How World Readers Are Grave Diggers
Vince Brusio

 

In space no one can hear you scream…but that doesn’t matter to the lonely. Or the confused. To pierce the deepness of space and its mysteries if far more important than any scream as a consequence of expedition. What if others “out there”: wanted to know if their lives were meaningless? What if others “out there” DIDN’T have technology more advanced than ours? And their time had already run out? Writer Jeff Loveness paints a picture in the World Reader Volume 1 TP (9781935002789, $14.99) in which humanity is late to the party, and our interstellar “discoveries” are merely picking up party paper from the previous millennium’s birthday.

World Reader Volume 1 (9781935002789, $14.99) is slated to release November 21, 2017.

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Vince Brusio: Ground control to Major Tom: where did you get the idea of talking to ghosts from dead planets? Did you suffer some kind of psychosis by watching 2001: A Space Odyssey while listening to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”? It’s a great idea, but very dark! Could you elaborate on how you developed this thought?

Jeff Loveness: I've always been intrigued by how fragile and rare life is. I've always hoped that there was life on other planets... but then again, if there was life, wouldn't it be just as fragile and precious and meaningless over there? Wouldn't they also gaze into the abyss of space and wonder if they were alone in the Universe? Wouldn't all their stories be searches for meaning and ways to fill the emptiness like ours? I guess I wanted to try to bring back lonely sci-fi. Sometimes when we meet alien worlds in other sci-fi, they're all parts of "Intergalactic Federations" or "Transuniversal Republics" or whatever you want to call them. But I don't think life leans towards utopia. So I thought about going the other way. Maybe there WERE or ARE other planets, but they're just as isolated as us. And we have no idea about each other. Until now.

I also always liked the idea that we'd discover life too late. What if Earth never got its act together? We never met those worlds. And now we're the last world to still have life on it, and we completely missed our chance at connecting? Now we're basically traveling the Universe, doing autopsies on the worlds we never knew.

And as far as the ghosts of it all, I always thought it would be romantic if a world could tell a story. When our world dies, what would we want people to know about us? What secrets would we be ashamed of? What would the time capsule of existence be? 

So, basically, I was sad one day and came up with this idea. 

Vince Brusio: The second angle you take in this book is that your main character, Sarah, is simultaneously looking to unlock a secret that’s killing the universe while she’s talking to the dead in space. This doesn’t sound like someone we would bump into at a bar, or have a casual conversation with at the beach. Why is Sarah on point for such grand designs?

Jeff Loveness: Haha. Well, I'd love to meet someone like Sarah at a bar. She's brave and uncertain and always teetering between confidence and despair, like most creative people I know. When you have talent like hers, it sets you apart from everyone else, and usually never in a good way.  

We'll come to learn more about her abilities and how she came to be on this mission as the story develops, but I've always been drawn towards isolated female heroes in science fiction. Ripley from Alien. Jodie Foster from Contact. Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Amy Adams in Arrival. There's a proud tradition of women stepping up to do the job when everyone doubts them, and I wanted to take a crack at that heroic archetype. It was important to me to create a hero from that mold, but also a casual person, who's self-deprecating and stubborn and unsure of herself all at the same time. Hopefully you come to love Sarah as much as I do. 

Vince Brusio: It’s said that Sarah has to maintain the trust of her crew. It must be hard to do that, given that she talks to the dead, and is being hunted from planet to planet. What could she possibly do or say to stop mutiny? There must be brewing conflicts. Can you tell us a bit about the individuals that ride along with her on what sounds like an impossible journey?

Jeff Loveness: Sarah's not even the leader on this crew, just a part of it. It's primarily an expedition to chronicle and analyze these dead worlds and maybe find a replacement home for Earth, which is on its last leg as a planet. Sarah's more of an after-thought to the Captain, who doesn't buy into her "abilities" or whatever she's calling them. Sarah's not a scientist. She's not military. She's the outcast. She's the fringe "experimental" member of the crew sent up for personal, secret reasons to be revealed. Sarah's not a true member of this team, and she feels it. 

The story itself is centered on Sarah, but we'll come to know a few members of the team. Some of them are friends, others think she's a liability or downright threat to their lonely, thankless mission. Space exploration is usually considered to be brave and exciting...but I wanted to endow this mission with hopelessness and despair. They're basically grave-diggers for the Universe. I swear I'm a fun person.
 
Vince Brusio: What moves you to write this book? What’s the muse? And how long did it take for you to go from concept to production on World Reader?

Jeff Loveness: I've always loved grandiose sci-fi, like 2001 and Solaris and Forbidden Planet, and I wanted to take my crack at it. I grew up very religious, and I love the idea that there's a deeper story beneath everything. We may be cold and alone have no meaning... but maybe there is a meaning for that, after all. 

It's big and broad and earnest and completely uncynical, which as a comedy writer, is terrifying for me. But I'm very glad I got the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and take a big swing at a story.

I believe I pitched the idea a year and a half ago. Finished scripting last year. And from there, it was a matter of lining up the art and working around Juan Doe and AfterShock's schedule. I've worked in short form comedy — like at Jimmy Kimmel Live — where you come up with something and it airs that night. That's the pace I'm used to, but I enjoy the slow, meticulous burn of comic writing. It's truly a fun process. Sometimes in TV, there are so many steps beyond your control that can impede something. But in comics, if you have the idea, you write it, someone approves it, and then someone else draws it. It's that simple, and it's beautiful. It's a medium I truly hope to write more in. Unless people hate this and throw rocks at me in the street. Then I'll probably stop.  

Vince Brusio: If readers want to learn more about this book, is there any particular social site that you’re on from time-to-time that they could visit in order to learn more about?

Jeff Loveness: My Twitter: @JeffLoveness is where I do most of my depressed ramblings... mainly about American's plunge into fascism...or X-Men. Depends on the day. That's a good place to follow up with me. Or Body-building forums. I am very strong.

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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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