AiPT: Invisible Republic is described as a sci-fi, mystery, thriller but you could just as easily say the the book defies genres; it has aspects of all the genres listed but in the end can’t really be classified as one or the other. With that (I would imagine) comes a lot of new ground as creators, this comic is very different from anything else out there. How do you deal with being such pioneers of a new genre of comic books?
Corinna Bechko: I don’t think we really worry much about genre when we sit down to write. This story needed to be told broadly as science fiction, but other than that we let the characters and the world find their own level. My favorite kinds of fiction usually defy genre too. I think it’s more exciting creatively when you don’t have to exactly conform to a pre-set narrative.
Photo courtesy of Pat Loika
Gabriel Hardman: I think we’re aware that we’re working in genre and combining those elements in (hopefully) fresh ways but the story is the story. The characters are telling us where they need to go.
AiPT: You two most recently collaborated on Star Wars: Legacy, a comic with an already established universe filled with well-known characters, as well as some of your own. What’s it like going from augmenting a franchise of comics to starting from scratch on a completely original universe of your own?
CSB: It’s quite satisfying. There’s a lot to be said for working on a property like Star Wars: Legacy, where the challenge is to fit the mood and the world that’s been established but still find fresh new areas to explore. But the whole point of that sort of project is to make certain you stay respectful of the original intent of the work it’s based on. When you’re the one creating the mood and the world, it’s a lot more work, but it’s also freeing to be able to follow the story anywhere it wants to go.
GH: Luckily on Star Wars: Legacy and in our Planet of the Apes books we were primarily dealing with characters we created for the respective series. That gave us a lot of storytelling latitude and those books served as a dry run, ramping us up to take on Invisible Republic. That said, Invisible Republic is a project we had been planning for years before we ever did the licensed books. We were always on the lookout not to cannibalize elements of IR in the freelance work.
AiPT: The story of your main character Arthur McBride is told through the lens of his cousin, Maia. More specifically, the story you are telling is based off of Maia’s entries in a journal. When writing the comic do you feel that the episodic nature of journal entries aids the “floppy” format, or would readers get a fuller experience if they wait for the trade?
GH: It has to work in either format. This is something we’re always conscious of.
CSB: We are working hard to make sure that both experiences feel complete, but I have to admit to an affection for trades. I have read a lot of collections of real correspondences myself, and often you can discover something in them in the aggregate that wouldn’t be apparent if you read just one, or even a couple.
AiPT: As a reviewer myself, I would like to know how much of the criticism you receive in reviews you use to make the book more appealing to fans. How much does what critics say now, affect the future of Invisible Republic?
CSB: Like correspondence, I think reviews and notes on creative work are often most useful in aggregate. If lots of people are just not understanding what you are putting across it might be time to clarify something. And of course, if you’ve unwittingly included something offensive or rude but lack the perspective to see it, it’s good to take that under advisement and make changes. That said, creator owned books are one of the few places you can still see someone’s unfettered vision. To a certain extent, you get what you get, we hope you like it, but this is the one project where we don’t have to make changes to suit anyone’s tastes.
GH: And we have a story we’re planning to tell. Of course we hope it connects with readers and critics but we owe it to that story to see it through. I do enjoy thoughtful criticism though and it can help you see your own work through a different lens. Still, we have to stay true to the story we’re telling.
AiPT: If you could, I would love for you guys to give us a little bit of a closer look at the process of getting your idea approved and published by Image Comics. What was it like pitching Invisible Republic and what kind of feedback did you get initially?
A scene from Invisible Republic #2.
GH: It was really, really simple. They already knew they wanted to publish KINSKI, my quirky crime drama about dognapping, based on the digital issues they’d seen. We told them we had a science fiction series that wanted a home, they took a look at what we’d already done (there was art, a broad outline, and actual pages), and liked that too.
CSB: After that it was just a matter of locking down a schedule and the rest was up to us. Everything about the book is our team, which is really just the two of us, Jordan Boyd killing it on the colors, Dylan Todd’s stupendous design work, and some light editorial assistance by the very knowledgeable Brenda Scott Royce. Image makes sure the files are printable, but everything else is up to us.
AiPT: What are your current favorite comics and how do you incorporate what you love about those into your own book?
CSB: I just read the first trade of Warren Ellis’ and Jason Howard’s Trees and absolutely adored it. I tend to like darker science fiction and horror, Jeff Smith’s RASL, for instance, and Charles Burn’s Black Hole. Beautiful Darkness by Fabian Vehlmann, Marie Pommepuy and Kerascoet was a real standout last year, as was Emily Carroll’s collection Through the Woods. I think the only thing that we really incorporate from these is the idea that you should do work you really believe in, even if it doesn’t seem “commercial.”
GH: I really enjoyed Meteor Men by Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell. I think it’s one of the best books Jeff has written and Sandy does great, nuanced character work here, something I really appreciate. Stumptown by Greg Rucka and first Matthew Southworth, now Justin Greenwood. I wish there were more grounded books like theirs. Along those lines, Ed Brisson’s Murder Book stories (along with various artists like Michael Walsh, Johnnie Christmas and Declan Shalvey) are a favorite of mine. Great, dark, uncompromising work. I also agree with all Corinna’s picks even though she went first and stole them.
AiPT: If you were both to die after this interview, which two creators would you hope would continue Invisible Republic?
Another scene from Invisible Republic #2.
CSB: That’s a tough one! As an exercise in blue skying, I think Janna Levin, the author of A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines would understand the tone we’re going for, although she doesn’t write comics to my knowledge and is far too busy being a working theoretical cosmologist. Still, I absolutely love the writing style of her books for a popular audience. As far as the art goes, I really can’t imagine anyone but Gabriel doing it.
GH: Invisible Republic dies with us. But if deceased people cold take over, I nominate J.G. Ballard and Jorge Zaffino as the new team. That said, they’d be in the same spot we were. Death seriously decreases productivity.