Creators Workshop Member Pete Rogers’ and co-writer Stephen Aryan’s Flux is currently live on Kickstarter! One part time travel, two parts conspiracy thriller…we talked with Pete about what makes the comic and the creation journey unique for Flux!
Comics Experience: How did Stephen’s idea for Flux come about? How did your collaboration help him bridge the gap in making the story a reality?
Pete Rogers: Years before working on Flux, I used to see Stephen at comic book conventions in the UK, as we both had tables and were self-publishing comics. Over the years, we became friends. A couple of years ago, he approached me with an idea he had been wrestling with. He had the seed of the idea and some parts of the story, but something was missing. Stephen is a fantasy novelist, and for the most part, it’s a very solitary job. By their very nature comics are much more collaborative and by brainstorming ideas, the two of us were able to have a eureka moment. Working with a co-writer was initially intimidating but it quickly became our story and our book. My tendency is to look at what isn’t working first and find areas that need improvement or that have created logic issues, so finding out what to change or develop came quite naturally. Also Stephen tends to think of the characters and story first, whereas I tend to think more visually because my day job is in Visual Effects. In this way, each of us has a unique perspective and combining the two approaches created something we’re both really pleased with.
My fondest memory of writing issue 1 was from a few years ago when the pair of us went to the Thought Bubble comics festival. I was pacing around the room and Stephen was frantically typing as we broke down the script. It was a very exciting and energetic writing session where he was struggling to keep up with the ideas!
CE: How is this story different from typical time travel stories?
PR: Many time travel stories (Looper, Back to the Future, Time Cop, Source Code, Terminator, 12 Monkeys) deal with trying to fix a problem in the present by sending someone into the past. Flux operates in a world where we explore the impact of time travel on a much wider scale. In Flux, the US Government invented time travel in 1973, but the technology was leaked. Time Terrorists started using time travel to go back in time and change the past to make things better for themselves in the present. To combat these terrorists a new branch of government was created, called Purity Control, to maintain the timeline. Since then every person in the world, from the moment they are born to the moment they die, has to wear a Timeband, wearable technology that protects them from Time Terrorists. Kids in school are taught about the importance of always wearing their Timeband. Creating Timebands wasn’t an easy thing in the 1970’s and the long-term effect is that the technology, as a whole, is quite stunted. So even though the story is set in modern day, there’s a distinctively 1980’s feel to everything, with no social media and no internet. Phones are huge, chunky things and computers have big monitors. The story isn’t about using time travel to fix something. It’s all about what happens next in a world where time travel is part of the fabric of society and isn’t going away, so Flux has more in common with a conspiracy thriller than your average time travel story.
CE: What was it like co-writing with Stephen Aryan?
PR: With Flux, and other projects with Steve it’s a much more traditional co-writing proposition as we break the overall plot, issues and scenes together before we start writing proper. We’re very different people but we share a love of comics and have many similar interests and genre touchstones from TV and film. Once we started discussing Flux both of us left our egos at the door and just talked honestly about our ideas for the project. If something didn’t work for one of us, the other could say why and not get offended. In addition to working on Flux, we’ve both worked on solo projects in parallel but we’ve also collaborated on other ideas. Typically how we choose what to work on next starts in the same way. We each bring 3 or 4 really good ideas, we pitch them to each other and then pick one favorite idea to develop next. Our current slate of projects is a mix of things that originated from an initial idea by me or Steve.
CE: What are you most excited about from artist Maysam Barza?
PR: Maysam’s art style is incredibly modern and yet it also has an almost classic feel. It creates this distinctly surreal atmosphere, where even though you’re looking at a story set in the 21st century, you can see that something is slightly off. We’ve been most excited to see how he translates pages and really brings them to life. We don’t dictate specific camera angles but we sometimes throw out several ideas about the flavor of a page. Several times he has come back with ideas we would never have thought about and it’s so exciting to see the characters and the story coming to life. Once he’d drawn Issue 1, it gave us a better understanding of the world and characters; that propelled us into scripting the other three issues. He’s currently busy working on Issue 3 and we are always excited to see new pages arrive in our inboxes.
CE: How has your Comics Experience Creators Workshop Membership impacted the creation of Flux?
PR: We workshopped the first issue of Flux on the Comics Experience forums and received a wide range of helpful feedback from pros and members and the outcome was incredibly valuable. The best thing other members did was ask us questions and attempt to poke holes in the story. This forced Stephen and I to look deeper into the mythology and the world we had built and make sure we had the answers. When you’re creating a story set in a world that is different from our own, it’s difficult to know how much information to share upfront. Too much and it can slow the story down and readers get bored. Too little and they won’t be able to follow the story. We were able to look at all of the comments we received and see if, on average, the balance of information was right. The feedback not only helped us shape the story, it also gave us the confidence to believe in the project and ourselves which was one step towards making the book a reality.
There are less than three weeks left to support Flux on Kickstarter! To donate to the campaign, click here.