The year is 2065 and technology has developed to a dangerous level of dependency when a phenomenon known as bleedback starts, a seepage of virtual reality into the real world. Andrei is brilliant when it comes to robots, but instead of taking a legitimate position he finds himself working as a breaker, a specialized hacker of robots, when the wrong job comes along resulting in his daughter being kidnapped by a shadowy military group and Andrei starts to suffer from the effects of bleedback.
Bleedback – The End is Nigh is a 30-page, full-color comic and is the first of a five-part story created by writer Scott Nihill, editor Riley Adams, artist Giovanni Valletta, and colorist and letterer Jeremy Mohler. While issue #1 is complete, the team is currently raising funds for later issues in the series through Kickstarter.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to Scott Nihill, Jeremy Mohler, and Giovanni Valletta about their work on Bleedback and the Kickstarter campaign.
Kristine Chester, Fanboy Comics Senior Contributor: Jeremy, Scott, Gio, thank you all for taking the time to speak with me today! Why don’t we start off by telling our readers a little bit about Bleedback – The End is Nigh and your individual roles on the Bleedback team?
Jeremy Mohler: Thank you, Kristine! I appreciate your taking the time to look over the project and help us spread the word! My role in the project is two-fold – I serve as the art director for the project, as well as the colorist. Eventually, I’ll also be lettering the book, as well. I’ll let Scott, the writer/creator of the project, tell you a little bit about the project itself.
Scott Nihill: I’m the producer and writer. I brought in Riley to help develop the story and to make sure the script was tight and fast moving.
KC: Now in the setting there is an actual phenomenon called bleedback. What is it and what does it mean for this futuristic world and our protagonist Andrei?
SN: Bleedback occurs when activity within a virtual world affects the real world. In our story the most sophisticated A.I. are locked within a virtual world. They’ve found a way out and are causing all sorts of havoc. Our protagonist Andrei is hurled into the dark recesses of the global Robo slave trade and finds himself earth’s unlikely savior.
KC: Scott, you’ve been working on Bleedback – The End is Nigh for a while. What was the original inspiration for the setting and story, and how has it evolved over time?
SN: The story has changed a lot over the years. Some of the early drafts are so different from the final script that you’d never know they were related.
When writing the story I was inspired by the depiction of robots as a threat in popular media, such as The Terminator series, The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Robopocalypse. I didn’t want the narrative to be centered on a simplistic human vs. robot conflict. Bleedback is more of a human vs. human, human vs. robot, robot vs. robot dynamic. In the story, humanity’s paranoia of intelligent machines rebelling against their human masters has led to a complex assortment of safeguards. This limits the mental and physical capabilities of robots (known as Shackles). It turns out that the security measures are far more hazardous to humankind than the intelligent machines they fear.
KC: Gio, some of the design work shared on the Kickstarter page looks crazy, like the three-headed robot with the different hats. What has your approach been to drawing Bleedback? What has been the most fun thing to draw? And, can we expect a crazier-looking robot than the three-headed, hat wearer?
Giovanni Valletta: First of all, I’m glad you guys like the work I’ve put in to this project, that really makes really happy.
I think Scott has a lot to do with my approach on this project; he had some descriptions in the script, and we also talked about it before I proceeded to draw it on the page. He told me what the heads and the different hats represented, so I just made sure that it look somewhat cool. That’s how I think when I approach something; there’s really no down time to try to design more characters or more stuff. You sort of have to make things as you go on the run. The only thing you can try to do is to try to make it cool and hopefully people will like it.
You can expect crazier designs in what’s to come, that’s for sure!
KC: Jeremy, there are so many post-apocalyptic stories that have drab colors, but Bleedback is vibrant and gorgeous looking. What was the decision behind adding so much color to the world, and how do you think it impacts the feel of the setting? What other opportunities and challenges has the setting, with its blend of virtual reality and a futuristic world, provided you?
JM: Honestly, I sort of just let the artwork itself dictate where I went with the colors. The setting isn’t post-apocalyptic in the traditional sense, the world is still very much alive and active, and so it wasn’t an issue of working with a world that had been destroyed. Slightly more vibrant colors made sense.
One of the big challenges (and in a good way) with this project is Gio’s gorgeous artwork. He has packed each page so full of beautiful detail, it’s been a real challenge to make sure that I don’t lose or cover up any of his work with a bad color job! Though that’s definitely a challenge I prefer! I think the colors for this project are some of the best I’ve done, and I definitely attribute a lot of that to Gio’s beautiful artwork.
I’m glad you like the colors!
KC: What are some of your pledge rewards?
SN: I’m really excited about the original posters depicting events and characters from Bleedback created by Gabe Bridwell, CP Wilson III, Mike Walton, and our own Jeremy Mohler. For $35, backers can get a limited edition poster (only 200 will ever be produced) printed on high quality paper along with a digital copy of Bleedback #1.
KC: What are some of your stretch goals?
SN: We want to provide the maximum value to our backers. So, if we reach $5,000, we will add eight pages of behind-the-scenes production notes to the digital copy of Bleedback #1. The additional material will allow readers to discover where the idea for Bleedback came from, see the comic evolve from sketch to the finished color pages, and immerse the readers in the expansive world of Bleedback.
Secretly, I’m hoping to raise enough funds towards the second book, and maybe even complete it. To cover the production costs on the second book, we’ll need to raise an additional $4,500 (a total of $8,000) through our Kickstarter campaign.
KC: Alright, guys. You’re creating a cyberpunk/near-future comic, so if you could have one cybernetic enhancement, what would it be?
JM: Haha, I think I’d like to have an enhanced memory. Being able to remember everything (even if on a hard drive) could be really helpful!
KC: Where should readers go to keep up with Bleedback news? Are there any other projects you can talk about that readers should be sure to check out?
JM: You can find out more about Bleedback over at www.embreate.com. We’ll be posting regular updates on our Twitter and our Facebook page. I’ll likely be posting about it over at the Outland Creative site as well – www.outlandcreative.com That’s the visual development side of my company, Outland Entertainment – www.outlandentertainment.com. And, if you are interested in other projects in development that I’m directly involved in, you can check them out over at the Outland site. We’ve got some cool stuff coming together that I hope to have more news about in the coming months. Thanks!