|RYAN O'SULLIVAN & PLAID KLAUS
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DF Interview: Ryan O'Sullivan & Plaid Klaus take last humans on way-out road trip in Void Trip
By Byron Brewer
From writer Ryan O’Sullivan (Turncoat, The Evil Within, Warhammer 40,000) and illustrator Plaid Klaus (Turncoat) comes the story of Ana and Gabe, the last two humans left alive in the galaxy. They're low on fuel, they're low on food and they're low on psychedelic space froot, but they're still determined to make it to the promised land: hippy-paradise, super-planet Euphoria. This is the story of their journey, the friends and enemies they made along the way, and how the universe responded to those who dared to live freely within it.
DF wanted to know more about this upcoming Image comic, so we sat down with Ryan and Klaus.
Dynamic Forces: Ryan, what can you tell us about the story in Void Trip? Can you give us the elevator pitch for this most unusual comic?
Ryan O’Sullivan: Void Trip is the story of the last two humans left alive on a road trip across the stars, searching for the promised land – the paradise super-planet Euphoria. It is a story which seeks to answer the question, “How can you be free, in a universe that will always course-correct itself to curtail your freedom?” When the very nature of existence is not in your favor, when the cards are always stacked against you, how are you supposed to respond? The best place to find the answers to these questions is, invariably, on the road. But our two humans aren’t the only characters in this tale. Oh no. They’re being followed by an all-white, nameless gunslinger. Less a character and more a force of nature, the gunslinger’s true identity is something the reader will have to decide for themselves. He could be Moby Dick, the last god of the human race, desperate to not allow the last surviving remnants escape his dominion. But he could equally just be a crazy bounty hunter looking to hunt two very rare mammals. Who knows?
DF: What can you tell us about the world that you and artist Plaid Klaus are building in this 5-issue mini-series?
Ryan O’Sullivan: The world is the road. That’s all there is in a story like this, man. We’ve not taken the Tolkien approach a lot of creator’s use. We haven’t sat down with a story bible, with lists of planets and races, and all the rest. We’re not looking to create a hard sci-fi encyclopedia here. I’ve said this a few times before – Void Trip is a road trip story first, and a sci-fi story second. The sci-fi trappings are our way of hooking the reader with a design aesthetic they’re familiar with, to tell them the sort of story they are absolutely not familiar with.
DF: Can you introduce Ana and Gabe to us please? Other characters readers may need to know?
Ryan O’Sullivan: Ana and Gabe are two sides to the same coin. Ana is your typical starry-eyed optimist, bulldozing her way through life, refusing to cowtow to anyone else’s rules or live life by anyone’s values except her own. Gabe is more your long-in-the-tooth vagabond. He’s been around the block. He knows how things work. He knows that to live free(ish) you need to play along with the system. Gabe is all about survival. Ana is all about living. And I think most people tend to fall in one of these camps.
DF: Klaus, you have such a wide range as a comics artist and as an illustrator. How do you collaborate with a writer/co-creator to capture the right tone for such an unusual comic as Void Trip?
Plaid Klaus: I try to think of a comic series as a work of art. All the various aspects must be thought of as a whole. It’s a wonderful combination of visual and literary storytelling. I essentially think of each page spread as a painting that talks and moves. Of all the types of mediums I work in, comics is the most intellectually and artistically stimulating. Historically the art for comics has been developed in teams, however, working the whole range from pencils to inks and coloring allows me to fully control the reader’s visual experience. To properly tell the tale, I can control the shot choices, pacing and cinematography with penciling; then I can play around with the textures in the inks and finally merge everything together using the color palette and tones. Over the years I’ve worked at developing what I call a cartoon/realism style. This means that I create characters that live in a cartoon world that the reader should feel they could walk into. I want the images to have a feeling that is textural, lighting that feels authentic and a liveliness to the world despite the world having the rules of a cartoon realm.
DF: Did you do the character designs for Void Trip? The ones I have seen are certainly impressive! What has been your greatest challenge in character or set piece design for the mini? Which was your favorite character to design?
Plaid Klaus: Yes. Character design and world building are my strong suit. My first goal in creating the story is to make the world seem alive and breathing. This means I want the characters to feel like they are living in that world. They don’t need the reader to feel like they’re observing characters existing in OUR world, but rather, they should feel the characters are alive in the world in which the story takes place. Part of maintaining interest in a character is creating fun forms that exude the personality of the character. There is also a need to put yourself in the shoes of the character and learn to walk and talk with that character in a way that is unique to the personality of the individual. I walk down the streets and constantly study people. You can learn a lot about a person’s story if you study the details of their wardrobe and movements. I suppose I’m like a Sherlock Holmes-ian artist, studying people to understand what makes a character come alive.
DF: It’s so seldom I talk to an illustrator who is doing his/her own colors. May I take this opportunity to pick your brain a bit on the use of palette to establish moods/admosphere on the printed comics page, and how those decisions are made (with/separate from scripter?)?
Plaid Klaus: So, I love working with Ryan because he lets me have free range with most of the visuals. He’ll build in a great framework involving the details of the visuals to drive the narrative, and then let’s me interpret the world and color palette. I believe coloring a story is about building layers. Every scene needs the proper set of tones and colors to carry the scene. The next layer is to start developing colors that carry symbolic weight. For instance, I used a neon/aqua/green glow that represents two things in the narrative. Initially it’s established on the cover as our heroes glowing in space like ghosts. Then, inside the pages, the glow is emitted from all AI/robot/machine sources. This is a subliminal cue to the reader. Most people probably won’t pick up on the visual consciously initially. However, by the end of the last issue that thread will be tied into a final message to the reader, leaving them to interpret the meaning behind the story.
DF: Guys, each of you tell me about collaborating with your co-creator on this book.
Ryan O’Sullivan: This is the second book I’ve collaborated on with Plaid Klaus. The first was our webcomic-cum-graphic novel Turncoat. In a lot of ways Turncoat was us feeling each other out and finding a groove or voice that the two of us felt aligned to. Void Trip is very much that groove. With Turncoat, I came up with the concept myself, and passed scripts over to Klaus for him to draw. With Void Trip, Klaus was involved with the concepting of the idea from the get-go. We came up with it together, he was my editor as I wrote the scripts, and I was his editor as he drew the pages. We work well together because we’ve both got a similar vision to comics. We both put the narrative first. The story comes before fancy wordplay, pretty pages, or scenes, or characters. We’re both prepared to gut things we love for the sake of the story. We both care about the tale more than its composite parts. I don’t think either of us could do this book without the other.
Plaid Klaus: I love collaborating with Ryan, because we’ve developed a symbiotic creative force. We both intellectually confront the material from different angles which allows us to mold the story from all sides. As we talk through and develop the work the story begins to unfold and manifest into something that neither of us could create as an individual. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of collaborating. In a way, when things are really cooking, it’s almost like we’re both just birthing a story into being, but the world is its own thing; it’s just revealing itself.
DF: So what other projects currently or in the near-future, in or out of comics, can you each share with our readers?
Ryan O’Sullivan: From me? The trade collections of Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and The Evil Within are coming out through Titan Comics in December. I’ve got another project with Titan Comics for 2018 I can’t announce just yet. I’m also working on another creator-owned book with a publisher I’ve never worked with before. That’s also due for release in 2018. My writer studio, White Noise, is cooking up some very exciting things for 2018. And Klaus and I are working on another book, but that is still too early stages to talk much about.
Plaid Klaus: My mind is always diving into the imaginary realm and pulling ideas out. Some sink back into the ether and some have legs. Currently, Ryan and I are talking through a story concept together that is gonna be pretty mind-blowing. Aside from the O’Sullivan/Klaus machine, I’m slowly developing a personal story as a back burner project. Also, for a while now, I’ve been working on a Patreon supported comic project entitled The Glimmer Society which is essentially a punk-rock D&D young adult comic (glimmersociety.com).
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Ryan O'Sullivan & Plaid Klaus for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Void Trip #1 from Image Comics hits stores Nov. 22nd!
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