For Oni 'One Plus One' equals one disturbing story

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This September Oni Press will release the first issue of a five issue mini-series called "One Plus One." The book is written by Neal Shaffer with art by Daniel Krall and covers supplied by Michael Avon Oeming. CBR News got in touch with these creators to learn more about the book.

"One Plus One" is a noir-ish crime/horror story. It's a dark, psychological horror comic that focuses on David Coulson. David travels the world making sure the bad guys stay their course, meeting the end that's been predetermined for them. But don't go describing it as "Highway to Heaven" on smack.

"There's no element of the fantastic [here], nor will the book support a 'Highway to Heaven' comparison," series writer Neal Shaffer told CBR News. "As for what's pushing David, or what is in it for him, his motivations are ... complex ... every action he undertakes can be taken to mean a number of things, and in time we'll reveal more and more about who he is. To be too specific here would cheat the readers, in the sense that the 'meaning'" of this story is intentionally ambiguous to support interpretation. I will say that evil is a key concept in the story, and nobody's hands are completely clean."

David's travels will affect the lives of not just a certain type of character, but a variety of people with unique perspectives. "The only thing they're going to have in common is their humanity, meaning that they will never be caricatures."

"What people will be reading is the result of about three years of evolution, but the main idea has always been to do a story which tweaks or redefines the traditional notions of evil, redemption, salvation, etc. There's more to it, of course, but that's probably the best way to define the starting point."

While this series is set for only five issues, one could assume that there's much more story to be told. Shaffer told CBR News that there's definitely a plan to continue past the first mini-series, but at this point there isn't a set schedule. He added that Oni supports future editions and the team expects "a pretty healthy future," said Shaffer.

Shaffer and artist Krall were introduced through a job they both shared and used that company's dime to begin developing that which you'll see in September.

"We met while we were both working as coffee jerks here in town," said Shaffer. "Standing around not doing our jobs afforded us a lot of opportunities to bounce ideas around, and given our interests and talents the notion of working together on a comic seemed a natural fit."

For artist Krall, working on a book with a dark tone like the one that's found in "One Plus One" affords him the opportunity to explore a different side of his life.

"It might sound a little contrived, but I think to do work that's a little dark you tap into the dark side of your personality," series artist Daniel Krall told CBR News. "Everyone has one, I guess. And since the story doesn't fly off into gothic fantasy, I don't think I really have to push too far to feel it. I'm normally not a particularly gloomy guy though."

For Krall it's not just take Shaffer's script and put pen to paper. The process of creating "One Plus One" is really a team effort.

"I've got about as much leeway as an artist could possibly have," said Krall. "Neal and I usually knock plot ideas around for a while, and eventually we hit on something we both agree on. We discuss the characters, their personalities, and so on. I come back with what they look like, and then Neal's off to write the script. He usually gives me tons of room to play around. It's really a collaborative effort."

Krall's new to comics, having spent most of his time as a freelance illustrator doing fashion and entertainment work. While in art school Krall rediscovered comics and a teach encouraged him to try doing more narrative work.

For the settings in "One Plus One," Krall needs only his imagination to construct the images on the page. "I don't normally use any reference for people. I try to do all my character work from remembered observation. Sometimes when we end up with something in the story that I either don't remember, or haven't seen, I roll around the city with my camera and snap a few photos. Sometimes buildings, interiors, specific cars. You know, the not as fun stuff."

Look for "One Plus One #1" in comic shops September 11th, 2002. Those looking to see more from this duo can find a special color short story in the "Oni Press Color Special 2002," available now.

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