In December, Image Comics and Shadowline will unveil a hopefully unforgettable title in “Forgetless,” a five issue miniseries written by “Existence 2.0” creator Nick Spencer with art from W. Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone and Jorge Coehlo. CBR News caught up with Spencer to talk about “Forgetless,” which the writer described as heavily being influenced by films like “Go!” and “Igby Goes Down.”
According to Spencer, “Forgetless” is not only the title of the comic book; it’s also the name of New York City’s wildest party scene, which happens to be celebrating its last hoorah when the story begins. “The biggest party in New York is ending, and the dance floor is packed one last time,” the writer said. “Sonia and Sara, struggling models moonlighting as professional killers, are there to make sure it goes out with a bang: by killing Derrick, a Forgetless regular who has done something very, very wrong.”
Sonia and Sara are two deadly women at the center of the miniseries, though their killer instincts come in varying degrees. “On the surface, Sonia and Sara seem like the same ‘type’ of person. Spend an afternoon on Broadway in Soho, you will see hundreds of them. Minor league models, pathological shoppers, superficial to a point that can make your jaw drop,” said Spencer. “But if you look a little harder, you see how different the two of them really are. Sonia doesn’t quite have that killer instinct, literally and figuratively. She’s got a soft spot. This place hasn’t sharpened her edges yet. Over and over in the story, you’ll see her trying to appeal to the better angles of people’s nature, and usually finding they’ve taken the day off.”
“Sara, on the other hand, is very much a shark in water, here,” the writer said of the other assassin. “Some kind of cultural process of evolution has made her perfectly suited for this place and time. She just sort of feeds off the difficulty and hardness of everything around her. What I love about Sara is, there’s literally nothing she won’t do or say. She could care less about your feelings or your sensitivities; she’s there to get what she wants. Sara is brazenly anti-PC. She has a gift for seeing everyone in the least flattering light. To her, we’re all shit.”
Sonia and Sara aren’t the only focal characters, of course – there’s also their primary target, Derrick. “[He’s] the Bushwick hipster kid that Sonia’s been hired to kill,” said Spencer. “Derrick is one of these guys, all dreams and no talent – he’s like a mad scientist sans the scientist. He has no shame, no sense of morality, and he is suddenly in a lot of trouble because of it.”
Taking a cue from the Doug Liman-directed “Go!,” Spencer’s “Forgetless” will thrust each of these three characters into the spotlight of their own issues, with the fourth issue focusing on a sex-addicted koala. “I make no apologies for that,” Spencer defended.
The fifth and final issue brings each character on a collision course with one another. Pulling this all together are Spencer’s three artists: W. Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone and Jorge Coehlo. Forbes will illustrate the main stories in the odd-numbered issues while Coehlo will take on the even-numbered ones. Meanwhile, Zarcone will illustrate a back-up story running throughout the entire miniseries, which Spencer described as “a more linear, traditional story that exists all to itself but still deals with Forgetless.”
“The end result is a book where you should feel like you’re getting a lot of story, even if the page count itself isn’t technically any higher,” Spencer said of the title’s varying visual approach. “You’re getting three great artists for the price of one. I wanted to capture that ‘graphic mix tape’ vibe of stuff like ‘PopGun,’ but not as an anthology – this is one story and several at the same time. I think we’re creating a new template here, something that can showcase a variety of artists without sacrificing any of the reading experience. This is a true collaboration in every sense of the word.”
Even if “Forgetless” is a collaborative effort, it remains a deeply personal story for Spencer. “I wanted to do a story about New York and what it does to people, good and bad,” he said of the book’s origin. “I moved up here a couple of years ago, and, like a lot of people, now I’m ruined for anywhere else. This is my attempt to capture the energy and insanity of this place at this point in time, at least as much as it can be captured. I DJ around town, so I get a nice front-row seat for the unique spectacle that is downtown Manhattan at 3:00 AM on a Saturday – it’s something that just demands a story.”
“Everything I write is personal on some level, but usually I’m writing high-concept stuff, and those concepts are metaphors for things in life I’ve learned or I’m trying to learn,” he elaborated. “This one is personal on a very different level. I’ve been DJing in clubs for years, I live in New York City, and this is probably as close to journalism as I’ll ever get – I don’t know any professional killers, but I do know a lot of people who resemble these characters. This is definitely my attempt to document things I see around me, to make some attempt at asking questions about the lives we’re living here and the culture we’ve set up around ourselves.”
There’s no question that “Forgetless” represents a different type of story than Spencer’s fans are used to. Currently, the writer is best known for his “Existence” franchise at Image Comics, a series of science fiction titles that focus on transferring one’s consciousness into another human being’s body.
“To some degree, it was a conscious decision to make my next project something a world apart [from ‘Existence’] just to make sure I didn’t start to feel boxed in,” he admitted. “I never want to feel restricted in terms of the kind of stories I can tell or how I can tell them. Maybe both of these projects are on the ‘R-rated’ or ‘profane’ side, and hey, they do both involve professional killing, now that I think about it! But then, something else I’m working on right now is geared to young children. To me, that’s a really rewarding part of this job: getting to stretch different muscles and do something different every day.”
While such a creative workout isn’t exactly foreign to Spencer, his name is certainly a fresh one within the industry. “Existence 2.0” launched earlier this summer and has already yielded a follow-up miniseries in the form of November’s “Existence 3.0,” with “Forgetless” soon to follow. If nothing else, it’s an exciting time to be Nick Spencer.
“It really just hit me the other day, the amazing situation I’m in right now,” he revealed. “Even a lot of guys who have bigger audiences or whatever, they don’t have the kind of trust and creative freedom I’ve gotten here [at Image/Shadowline]. To have a ‘home’ like this and a chance to build an audience from the ground up – to be working with the same publisher on such a wide variety of books – I never dared to dream I’d end up in a place like this. I’m telling my own stories and working with amazing people. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, to be a total sap about it, and it seems like it’s just starting – I know at least some of what 2010 holds, and it’s shaping up to be a very exciting year.”
For now, Spencer is happy enough to focus on “Forgetless,” which the writer described as truly unique from other comic books currently in stores. “Sometimes, I get my stack on Wednesday and I read through it, and while I enjoy it, I feel like I’ve read the same story over and over on some level,” said Spencer. “It might be a different genre, but it’s getting to the same point or it elicits the same reaction – that is, it presses the same buttons. [‘Forgetless’] won’t, I can promise that much. If you’re shopping for something that stands out and feels unique, give this one a shot.”
“Forgetless” #1 hits stores on December 9, 2009 courtesy of Image Comics and Shadowline.