Image Deals High Stakes Sci-Fi In Lost Vegas
By Andy Mueller and Mark Banaszak

Lost VegasCasinos are everywhere these days, providing entertainment to millions of people around the world. And in Jim McCann and Janet Lee's Lost Vegas ($14.99, 978-1-60706-785-6), there is even one in outer space.

Lost Vegas is a graphic novel from Image Comics in which Roland, a gambler-turned-slave, has 24 hours to go all in and pull off the greatest heist the universe has seen. Aboard this luxurious casino-filled traveling space-station you will find the highest stakes games from every corner of every planet, unheard-of winnings, and the greatest attractions anywhere.

McCann and Lee previously collaborated on the graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men from Archaia Entertainment, which won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album-New and was a favorite among many librarians.

Diamond spoke with McCann about his futuristic gambling adventure and collaborating with Lee.

Diamond: Can you tell us more about the main character Roland and his precarious situation?

Jim McCann (JM): Roland is a guy who is always in the moment or thinking three hands down the line at a gambling table. As such, he never thinks about the past or consequences, so when it actually catches up to him, he finds that luck and charm won't get him out of the debts he owes. He's into every casino and backroom game table across the galaxy far more than he can pay and no loan shark will touch him any more. For players like him, there's only one way to pay off your debt- by working it off in the most luxurious casino known to the universe: LOST VEGAS- a star cruiser that is a giant playground for wealthiest and highest rollers around.  

For a guy like Roland, to see the elite of the gambling world playing the highest stakes games, where an entire planet's fortunes are made and lost in a single hand or roll of the dice, while he is forced to be sidelined, serving drinks and cleaning their toilets-- this is literally his hell. What's worse is he knows odds and payouts; the system of "working off debt" is rigged in the houses' favor, like most things. It'll never happen. For him, there's only one option: after years of planning, the time has come to pull off the biggest con attempted aboard the LOST VEGAS- cheat the system, get enough money to get a ship, and escape the cruiser with a new life.  No one has ever succeeded, and the odds are stacked against him, just the way he likes it.

To me, Roland is like an untamed Han Solo, a brash Danny Ocean, and Paul Newman's "Hustler" character all rolled into one.

Diamond: What other interesting characters can we look forward to seeing?

JM: There are many different characters and races, which makes working on a book like this so fun. I've always loved sci-fi and Vegas itself is filled with, shall we say, "interesting" people, and to mix these up, shake, and pour is huge fun. We have everything from a sentient blob of ink to a ten-foot stag to a race lurking in the shadows and many MANY more, as you'll see in Janet's art. And our main female lead, Kaylex. There's not much we can say about her because she is such a mystery to everyone on LOST VEGAS.

Diamond: It seems that as Roland makes his escape attempts, each leads to a higher-stakes situation, which fits well with the gambling motif of the story. Was that something you’d specifically plotted out, or just how it came together?

JM: Absolutely. The stakes always have to be raised, and in the story, we introduced how deeply these actions reflect the raising stakes for what an entire galaxy has been going through. At its core, Lost Vegas is a story of freedom, and doing whatever it takes to win that, at all costs.

Diamond: What is it about the casino/gambling scenario that drew you to the idea?

JM: I'm a huge fan of the genre. When thinking of what I wanted to do next I had been watching a lot of heist movies as well as gambling films. Films like The Sting, The Hustler, and Ocean's 11 started to get my imagination going. I've also always been fascinated at the fact that Casablanca is not only a love story, but a story about gambling- putting your entire life and freedom on the line. The idea was kicking around with Janet Lee and myself and she loves the genre too, so we were really excited to do something set with this at its core. Of course, when Janet and I get together, it's something you won't be expecting, so we decided to scratch the itch that is our love of sci-fi as well.

Diamond: Could you talk about working again with artist Janet Lee?

JM: How long can this interview go? Haha! The easiest way to describe it is like coming home. This is not a knock against any of the artists I have worked with and am continuing to work with- they are all amazing. There's just something about Janet and I that is different. Maybe it's because we've known each other for years and literally watched our careers grow from the ground up, often together. Or that we used to live in the same neighborhood in Nashville, TN. It just feels like there's a bond, a connection there. We don't even have traditional scripting process-- it's mainly getting on the phone or visiting each other, bouncing ideas, then talking through an issue, then I'll talk her through how I picture 5-6 pages at a time will look and as I see the layouts, the dialogue locks in and I'm writing a final script AS she is drawing.  Very organic.

Diamond: Return of the Dapper Men was well-received in the library world, with many librarians praising the book. How did you feel about that, and what place do you think comics have in libraries?

JM: First, thank you to all of thank you to the librarians who have supported us. I think there is a place for books like Dapper Men in all libraries, but I think that all comics have a place in libraries. What we are doing is no different than what Charles Dickens often did in his novels: telling serialized fiction and collecting them in volumes. There are so many great stories out there that kids and adults alike can relate to if they were exposed to them. Since many of these readers don't usually go to a local comic book store, having them on a library shelf would provide the opportunity for them to have access to these books.

Diamond: Do you and Janet have any further projects planned together?

JM: Yes, we have a number of ideas always cooking, it's just a matter of what hits us at the right time. We are fairly certain what it is we want to do next, but it's too soon to announce. I can say it will be another departure from anything we’ve done before, and we'll have a blast doing it!

Lost Vegas is scheduled for release October 1 and is featured in the DBD December 2013 Sales Kit.

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