The upcoming “Maxwell’s Demons” from Vault Comics explores the life of a child super genius and the amazing alternate worlds he travels to via a door in his bedroom. The book is primarily an adventure series, but there’s also a depth to the storylines, and the first issue touches on universal tsuch asch as loss, isolation and the struggles of both raising a child and being a child searching for role models. Writer and creator Deniz Camp, as well as artist Vittorio Astone share some thoughts about their influences, as well as the future of the series.
Maxwell’s Demons is obviously a book with a fantastical concept, but there’s definitely one foot in the real world too. How difficult was it to get a balance of those two worlds in both the script and the art?
Deniz Camp: I think the key is keeping some of yourself in the story. So much of what happens and what exists in the book is dazzling and impossible, but the heart of the story is about a boy – and later a man – struggling with universal problems. I’m very much putting myself and the people I know into the book, to the point of discomfort at times. Writing MAXWELL’S DEMONS is almost a process of evaluation and re-evaluation of my own past, and I think – or hope? – that comes out onto the page.
And so many of my favorite comics and books were very careful about striking this balance. At the core of, say, Animal Man or Top Ten or Slaughterhouse Five there’s this iridescent core of humanity and kindness. I’m steering by those constellations.
Vittorio Astone: I think the problems Max faces are problems any of us could struggle with, in his life. That’s because of his problems that we’re interested in his adventures in parallel universes. I think that a grey, boring and unfriendly world is the perfect juxtaposition to his journeys in other dimensions because it is the reason why he leaves in the first place. If we all were geniuses like Max, we would all built portals in our closet.
There’s a lot of scope for this story to grow with such a simple premise, yet the first issue feels fairly self-contained. Was that a conscious decision? What can you tell us about the structure of the series moving forward?
Deniz: My favorite question! The story is told non-chronologically, in a series of issues that jump back and forth in time. Issue one features a young, 8-year-old Max, while in issue 2 he’s much older, and we’ll have an issue with him as a teen and in his late 30s. Each of the issues is a self-contained story, complete in itself. But as you read, you’ll discover a bigger narrative emerging from that seeming chaos. All of this is deliberate. Most important is that readers feel a sense of satisfaction when they close an issue. Comics are too expensive to be entirely disposable objects, and though back issues are digitally accessible I like the idea that we’re giving readers a fresh jumping on point with each of the first 5 issues. Artistically, the non-chronological structure allows us to subvert expectations and deliver genuine surprises within and between issues. It allows the readers to put some of themselves into the story, as they fill in the temporal gaps and draw their own conclusions about how and why things have changed. My hope is that you’ll be constantly re-evaluating (and hopefully re-reading) what came before and where the story is going.
Simply put, the mechanism allows us to tell a wide variety of stories in a relatively small space and helps us surprise a sometimes jaded readership.
Vittorio, this is your first work for an American comic book, how are you finding the style of work compared to what you’re used to?Continued below
Vittorio: Incredibly fitting! My initial goal was to find a job in the French comic book market, and French comics usually take a lot of time to be produced, which has its own advantages of course. But I found that the much more dynamic style of work of American comics is really helping me grow as an artist.
What artistic influences are you pulling from when you’re designing these alien landscapes? How do you guys work together to create them?
Deniz: Vittorio can speak to this best — but it’s about 99.9% Vittorio. I have a little bit more input into the actual alien characters, but even then, it’s maybe a few sentences about their background and Vittorio derives/creates all the visual elements himself from that. Issue 4 has some of my favorite character designs ever!
Vittorio: Deniz is always crafting stunning backstories for even the less important characters. The problem is nobody is gonna read these fantastic descriptions, and I think that’s a shame, so what I try to do with my character designs is to make the reader feel those characters’ backstories, with details in their design and through their acting.
Regarding the world-building, and my art style in general, I’m very fond of old European sci-fi comics (Moebius especially), so they’re my first inspiration. But we look at modern sci-fi too. For example, we’re both huge fans of Rick and Morty!
Finally, for those who are still sitting on the fence about Maxwell’s Demons, what can you tell us to convince us to give it a shot?
Deniz: It’s going to be a beautiful, beautiful book, drenched in human color, surrounded by its own alien atmosphere. Vittorio has brought so much character to the work at every stage, and it’s given us the opportunity to experiment in ways that will surprise, challenge and – I think – delight readers. And, if you pick up issue 1, you’ll get not one, but TWO complete stories! Double Plus Value!
Vittorio: If you like Sci-fi atmospheres, if you like characters with deep and intriguing backstories, and if you like quality writing alongside crazy art and colors, you’ll like ‘Maxwell’s Demons’!
“Maxwell’s Demons” #1 is written by Deniz Camp, Illustrated by Vittorio Astone, and is released by Vault Comics on October 11th.