Every once in a while you come across a comic and you think that wow, this is a great book and the creators seem to know what they are doing. Well Existence 2.0 is one of those books and I have to say that in doing the interview with writer Nick Spencer sealed the deal for me with a copy of his answers. Number one the book is a complete story. I hate the three issue mini-series that have come out on occasion where they were the opening chapter in a premise. It was like they think they are going to have a series of mini-series like BPRD or something. Tell me a complete story and let the story end. No harm in leaving room for more, but tell a complete story. Nick tells me this is exactly that. Also Nick tells me his Dad passed on his love of comics to him and Nick is in his late 20’s, Gwen is the same age bracket and guess where she picked up her passion for comics. Love the generational stuff.
Existence 2.0 #1 – Arrives at comic stores tomorrow July 1 from Image Comics.
Jim: Who is Nick Spencer and how did he break into comics? (It is the secret origin question we all love).
Nick: I don't know if my story is too exciting. I'd been trying to sneak into the industry for years, ever since my college days. Bottom line is, I really owe everything to Kris Simon and Jim Valentino at Image Shadowline. I got to know Kris through their "Who Wants To Create A Super-Heroine" contest at Newsarama, and even though I didn't make the cut there, she apparently saw some potential in my work and encouraged me to keep going. I sent several pitches their way, but finally, when Ron came on board with EXISTENCE 2.0, everything just seemed to click.
So, I guess if I have any advice for anyone trying to get in, it's to look at Image Shadowline. It's run by good folks who care deeply about developing and helping new talent, and working with them has been amazing.
Oh, that, and follow the submissions guidelines :)
Jim: Existence 2.0 appears to have some deeper background to it (with the ideas you have thrown out) then will be touched on in the series. How much research did you put into these ideas or are they more off the cuff stuff?
Nick: Yeah, I've done a lot of research on various theories of consciousness and especially the idea of quantum mind. But really, the fastest way to put the brakes on a good action story is to get bogged down in physics lectures. So I use that stuff myself and it's nice for me to know the 'rules' of the transfer, but I don't burden the reader with it too much. In #3, though, we do touch on it a bit in a couple places and I think, for people who are into that kind of thing, it'll make the book a little more fulfilling.
Jim: Making the main character an SOB is a tough choice as it is hard to root for him, did you consider making him a good guy? What was the thought process behind Sylvester?
Nick: I really enjoy the challenge of getting the audience to invest in characters they don't necessarily approve of. To me, it's very easy to just put forward a likable, heroic character who does all the right things from the start. It's more fun to bring the reader in slowly with a protagonist they're not quite sure about, or one they almost pull for in spite of themselves. The key is providing that glimmer of hope that maybe he's not so bad after all, or just making him entertaining enough that they don't care. I think secretly, most of us are drawn to the characters who aren't so nice. It's like that classic line from Vince Vaughn in Swingers-- where he talks about not being 'the guy in the PG movie everyone hopes really makes it happen... they want you to be like the guy in the Rated R movie.' Lotta truth in that!
Jim: This is being sold as a three part series. I have seen too many three part series that just start a series as opposed to telling a complete story. Is this a complete story or the start of a longer story?
Nick: This is a complete story-- beginning, middle, and end. Can we come back to this world and this concept? Yes. But it would definitely be as a sequel. Without giving anything away, one thing I'm proud of with this series is that the ending can be taken as final, or as a springboard to more stories. I think you can enjoy it equally either way.
Jim: Are all three issues completed? I ask because often investing as a reader in a new series gets iffy since you are worried it will not be completed.
Nick: Issue 3 is in production now. The book will definitely be finished, no question about that.
Jim: How did you get together with Ron Salas and what is his background?
Nick: Ron and I met through a mutual friend, Jef Burandt-- who is himself, one hell of a writer; he does a really fun book about his band, called AMERICANS UK-- definitely worth checking out. Jef thought Ron would be a great fit for this book, and boy, was he right. Ron is just so immensely talented, and very dedicated. I really believe he's going to be a big name in this industry in the years to come. It's very rare to encounter someone with that great mix of talent, professionalism, and friendliness.
Jim: The concept certainly lends itself to more then one story. Do you have more Sylvester stories or more stories about mind transference that you can do if this is the smash success it should be?
Nick: I would definitely love to re-visit this world, for sure. As soon as I finished the script for the third issue, my mind was just flooded with ideas for a follow up. There's a lot to explore here and a lot of fun places to take these characters. So hopefully, the audience will respond and demand more.
Jim: I love hearing about the process. Did you do a full script for Ron or a looser outline?
Nick: I did full script, but I tend to keep my panel descriptions pretty brief and not micromanage every camera angle or shot. Being a process junkie as well, I read plenty of scripts, and a lot of times they seem so bogged down in details and so specific in their demands, that I can't help but feel bad for the artist. It's like it robs them of creative input. A good sequential artist will understand how to create an exciting visual better than a writer can in most cases. With this book, Ron's a pro and a very gifted storyteller, so working with him really made it that much easier for me.
Jim: I have never known a writer to have only one story idea. What other ideas do you have in the works (if you can talk about them)?
Nick: Yeah, I'm already starting to develop sympathy pains for editors at SDCC. One of the nice things about the positive buzz on EXISTENCE 2.0 is that it's opened the door to a lot of new collaborations, stuff I'm really excited about. I think it's gonna be a big year, and I can't wait to share some of these other stories and help introduce some amazing new artists. Should be a lot of fun, so stay tuned! I wish I could be more specific, but I will say I'm very passionate about not getting locked into one style or genre, so I think some of the upcoming stuff will surprise people.
Jim: What got you into comic books?
Nick: I was raised on comics. I had them in my crib. My dad loved them, and he passed that on to me. I never drifted away from the medium or took a break, I've been a hardcore reader my entire life. They're my favorite form of entertainment by a mile, and I never want to write anything else. I still can't believe I'm getting this opportunity, and I want to do everything I can to make sure it lasts.
Jim: If the big two come knocking on your door and ask you what character you want to write, who is it and why?
Nick: I'm not gonna lie, I've been a big fan of both companies my whole life, so obviously it would be a lot of fun to play in those sandboxes at least a little. Specific characters? This might come as a surprise, but I've always desperately wanted to do an out of continuity Babs Gordon Batgirl series-- sort of Veronica Mars in the DCU, if you will. That would be a lot of fun. Over on the Marvel side, I'd love to do something with The Inhumans, or something street level with The Black Cat, or something really out there with Deathlok... it's a long list, I guess.
But at the same time, I should be really clear: I love working on my own stories and characters so much. A lot of my heroes, guys like Brian Wood, Brian K. Vaughan, and Robert Kirkman, really spend all of their time and energy on their own properties, and I'd be perfectly happy with going down that road as well. I'm part of a generation that's grown up with Image, so being here is a dream come true for me, and I hope to stick around with them for a long time.
At the end of the day, who knows what the future holds? I just try to tell the best stories I can regardless, and hopefully they find an audience.
Jim: Where can we look for Nick and Ron in the future?
Nick: With this being our first book, I think both of us have really just been focused on making EXISTENCE 2.0 as successful as we can. But I really have enjoyed working with him, and hopefully, we can stick together as a team, either with more EXISTENCE stories or on something else. And that goes for the rest of our amazing creative team as well: Frank Bravo, our colorist, John Lowe, our letterer, and Tim Daniel, who designed those great covers. I definitely hope to continue working with all of those guys.
Tomorrow run down to your comic store and buy this book. This book should be a sell out and we should have protestors demanding more copies of this book. I’m only half kidding. I have not seen such great praise from so many for what are basically new creators hitting the scene. Both of these guys are names we are going to be hearing from and if DC is smart they will sign this guy up right now so Marvel does not steal him like they have wrapped us Jason Aaron, Rick Remender and Andy Diggle. I think Nick Spencer and Ron Salas well be a names we will be looking for in 2010 and beyond.
Here is an 11 page preview of the book.
My review of the book.
Another interview with both creators.
Another review of the book.
Even another review of the book.
Another interview with both creators.