Revisit History’s Best Bargains In First Look At ‘Time Shopper’ With Back To The Future Writer Bob Gale!

If you could go back in time to any period in human history, what priceless object would you want to purchase? A hundred copies of Action Comics #1? Jesus’ Holy Grail? A luxuriant lobster dinner aboard the Titanic?

Whatever item your mind can imagine, the rules of inflation (which can sometimes more finicky than those of time travel) are on your side when you find yourself in the past with a pocket—or suitcase—full of dough.

Tony Fleecs (My Little Pony) figured the same thing when he decided to write Time Shopper, a wacky and refreshingly original time travel story about a slacker sent to prevent history’s greatest catastrophes and tragedies. Instead of killing Hitler or preventing the assassination of JFK, however, clueless Carl decides to take advantage of the timeline’s greatest deals. Think Bill & Ted by way of Extreme Couponing.

“It sort of grew out of that one scene in Back to the Future II when Doc Brown gives Marty a suitcase full of money in the time machine,” Fleecs said of the creator-owned graphic novel during a phone call that also happened to include Back to the Future trilogy screenwriter, Bob Gale. “And to me, that was as fantastical as the idea of a time machine in the first place. It came around in the right time in my life where I’d never before thought of going somewhere else in time and buying something. It just completely blew my mind.”

“I thought it was hilarious. I laughed out loud a bunch of times. The Jesus jokes were especially great,” said Gale, who also liked the fact that Carl buys a bunch of the first Action Comics (the world debut Superman) in 1938. In fact, it’s something that Doc Brown did to finance his various adventures in IDW’s Back to the Future comics, which Gale co-wrote with John Barber.

“I think it’s a pretty obvious idea if you’re a comic book fan,” he said, later revealing that it was Barber who first brought his attention to Time Shopper. “That’s everybody’s dream. How many comic books do we have that got thrown out and you’re saying, ‘Oh, god damnit, it’s worth so much!’”

“My dad would say, ‘A comic book’s two dollars. It used to be 12 cents!’ And I was like, ’12 cents?! I could get 20 of them for the price I’m paying right now.’ So, it sort of grew out of that, but more specifically, I had a friend that was writing a different time travel thing. He started to pitch and I was just like, ‘And then does he travel in time and buy things?’ And he’s like, ‘No, why would he do that?’ … So that’s where it comes from,” added Fleecs.

Below, you’ll find four exclusive pages from Time Shopper, which takes you back to events like the eruption at Pompeii, the Last Supper, and the death of Tupac Shakur.

“It’s sort of limited by my own high school knowledge of history,” Fleecs said when asked about why he chose specific historical moments. “Basically, I just have the stuff I know about and what I’ve read about since then. And then the places that I thought would be the funniest to put [this guy in]. He’s not a dipsh**, but just to put a Regular Joe [in these situations].”

“One of the things I love about Time Shopper is that you’re able to take more liberties with time travel if you’re not taking it seriously. Bill & Ted did that and it kind of lets you get a little bit looser because the fact is, time travel is not real,” Gale, a fan of comics like Gideon Falls, continued.

I had such a great time reading Time Shopper, that I had to ask Tony if he was considering a sequel to the comic.

“Obviously if you’re doing time travel you have to think in terms of trilogies,” was his answer. “I sort of know what Two and Three would be. The idea is sort of like a lark and that’s why I did it as a 48-pager because it’s just like, ‘I don’t need this to be a long epic thing.’”

“That was really smart of you. You’re right, you do certain short stories because that’s all you need,” interjected Gale.

“There’s sort of like two other stupid concepts that you could do,” Tony continued. “The whole time in the book he’s talking to his buddy, Phil, on the phone and so in the second one, you would introduce Phil and his family. In the story of Time Shopper, all while this guy’s time traveling, his friend grows up and has a family and all this stuff happens. Now it would be like this young guy, Carl, and his buddy, middle-aged Phil, time-traveling around and Phil has priorities and Carl starts to realize that like, ‘Oh, I’m just goofing around in time. Why I don’t fall in love?’ And the third one would be Carl falls in love.”

“Doc meets Clara, yes,” joked Gale, referencing the romantic subplot in Back to the Future Part III.

Illustrated by Christian Meesey (Swallow) and Tone Rodriguez (Violent Messiahs), Time Shopper goes on sale from Action Lab Entertainment February 11, 2020. You can pre-order a copy here.

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I’m a freelance entertainment writer based in Philadelphia. I've been writing since before I can really remember and in addition to my pieces for Forbes, you can catch

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