Diving Deep Into All New Fathom
Vince Brusio

 

All artists have their influences. In fact, the goal of many inspiring artists is to reach levels of creativity that does justice to the high water marks. So imagine what the reaction is when you’re told that you can stand toe-to-toe with one of those original masters that inspired you. That level of excitement is what writer Blake Northcott felt when she was tapped to write the Fathom: Blue Descent for Aspen Comics, and in this exclusive interview Blake talks about her new gig, and how she hopes to carry the torch for one of her early influences that was a breath of fresh air for many aspiring creators in the comics community.

Fathom: Blue Descent will be available June 2018.

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Vince Brusio: Aspen’s getting off on the right foot. Fathom: Blue Descent is an all-new approach, yes? Congrats on being the first female writer for the book. Blake, what do you see as some of your challenges in formulating the focus for Fathom, both for you as a writer, and for your co-worker, artist Marco Renna.

Blake Northcott: Thank you so much! Saying that it’s an honor to work on Michael Turner’s Fathom would be a massive understatement. Fathom is one of the titles that got me into comic book collecting in the first place, so it’s a little intimidating, to be honest.

The main challenge is staying true to Michael’s vision, while at the same time adding a fresh flavor. There was something special about the storytelling in the late 90s and early 2000s — it was a little edgier and a little more daring than a lot of the books you see now. I didn’t want to lose that feel.

As far as working with Marco, there’s no challenge at all. By looking at his art you can see how good he is, but what you can’t see is how well he interprets a scene in the layout phase. He’s amazing. I feel like he’s reading my mind more than working from my script.

Vince Brusio: Tell us what kind of homework you did in preparing for the role as series writer. What previous tomes did you pour over, and what (if any) past events did you decide would be put on the back burner or put in “Pile A” in order for you to frame future events?

Blake Northcott: I re-read all of the Fathom back issues, of course. And since Aspen is a marine biologist I got a chance to nerd out and dive into research mode to make her  voice more authentic, which was fascinating. Of course, I could only scratch the surface, but it’s a fun rabbit hole to get lost down. Once you start learning about the oceans you just want to keep going.

As far as previous events go, there is only so much time I wanted to spend delving into the past. There is a rich history to Fathom, and the main players are all very much a part of the narrative, but it was important that, with a book called All New Fathom, I didn’t want to keep looking backward.

As much as I want dedicated fans to love this series and not feel like their universe has been rebooted — because that certainly isn’t the case — I want it accessible for everyone.

Vince Brusio: Fathom last broke out as a series in 2013. A lot can happen over those years, and people could forget some loose ends that need to be tied. What previous themes or plots were on the table for you to analyze and evaluate as you sat down to figure out your own plot structures?

Blake Northcott: The themes of isolationism and xenophobia come into play. Those have been recurring throughout the entire series, going back to the very first issues.

In a world of seven billion people connected by every electronic device imaginable, we’re still tribal. We’re fearful of each other in so many ways. What if there were human-like societies at the bottom of the ocean — and how would we feel about this alien group living among us? And maybe more importantly, how would they feel about us?

Having Aspen walk through both those worlds has always fascinated me, and it’s something that I wanted to touch on throughout the series.

Vince Brusio: What do you find fascinating about the Fathom universe, and Michael Turner’s legacy? How do you see yourself fitting into that legacy? Why do you want the responsibility of walking in Michael Turner’s footsteps?

Blake Northcott: There is no denying that there was a lot of artistic talent in the 90s, and a very distinct look and feel came out of that era. But Michael Turner transcended that by adding a great story to the beautiful artwork, which, let’s be honest, not everyone was doing at the time.

I don’t know how I’ll fit into his legacy — I’ll let the readers decide that for themselves. I think my job as a writer is to surprise people and give them something they didn’t even know they wanted.

As we’ve seen with movies, it’s very difficult to re-capture the magic of something nostalgic and live up to everyone’s expectations, but I’m going to do my best!

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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