Space Riders cover by Alexis Ziritt

Creators Workshop member and Comics Experience course alumnus Carlos Giffoni is writing Space Riders for Black Mask Studios! Joined by Alexis Ziritt on art and Ryan Ferrier on letters, the new volume hits shops on June 26. Taking place 20 years after the previous Space Riders tales, the titular team must band together again – this time with a little help from cybernetics – and save reality.

And that other reality.

And another reality over there.

We talked to Carlos briefly about his upcoming project.

Comics Experience: This volume of Space Riders takes place a full two decades after the previous. What strategies should writers take into consideration when working on such a large jump? What are some of the challenges you’re facing?

Carlos Giffoni: Because of that large gap, I had some freedom to evolve the characters and imagine the kind of life they had each experienced since the years after those initial stories. That was an enjoyable part of the process, as it helped me make them my own a little bit since I wasn’t the original writer for the series.

On the other hand, they are still the same characters, so a big challenge became to distill their essence down to find the recognizable and important elements within each of them that I needed to keep untouched. They still needed to feel like the characters the readers of previous volumes of Space Riders know and love.

Once I broke each character down to the essence of who they are, it was a matter of applying some emotional filters to their lives to bring them forward 20 years. Failure, obsession, love to name a few. I had to put myself on the shoes of each character and imagine how their decisions changed them, and think about what they still want at this point in their lives, what their motivations are.

It was vital for me to start the process of writing this story with evolving each of the characters first, and only after I felt I had them right, begin crafting what the actual story was. Thankfully I have been in this earth quite longer than 20 years, so I did have a personal experience of what aging 20 years feels like to use as a starting point.

I also listened to a lot of heavy music. Starting with King Crimson, and moving on to the Melvins, Darkthrone, Neurosis to name a few. Music was an essential inspiration to get my mind in tune with the vibe of this series.

CE: How did your time with Comics Experience and the Creator’s Workshop help with putting together Space Riders?

CG: The most significant help from the workshop has been to have a community of other creators available to have discussions with, analyze the latest developments in comics and related fields, and having access to a group of people pursuing the same goal: Making comics.

I went to a lot of conferences this past year and a half as I had a few projects I was pitching around. Being a new writer in comics, I wanted to meet as many creators as possible and get their opinions on what I was putting together and get any advice I could use. The workshop made it so that there already was a handful of people I knew going into these conferences, a starting point. Usually, there are meetups at each big conference from the workshop self-organized by members or Andy, which become opportunities to network and share experiences with other like-minded creators. Breaking in is very difficult, and there can be a lot of disappointment, so it has been beneficial to be able to have an avenue to communicate with others dealing with similar challenges.

I have also taken a few of the master classes, and those have been great. Having a long and intense session of learning from someone that has already been there and done it is really valuable. [Editor’s Note: Carlos will also be attending our upcoming Master Seminar on writing team books with James Tynion IV!]

CE: What is your working relationship like with the rest of the team?

CG: Alexis, who is the artist and original creator, has become a good friend. I met him first at C2E2 last year and then kept running into him at conferences, and since we are both Venezuelan, we had a lot in common to talk and joke about there. I was already a big fan of his art and notably the Space Riders series when we met. I shared one of the other series I am working on (which has a publisher now who will be officially announcing it in May) with him and kept in touch through social media, and we discovered we had shared tastes in comics, food, and music. One day he called me out of the blue and offered me the opportunity to write the new volume of Space Riders, and here we are. I was thrilled.

It’s been particularly interesting because Alexis is leading the creation of this book, so I haven’t worked closely with Ryan Ferrier (who is doing the lettering) or the people at Black Mask.

Alexis called me early on to discuss where we should take the story; He had a few elements he already wanted us to explore, like the time jump and the idea that this was a different type of mission for the Riders. I took a few different explorations on my side before we had an idea for it and an outline for the series that we both were jazzed to execute. I think we found a twist to the Space Riders universe that is both exciting and culturally meaningful to both of us, and more importantly, it is metal and bloody as hell. I hope fans of the series and new readers get their minds melted along the way!