What happens when the quest for eternal life goes horribly wrong?
Captain America artist Mitch Breitweiser and new comics writer Patrick Stiles are finding the answer, in their new webcomic The Futurists, which has just opened on their web site, WhoAreTheFuturists.com. The series will come out about 3-4 times a month, Breitweiser says, according to his commitments at Marvel. Here’s a taste, from the first page (bigger image here):
The logline of the story: ” Set in colonial India in the late 1800’s, The Futurists is an epic tome about the quest for eternal life gone horribly wrong, the search for absolution , and the path to self destruction.” Want to know more? Mitch was kind enough to answer a few questions from Newsarama on the series.
David Pepose: I see on your web site that The Futurists is a story “set in colonial India in the late 1800’s… about the quest for eternal life gone horribly wrong, the search for absolution, and the path to self destruction.” So the first question I’d have is — what inspired this story?
Mitch Breitweiser: Patrick and I had been crafting stories since college, but with my career taking off, and his writing talent really maturing, we felt the time was right to fully develop and publish one of our collaborations.
As for the inspiration for The Futurists, we actually sat down one weekend for a creative jam. Our previous ideas were good, great even, but they were too familiar. We wanted to take advantage of the perspective we’ve gained since our college years and create something with greater depth of character and a richer atmosphere. Then, we threw it all out and just focused on elements that entertained us, which was far more satisfying.
DP: Something I found interesting is that despite the title being called “The Futurists,” it’s set in the late 1800′s. It’s funny, because in comics nowadays, everyone associates that term with Iron Man, who’s just two steps ahead of everybody else. Without giving too much away, is there a science fiction or philosophical element to The Futurists that’ll come up soon?
MB: Although the prequel won’t provide much insight into why this series is called “The Futurists,” the title’s origin will become clear when our “season 1″ kicks off – within two episodes. We weren’t even aware of the Futurist movement until we started to register a domain.
The setting, which takes place during the British Raj era of India just before the crown took over for the failing East India Trading Company, is exotic, foreboding, and turbulent, making it ripe for endless possibilities with intriguing characters. It’s a setting rarely visited in comics, especially in the sci-fi genre.
DP: A question for both you and Patrick — what is the appeal for 19th century colonialism? Is there anything about that era, for either Britain or India, that proved to be irresistible from a storytelling standpoint?
MB: There is a certain mystery to that period. It was this strange twilight before the dawn of the modern age. It’s an era when old world magic and new world industrialism were at war, as much as old and new world philosophies. The perfect time and place for the kind of stories we want to tell.
DP: Another question I had was regarding the format. Mitch, I know you do a lot of work with Marvel, and so I’m curious what made you guys decide that a webcomic was the best format for this particular story.
MB: Given our current obligations, the internet is the most convenient and hassle-free way for us to publish. Plus, everyone likes FREE, and if we really want The Futurists to grow wings then why not give it away. If it fails, it’s a labor of love, no regrets.
DP: Now, I really like the sort of “widescreen” format you have with this page. Is it a big shift for you, coming from the typical tall rectangle of a print comics page to the sideways page of a computer screen?
MB: Going widescreen was a necessary yet refreshing change for me. It works much better on the computer screen, and I think the format is more accessible to people who aren’t used to reading print comics. We are going for a cinematic feel for the book. In fact we refer to each strip as an “episode” and a story arc as a “season.”
The real challenge with the comic was in the shorter webisode format. We really had to learn how to be efficient with the art and text in order to create intrigue in such a small amount of space.
DP: It said on your web site that this comic was the production of a year’s worth of development with Patrick Stiles, as well as a decade’s friendship. Can you describe how your collaboration has been, in terms of crafting the overall story and ironing out the script?
MB: The whole creative process has been very collaborative. We really learned to draw on each other’s strengths. Patrick has a real gift for writing dialogue, and I have a decent knack for visual pacing. I think it’s that combinations that is going to make the comic such a fun read.
The Futurists as they appear now, are a world apart from the very first creative sessions, different characters and everything. There might be the seed of character from the original concept here or there, but the push-pull of collaboration is the catalyst for something organic and exciting, something utterly different.
DP: Finally — for all your fans out there — is there a tease you can give about your comic? Anything you feel will hook some prospective webgoers out there for your book?
MB: The web comic is really just the beginning. The Futurists is so rich and entertaining, and the best is to come after the prelude wraps. I can only say that when Season One of the Futurists kicks off, the ride will be all the better for having read the free webcomic prelude.
I mean, it’s FREE, so really what do you have to lose?