“Lifedeath” is an original Science Fiction epic in part about a Jewish teenage girl fighting with the resistance in World War II. Written by acclaimed Author John Stanisci, the project has attached Emmy Award-winning producer Jared Safier and actor-producer Stelio Savante to help develop it on the film/TV side. The story takes place on Mars in the year of 2211. It is 149 pages long and was both written and illustrated by John Stanisci who plans to release it in 2018.

Recently, John granted an exclusive interview where he discussed the Book and his plans for its future.

Writing, graphic novels, and characters

Meagan Meehan (MM): What initially sparked your interest in writing and why did you center on graphic novels?

John Stanisci (JS): Writing was, and is my first artistic love. Life took me into other areas and career opportunities; one of those being an illustrator for Marvel and DC Comics, but I always knew that one day I would fully embrace the writer in me that was dying to come out and play. Doing the graphic novel was a no-brainer. I have always loved and valued the graphic novel/comic book medium as an art form that can have just as much dramatic impact as a film or book.

MM: How did you break into the industry and what projects have you worked on?

JS: I don’t know if I ‘broke into’ the comic book industry or forced my way in!

When I was really young, I met an assistant editor at Marvel Comics and asked if I could ‘try out’ drawing a Marvel story. He sent me an eight-page Hawkeye script written by Fabian Nicieza (co-creator of Deadpool). I drew the entire story as best I could and brought it up to Marvel. Due to a scheduling error, the editor was in need, THAT DAY, of a finished eight-page story.

I lucked out, and they bought it on the spot. I became the first person in history to walk in off the street and sell a whole story to Marvel! Since then, I’ve worked on Spider-Man, The Hulk, Batman, Batman Beyond (which premiered at #1 on the NY Times bestseller list for graphic novels in 2011) and many others.

MM: Are you a big fan of both historical fiction and science fiction?

JS: Absolutely! One of my favorite books is ‘Citizen Washington’ by William Martin. An amazing look at Washington’s life as told through a ‘fictional’ account. Science Fiction has been embedded in my DNA since I was a kid growing up reading the works of Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Greg Bear and many others.

MM: Was it hard to set your latest project in two timelines?

JS: At the outset, I thought it would be very difficult, but the truth turned out to be that it made telling the story a whole lot easier. By being able to bounce the two timelines off each other, I could reveal things about the main character in a far more interesting way than if it was just one timeline. The two-timeline device has been like the key that unlocked the door to telling this story!

MM: What most interests you about WWII tales?

JS: I think WWII stands as a truly unique moment in the history of the Earth. Think of it: the greatest force of evil ever known stood poised to conquer the civilized world. Average, ordinary people on two continents were forced to rise to stop the spread of that evil. The emotional journey from civilian to warrior is an epic odyssey that is infinitely gripping to us all, and it is exactly the kind of story I wanted to tell in “Lifedeath.”

MM: Why did you decide to make your main character a Jewish female and what do you most like about her?

JS: Lucet, at the beginning of “Lifedeath” is just a simple fourteen-year-old girl caught up in the Jewish uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto.

She is NOT a fighter. She is a runner of ammunition for her father. Everything goes wrong, and she is forced to fight. I really fell in love with this character as I was working on the book. I totally identify with her initial innocence and reluctance. What I love the most about writing her is that I have continually put her in situations that have been relegated to male heroes: fighting Nazis with her bare hands, leading the liberation of a concentration camp, etc. And every time, I think, well, ‘could a young girl really pull this off’? I always answer, ‘if it was a male character, no one would even question it.’ And that’s when I decide to push the envelope even further.

Television, aspirations, and some advice

MM: How did (or will) you get this turned into a TV show?

JS: I’ve been incredibly blessed to have three-time Emmy award-winning producer Jared Safier help me and an actor and producer named Stelio Savante join the “Lifedeath” team to explore development on the television and film side. I honestly cannot say too much at this point other than there will be some exciting announcements in the days ahead so please stay tuned!

MM: What are your ultimate aspirations for this series and what else are you working on?

JS: I have wanted to write and draw my own material for quite a long time, and my wish is that with the continued success of “Lifedeath” I, along with my business partner Joseph Navarra, would be able to bring other projects cooking in my brain to life.

I am also a playwright and theater producer in NYC, and I have two plays currently in development. One is ‘American Dream,' a legal drama which takes a hard look at what really happened to our American legal system as a result of the war on terror and ‘Tulsa,' the true story of the worst race riot in our nation’s history. For more info, please google my name and visit my website.

MM: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers and graphic novel artists?

JS: There has NEVER been a better time to establish yourself as a writer, or an artist, in comics/graphic novels than right now! In fact, it is the quickest way to introduce yourself to the industry. When I was starting out, it was basically only Marvel and DC, and you had to fight like Russell Crowe in Gladiator to get in!

My best piece of advice, however, is: You are NOT going to become great at this art form by cutting corners. If you want to draw, then you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and do the damn hard work it takes to become really, really good. Find a great teacher. Listen closely when they criticize you. Learn from that criticism. Get better. NEVER give up! Pretty simple.

MM: Would you like to discuss or mention anything further?

JS: I would like to say thank you very much for doing this feature on me and “Lifedeath.” I had the idea for this book nearly twenty years ago, and for all that time, I’ve been living with ‘someday’ in my head. I know a lot of us live with that word and sadly, ‘someday’ never comes to pass. For me, someday is finally ‘today’ and it really means so much to me to be able to talk about this book.