"The God Machine" is a new graphic novel by writer and artist Chandra Free, who tells the story of Guy Salvatore, a man with the ability to see otherworldly monsters and gods in his everyday life. Mourning and depressed over the loss of his girlfriend, Sith, Guy begins to see monsters in his mundane activities. While brushing his teeth, he sees a monster pop out of the mirror to ask him for some floss or while raiding the 'fridge, he sees monsters have beaten him to the punch.
Coming from Archaia first in October as a 48-page preview and then as a full graphic novel in 2010, "The God Machine" represents over ten years of work both creating and polishing the character of Guy Salvatore . Creator Chandra Free told CBR, "I was about 17- or 18-years old and I was in high school. I had been searching desperately for a new idea because I worked on my own miniature comics for quite some time during my whole school year. I was looking for something new that I could actually take further after high school was over with. At one point or another, one of my friends handed me a book called 'I Feel Sick: The Story of a Girl' by Jhonen Vasquez. I had never seen anything like it before because I had never really been into the comic scene. When I saw this material, I realized there was a whole section of comics out there that are different than manga or superhero fare. This gave me inspiration to try and find something that was in between my style at the time and what had always been my own work.
"I worked at it and I worked at it and I was still at a loss for ideas. At one point, I drew a picture of this funny looking guy with sunglasses and triangle hair. I realized that this was my character! This was definitely the guy that I was going to start forming characters around."
Free, a fan of "Street Fighter Alpha II," named her creation Guy after the Final Fight character included in the game's roster. "There was a poster of 'Street Fighter Alpha II' on my wall and one of the characters was named Guy and I always thought it was kind of cool," she said.
As Guy Salvatore begins his adventure, he sees not only monsters, but also Gods. "There are three gods primarily. Good God, Evil God and Limbo God who are actually in charge of all of existence," Free explained. "They're our core god characters who kind of rule over the rest of reality in a way almost like a democracy. There's a whole entire organization called The Order which function as... I wouldn't say Angels, but that's probably the closest thing I could think of in approximation. They're representatives of other worlds. They all get together and try to come to an idea about how to govern existence based on each world's needs and what balances the system appropriately."
Unfortunately for the Gods, one human seeing their existence isn't their only problem. "There's an energy crisis which involves life energy and a whole host of problems that the gods have to deal with," said Free. "These god characters are not exactly what you would think they would be. The titles of Good God and Evil God are kind of misleading because they're not exactly black and white as one would think. They're very interesting creatures, but really work together to balance everything out. That's just a taste of who these people are."
Even with the inclusion of the three ruling Gods, the story is set squarely on the shoulders of Guy Salvatore, who is tangentially based on Free herself. "I guess I wasn't really making a conscious decision at the time, but he was kind of like me," Free said. "It just developed over time that he would be going through the same themes that I was going to be dealing with and figuring out. His story kind of sprang from a little bit of the depression I went through as a teenager. It obviously grew from that to where it is now. We've got about ten years of time that I've grown and I've developed this story. I've brought in things like politics and ideas of self and more psychology and a greater, vast world that's much more intense than a depressed high schooler."
Although "The God Machine" was developed approximately ten years ago, Free is confident that the story has bettered with age. "I did grow a lot during those ten years and I think I've come up with a better, well-crafted story than I could have at any other time in my life. Even though it's ten years later, I think this is the right time for this to come out. I'm really excited. Especially that people are actually going to see my vision and probably one of the greatest loves of my life. I'm telling the tales of these characters and I'm really getting into some of my favorite subjects. Getting this out to people and affecting their lives by telling my story is what I'm looking forward to the most because already I've had such a good response from some of my fans online."
After the 2010 graphic novel hits, Free isn't finished yet. She's still got stories to tell about the world of Guy Salvatore and the secrets revealed in the pages of "The God Machine. "There are multiple worlds and there's the whole situation behind why Sith is missing and who Guy Salvatore really is," she said. "What's going to take place is far larger than what you're going to see in the first book. It's going to be a long, epic tale."