BC: The leadership of the space station reminds me a lot of how Robert Kirkman spends so much time in The Walking Dead with the idea of "How WOULD we go on if we were in this situation?" In Infinite Dark, the four section chiefs form a sort of four-part dictatorship, of sorts. Did they have a plan for how society would have been ruled had the full 15,000 people showed up on the station?"
And how did you come up with the idea of having, in effect, a four-person dictatorship?
RC: So, at Top Cow, Henry Barajas - who does a lot of their marketing and promo and stuff - always calls the book "HR Disaster," as a joke. But funny enough, it really covers what's at play there? There was so much planning in place for how humanity would've thrived on the station - elections, planned neighborhoods, civic engagement...and when none of the colonists made it on board, the Orpheus crew just let it be business as usual. In post-apocalyptic stories, it's so often these maverick hard-asses that wind up in charge - like in Walking Dead. But if we all worked in an office, and the world ended outside, but everything was normal inside the office? I feel like most people would just clock in and report to their supervisors.
RC: In earlier drafts, the Board of Directors were a bit more ruthless and divisive - more dictatorial - but I thought that if their employees were sort of filling that old power dynamic, why would they shift it to become worse?
BC: It's interesting that it's an even number of leaders, though. One of the big plot points in the book is the idea that Deva is always outvoted 3-1, but imagine if the decisions were ties all the time! Chaos!
RC: Exactly! It's an...HR DISASTER! Thank goodness one of them threw himself into nothingness, am I right? Much better voting dynamic.
RC: And yeah, Deva - by virtue of having such a different background and occupation - is usually the maverick voter. It doesn't help that she's more emotionally motivated than the other three were, I think.
BC: Director Chalos is particularly fascinating in that regard.
RC: He's my story editor's favorite character, actually.
BC: For a station where mental health is such a big deal, him being in charge of that is a game-changer.
RC: Definitely. Looking that far ahead, medical technology-wise – in a lot of ways, mental health is going to be more concerning than physical.
BC: When he and Deva go into the joint session - if the simulator set-up changes because they were both in there, why doesn't he see what Deva sees?
RC: Well...here's the tricky part. He CAN see the Entity to a degree - he comments on noting that something manifested. But the way that it affected
Deva...there's a strong implication that coming face-to-face with that Thing has allowed It to touch her, in some way.
RC: Ike's operating under a clinical bias, to be sure - but he's also seeing simple manifestations, the simulations without context.
RC: I'm glad you caught that, though.
RC: I worried a lot about having a big chunk of my second issue basically just be a therapy session. But I figured - it works for the Sopranos!
BC: The therapy adds an innovative element to it, as we rarely get to see people going through horror actually get to discuss the issue through therapy as it is going on, and since so much of horror is based on those principles, it is perfect.
RC: Thank you! I'm really glad that the therapy stuff reads well.
BC: How much of a free hand did Andrea have in designing the characters? Did you have specific ethnicities in mind for the characters or was it, in effect, blind casting for Andrea?
RC: I always try to let the artist have as much control as they want. I feel like it's easy as a writer to get weirdly controlling and demanding, but it's a collaboration - and generally, they know art way better than I will. I gave general guidelines for everyone's basic appearance and background, but it was a lot more emotional stuff - "this is a person who looks like they might ask to speak to your manager" - that kind of thing. The only thing I've been kind of nitpicky on is that I really wanted to hammer home that a lot of our current notions of ethnic makeup should be moot, 10,000 years from now. People are going to have diversity, for sure, especially living in different galaxies - but our current ideas of who’s what are gonna be irrelevant in a lot of ways. So if somebody came out looking clearly like a typical 2000s American white dude, or something, I tried to give a nudge.
RC: That and I wanted a decent amount of genderfluid/queer folks around. I felt that representation was important, considering it's so far in the future, and what we have now.
BC: I saw somewhere that the title of the book was a Sandman reference. Could you elaborate a bit on that?
RC: Yeah! So, my original title was "No Stars," but lots of people hated that, hahah. So we kept it as working title for months, and then Matt Hawkins and I were just spitballing titles, and we tried "Infinite Dark," and it sounded weirdly familiar. He and I both dug it, and I was trying to figure out why it seemed to work so well. After a few days we figured out why – it’s a phrase in one of Dream's lines from volume one. "Everything outside my kingdom is infinite dust, infinite dark," he says.
Sandman is still my top comic of all time, and so that moment is so fitting - and his name being Morpheus and the space station being named Orpheus - it all sort of tied together. It was suddenly just like, the perfect title for what we were doing, and here it was connected to such a formative series for me.
RC: My girlfriend actually helped me catch it, so she deserves a lot of that credit for helping us realize and finally choose that title.
BC: That's awesome.
BC: Does Sm1th have a specific voice, or does Sm1th sound different to each person?
RC: He definitely has the same crisp, proper, almost British-y voice for everyone. I like to imagine SM1TH sounds a little bit like Alfred from the Batman Animated series, but maybe a little less cartoonish. Always uplifting, a little wry. He might be my favorite character. He has a monologue in issue 4 that was my favorite moment to write in the whole series.