P. J. Anderson Shares Author Insights From His New Book
Hi readers. On the eve of Zenith’s release date, I thought I’d share some author insights.
The basic idea for Zenith hit me while I was on a night cruise off Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. It was an eerie feeling as the sun set and darkness consumed our boat. The surrounding islands transformed into silhouettes and I remember just how insignificant – and vulnerable – I felt out on the ocean at night. It was spooky not knowing what lurked in the depths below. And then my focus changed to the expanse above and I imagined an object – an alien spacecraft – plummeting and crashing into one of the nearby islands. As the plot developed, I wrote heaps of notes: road-mapped the storyline and fleshed out the characters (some who were later cut and replaced by new ones). I also drew a very early rudimentary sketch of Zenith Island (see below). As the story changed, so did Zenith’s layout and directional aspect.
As a kid I was a big fan of Greek mythology. When I was maybe six or seven, I watched the 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts on TV. It was a ripping story driven by heroes, gods and monsters. (The Greek myths were largely seafaring adventures and I wanted to translate that feel into Zenith, which itself is a take on a Greek tale.)
Exposure to classic movies on Saturday night TV spurred my boyhood imagination. The Wizard of Oz. The Ten Commandments. Ben Hur. The Searchers. The Magnificent Seven. The Abbott and Costello films. The Adventures of Robin Hood. The Great Race. Where Eagles Dare. Dirty Dozen. The Great Escape. The Sting. The Sean Connery Bond films like Dr No, Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice. And, of course, Jason and the Argonauts. The random but game-changing list is endless.
I went to the cinema to see a lot of movies as a kid. Films like Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark really whet my appetite early on. I went and watched pretty much everything as I grew older. Movies had a profound effect on me and inspired me to write and draw.
I was also a big fan of comics as a kid and that interest flowed into graphic novels (the 224-page masterpiece The Dark Knight Returns struck a particular chord). My love of graphic novels inspired me to give Zenith a graphic novel feel. The manuscript changed forms many times and I eventually streamlined it into a polyphonic linear narrative driven by the main characters.
Movies of all genres have played a huge part in influencing and inspiring Zenith as a story and a vehicle for some pretty cool themes and messaging.
I’ll let you guess which movies had a really strong influence on Zenith.