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DF Interview: Brandon Graham explores alien tech, walking cities and quality fast food in ‘Rain Like Hammers’
By Byron Brewer
Eugene is a new inhabitant of Elephant, a walking city on the desert world of Crown Majesty. Far from friends and family, he spends most of his time navigating melancholy daydreams, toying with alien technology, and researching the best places to find high-quality fast food. At best, his life is lonely and monotonous – but all of that changes when a mysterious force begins destroying Crown Majesty's walking cities.
King City and Prophet artist/writer Brandon Graham returns with an all-new over-sized 5-issue limited series, Rain Like Hammers! DF was happy to discuss the new series with the talented Graham.
Dynamic Forces: Brandon, just from the solicits you can tell this limited series Rain Like Hammers is bubbling with high imagination! What was the genesis of this concept?
Brandon Graham: Thanks. Not to sound like a bummer but initially it was when I was getting through a rough depression while living in an unfamiliar city. It's me trying to use science fiction to convey that feeling, and then take that somewhere new.
In Japan, there's a genre of comics called Iyashikei or Healing manga. It's more chill stories for people who, after a stressful workday, don't want to read about some white-knuckle bomb defusing tension. I've been thinking of Rain Like Hammers as kind of a cousin to the Healing manga: a processing comic.
In my past work, I feel like I've had two different writing styles: the more comedic pun stuff from my King City and Multiple Warheads, and then when I worked on the relaunch of Liefeld's Prophet. I tried to play it much more serious. I'm trying to merge those two styles.
DF: What can you tell readers about this world we are about to explore?
Brandon Graham: The book is set in a post-Earth future. It's a colony system that's grown independent of Earth and lost contact. The system is run by these immortal families from a manufactured palace world. The first issue shows the outskirts of the system, a desert planet mostly used for mining called Crown Majesty.
DF: Introduce us to Eugene.
Brandon Graham: Eugene is a mellow guy who is trying to figure out his place in life. He's spent his life working and living in Elephant City, but once he's arrived there he has a hard time actually adjusting to it. It feels like a locked puzzle to him that he can't figure out.
So he spends his days focused on alien music, vending machine food and his favorite shows.
DF: What can you tell readers about the challenges Eugene will face? The overall storyline of the book?
Brandon Graham: Eugene works in communications in the walking city, Elephant. Something starts attacking the walking cities which ties into the larger story. Most of the issues focus on the super criminal Brik Block, adjusting to a strange new body on the ruling world of the system, eventually tying back to what Eugene is dealing with.
DF: Elephant in Elephant: By the way, what IS a walking city?
Brandon Graham: Most of the cities I show on the desert world Crown Majesty have to stay on the move to avoid harsh storms. They're all named after animals and the inhabitants have neck tattoos of the animals/city they live in.
DF: What other characters might be important for readers to know about in Rain Like Hammers? Can you introduce a few of them here?
Brandon Graham: There is the infamous super criminal Brik Blok, who has been in hiding for decades until he learns the child of a dear friend has been taken to the immortal's world. He ends up losing his body and only survives by transferring his mind into an artificial vat-grown butler body. A lot of his story is about how much of you changes when the body you're in changes.
Aside from him there's Ott, a detective for the immortal families. He's brought in to investigate the weird things Brik is causing on the immortal's world. Ott is obsessed with false history and what the immortals have used their power and influence to warp. And he rides around on a sexy-sex robot.
DF: Talk about the advantages/disadvantage of working on a book basically solo.
Brandon Graham: The main advantage for me is that I really enjoy doing every aspect of making a comic and hopefully it makes for work that feels like nothing else out there.
The downside was doing the majority of it without having any back and forth with other people.
About halfway through, I started working with my editor, Shanna Matuszak, and she's been a huge help in me not feeling like a crazy person and just making sure that what I'm trying to show is coming through. It's the first time I've worked regularly with an editor since I did King City, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
DF: Brandon, what other goodies do you have coming for us from the Graham backburner?
Brandon Graham: Right now, I'm getting the final issue of this done and I've started scripting the next series I want to do. I’ve been thinking a lot more about dense episodic stories that build towards something larger. And aside from that, I've been writing some short stories that I'm doing in collaboration with other artists.
I've been off working freelance. Recently, I worked on designs and storyboards for a series of music videos for Joanna Wang's Love is Calling Me album and drew the album cover.
But I think it's time to make another go at having comics on shelves more regularly.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Brandon Graham for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Rain Like Hammers #1 from Image Comics is slated to hit stores Jan. 20th!
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