Talking Comics with Tim will typically run once a week on Mondays, but periodically as time and events permit, I’ll be providing supplemental editions. Today I’m happy to present my brief email interview with ACT-I-VATE‘s newest creator, Nathan Schreiber, regarding his webcomic, Power Out, which launches today. Here’s the brief official concept description: “When a massive, region wide power out hits the east coast, a kid who is more dependent on technology than people has to suddenly figure out how to survive without either.”
Tim O’Shea: The whole story is done in light blue hues, as opposed to traditional black and white or full color. What was your thinking in going this route?
Nathan Schreiber: The environments in Power Out are huge – the water tower, the woods, you even see the curvature of the earth at one point. And big things happen: the entire east coast goes off the electrical grid, the army starts evacuating people – it’s very apocalyptic! But when you paint it all blue, all these big things get a cold, kind of indifferent quality – like a silent nuclear explosion. I think it’s just the right tone for a kid who’s all alone and just finding out how big the world really is.
O’Shea: Could you envision telling another tale involving Justin, or were you able to achieve all you wanted to with this character and his journey in this unique tale?
Schreiber: This is Justin’s story! Power Out is really about wide-eyed adolescence. The discoveries you make at that time – when you’re right on the cusp of self-awareness – are intense, exhilarating. Justin is being forced to interact with a world he’s always ignored, so it feels like a revelation, as if he’s woke up from a dream. But it’s not easy to do everything for the first time. Especially for Justin: he looks like he’s made of cookie dough! But his fragile appearance makes his journey even more satisfying when we see his inner strength emerge.
O’Shea: You sought out feedback on your blog as you were developing Power Out, can you point to certain aspects of the story that you substantially revised based on feedback?
Schreiber: I originally wrote Justin’s sister, Carrie, as a foil / clown type – an obnoxious brat who disappears after the first chapter. But as I made her a little softer, some of my friends who I was sharing my early drafts with encouraged me to take both her character and storyline further. She ended up surprising me – I gave her some more interesting things to do and she turned out to be a much stronger, more interesting character than I first imagined.
O’Shea: You cover a range of characters, backgrounds and ages with your cast–can you point to one character that was the hardest to find his or her voice in developing their sound/look?
Schreiber: I’m still trying to figure out how to write Justin’s elderly neighbor, who appears mainly in his dreams. She acts as a kind of spiritual guide for Justin, but I get nervous whenever I have a character saying “you may be confused, but this is what’s really going on!” Nobody wants to read your expository dialogue.
O’Shea: In developing Power Out, did you envision it first as a webcomic that evolved into a book? Or is it a book that you have adapted for webcomics?
Schreiber: I’ve always conceived Power Out as a traditional printed graphic novel – I’m dedicated to finishing it with that format in mind. But I imagine my next project for act-i-vate will be better tailored for the web, especially wireless browsers like the iphone.