What is the BleedOut? For some time now, Archaia Comics has left fans contemplating this very question after launching the website WhatistheBleedOut.com in conjunction with Vogster Entertainment. The only clues provided? Images released periodically on the site by some of the comic industry’s top artistic talent – Ben Templesmith, Tim Bradstreet, Trevor Hairsine and many more.
Finally, fans received their answer at Archaia’s Friday evening Black Label Panel at New York Comic-Con.
The upcoming anthology “BleedOut” hits comic shops next year and explores the fallout that occurs after one of the world’s most precious and coveted resources vanishes for good. Written by Michael Kennedy, the title features art from various comic artists across the industry who each tells a tale that takes place in a world quickly falling into apocalyptic-style disarray. Along with the three aforementioned artists, contributors include Nathan Fox, Sanford Green, Zach Howard, David Williams, Howard Chaykin, Gary Erskine, Vince Proce and Glenn Fabry.
Archaia’s Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy spoke with CBR News about the recently announced title, why he and Archaia love the anthology format and his personal plans should fiction and reality meet in the world of “BleedOut.”
CBR News: Stephen, those in attendance at New York Comic Con found out the answer to the question. But for those readers checking in online, can you answer once and for all, what is the “BleedOut?”
Stephen Christy: [Laughs] Well, I’m not sure how much I can give away actually, but essentially, “BleedOut” is a very complex story, which is one of the things that attracted Archaia Black Label to becoming involved with it. It’s essentially about a world where oil no longer exists. It’s not a future world. It’s not in any sense any backhand, science fiction thing. It’s really based right now and [it asks] a very, very good question. What would happen to our economy, our way of life, who we are as a species, if this resource that we built our entire society on suddenly disappears? I’m not going to give away the reason why it disappears, but it’s a very, very cool reason. The BleedOut is what happens when this all goes away – what happens after that and how we deal with it.
How did this project come about and why include it in the Black Label line?
Well, Black Label, we really don’t refer to it as an imprint. We call it a brand extension. What it is really is a place within our company where other companies that want to come into the comic industry and want to take ideas that they have and bring them into the comic market can work with us. We help them realize their vision through Archaia Black Label. The difference between Archaia Black Label and any other Hollywood-style comics is that we approach these comic books like we approach our regular books. We focus first and foremost on making the best comic possible with the highest production values and the best approach to get the comic to readers.
This project came to us through a good friend of ours, Michael Mendheim, who is working for a company called Vogster. Vogster, in fact, is a company that is in charge of a video game, which also happens to be called “BleedOut.” I don’t want to call this a video game tie-in, because it’s not. This is something that has been built concurrently with the game, and a lot of that comes from Mike Kennedy, who is writing the graphic novel and who is also heavily involved in the story of the game. So, Mike pitched us the project and the general idea and pitched us some of the artists that were already committed. It just seemed like a really unique way of doing not only a great story and a graphic novel story, but also showing people the best that comics can be.
I also wanted to hit on the exact format of the graphic novel. As you mentioned, it’s one writer with quite a few different artists. But will it be one continuous story or a couple different stories all interconnected?
The format is that there’s a full, over-arching story going across the whole of the graphic novel, but each chapter is drawn by a different superstar artist. Each chapter takes a look at a different aspect of this world in general, while still building a bigger story and a really cool action, adventure tale set in this world where oil has disappeared. Each artist is doing their own chapter, some of them as short as four pages and some of them as long as 10. But that’s the best thing about anthologies. We also did this recently with another book of ours, “Moon Lake,” and last year we did “Days Missing,” which for all intents and purposes was an anthology. I love being able to crack a book open and look through it and really be amazed by the sheer amount of different art styles and talent.
You mentioned that you really enjoy reading anthologies, and if you look at the comic industry, back in the day – especially when it came to horror comics – anthologies were a pretty big thing. They’ve gone down a bit recently, but Archaia especially has been bringing them back. What do you like about the anthological format and bringing it back to the comic stands?
I love anthologies, but I think one of the biggest problems with anthologies is that you get anthologies without either a unifying story or a unifying theme. Basically, you’re throwing out all these artists and stories and hoping that something sticks. I think that’s the reason why anthologies are always hit and miss. Some stories stand out and some that could be a lot better. We always try here at Archaia when we do anthologies to have that unifying element and phenomenal talent. When you start throwing out names like Howard Chaykin, Nathan Fox, Trevor Hairsine, Ben Templesmith, Tim Bradstreet, those are top, top notch guys. So, I think there’s always room for anthologies and I think it’s something there should be more of. I think that it’s just a question of respecting the audience and respecting the way of bringing an anthology together and not putting together something that’s one or two good stories and the rest of them are crap. You really have to be able to back up what you’re selling. That’s something we take very seriously and try to do with every book that we put out.
As a final question, what do you personally think about the world completely losing every drop of gasoline? What would be your plan if that were to actually happen?
[Laughs] Well, I would say that it would obviously be an awful situation. That’s the really fun thing about this book. Mike, when he was writing it, was really sitting down and thinking, “What would this be like?” Think about all the things that we use gas for in everyday life. We drive places. We use gas for heat. We use gas for everything. I think, unfortunately, what you would see happening is pretty much the collapse of civilization as we know it.
But I believe that we are very, very smart as a species and we’re much better at maintaining ourselves in those types of situations than we give ourselves credit for. We’d find an alternative for gas, but I think for 10 years or so it would be a pretty interesting world to live in and not the most pleasant world to live in. As for me, I’d probably want to find a nice farm somewhere in the country and hold up and grow my own food. Raise my own animals and be a mountain man until it’s safe. [Laughs]