With the first volume of the science fiction horror series “Infinite Dark” coming up, we come back to the archives to bring you an interview with writer Ryan Cady saved over from New York Comic Con 2018, where he spoke about the series and some of his earlier horror works.
Are there any particular sources of inspiration for this kind of story? I know you’ve already said in some other interviews that you’re looking at Alien, but other video games, films, TV shows…
Ryan Cady: So, Alien is like the big obvious one, obvious like you said, but I, like every other horror nerd, when I was in school I read a lot of Lovecraft. So there’s definitely like elements of Lovecraft, like weird mythos, and more importantly this sense of humanity’s tiny place in the cosmos. But I also want to take that and give it a big middle finger. Like, no, no, we’re really small and we don’t matter, but also we fight through that and make ourselves matter. So it was like a weird homage slash “fuck you” to Lovecraft, I don’t know. And also, the obvious comparisons to Event Horizon, and weirdly I sometimes think about The Revenant, and Leo DiCaprio, and this idea of this movie that’s all about fucking surviving against all odds, indomitably.
If we see an entire issue about an alien bear, I’ll know why.
RC: Oh, yeah, yeah. The bear shows up. It’s in arc 3, it’s a long game.
RC: But when Tom Hardy shows up, then it really gets crazy. Space Tom Hardy.
Oh yeah. How would you compare this to – I don’t even know if you would call this “horror-inclusive” series – “Magdalena?” How would you compare it to that?
RC: I definitely think “Magdalena” is a horror series, and I think because – – I’m going to get on a soapbox here for a second. I think because of the way “Magdalena” was written in the past, it didn’t necessarily get counted as a horror series. It was more of like an adventure thing, but I think one, even those, this series like the Ron Marz run on, the other ones, still had strong elements of horror, and I maintain that what Tini, Christian, and I were doing was a thousand percent an urban horror story with Buffy elements.
Sorry, soapbox over. I think that they’re very different, but I think there’s definitely like a similarity in some sense between where Patience is at our “Magdelena” run and where Deva, the main character of “Infinite Dark,” is at. Just sort of like, “Okay, am I at the point where I’m not the one who has to save everybody anymore? And then ultimately being , “Nope, it’s still gotta save everybody.”
Anything you could tell us about the plot or characters of “Infinite Dark?” You know, without spoiling it.
RC: So basically the premise is, after the heat death of the universe, everything’s over. A few humans are left in this giant space station, and there’s way less humans than there should be. There’s enough that we’re enduring, and the first murder after the end of the universe occurs, and there is a potentially supernatural element. And that’s all I’m going to give away plot-wise. Character-wise, my main character is Dana Karrell. She’s the security director for the station. And there’s others, like a kind of board of directors that she kind of butts heads with but also help run the station. There is a crisp, British, stuffy AI named Sm1th who kind of runs everything, and he’s kind of like Sassy Alfred, but you know, good hearted.
Also known as Alfred.
RC: Also known as Alfred, but you know, good hearted for a machine. And then there’s some . . . potential antagonists who . . . I don’t want to spoil anything by saying what they are, who they are, because it’s not clear from the get-go.
It is a horror series, but horror comics have a lot of different types. You’ve got hopeful to extremely depressing to disturbing or overall creepy. What kind of a feel are you going for?Continued below
RC: I think it is often one of the bleakest things I’ve ever written in a lot of ways, but I think underlying that always and where it’s going is very, very hopeful. And that was always my intent with the series. It was like “this is scary and ominous” and like a heavy tension series, and building toward like, oh man, like sometimes I’m reading this book and I’m like, “man, it’s like a really hopeless situation for all these people,” and “are they terrified and without hope?” And ultimately, I want it to be the kind of horror story that by the end you feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. And I think some of the best horror does that for you. I think about Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the last 45 minutes of that movie are just nonstop miserable agony porn, and you’re like “oh fuck, oh fuck,” and you’re like “Aaah!” You’re terrified, you’re horrified, and you’re like “There’s no hope for anyone in this movie.” And then – – spoiler alert for a movie that’s been out for a million years – – you get to the end and you’re just like, oh, it’s going to be okay.
Next is . . . there are some kind of people . . . well, like me, who look into the intricacies of the world, like little bits and pieces, see how it runs. What kind of field of science fiction are you going for? A hard science, soft science, weird science. It took every fiber of my being not to sing “Weird Science” right now. I am not a stickler for the rules. I have taken a lot of liberties with the science in this book. I think there’s certainly a realm for hard sci-fi. I think all you need to know about me and my relationship with science fiction is that I often – – not always, not hard fast – – I often find Star Trek very boring, and Star Wars is my favorite thing in the entire universe.
So more of a science fantasy kind of thing.
RC: Yeah, yeah. In “Infinite Dark,” the boogeyman of heat death is like a hard scientific horror, but I’ve also done some Grant Morrison-y like “what is entropy?” shit. So like I’m diving into the real science at times, but I’m also picking and choosing a lot because it makes for a better story, and I’m not writing a textbook.
Yeah, I mean, more along the lines of if there are some elements you look into more.
RC: Yeah, exactly. And that’s the advantage of fiction in a lot of ways, we can. Truth is more important than fact, right? To paint a more realistic picture and feeling, you can pick and choose how the science and the reality bends.
As I said, you did claim Alien as a basis for the science fiction horror. How far does the inspiration go? Are we going to be seeing big science fiction monsters, are we going to have to see a chestburster?
RC: Nothing like that. I tried very hard not to be gory at all. For me, I definitely like gore. It has its place as the horror genre, like splatterpunk shit. That’s the kind of stuff I wrote in college. I’m not really interested in making that anymore. There’s like maybe one or two scenes in the entire series where someone’s bloody and gross. Mostly it’s like a creeping “oh my god” dread, “what is that” horror. For me, the Alien inspiration is more in the feel. There is a monster in “Infinite Dark,” but in many ways the monster is more representative than the xenomorph, and the real danger is not just what the monster represents, but also what is working for the monster and how it affects people through the station. And also “is it real?”
So I assume it’s more mundane things. Well, mundane for the end of the universe.
RC: Mundane for the end of the universe to a degree. As the issues go on, kind of a ticking clock happening, and like, “Oh shit, bad something’s happening. We could be in real fucking trouble here, regardless of whether there’s a monster or not.”Continued below
Anything else you want us to know about the series?
RC: I wrote “Infinite Dark,” I started it when I was very, very depressed, and ultimately my goal with this book is to make people think it’s good, and it’s okay to survive something. Survival is a virtue, and moving through things, moving through horrors, is a powerful thing, and you should be proud of yourself for getting something out of life.
“Infinite Dark” Volume 1 is due for release March 13th.