Five Fists of Science
Illustrated by Steven Sanders
Published by Image in 2006
Paste: Why is it so fun to make Edison a villain?
Fraction: He was a son of a bitch. He was! The funniest thing about this book is it’s all true, until the monsters show up. Well, it’s largely true. There’s more truth in that book than I think anybody realizes. Edison robbed Tesla of billions, if not trillions, of dollars and retarded the growth and development of our country, and he also cost lives through an unsafe product. He was much savvier about media and PR in those days than Tesla ever imagined was necessary. He was a son of a bitch. You know why Hollywood is in California? To get as far away from Edison’s legbreakers as possible. He was so zealous. He’d send legbreakers after people who dared to use cameras.
Paste: When you wrote this were you thinking, “Hey, I’m gonna do a steampunk comic,” or did you just have a story you…
Fraction: Oh, no! I don’t think I was even aware of the word “steampunk.” This predated my awareness of such a thing. I saw a picture of Twain in Tesla’s lab with the ball of lightning. The first page of our comic is based on a Tesla photograph. I wanted to write a story about Tesla and Twain teaming up to save the world, and the more we start to research, the more all this great stuff came to light. The beginning, we didn’t write that — that’s Tesla, Twain’s “Peace by Compulsion,” that’s a real thing. He tried to do that. The idea that these two knew each other, (Steven) Sanders and I immediately joked “oh they fought crime,” but then it became clear that, no, wait, they have a scheme, and we had to do something that felt period, and create a design appropriate to what Tesla’s work looked like at the time; that kind of turn of the century thing. It’s sort of low-hanging fruit. The minute you find out anybody knew each other, you want to see them chasing bad guys down an alley.