Can't Trust the Internet? Image's Analog Explores What's Next

The Internet is a useful tool for transmitting secret information across the globe -- if you have the resources to truly secure and protect that info during its digital journey. The rich and powerful often spend a large part of their fortune to insure their many secrets are safe online -- but what would happen though if there was suddenly no way for anyone to safeguard digital information? What if a cyber attack put transporting and protecting secrets back in the hands of cunning and capable couriers?

This April, writer Gerry Duggan, artist David O'Sullivan and colorist Jordie Bellaire will take readers to just such a world when they kick off their new creator-owned Image Comics series, Analog, which is set in a near-future, lo-fi, cyberpunk style world where special couriers must deal with danger and subterfuge to protect, deliver, and uncover global secrets.

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CBR spoke with Duggan about the inspiration for the series, its tone -- which blends action, comedy and neo-noir style intrigues -- and its eclectic cast of characters that include a frequently beat-up protagonist, his mysterious and violent girlfriend, and even a bizarre representation of artificial intelligence.

CBR: Gerry, it looks like Analog is several things in terms of the overall genre, story and characters. One of the big elements, though, is speculative sci-fi, because you're looking at a near future where our world and how we communicate has been changed by a devastating cyber attack. So what can you tell us about the status quo of the world when you kick things off in Analog #1?

Gerry Duggan: The world is a different place because nobody uses the internet to transmit secrets anymore. The internet still exists for adult entertainment, but corporations, governments and the folks running our kleptocracy would never trust their data to it. They turn to a more secure method to move information: Ledger Men. The era of armed couriers returns. Ledger Men are a Pony Express for the people that can afford it.

As a writer, any time you can get rid of current conveniences like mobile phones and computers it really helps your story. To be able to tell a future noir, and ditching some of the things that ruin stories like mobile phones, has been a lot of fun. It’s a hardboiled story. Armed men and women with briefcases cuffed to their wrists. This is what David O’Sullivan and Jordie Bellaire were born to work on.

At the center of Analog are the couriers you mentioned who have been dubbed “Ledger Men.” What can you tell us about them and their legal status in this world? And do other legal organizations that regulated crime and communication like the police, the FBI and the NSA play roles in your story?

Our story opens up in a pretty chaotic 2024. It’s been years since the cloud crashed to the ground spilling all the secrets, and a new normal has settled in. Ledger Men don't have legal protected status, but they're very good at what they do. One of the antagonists that our hero is going to run into is a woman known only as “Aunt Sam.” She's trying to reconstitute the NSA, but by bringing back rooms around the world filled with copiers. They're trying to snoop on the Ledger Men by getting peeks into their briefcases. It's a good opportunity to have an old-fashioned crime caper, but set it in a cyberpunk style future.

It sounds very serious, but it's been a lot of fun, too. We're vaulting over the current political climate, but dealing with some elements that have been emboldened by it. The streets are filled with white supremacists and Jack McGinnis has a romantic interest that is also his partner in crime. Her name is Oona and she's out fighting white supremacists in the streets. I wish that felt more out of left field.

The solicits describe your protagonist, Jack McGinnis, as a human punching bag. Reading that, the first thing that came to my mind was the classic television private eye, Jim Rockford. Was that sort of what you were aiming for with him?

Yeah, I think so. I was raised on a steady diet of The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. That's part of why the Shane Black film The Nice Guys resonated so much with me. I learned to write by reading all of Shane's screenplays going back to his college days and un-produced stuff like Shadow Company. My friends and I would trade screenplays back in the day, and we still share screenplays today. I think Shane would count Rockford as an influence.

Jack’s not much of a hero, but he’s a character that is getting by doing what he does best, and he’s someone we can root for. He also has a secret. He was one of the people responsible for the doxing. It weighs on him, but he believes he did the right thing at the time.

It’s something that he carries with him. The human wreckage out on the streets has his fingerprints on it.

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