Science fiction and comics are a perfect fit as the creators can put what ever they like on the page without any limitations, essentially the sky is the limit. Things that are not able to exist in the real world can come to life in comics and with the prevalence of crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter it is never been easier for creative people to make their ideas a reality.
Bleedback: The End is Nigh is one of those science fiction stories that works best in comics. Set in the future, the protagonist, Andrei, is pushed into the dangerous world of the Robo slave-trade when a shadowy military group kidnaps his daughter. The world’s dependency and fear of technology has risen to an all time high, with a catastrophe coming at any moment.
I had a chat to writer Scott Nihill about the comic series with its present on Kickstarter and the plans for it in the future.
How did the idea of Bleedback: The End is Nigh come about?
The idea for Bleedback evolved over the last three years through many iterations of the script. Some of the early drafts are so different from the final script that you’d never know they were related.
The story was inspired by the depiction of robots as a threat in popular forms of media including the Terminator series, The Matrix, 2001 a Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and Robopocalypse. I didn’t want the narrative to be centred on a simplistic human vs. robot conflict; it’s more of a human vs. human, human vs. robot, robot vs. robot dynamic. In our story humanities paranoia of intelligent machines rebelling against their human masters has led to a complex assortment of safeguards that limit the mental and physical capabilities of robots (known as Shackles). It turns out that the security measures are far more hazardous to human kind than the intelligent machines they fear. I was very much inspired by colonial narratives where robots are the new slaves and self-assembling virtual worlds reward adventure seekers with untold riches.
Many of the best science fiction narratives are created through an inspiration of real world struggles, issues or events. Is this the case for Bleedback?
Definitely. Just recently there has been news about Edward Snowden the ex-CIA worker who leaked data on surveillance practices. In our story social media sites like Facebook, Twitter have merged into a unified system called a Life Path. Ones Life Path is like a digital passport that records the minutia of our activity and directs users to opportunities aligned to their hopes and dreams. But at the same time people with a criminal record, like our protagonist Andrei, are discriminated against and the Life Path system incarcerates them in their own city.
Discrimination and racial profiling have also inspired the treatment of robots in our story. They are feared and suppressed by the populace, with few champions unlike ethnic minorities and immigrants today. The treatment of robots is probably most parralleed in stories of slaves throughout human civilization and that still persist today. As an ex-con and cyborg, our protagonist Andrei is sympathetic to the plight of robots, in addition he is gifted at cracking robot capability restraints. In this way he is a liberator of the oppressed.
How far into the future can we expect to be going into in Bleedback: The End is Nigh?
The series is set in the year 2065. I wanted to write a story that was far enough in the future that we could expect some significant advances in technology, yet not so removed from our current social/political environment that it became hard to relate with the world.
Bleedback is a series of five books, will each book be funded through a Kickstarter campaign or will the success of the first book fund future releases?
Good question. If we reach our goal of $3,500 we will have enough resources to make a first print feasible. Any remaining funds will be directed towards the development of future books. Secretly I’m hoping to raise enough funds to begin work on the second book and maybe even complete it. Regardless of how well we do we’re not going to fund all five books so we’ll likely be going back to Kickstarter to help fund the rest of the series.
How do you believe sites like Kickstarter have helped independent publishing, especially of comics and graphic novels?
Yes. When I set out to create a graphic novel the prospect of finding a publisher seemed far more daunting than running a Kickstarter campaign. I’d rather pitch our prospective readers within a public forum than send our first eight pages to a handful of editors at a publishing company. So for myself Kickstarter is a much more accessible route to getting published. Also it allows me to be involved in the complete process of creating a comic which I find appealing.
If successfully funded what stretch rewards can be expected for the campaign?
Our $3,500 goal will allow us to print Bleedback #1 and get it into the hands of our backers. We’ll invest any remaining funds towards the production of books #2 through #5.
To show our appreciation to our backers we’re offering bonus material if we reach the $5,000 mark. We’ll add eight pages to the digital copy of Bleedback #1, inviting readers in to the development process through concept, world building, and illustration. Fans can discover where the idea for Bleedback came from, immerse themselves in the world of our story, review the dossier the government keeps on Andrei, and see the comic evolve from sketch to finished color page.
Where is the best place to find additional information and updates on the project?
Embreate – our website
Electinion – our world building blog
You can keep track of the progress of the campaign below.