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DF Interview: Jeff Lemire launches SF epic in March with Descender
By Byron Brewer
A young robot struggles to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet looking for anything with artificial intelligence. TIM-21 is the most wanted robot in the universe because the incredibly life-like artificial boy may hold the secret to the mass death and destruction unleashed by giant robots 10 years previous.
The comics industry is abuzz about Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s eagerly-anticipated new epic science fiction series, Descender, which launches in March from Image Comics. The new series has already been optioned for film by Sony Entertainment after a competitive bidding war.
Dynamic Forces met with the scribe recently and here’s what he told us.
Dynamic Forces: Jeff, first I have to ask: What is it like for a major movie maker like Sony to acquire feature film rights to your comic book when it has not even published yet? Wow!
Jeff Lemire: It’s exciting, but I am focused solely on making the best comic book I can. Comics are my passion and the love of my life. If and when the material is adapted, the better I make the comic, the better the well they have to draw from. But making a great comic is the end game for me, not film or TV. If that stuff happens, that’s great, but not the priority. Dustin feels the same way.
DF: Will you have any type of active role in the making of the film? Any other news about the production you can share?
Jeff Lemire: Dustin and I will be Executive Producers. How much we will be involved is still very much undecided. It’s all very new in the process. Right now Sony is compiling a list of possible writers and directors to approach and we do have a say in that list. That’s where we’re at.
DF: Okay, okay … tell us a little about the premise of the comic book Descender, coming from Image Comics in March.
Jeff Lemire: Descender is a sprawling science fiction story that follows a young robot names TIM-21 who is the most wanted robot in a universe that has outlawed all robots, androids and AI after giant machines called The Harvesters appear and attack the galaxy. TIM-21, along with a rag-tag group of companions, jumps from planet to planet trying to discover the secrets of his origins and how he is connected to these massive machines.
DF: What puts Descender above and beyond your average “human vs. robot” book? How does this one stand out?
Jeff Lemire: It’s a huge canvas and a big “high-concept” story, but Dustin and I are approaching it from the small, intimate point of view of this young robot. I think it’s the heart the story has, and this juxtaposition of BIG with SMALL that will make it unique. And it is very mush the combination of both Dustin and my own personal styles and points of view.
DF: Was there any particular inspiration behind your creation of this series?
Jeff Lemire: I was really inspired by Urasawa's Pluto, as well as Akira and Jack Kirby's adaptation of 2001. But I think more than any or that, it was a desire to return to some of the themes of my previous books, Sweet Tooth and Trillium, and hopefully explore them in a bigger and deeper way.
I was also really interested in exploring mankind’s growing and changing relationship with technology and how it may change us as a species in the future.
DF: Who is the big-bad in this unique piece, or is there one as such?
Jeff Lemire: No real villain. There are a number of human and alien races, and a number of mechanical ones. And they are all driven by fear and all trying to do what they think is best to protect their culture.
DF: What does it feel like for one great cartoonist (you) to be working with another great cartoonist (Dustin Nguyen, artist and co-creator on Descender) on a rompin’ sci-fi extravaganza? Fun?
Jeff Lemire: Comics are a visual medium. The panel to panel storytelling is everything. So, when I'm not drawing a book myself, I surrender a lot of control. That's why it's really important to work with an artist that you trust and admire implicitly. In this case, the amazing Dustin Nguyen. Dustin and I approach visual storytelling from a very similar place.
The collaboration is very effortless. Dustin and I are both pretty easy going guys, and approach story from a similar place. And we both have a lot of respect for one another and we do, so it has been a very fun and easy collaboration. I write things that entertain me and that I think he will have a blast drawing and he delivers beyond my wildest dreams each time.
And he’s been amazing at contributing key ideas to the story too. I've worked a number of ideas he's come up with back into the plot and they have changed the course of the story, making it stronger.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Jeff Lemire for taking time out of a very busy schedule to answer our questions. A much-anticipated Descender #1 will hit stores March 4th!
Don't forget to pick up Descender # First Printing, Descender #1 Dual Pack, or Descender #1 CGC Graded.
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