Coming from Image Comics in January 2012 is "Whispers," a brand new project from critically-acclaimed creator Joshua Luna. Best known for his collaborative projects with his brother, Jonathan Luna, Joshua is going solo for the supernatural miniseries, serving as both writer and artist.
"Whispers" follows the journey of Sam Webber, a man losing control of his life to obsessive-compulsive disorder. But when Sam discovers he has the power to leave his body and wander around in a ghost-like form, he begins to regain the control he's never felt he possessed before. Focusing on supernatural themes and elements, "Whispers" also explores more profound concepts such as free will and control.
Joshua Luna spoke with CBR News about "Whispers," the challenges of going solo, Sam Webber and his supporting cast, and the supernatural aspects that readers can expect to encounter.
CBR News: Joshua, tell us about "Whispers." What's the concept behind it and how did your initial idea develop into the series?
Joshua Luna:Â I'm fascinated by the concepts of free will and control. Are the choices we make in life really a choice? Or are we all simply victims to predetermination, genetic dispositions, environment, or a divine outside force? Are we really in control? These questions inspired me and I wanted to explore these themes by creating a character that represented both spectrums to the argument.
EXCLUSIVE: Joshua Luna returns to comics with the solo project "Whispers"
"Whispers" is your first solo project. When and why did you decide that you would be spearheading this particular project entirely on your own?
Many people who have read our work may not be aware of this, but I was actually an illustrator long before I attempted to write. After graduating from art school, I landed a full-time desk job that only allowed me to take on writing chores while my brother handled the art. We had a great collaboration throughout "Ultra," "Girls" and "The Sword," but I never lost the desire to draw comics. Now that I'm making comics full time, I decided it was the right time to do that. I decided to take on "Whispers" without collaboration because I knew the story I wanted to tell really well and exactly how to bring it to life it in my head.
What was the transition like after working so closely with your brother, Jonathan, for so much of your comics career?
What's funny is that I've been working in the comic industry for 7 years now, but taking on a book myself feels like I'm starting all over again. Throughout our collaboration on our books, we would constantly edit or approve each other's work. There was a constant back and forth. After 7 years of that process, it's interesting to finish a script or a page and realize it's coming from me, then directly to the reader. No stops. No one else to blame, but me. Kind of a scary thought.
Beyond that obviously large transition, how has your creative process changed for "Whispers?"
The biggest change is the art aspect. For our past books, I only provided layouts for my brother. Creating an actual finished page obviously demands much more thought and effort. Writing-wise, my process pretty much stayed the same. Since I'm writing for me and not another artist, though, I noticed that I'm writing looser dialogue in the first drafts, knowing I can tighten and adjust once I get to the lettering stage, where I can see my characters' "acting" and dictate their dialogue more effectively.
Your previous series, "Ultra," "Girls" and "The Sword," have all dealt with fantastic and supernatural elements that draw from different traditions such as superheroes, sci-fi, horror and mythology. How, if at all, does "Whispers" follow in that tradition?
"Whispers" definitely follows in that tradition in the sense that this is a book with supernatural elements that is grounded with a very human story.
Tell us about the main character of "Whispers." Who is he and what motivates and drives him through the story you have planned?
The protagonist in "Whispers," Sam Webber, suffers from OCD. He hates to touch anything, fearing contamination. He is losing control of his life and has nearly become a complete slave to his obsessive thoughts and demons. He one day discovers that he possesses the ability to leave his physical body in "ghost" form, which empowers and delights him since he literally can't touch anything. Though, while in this form, he does have the ability to manipulate and control people in disturbing ways. For the first time in his life, he feels in control.
Sam's girlfriend left him because she couldn't handle his OCD, so his main and initial motivation is to get her back. But things don't work out exactly as he plans. When Sam explores our world as a "ghost," he will see things human eyes are not meant to see. That's where things get interesting, mysterious and terrifying.
I won't give away too much too soon, but readers can expect a dark, supernatural thriller that has drama, horror, crime and a mystery that will keep you guessing.
Your previous work has a tradition of featuring incredibly strong supporting casts. Who will be joining Sam during the course of "Whispers" and how will they be adding to his experience?
The main characters are Sam's ex-girlfriend, who urges him to get help for his mental disorders and come back to reality; Sam's eccentric neighbor, who encourages his mental disorders and embraces a fantasy world; and a very dangerous thug who Sam uses as a chess piece in a very dangerous game that unravels as the story progresses. Also, there are various supernatural elements that I don't want to spoil.
Who or what is the antagonist in the series? What types of challenges can readers expect the main character to face during the course of the plot?
When Sam manipulates various people in "ghost" form, he feels confident that those people won't cross over into -- and destroy -- his daily, physical life. These people come in the form of thugs, the law and characters that may not even be human at all.
Sam's confidence and sense of security is shattered when these two worlds do overlap. He may be powerful in "ghost" form, but the real Sam is too afraid to touch a door handle, let alone physically fight off anyone. Very frightening characters will be coming for him. Will Sam survive the hell's he created? That's the big question.