Going Galactic: An Interview With Chris Fildes

There have been a number of Kickstarters this year but one that kind of came out of nowhere and grabbed my attention was Fanny Galactic. I had to get in contact with writer Chris Fildes to ask him all about it.

You’ve said that you grew up in the 80’s on a diet of 2000AD comics and British Sci-Fi shows like DOCTOR WHO and BLAKES SEVEN. Are there any particular characters or stories from those series in particular that influenced the book?

With Doctor Who it’s the quirky mix of sci-fi and comedy that’s really influenced me rather than any particular stories. There’s a few easter eggs in there for fans to spot definitely. The way Russell T Davies merged the kitchen-sink drama of a council estate with offbeat sci-fi when he bought it back in 2005 definitely influences the tone of the book. We start off in a dreary seaside English town seeing our characters present day lives before shooting off into a crazy future world. I devoured his TV script writing book so he’s a big influence on how I would approach writing characters.

I first saw 2000AD as a child – my Dad was a lorry driver at the time and I was on a very long trip with him and my brother. He bought us a copy to keep us from arguing – and it worked. It was the issue the Dark Judges first made their appearance.  I was addicted immediately and have read virtually every issue since. Even in the 1990’s! So I’d be very influenced by the tone of 2000AD – out-there big sci-fi ideas with loads of humour.

I’d say the most obvious one is the character of drag queen Sybil D’Sorder. Sybil’s alter-ego is a posh tv producer by day who is a massive fan of Blakes Seven. The persona he created was initially based on Servalan, the villain of the show. She was a glorious monster brought to life deliciously by the late Jaqueline Pearce. She was such an incredible character and if you’ve not seen the show it’s worth watching just for her. So our character created a drag persona based upon Servalan when he started performing in the late 80’s and gradually his personality has taken on some of her traits as well as you’ll see. You really don’t need to know anything about Blakes Seven though as this is just my back story.

There wasn’t much LGBTQ+ representation in those series in the 80s. I can only think of Devlin Waugh (possibly my favourite LGBTQ+ character of all time). Did you look at any more recent LGBTQ+ stories before writing the book?

In terms of comics no, not at all. My goal was to write something 2000ADy but with LGBTQ+ characters. I came up with the idea about 5 years ago and have been slowly writing it since then before finally finding an artist last year.

Devlin Waugh is really the only character I can remember too. It’s returned recently and what Aleš Kot is doing with that character now is phenomenal. It’s unapologetically gay in a comic that’s not really had much LGBTQ+ representation. (It could do with a bit more than this to be honest after nearly 45 years) Seeing that definitely gave me a bit of confidence to be a bit more playful with my own script.

I’ve not really seen much more in comics. I don’t really read the superhero genre much but I’m of course aware of some of the more recent amazing stuff in Empyre. I discovered Joe Glass’ comics earlier in the year and a friend lent me some this weekend to finally read. I’m really looking forward to reading his new one Glitter Vipers shortly.

I think one important thing is the way LGBTQ+ characters have so much more representation in mainstream TV and comics now. With that in mind I believe representation is not just talking to an LGBTQ+ audience but also appealing to a wider audience too. With so much division in the world we need to learn from each other by seeing different faces and hearing from different voices. That’s critical to me in my writing.

What made you decide to pick a drag queen as the lead character?

I was at a drag show about 5 years ago. I’d seen the act a good few times before and my mind started wandering. The wind machine on stage looked like it had seen better days and I started thinking ‘what if it exploded?’. My mind tends to wander. A lot. Then the idea of a drag queen being thrown into the future just plopped into my head. The name ‘Fanny Galactic’ came almost straight away. It was originally called ‘Fanny Galactic in the 25th Century’ as a take on the 1980’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century show but I changed it as the story needed to be closer to today. I told some of my friends at the time and they loved the idea and encouraged me to write it. The story then just flowed (very slowly) from there.

I think diversity in comics is really important. Fanny is a middle aged, working class gay character who lacks confidence in the real world. She’s tired of doing her act and getting nowhere really and just wants a bit more excitement. Maybe not this much though. It’s a really different take on a comics hero that I’ve not seen done before. 

Even though it’s a really fun tale there are still some interesting underlying themes. There is so much to explore in her and her friends lives – growing up gay in the 1980’s/1990’s when things were pretty rubbish compared with now. How these things affected their friendships and inform the characters they are now. A drag queen who has been there and seen it all gives us a really good chance to look at some of these themes a little as well as all the sci-fi action and mayhem.

You have Edward Bentley as the artist. Can you tell us a little about his work and how / why he ended up working on the book? I think his art really suits the story.

I’m so lucky to have found Ed. In August 2019 I put a call out on a Facebook comics group looking for an artist who could draw sci-fi and drag queens. I got about 60 responses. I whittled these down to a shortlist of 8 that had styles I thought could work with what I had in mind. I paid for them all to draw 2 characters of their choice. The responses were all superb but Ed’s work just stood out so much. He got the characters instantly. Fanny has barely changed since his original design and the other character Dr Hans hasn’t changed. It was the same throughout the process – every character I’ve thrown at him (and there’s quite a lot) just came back perfect each time. He’s added so much to this story and it would not be the same without him. It’s been such a thrill to get pages from him every month since last October and he’s been so easy to work with. His partner Dan is doing the book design and it looks so good. They are a dream team.

How would you sum up the book’s plot for those trying to decide whether to back it or not?

Fanny Galactic is about a drag queen who is thrown 100 years into the future after a terrible ‘accident’ on stage. She finds herself in a really strange future where she finds out it’s now being ruled by the last drag queen alive – The One. Back in our time, all the drag queens in the world suddenly went crazy attacking people and during the ensuing chaos our villain took over the world. Fanny winds up with some freedom fighters and gets embroiled in a plot to overthrow the deranged dictator – but all she wants to do is get home to her own time. She’s got no confidence and really does not want to be a hero at all. It’s a really unique story, the likes of which I really don’t think you will have read before!

What are some of the things you are offering backers?

The most basic offering is a downloadable version of the story. But I think you’ll really want a lovely printed version. All 68 glorious looking pages! You can also get an art print or t-shirt with fabulous artwork by Edward Bentley created especially for the campaign. There’s options of getting the book or art-print signed if you like and even your name in the credits. That one is very popular. 

Most excitingly you can get a cameo in the book too. This is a really fun reward and would make a brilliantly unique Christmas or birthday present don’t you think 😉

You have quickly been funded. Do you have any plans for a follow-up or different books?

I’m amazed and I have to thank everyone who backed me. It got funded much faster than I was expecting in just over 2 days. We also got selected as a Project We Like by Kickstater within an hour of going live. I’m really humbled as a first time writer by this.

A sequel is written and Ed starts working on it once we finish shipping this book. Even though this is a standalone book there’s a lot more to discover about our characters and more exciting adventures to come. I’m not going to give away anything about this one just yet.

I’m also working on an anthology set between the present day and the future Fanny finds herself in. It’s called Under Heel and will be like a cross between The Walking Dead and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert – rampaging, crazed drag queens causing chaos around the world. I’m looking for writers and artists to get involved in this and I’m really excited to see what people come up with in my sandbox. Also any drag queens that might like to cameo in any of the stories – get in touch. Panti is in this one. Wait until you see what I’ve done with her…

I’d really ask anyone interested in reading something totally different to have a look at the Kickstarter page and consider backing me.

Follow Chris On Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamchrisfildes

The Fanny Galactic Kickstarter Page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iamchrisfildes/fanny-galactic-tuck-to-the-future