December 12th, 2012
CHANGE is… coming soon! In fact, it’s possible that it’s already here. Perhaps you’ve already read the comic, and are looking for more information on the people who made it. Or maybe you’ve been here before, and have found yourself stuck in a loop, struggling to get out. Regardless of your circumstances, I’m glad you’re here.
CHANGE is… a bracingly modern pulp adventure comic, set in Los Angeles, in which an astronaut, a screen writer/car thief, and a rapper caught midway through a transition into a Hollywood afterlife find themselves entangled in the tendrils of a plot that mixes showbiz horror with Lovecraftian glamour. Or is that the other way round?
CHANGE is… a stylish, ambitious comic that makes perfect sense as part of of Image’s attempt to make popular genre comics that aren’t totally stylistically and thematically inert. Comics that read like they were made with care, energy, enthusiasm, and maybe even that earth element you call… love.
As such, I’m happy to present to you with a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style interview with two of the creators involved in this comic, Ales Kot and Morgan Jeske.
If you don’t think you’ve got the heart for this sort of postmodern gambit, you can click here to read the interview straight.
Illogical Volume: There’s a lot of talent in the Change team of Kot, Jeske, Leong and Brisson, almost enough to make me wonder if you were brought together by a sinister mastermind to serve some sort of “greater good”. So: is there a secret origin of this line-up?
Ales Kot: The secret origin of this line-up is a bit convoluted. Morgan & I met on the internet, liked each others’ work (Disappearing Town! Wild Children!), talked about working together. I decided to come up with a story that we could make together because I loved Morgan’s work. Cue Change.
Then we start on it and have to change the colorist twice and letterer once. The machine was simply not moving as well as we wanted. It was moving ok, but it wasn’t as close to what we aimed for…the impact wasn’t as strong and clear as I could imagine, schedules started getting in our way. Then I realize Sloane Leong, whose work I watched for some time, does good stuff with colors and Ed Brisson knows his way with letters, is friends with Morgan and…yeah, it all clicked.
IV: Compared to Ales’ previous comic, Wild Children, Change feels a bit more like a traditional adventure story – the first issue manages to tease the reader with hints of esoterica while also setting the scene in the way we’ve been built to expect. Did either of you feel conscious of trying to make a book that makes sense to a “mainstream” comics audience or were you just trying to tell the fucking story?
AK: Wild Children was definitely a lecture of sorts – that was the inherent irony of the project, something I perhaps didn’t point out clearly enough in the text at the time, although you’d think that a student’s face smashed to bits by cops’ bullets would make the case. With Change, I wanted to go in a different direction, make an adventure/horror/sf story that would fit the 4-issue mini-series format but also something deeper and meaningful. I figured out what I wanted to do for most part through writing things down and talking to Morgan whenever needed, but one very important breakthrough came when I decided to include the astronaut. That’s when the deeper layers manifested clearly.
Morgan draws great astronauts and I wanted to introduce a chaotic element into the story building process. The astronaut felt like the right choice, so I followed him around and figured out how he — his shape, his state of mind, his environment — fit within the structure of the story. Once that door got unlocked, it was all about first telling the fucking story and then just making sure I’m saying it as clearly as possible. That doesn’t mean there won’t be foggy or uncertain sections or threads, but even those can be communicated clearly.
I’m not thinking about any specific audience. I’m thinking about readers, about communicating with human beings, about telling the most interesting, life-changing story I can tell at this point of my life. That’s about as far as I go. I don’t care if you only read Marvel or DC or Manga or Charles Burns. I want to tell you about the things that are alive inside me and I’ll bleed on the paper to do so. It can be done through writing a gangster story or a weird mash-up or a romance comic or a superhero thing, all of those approaches are relevant. Change is a mash-up. It’s everything that needs to be in it. We want to put on a good show.
Morgan Jeske: For my part, I’m just trying to tell the story in the most coherent way possible, structurally speaking. If I can make the mechanics work I’ll be happy enough. The narrative was sold to me as a sort of sci-fi Last Boyscout. There’s more to it than that, but that’s my starting point, or the thing that keeps my momentum. It’s got to be an enjoyable read on it’s face, with some thread to pull on for further exploration later. It’s definitely a more straightforward read than the almost lecture-like delivery that Wild Children had. It’s less about what it’s ABOUT than that book, which I think is important. Embedding that stuff makes for a more fluid reading experience. That’s not a slight on it by the way, that’s just how it reads to me. I personally don’t think about audience when working. I can’t really, it’s paralyzing. It’s got to be something I might like first and foremost and from there who knows? What audience will grab hold of it isn’t up to us.
IV: One of my favourite things about the first issue is that it feels like it could go in any number of directions, but I still feel like I should ask if you’d like to give something away about where it’s going, how it’s going and why?
MJ: It gets weirder from the start of issue 2 onward. On every level. The colors get stranger, more detached from a representative reality, and the art (I think) improves with each issue. Thankfully the book is called Change, so me getting better at drawing comics while working on it fits the themes. I can’t really say anything specifically about the narrative direction without potentially ruining the hypothetical reader’s reaction. There are robots? Rain? Some mild gun play? Some grotesque beach front property? Answering in question? I think that where the story ends up by the time we reach #4 is very far from where we start, both within the story and for us making it.
AK: What Morgan said. It’s going places. #1 reads fairly straightforward, yeah, but I look forward to seeing your face by the time you’re done reading #3. But at least some hints…
Where: The Soho House, Downtown Los Angeles, the Hills, Malibu, Venice…etc.
How: Like a fever dream that’s constantly turning into a nightmare turning into a dream turning…turn, turn, turn.
Why: I wanted to answer, but this strange man just knocked on my window to tell me that Dick Laurent is dead, so I’m going to answer the rest of your questions later.
—->If you’d like to see the boys talk about genre, life and Los Angeles please click here.
—->If, on the other hand, you’d like to read Morgan talking about his process for working on CHANGE, click here instead.