On November 1, our future may be revealed in a new series by writer Jacob Semahn and award-winning artist Jorge Corona with their Image Comics series No. 1 with a Bullet. This new series unveils a future where people wear computers in contact form so that they can see alternate realities and consume content in a brand new way. Corona and Semahn are the creative team behind the fan-favorite mini-series Goners and have brought this new series to Image to reveal not only an interesting future but also one where bullying and harassment are still ever-present. Out November 1st in comic shops, we sat down with Semahn and Corona to discuss this new series, harassment in comics, and more!
AiPT!: The cover of a comic can certainly draw you right into the point of view of the creators as they undertake a new series and yours almost suggests a ghost covering the eyes of the protagonist. How would you categorize your story to a new reader?
Jacob Semahn: We wanted to maximize the effectiveness of what we were going for into a single image but the Internet can be an ethereal thing. Batting around a few ideas, Jorge settled on the covering of the eyes by an unseen force. Not a ghost per se, but a perpetrator on the other side of a screen.
Jorge Corona : Technology and the Internet are portrayed in this story as this overpowering force that not only shapes our lives but also defines how we see the world. The hands were there to show not that they were covering what Nash could see but to redefine it.
AiPT!: The main character is an assistant in your series, which makes me wonder, have you ever been an assistant or intern and did you use that experience to inspire what we see in No. 1 with a Bullet?
Semahn: I haven’t been a personal assistant before, but an intern is basically a production assistant in TV/film, but lower. They’re the equivalent of a test drive when buying a new car. I’ve never been an intern, but speaking at the P.A. level, I have… and that knowledge was definitely displayed when I was writing these pages. In fact, I probably make it sound too glamorous. Haha.
AiPT!: What made you fall in love with comics?
Semahn: At first it was the heroes versus villains that drew me in as a kid, but as my tastes matured, it was the genre bent on much more grounded ideas that won out. Things with less shock and awe and more character and internalization of self. Those are the kinds of books that stick with me. Vertigo’s Swamp Thing, Love & Rockets, It’s a Bird…, Three Shadows, etc.
Corona: I actually got into comics through cartoons and Batman. As a kid I grew up watching animated shows and movies, Batman became my favorite character (still is) and it was after a family trip that I found comics in my local grocery store. I had seen illustrated or coloring books that had Batman in them, but when I saw this format, it was like a Batman episode that I could draw. That whole concept became an obsession. After that I was hooked and it has since become my favorite type of storytelling.
AiPT!: Cyberbullying and harassment are in the news more so than ever with James Tynion IV’s statements, Mark Waid making points about how bad it can be. Did personal attacks inspire this story which deals with online harassment?
Semahn: The sad part for me is that I don’t have to be personally attacked to see the negative effect that social media harassment has had on some people. I literally just asked a few close friends and they’re ready, messed up story in hand, talking of how they had to deal with X Y & Z for a time in their lives. It made me slightly nauseous to know how easily online harassment can turn into real-life stalking. We cover some of these stories in the back matter of our book. A section called “Here For the Comments” moderated by Casey Gilly & Sara Sanders.
AiPT!: The tech in this series is incredible and something I’ve actually wanted for some time. Do you think a contact computer/screen is in our future? If so, how bad is it going to get?!
Semahn: On paper it sounds like a grand idea, but like all things innovation, we give up a certain amount of privacy in return. It’s not just dollars you exchange, but a bit of you. Sony in 2016 filed for a patent to recordable contact lenses. Something you can just blink a certain way and record what’s happening, none the wiser. That idea alone terrifies me to no end. And with the likes of Pokemon Go! and the new iPhone, we’re seeing a push for augmented reality in a way that we haven’t before. I think it’s a natural progression… one where people will be out in the world more, but still as cut off as they were staying in their homes.
AiPT!: Jorge, can you talk a bit about your layout design? A preview copy allowed me to see quite a few nine-panel layouts. Any reason for this reoccurring layout amongst the wide variety in the first issue?
Corona: I definitely wanted to treat this story differently from other books I had worked on. It had a more personal tone. It isn’t a big adventure in strange places or fantastical creatures, it’s a story about people and human interaction. The nine-panel layout came in handy for all those wonderful moments Jake wrote where characters exchanged lines, it allowed me to bring the attention to the performance in a way. That being said, it also allowed me to make the moments where we explore Nash’s broken psyche that are more impactful by breaking that rigidity of the grid too.
AiPT!: With technology connecting us to the personal lives of friends, family and celebrities, there’s a real danger of how much we share. Would you say that’s an element you’re exploring in No. 1 with a Bullet?
Semahn: There are definitely elements of over-sharing in the book, but it’s those tiny, innocuous things that really become the sticking points for our characters. That lockbox code for the dog walker that you emailed or the smartlock passcode to your home that you texted a friend. It’s those small things that we share out of a matter of convenience. Those things we think are private… yeah, we exploit that.
AiPT!: Were there any design choices you made to showcase the technology in a new or unique light?
Corona: Technology was an important part of the story, but for me it was more important to show the human aspect of it. It never was about showcasing a futuristic vision of it but rather how it surrounded the characters and how it shaped their lives.
AiPT!: What is your favorite method of procrastination?
Semahn: Facebook. So I deleted my account. Close second? My dog. He’s so stupidly cute that I feel bad ignoring him.
Corona: Instagram and TV… I haven’t deleted or destroyed any of those.
Semahn: I now know what I must destroy to get issue 2 out on time! MUWAHAHAHA!!!
You can find No. 1 with a Bullet #1 in comic shops November 1, 2017!