In 2005, current “X-O Manowar” writer Robert Venditti introduced readers to the world of “The Surrogates,” a future where humans have forsaken physical contact with each other in favor of using surrogates — humanoid remote controlled replicas — to interact with one another. “The Surrogates” starred Lieutenant Harvey Greer, who investigates the destruction of two surrogates and the deaths of their owners, becoming embroiled in a plot expploring the potential dangers of technological over-dependence. In 2009, Venditti returned with “The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone” exploring the world of “The Surrogates” fifteen years prior to the original series. Now, Venditti and Top Shelf plan to continue the technological thriller with “The Surrogates: Case Files,” a digital-exclusive series.
Set between the events of “The Surrogates” and “Flesh and Bone,” “Case Files” tells a series of self-contained stories with a more procedural feel. Written by Venditti with art by original “Surrogates” artist Brett Weldele, “Case Files” focuses on one-and-done mysteries with the occasional two-parter focused on surrogate technology crime.
Venditti spoke with CBR News about the stories and themes of “Case Files,” exploring the digital-only space, the timeline of the series and further developing the character of protagonist Harvey Greer.
CBR News: Robert, let’s start with the obvious — what is “The Surrogates: Case Files” and where do we find Harvey Greer in this new series?
With the switch to digital, how, if at all, are you changing your approach to writing this series? How is Brett changing his approach to layout with this?
I’m writing with much smaller settings: apartments, cars, interrogation rooms, dry cleaners and so on. I’m taking the more claustrophobic reading space inherent in a tablet or smartphone and trying to use it for the story’s advantage. I’m also staying away from double-page spreads and things that work well in print, but are harder to execute digitally.
How many issues of “Case Files” do you see Brett and you doing to start? Are you at all concerned that a big break in the middle of “Case Files” could hurt sales momentum, or does digital distribution — and being always available — throw that concern out the window?
The first two issues are in the can, and I have the next three down on paper. So the plan is to start with five issues and see where things go from there. This is an experiment, in many ways, not just for Brett and myself, but for Top Shelf as well. None of us have tried something like this before and we’re anxious to see how it’s received.
In regard to there being a gap between chunks of stories, I think our readers are already acclimated to that. It was three years between the publication of “The Surrogates” and “Flesh and Bone,” and now it’s been three years between “Flesh and Bone” and “Case Files.”
Would you ever entertain the idea of a guest writer coming in and tackling some case files themselves?
I’ve never thought about it. I had fun with the film adaptation, in part because I enjoyed seeing others bring their own influences to the characters and settings in the graphic novels. I guess we’ll have to see what the future holds.
“The Surrogates: Case Files” is available now via Top Shelf Comix and comiXology.