Meet the Myopic Visionaries Who Failed to Make the Future

The upcoming comics anthology Failure to Launchcelebrates the technological and societal advancements that never advanced anywhere.

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Three people precariously ride on a flaming ,falling giant robot.
Image: Iron Circus

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly,” said Robert F. Kennedy. It’s a noble sentiment, but it still means there are going to be people who never get around to the “achieving greatly” part, and that’s who Failure to Launch, an upcoming comics anthology from Iron Circus, will showcase—the people who tried to revolutionize the world... but didn’t. And we have a preview by none other than The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’s Ryan North.

North, along with illustrator Kel McDonald (who also edited the anthology), has chosen to tell the story of inventor John Adolphus Etzler, who came to America certain he could create a device that used the wind, the tides, and the sun to power devices that meant no one would have to work again.

“When I was doing research for my book How to Take Over the World, I came across the story of Etzler, and thought he was a fascinating man: driven, ambitious, imaginative and inventive—and at the same time, almost entirely misguided in some incredibly fundamental ways,” North said in a statement provided to io9, “His book is wild too. For this story I got to go even deeper - reading academic papers and research theses written about the man, finding out all the latest scholarship on this obscure but impactful figure. I’ve never spent so much time on research for a comic before, and enjoyed every second of it—and it really shows on the page: Kel’s done some hugely expressive cartooning here, combined with their usual terrific storytelling. I hope this can be the authoritative cartoon biography of the man!”

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This preview picks up shortly after his first attempt failed, and right as he tries to convince others to follow him to Venezuela for another attempt:

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Image: Iron Circus
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Failure to Launch contains more than 30 tales over the course of more than 300 full-color pages. “Whether it’s attempts at hippo domestication, talking to the dead, or building a floating city, this book is full of bad ideas you are gonna want to see!” said McDonald.

The catch here is that the anthology needs to be crowdfunded before you can read about how hippo domestication went bad. Head here to stay abreast of when the Backerkit goes live, along with more info about Failure to Launch.

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