In the tense, creepy opening pages of “The Field,” a man wakes up in a remote wheat field with nothing but his tightie whities, a cell phone and a gigantic gap in his memory. And things only get more messed up from there.
The mysterious premise behind Ed Brisson (“Sheltered”) and Simon Roy’s (“Prophet”) upcoming Image Comics miniseries might sound unbelievable, but — after a wild night on the town — writer Brisson actually found himself living out this exact scenario. Sort of.
“We’d been out drinking the night before, and I may have had far too many drinks. The next morning, I woke up to a tweet from Jason Copland that said something along the lines of ‘MISSING: Ed Brisson. Last seen intoxicated on Commercial Drive. If found, contact the police immediately. Do not approach.’ From there, I started tweeting as though I’d woken up in naked a wheat field in Saskatchewan,” Brisson said of the ruse that saw him telling a firsthand account through Twitter of being stranded over 800 miles away from his Vancouver home.
â€¨”For a day and a half, I kept up the joke, tweeting about being kidnapped, pistol-whipped and forced on a crime spree. It was a lot of fun, but some people didn’t know what to make of it,” Brisson recalled. “Some thought that this was really happening and wanted to know why I wasn’t calling the police. Family members were calling my house to find out what was happening, wanting to know if I was ok. During the whole time, I never broke the fourth wall. Never responded to tweets. Just documented my supposed kidnapping.”
After spending so much time creating the Twitter tale, the writer decided it was only natural to adapt the story into a comic. But while “The Field” shares some similar elements with his Twitter story — most notably, the story’s intro — Brisson has made considerable tweaks and additions for the comic.
“I replaced myself with a man who has zero recollection of his own identity, and how he ended up in a wheat field wearing nothing but his underwear. It starts off following a similar trajectory, but then veers off on its own path,” Brisson said, noting that Christian the Christian — the violent, drug-addled captor from the original Twitter story, would be making the jump over to the comic story, while adding a badass biker gang called the Smoke Eaters.
Though tight-lipped on most of the mysteries at the center of “The Field,” Brisson did say all the horrible (and hilarious) elements in the story — from badbass biker gangs to meth-abusing ex-Bible salesmen — came from personal experience.
“When I was in my late teens, early 20s, I used to hitchhike a lot. I generally found that there were three types of people who would pick me up,” Brisson said. “The first were regular dudes like me, who’d been there and were happy to give a dude a lift; the second were the dudes who were so drunk that you sometimes had to take over driving duty; and the third were born again Christians, picking up lost souls.
â€¨”There’s a scene in ‘The Field’ that is straight up something that happened to me. It’s nothing major, but something I always found funny,” Brisson continued. “A Christian picked me up and, as we were driving along the highway, asked if I liked ‘rock ‘n’ roll music.’ I was pretty agreeable, so nodded, and he tossed in a Petra cassette. I guess it’s not that funny, but at the time I thought it was. He let it play for a couple tracks and then started to ask me about my religious beliefs.”
Simon Roy is Brisson’s partner-in-crime in bringing “The Field” to life, with the project a reunion of sorts for the two. Brisson originally published Roy’s debut comic, the lo-fi, sci-fi “Jan’s Atomic Heart,” and they later reteamed for a couple of Brisson’s self-published “Murder Book” crime stories. When visiting Roy last year, Brisson was still hammering out story ideas for the concept that would become “The Field.”
“Back then, I wasn’t even thinking to ask him about working on it. We were just hanging out and I have a habit of obsessing over ideas and talking them over with friends when I get their ear,” Brisson said. “Simon seemed to really dig the idea and when I got back to Vancouver, I thought, ‘Christ! Why didn’t I ask him to draw it?’ I’m not always the brightest.”
It took some time with Roy’s then-busy “Prophet” schedule, but the two creators are making the most of the darkly funny, mysterious four-issue crime-spree.
“I’d previously told Ed that the next thing we were working on would have to have bikers in it, but I was expecting a more contained ‘Murder Book’-style story, [with a] brutal, concise, kind of a slice-of-life feel to it,” Roy said, explaining what attracted him to the project. “I’ve been surprised and excited to see the direction Ed has been taking this concept. It sets that kind of rough, textural rural North American thing against a crazy, pulpy, violent tone that is a blast to draw.
“Weirdly enough, it was going to school in Calgary — plus, seeing that movie ‘Winter’s Bone’ — that opened me up to the rich, dark story space that modern-day North America could offer,” Roy continued, describing what he’s most looking forward to illustrating in the crime tale. “There’s a bit of that hard-living, fatalistic element to much of rural Canada that really attracted me to doing a story in that setting.” Â
“The Field” begins in April.