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DF Interview: Van Jensen peers behind the secret shadows in Cryptocracy
By Byron Brewer
In May 2016, Van Jensen will embark on a conspiracy-laden creator-owned series unlike any other: Cryptocracy from Dark Horse Comics. The scribe’s idea is that the villain of many stories is a big, shadowy organization. In this story, we try to see things from their perspective. It’s a crazy sci-fi story riffing on conspiracy theory traditions.
To learn the 411, Dynamic Forces talked with the writer.
Dynamic Forces: Van, Cryptocracy sounds like one of those great conspiratorial sagas but here with a REAL twist! Tell us about it.
Van Jensen: Thanks! So, that giant, shadowy organization that controls the world … they’re real. For centuries, the Nine Families have manipulated people, controlled governments, orchestrated wars. Kennedy? That was them. The Philadelphia Experiment? Them. Roswell? You guessed it.
But the Families aren’t villains—not entirely, anyway. They do their best to shepherd humanity, managing world leaders and corporate tycoons to do Family bidding. But, suddenly, things start happening beyond their control. Someone knows that the Families exist. Someone is hunting them.
DF: Sounds like you are a fan of X-Files.
Van Jensen: Oh, for sure. I loved the way that the show integrated these crazy, bizarre concepts into day-to-day life. It never seemed that far fetched, even as it was dealing with cryptids and aliens and demons.
I want to explore a similar world, just with the perspective flipped. This is, essentially, as if we saw things through the Smoking Man’s eyes.
DF: Speaking of X-Files, was there any particular work of fact/fiction that was your inspiration for the book?
Van Jensen: I’m pretty big on research, drawing on my journalism background, so I have a healthy pile of source material. Conspiracies and Secret Societies. Apocalypse Culture. Secret and Suppressed. I’m a big fan of Robert Anton Wilson, so of course I love The Illuminatus Trilogy, but I also have his nonfiction Everything is under Control within arm’s reach at all times.
DF: Who are your protagonists?
Van Jensen: Grahame is our main character. He’s a Senior in the Mars Family, which is based in North America, underneath Denver International Airport. Grahame is a sedate guy, a rule follower. He knows every secret, the truth behind every conspiracy. So, in some ways, life is dull, despite the exciting things he does. When Family members start to die, he’s torn from his rote life and thrust into the fight to save everything he’s built.
Grahame’s best friend and right-hand man is Jason, a temperamental, foul-mouthed bugbear. Grahame also shares a connection with Bela, the host of a conspiracy-themed radio show. Then there’s Hum, the shadowy, powerful figure hell-bent on destroying the Families.
DF: What is it like working again with artist Pete Woods, whom you collaborated with on Green Lantern: Godhead?
Van Jensen: Pete is just amazing. I feel so, so lucky to be partnering together again. He’s one of the best artists around at world building, but he’s also great with these smaller character moments, little expressions and mannerisms that add so much to the story. We talked a lot on the front end about the things Pete really loves to draw (cryptids!), and this series is chock full of them.
DF: Van, in a non-spoilery way, can you tell us about any of the book’s conspiracies?
Van Jensen: I don’t want the series to be something where we do a clever riff on different conspiracies from issue to issue. Rather, we created a world in which all conspiracies tie together, so we’ll follow those strands, seeing the way different things connect and interact. We do have a really different take on Roswell and the Little Green Men. They do exist. It’s just that their motivations are way, WAY different from what anyone suspects.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Van Jensen for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Cryptocracy #1 hits stores May 18th!
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