Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: This month will see the re-release of your award-winning graphic novel, Upgrade Soul, throughout various multimedia platforms. What inspired you to return to the world of Upgrade Soul and to expand it into other mediums?
Ezra Claytan Daniels: Upgrade Soul was originally designed for iOS, so this is actually like a return to our origins. Everything about Upgrade Soul was designed for screens, from the panel compositions to the art layering, so it's really exciting to have it finally available in that format after the print edition has gotten so much positive attention.
BD: Given that the project was previously released in 2012 via a digital comic app created by Erik Loyer, what can you share with us about your creative process in working with Loyer again in updating its functionality and design?
ECD: It was really just a matter of finding the time and money to sit down and do the work. One of the big advantages this time was that Unity, the engine in which Upgrade Soul is built, has become more ubiquitous. We brought in a couple of my digital comics students from a workshop I taught in Denmark to help with the development, and that sped things up a ton.
BD: Likewise, the app’s incredible soundtrack by composer/hip hop producer Alexis Gideon is being released for the first time. How do you feel that the soundtrack truly enhances the experiences of the graphic novel?
ECD: When the music and the story sync up, it creates a truly unique and immersive reading experience. In my opinion, it's far more immersive than the book alone, and Erik and I went to great lengths to make sure it still felt intrinsically like reading a comic. We came up with a whole philosophy, which I turned into a manifesto. I actually collaborated with Submarine, producers of Amazon's Undone, to create a digital comics directory, which uses the manifesto as its centerpiece: www.screendiver.com.
BD: What do you hope that readers (and listeners) will take away from the various iterations of Upgrade Soul in the upcoming release?
ECD: When we first launched the Upgrade Soul app in 2012, there wasn't much of a market for reading comics on mobile devices. iPads were still super niche products. There's a whole new generation of artists and readers that use iPads for everything from making art to watching movies. I want there to be a physical component to these projects for people who like to hold things in their hands. That's why we have a book and a record. But there's so much more we can do when we lean into technology just a little bit. The Upgrade Soul app is for readers looking for something truly unique.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
ECD: I have a new non-fiction mini-comic called Are You at Risk for Empathy Myopia, which will be available at the end of October at www.radiatorcomics.com. I have a handful of huge announcements coming soon, too, but I can’t say specifics yet, obnoxiously.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about the Upgrade Soul?
ECD: People can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @ezracdaniels to stay in the loop!