysburg.
Robert E. Lee [is the] commander of the American Army. There is no Civil War, because it never happened. Because the outbreak happened right before the South seceded. At that point, the greatest military mind in America was Robert E. Lee, so he is commanding what’s left of the army of the Potomac, facing this horde that’s coming from the south.
It’s not going to be a victory. All he’s hoping for is a stalemate. Because if he can halt this colony long enough, then all our technology that’s coming up – all the idea of repeating rifles, chemical weapons, human flight, electricity – all these things are starting, but they need time.
Can Lee buy us enough time? Because if they break through and go north, we’re done. North America is done.
So that is the battle of Gettysburg.
And that was my story. I wrote it up and I gave it to Alan Moore and I said “I know this is nothing like you normally do.” He read it. He said “that’s exactly why I want it.” So God bless Alan Moore. He said “yeah – you’re in.”
What was cool about it was my story unfolds very very very slowly. Because there’s also a social undertone in it. It’s about not having the luxury of prejudice. The story starts out issue one you think it’s Gettysburg. Then you realize oh – some of these soldiers are from the South. Issue two: commanding general Lee – what’s going on? Then later issues “wait a minute” there’s black soldiers fighting alongside white soldiers. There’s women fighting alongside men.
Basically we don’t have the luxury of dicing our species up into little categories and picking our favorites. We’re all in. It’s either all of human talent or none of us survive. That is A More Perfect Union.
Listen to the full interview here.