When Atlanta children’s book author Greg Burnham and illustrator Marcus Williams launched the Kickstarter campaign for their Tuskegee Heirs: Flames of Destiny graphic novel series in January, they felt good about attaining their rather modest $10,000 fundraising goal.
“We just didn’t expect to get it in eight hours,” says Burnham. “And we definitely didn’t think [it would reach] $74,000.”
Set 80 years in the future, Tuskegee Heirs depicts a rogue group of African American teenaged pilots who must battle “self-aware war machines” to save humanity. The project was inspired by a conversation Williams had with an older man who was frustrated by how aviation had gone from awe-inspiring to mundane in just a few decades.
“I mentioned the idea of drawing a cast of young Tuskegee Airmen,” says Williams. He and Burnham then built the concept into a futuristic action-adventure story that also honors the original airmen and their role in black history. Williams hopes that the graphic novels—the first is due out this month, with another to follow next year—will eventually serve as a springboard for an animated series. “So what’s next is infinity and beyond.”
This article originally appeared in our July 2016 issue.