Something purple this way comes. Last week, Marvel teased its next comic under the Disney Kingdoms label with a single word: “Spark.” The combination of that word with the color purple led Disney enthusiasts down a path that ended at Journey Into Imagination. Epcot’s Imagination! pavilion and its inhabitants, past and present, have a devoted following, and fans will be pleased to know the next series, titled Figment, features the purple dragon and Dreamfinder.
Yes, you read that right.
Writer Jim Zub and artist Filipe Andrade are on board for the five issue steampunk fantasy series. Figment will explore new territory, including revealing Dreamfinder’s origin for the first time. Readers will even see how the inventor created Figment. Beyond that, the Marvel take on the Journey Into Imagination attraction will expand its world and introduce readers to places such as Academy Scientifica-Lucidus and people like Blarion Mercurial.
We talked with Jim Zub about how the project came to be and what readers can expect.
Nerdist: How did you become part of the Figment comic? Was this something you were approached with or did you pitch it to Marvel?
Jim Zub: I was contacted out of the blue by Editor Bill Rosemann at Marvel. He’s been handling the Disney Kingdoms comics Marvel has been co-producing with Disney and, with so many fantasy projects under my belt and with magic and whimsy showing up in other stories I’ve written, he felt I’d be a good fit to pitch on Figment. After some initial brainstorming and pitching back and forth, the Imagineers signed off on my story concept and we were underway.
N: Are you a fan of Journey Into Imagination? If you’ve been on the ride, tell me about your first experience and thoughts about the attraction and characters.
JZ: I am, absolutely. When I was 14 my family went to Disney World and the Journey Into Imagination ride was one of the ones I remember quite well. At that point in time I was obsessed with everything sword and sorcery, so a ride with a dragon mascot and magical adventure was definitely a big plus. When you’re that age, the whole park seems full of endless possibilities, but Journey Into Imagination really takes that concept to another level by stressing the creativity within all of us.
N: Dreamfinder hasn’t been part of the theme park attraction since 1998, so how did you decide which characters to include in the story?
JZ: Marvel and Disney asked me to help flesh out the story for Dreamfinder, Figment, and the entire Journey Into Imagination concept, so I researched the ride and came up with an ‘origin’ story for Dreamfinder, Figment, and the two of them teaming up together to go on adventures. Readers will get to see the Dreamfinder come into his own and create Figment. It’s a mixture of established and new material, with the Imagineers approving each aspect of it along the way.
N: Journey Into Imagination and the characters in it have a passionate fan base. At the same time, Figment and Dreamfinder aren’t exactly household names. How will you balance the story to service everyone?
JZ: Like almost any story, you want to ensure a new reader can pick it up without any prior knowledge and have all the information they require to dig in. It’s a neat situation, though, because although Dreamfinder and Figment are known, their story hasn’t been told before, so it really does work for both new readers and established fans of the ride. It’s a complete story both groups can enjoy.
N: What’s it like to work with Disney, i.e. how much input do they have along the way?
JZ: The Disney Imagineering team and Marvel Editorial are very closely involved, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. I deeply value their input and want to make sure we’re creating something that works as a self contained story while also enriching and enhancing the “mythology” that’s already been established for Figment and Dreamfinder. I started with several different ways we could approach things, trying to give as many options as possible that would be fun for me but also build from the ride. From there we narrowed it down bit by bit, coming up with new places and challenges for Dreamfinder and Figment while using aspects of the ride as an undercurrent to the plot.
N: The story is described as a steampunk fantasy; Why did you choose that particular genre?
JZ: The eccentric flying machine that Dreamfinder has in the original Journey Into Imagination ride is very much a steampunk-style creation. In my original pitch concepts, I had several different paths we could take. Some were more classic fantasy, others more modern, and one that had more of a turn of the century steam-powered flare. That was the one both Disney and Marvel zeroed in on.
N: Did you get to create any new characters to expand the mythos or were you limited to the Disney toy box?
JZ: Yes, actually, there are quite a few new characters in the story, antagonists and protagonists alike. This was a chance to really broaden the scope of what “Journey Into Imagination” means, and so we have new locations and characters that enrich those big ideas. Creating new Disney characters is probably the most exciting and surreal part of this project. I really hope readers enjoy the new elements we’re bringing into it.
N: Tell me about working with Filipe Andrade, what he has he added to the story?
JZ: Filipe’s been wonderful to work with so far. His artwork has so much energy and personality to it. I can’t wait for people to see how he’s illustrating our young Dreamfinder and his creations.
N: Will we see a rainbow tunnel?
JZ: Read on and you’ll see! There are lots of little nods to the original ride for Epcot fans woven into our adventure. Even still, whether or not you’ve ever been to the park, this comic will be a wild ride all its own.
Figment #1 will be available at your local comic book store in June with a cover by John Tyler Christopher and Imagineer Variant Cover by Tom Morris.