Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Remembering EPCOT Center Through The Art of Comics

A few weeks ago, someone had posted this illustration on another fan page for Horizons of what appeared to be the female version of the Robot Butler. I was instantly interested in it and found that it was part of a webcomic series called Future Worlders.

It follows the adventures of the Attraction Keepers that inhabit each attraction at EPCOT Center and look after the day-to-day operations. As the attractions shut down or cease operation, they become trapped or worse, in the case of the Attraction Keeper for Horizons, become ghosts.

I wanted to learn more about the webcomic and who was writing it, so I contacted the author and illustrator, Aleyah Lyon, and asked her a few questions about it.

First off, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview for the archives! Before we get into the actual details of Future Worlders, I would like to know when you first became interested in webcomics.

Aleyah: I’ve been interested in comics and manga ever since I was in elementary school but I didn’t discover web comics until early 2016. I don’t remember the first webcomic I read, I just came across the website Tapastic one day and started reading them like crazy. After I had read a few, I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.

Who were your inspirations? 

Aleyah: My biggest webcomic inspirations were ‘A Turn For Change’, ‘Anti-Social Media’, and ‘The Little Things.’ Another one of my inspirations is my favorite book series, Kingdom Keepers, which takes place in Disney as well.

Awesome! Kingdom Keepers is a great series to read, especially if you're into this particular genre of fiction. What made you decide to make the setting Future World and EPCOT Center?
Aleyah: On the way home from a trip to Epcot, I came up with the idea of a personified Spaceship Earth. A few months after that, I doodled a personified Imageworks that looks a little like Mage today. I started drawing more and more characters and the idea for Future Worlders came. Originally, it was going to be about a River Country character and Mage rebelling somehow, but I couldn’t find any plot ideas, so I decided to stick to just EPCOT Center.

I have to tell you that the Attraction Keepers from Future Worlders are absolutely adorable. I want to be either Riz or Mage for Halloween this year. 

How did you come up with the names for each "Attraction Keeper"?

Aleyah: They’re all taken from their attraction names - ‘Mage’ from Imageworks, ‘Magi’ from Journey into Imagination. My favorite is Sora from Soarin'. I almost called her Rin, but then I learned that Sora means ‘sky’ in Japanese and it fit too perfectly. One character doesn’t even have a name - Body Wars. I couldn’t come up with a name off of the attraction, so I just call her ‘Doc.’

Which attraction was your personal favorite? Going off of that, if you could see one attraction brought back to its original state, what would it be?
Aleyah: Although the comic is centered around Journey into Imagination, my favorite attraction is actually Horizons. I never actually got to ride it since it was torn down before I was born, so that would definitely be the one I would want to see. The Horizons character in my webcomic, Riz, has an interesting backstory, too, so I’d love to write something about her one day, but not a webcomic.

Speaking of that, how do you feel about the current state of Epcot?

Aleyah: It’s really disappointing. I’d always loved reading about EPCOT Center, but after doing so much research about it for Future Worlders, I love it even more. EPCOT Center had so much detail and care put into it, seeing the Epcot of today really depresses me. Even though today’s Epcot won’t ever be exactly like EPCOT Center was, I have hope that it can become something great.

I totally understand that. The same thing happens to me when I do research for the archives. It's definitely bittersweet. 
Overall, what is the number one thing you hope people take away from reading your web comics? 

Aleyah: I really hope it creates interest in EPCOT Center. I’ve already made some EPCOT Center fans out of my little sister and her friends. She’ll show the comic to the kids at her school and they come up to me talking about Journey into Imagination and Horizons and ask questions about EPCOT Center. I really want it to inspire more webcomics, too. I have a couple friends that want to start webcomics now after reading Future Worlders, and it makes me really happy to know my comic could be an inspiration like the comics that inspired me.

Thanks again, Aleyah, for taking the time to talk about Future Worlders! I know a lot of fans of EPCOT Center are going to be very happy it exists!

If you'd like to find out more about Future Worlders and follow the adventures of the Mage, Magi, and the rest of the Attractions Keepers at EPCOT Center, go to: https://tapastic.com/series/Future-Worlders.


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