Thomas Edison was a bully. That’s why you’ve barely heard of the hero of Rave’ Mehta’s new graphic novel, “The Inventor”: Nikola Tesla.
Nikola Tesla was probably the greatest inventor of both the 19th and 20th centuries. If all you know of the man is David Bowie’s brief turn as the inventor in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige or the high end electronic car that bears his name—you would do well to read Rave’ Mehta’s new graphic novel, The Inventor. Released on the eve of his 156th birthday and featured at Comic-Con last week, Savas Abadsidis talked all things Tesla with Mehta.
When did you become obsessed with Tesla?
I’ve been aware of Tesla for a long time, but about 5 years ago when I was on the Space Florida board of directors, I was researching programs to implement into the Hawking’s Microgravity Research Center when I kept running into Tesla’s research. His concepts, theories and general philosophy of trying to create things that are in harmony with nature really resonated with me so I started researching his life more and that’s when I got hooked! After researching him for a while I found myself relating to him, and then one day I felt like I was in his head and that’s when I started writing the story.
Why is it still that he’s not a household name?
Tesla is not really discussed in depth in our current educational system, at least in the US, which is a shame. I have an engineering degree and the first time I heard of Tesla was the Tesla electrical unit of measurement in one of my physics classes with very little background on Tesla himself. Edison, however, I remember reading about as one of this country’s great inventors in history class while in middle school. That’s why I decided to write this story.
Why was Thomas Edison such a douchebag?
Because Edison was a bully and unnecessarily electrocuted a lot of animals to make Tesla’s technology look dangerous. Edison realized this much later in life, shortly before he died, since he said his biggest mistake had been in trying to develop direct current, rather than the superior alternating current system that Tesla had put within his grasp.
How true to life is the dialogue in the book?
Since this is based on Tesla’s true story, I worked hard at being as accurate as I could, however I did take some creative liberties in the dialogue to make the story more dramatic and engaging.
You sort of pose him as a god-like figure and a bridge between man and nature. How true do you believe that to be?
I didn’t mean to make Tesla look like a god, but I wanted to portray Tesla as having a spirit with a strong sense of purpose and destiny to fulfill. As you know from the story, Tesla had so many hurdles. Even just trying to get to America, he almost died a few times but something kept him going where most of us would’ve given up or taken the easy path. We all have that human spirit and purpose, but for whatever reason, many of us are not as in touch with that part of ourselves. However, in the end, that’s really what makes us all extraordinary.
When did you get into comics?
I started reading comics as far back as I can remember … I think when I was 6 is when I first picked up Superman and I was taken into a whole other world! Life is funny, back then I always thought I would be an astronaut when I grew up … but this is way cooler!!
What would you say to someone who thinks comics aren’t cool?
Nothing, I would smile and buy them a really cheap beer!
Rave’ Mehta is the CEO of Helios Entertainment and the creator of “The Inventor”, a graphic novel series based on the true story of Nikola Tesla. Helios Entertainment specializes in creating and producing multi-platform transmedia properties including graphic novels, games, apps, music and films.