Writer Herik Hanna and artist Sean Phillips' French-language OGN "Void" comes to an English-speaking audience for the first time this month courtesy of Titan Comics. "Void," first released in France in 2012, is a sci-fi horror story about a game of cat and mouse set aboard an intergalactic prison ship.
Phillips chatted with CBR News recently about his new sci-fi horror saga, revealing his nervousness about drawing sci-fi again, what it was like working with a 3D modeler on "Void," and teasing a new sci-fi project with long-time collaborator Ed Brubaker.
CBR News: Sean, what's the central idea behind "Void"?
Sean Phillips: It's set aboard a prison ship lost out in the depths of space. The captain has killed almost all crew and prisoners on board and is playing cat and mouse with the last inmate.
It sounds like the ship itself is going to be vital to the story. What sort of research and design work did you do for "Void," especially as relates to the ship?
For the interiors, I looked at a lot of photos of underground tunnels and abandoned factories. For the exterior, I described what design elements I needed for the story and left the rest of it in the talented hands of Andrew Glazebrook to build me a 3D computer model I could rotate to any angle and base my drawings on. I found him online (glazy.blogspot.co.uk) through a mutual friend, and he did a great job taking my description and making it into a fabulous spaceship. It was much, much better than anything I could have done, and it was great to have his help.
This is your first time drawing sci-fi for a major project. Were you nervous at all?
Yes, I was a little, because sci-fi isn't something I've drawn much before outside of "Judge Dredd" over twenty years ago. It's so difficult to do something that hasn't been seen a thousand times before, and I'm not sure I've pulled it off. My biggest worry was that it would end up looking like "Alien"...
"Void" was originally released in French, so how did it wind up at Titan Comics? Was it always the plan to do an English translation?
I've got no idea! The first I knew about it was when Titan told me. It was originally published by Delcourt in France and they handle any foreign licensing. My first book for Delcourt, "Seven Psychopaths," was published in the US by BOOM! and again Delcourt handled that.
How was the book received in France?
The book launched at a festival in St. Malo in France and I signed and sketched in a lot of copies there, and the reception for the book was very positive.
I've not read the book yet! I haven't seen Titan's translation yet, and the original script was translated into quite basic English. I can't read French either, so it's all new to me!
Are you trying anything new with your artwork in "Void?"
Just trying not to suck! And trying not to have it look too much like "Alien." I've concentrated on what I do best, drawing people who look a little like me frowning and smoking in the shadows.
What was your creative process with writer Herik Hanna?
I had very little contact with Herik working on the book, just a little at the beginning when I asked for a few clarifications in the script. It's quite complicated with a lot of flashbacks and hallucinatory scenes and I was confused when I first read the script. It all worked out OK in the end though.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi comics?
Well, Walt Simonson and Archie Goodwin's "Alien" adaptation of course! And Steranko's "Outland" adaptation. They both do so much more than simply retell the stories from the films. They're both so graphically inventive and do stuff that only comics can do. I love the look of Moebius' and Enki Bilal's sci-fi comics although I can't read my French editions. I'll have to track down the English language versions. And Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner are killing it on "Flash Gordon" at the moment, fun stories with absolutely gorgeous artwork from Shaner with Jordie Bellaire's colours!
Do you think you'll you return to the sci-fi genre?
Yes, definitely! Ed Brubaker has an idea for a sci-fi thing we will do as part of our five-year deal with Image. It was going to be our next project after "The Fade Out," but I think we're doing something else first.
Speaking of "The Fade-Out," it was just announced it sold out of its first issue. How's it feel to get such early success with a new series? Do you expect it at all by this point?
It's great that it has been so popular, but if only the stores had ordered more copies! Ah well, there's always the second printing in a couple of weeks...
It's always a pleasant surprise to Ed and I that anyone buys our books, and we definitely didn't expect that this would be our most popular so far. I'm very pleased with the reception we've had, and I'm happy we can carry on doing our stuff together for as long as enough people read it.
"Void," an OGN by writer Herik Hanna and artist Sean Phillips, is available this week from Titan Comics.