The Wonder City was one of Kickstarter's earliest comic book success stories. Courtney Zell and Justin Rivers, two long-time friends, wanted to create an ambitious graphic novel that re-imagined the entire history of New York City. After countless hours of hard work spread over nearly five years, they've finally released that novel into the world.
If you have a chance to pick up a copy, the first thing you'll notice is the vibrant cover art. Courtney's illustration of Coney Island's iconic Wonder Wheel combines the raw, live-action feel of hand-drawn lines with the slightly old-timey version of New York City that you're about to be immersed in. It's a great way to start a story that's all about blending myth and history with a bit of magic.
Once inside, the story drops you directly into a Brooklyn brownstone, c. 1942. It's the home of a working class family, including two young siblings, Lizzie and Owen. You're soon introduced to Velma Graydon, a real gal Friday and "gumshoe" who's hot on the trail of a mysterious artifact called the Parelzaad, which just happens to belong to Lizzie. I won't spoil any details, but let's just say that much of the story is told through the eyes of Lizzie and Owen, both of whom have yet to fully realize how important their roles will be in New York City's unfolding history.
The story takes you all over New York City, and if you're a New Yorker, you'll find settings that feel oddly familiar -- a random church or a brownstone-lined street you might have walked past at some point, the beaches of Coney Island, the interiors of old train stations and subway cars.
In fact, I highly recommend reading The Wonder City while in transit, and preferably while you're on a train. It'll take your mundane, everyday commute and make you wonder if it might be worth hopping off just to explore those random nooks and crannies amongst forgotten tunnels.
And if you like what you see or just love comic books in general, be sure to stop by The Wonder City release party on June 29th at The Bell House in Brooklyn to meet Courtney, Justin, and some of your fellow Kickstarter-ers. They'll be gathering together comic book creators and fans to hang out and talk about that thing we all love: making and reading more comics!