EXCLUSIVE: Jenkins Brings Darkly Comedic Clone Saga "Replica" to AfterShock

AfterShock Comics launches in December with a lineup of comics that includes body-morphing victorian vamps, , and Tuskegee Airmen at war. The company's fourth and final launch title, from Paul Jenkins and Andy Clarke, promises add to the diverse mix of genres and concepts in "Replica," which finds a peacekeeping detective who decides to clone himself repeatedly to try and protect the world. The only problem is... well, he's kind of an asshole.

The series explores sci-fi at a very human level as it follows the story of agent Trevor Carter, who lives in a space-station known as The Transfer. Several human levels, in fact, as Trevor's experiments with cloning have led to him having to deal with about fifty versions of himself running around, each of whom are showing strange sides of his personality which he never expected to surface.

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To find out more about the infinite crisis of Trevor Carter, CBR News spoke exclusively with Jenkins about how the series came about, and what readers can expect as his and Clarke's darkly comedic tale of mayhem, mystery and too many clones unfolds.

CBR News: What can you tell us about "Replica?" I know it's a sci-fi story, but what's the tone of the series like?

Paul Jenkins: It's very comedic -- Trevor Carter, our main character, is a long-suffering sort of dude. He's been trying to keep his department together, but the problem is, the place where he resides is a giant space station where all species are permitted to act in accordance with the laws of their home planets. I think the best sit-coms (with "Seinfeld" a notable exception) must begin with a decent situation. 

What do you feel motivates Trevor? What sort of a man is he before he starts replicating?

He's really a good guy, but he's taken on a job that no one could possibly manage. I think he wants to get things right, but he has no idea how to do it. Deep down, though, he's kind of an asshole.

And once he starts replicating, what kind of person is he then?

Still an asshole.

Are you looking to build on the theme of identity here -- the idea that you might not be your own best friend?

The main thrust of the series is how Trevor reacts to his clones, framed by the various cool mysteries and adventures. Once he replicates, Trevor notices that his fifty clones are each diverging, taking on a specific part of his personality. One of them starts binge eating, one of them is impossibly clever, and so on.

Now, all of this is set against a backdrop of impossible Galactic political intrigue, so that gives us the main thrust of the action. But at its heart, Replica puts forward the notion that if you met yourself, chances are you'd last about five minutes before you'd want to throttle your alter ego.

The Transfer, where Trevor works, appears to be quite an important part of the story. When working on a comic like this, do you spend a lot of time on the world-building aspects, or do you tend to find that you lead with character and then move from there?

The world building is extremely important -- we have to feel the Transfer is an amazing and vibrant place that we'd want to visit. But it's also going to remind us of the world we live in. I always feel the best way to do science-fiction is to remind ourselves that even though we may have advanced in our , paranoid technology, we will always be frail, egomaniacal idiots. In the future, people will still listen to banal pop music, attend therapy sessions and wear jeans. 

To build a world is to make sure it is a reflection of the one we know.

How did artist Andy Clarke come onboard the project? What does his style bring to the comic, for you? 

Andy is just perfect for this -- he really gets the nuances of the humor. I am reminded of my great friend and collaborator, Chris Moreno. I can give Andy no higher praise, frankly. Thanks to Mike Marts for bringing him to the project!

Given that you could choose any project you wanted to pitch to AfterShock, what was it about "Replica" that made it the comic went for?

The great thing about Aftershock is that they basically gave me carte blanche to bring anything I wanted. The process has gone just great so far -- we are all loving the book! I've known Joe Pruett for many years, and so I'm really excited to be working with him at last. It's a perfect place for me to be working right now.

Honestly, I think my work -- like the work of many writers -- tends towards the autobiographical, though I rarely recognize it at the time. At the moment I am about to release the first of two novels, heading up a brand new studio, writing two comic series, teaching a brand new class at Kennesaw State University -- and the list goes on. I love my jobs, but they can stretch me thin sometimes. 

So the idea of writing about a guy who needs fifty clones to manage seems about right.

You've worked for several publishers over the years, and been part of successful Kickstarters as well! How do you currently feel about the overall state of comics, right now? Do you think it's getting easier for creator-owned comics to find an audience now?

I am not sure that I am qualified to answer, really. I haven't been doing mainstream for a couple of years, so I don't know what is going on over there. I will say that I am amazed by the current success of Image and other creator-owned publishers. I love this for the overall creative success of the industry.

What are your plans for "Replica" as we move forward? Do you have a long-term plan, or is this going to be a shorter, more concise series?

For the moment, we are an ongoing series. So prove us right -- read it, love it, buy more!

"Replica" #1, by Paul Jenkins and Andy Clarke, arrives December 1.

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