“Transience” is a new digital comic anthology “set in a world where large portions of the population can’t form new memories.” Currently up and running on Kickstarer, the book contains short stories examining individual’s lives in a world following a biological attack, which caused destroyed humans ability to form new memories. “Transience” includes the creative talent of Ryan K Lindsay (“Beautiful Canvas,” DC Writer’s Workshop), Natasha Alterici (“Heathen”), Alex Diotto, Kristen Grace, Eric Grissom, Will Perkins, Bruno Hidalgo, Ben Kahn, Mark Lauthier, Ricardo Mo, Alberto Muriel, Sam Read, Cian Tormey, Skylar Patridge, Christopher Kosek, and Leo Johnson who examine the lives of people living in this world and how they experience this phenomenon.
To learn more about this anthology and the Kickstarter I was able to talk to editors Leo Johnson and Ricardo Mo (also a writer on one of the stories) and discuss the development of theme, working with the different creative teams and what readers can expect from “Transience.” You will find our interview below and be sure to check out the project live on Kickstarter now. Unless we are living in our own “Transience” and you already read this interview. How many times have I done this interview?
Editor’s Note: Leo Johnson is a contributor to Multiversity Comics
Like any good anthology comic “Transience” has a theme for its stories, and a pretty interesting one I think. What is the premise of the book and how did this idea come about?
Leo Johnson: The rough idea of “Transience” is that biological attacks have left large chunks of the population in places all around the world with anterograde amnesia – the inability to make new memories. I jokingly like to pitch it to people as 50 First Dates with fewer Adam Sandler jokes and more existential crisis. People went to sleep “yesterday” and that’s the last day they will ever remember. Granted, “yesterday” is years ago and these people have lost years worth of their lives to this thing.
Ricardo Mo: Leo uses the Adam Sandler pitch because he knows it annoys me. I would describe it as Memento, but where everyone is Guy Pearce’s character.” And that’s pretty much where the idea came from. Of course, having everyone lose their memory so frequently as GP would leave virtually no room for fresh storytelling. So we made it, in essence, a full day before those short term memories miss the turning to long-term conversion and instead get stuck on the highway to oblivion.
A good amount of creators are involved in this book, 13 or so, plus the editors. How did this group of creators come together for this book?
LJ: Except for one or two, all of these creators were people that we hand picked simply because we love their respective works and had struck up some kind of a relationship with them through email or Twitter or whatever. Some we knew beforehand that we wanted to pair together, like Eric Grissom/Will Perkins and Ben Kahn/Bruno Hidalgo. Other pairings came about because we had a stellar artist or writer, but weren’t sure who would go well with them. That was the case with the Italy story. Alex Diotto signed on and we were stoked but weren’t exactly sure who to pair him with. It was only after Natasha Alterici recommended her friend Kristen Grace to us that we realized Kristen would make a great partner for Alex. I think that shows in the story they made.
Was there complete freedom in ideas and tone for the collection as long as it hit that main theme of the book?
LJ: We were pretty hands off in regards to the actual content of the story, so long as they dealt with the amnesia and took place in the right country. Because we chose people whose work we admired, we knew they were all capable of creating some great things. We honestly thought we’d get a collection of depressing, pessimistic stories, but instead, we were pleasantly surprised to see mostly hopeful stories about everything from convincing someone they’re a hero to girls building a clubhouse to people forming a castell. Ricardo and I couldn’t have come up with better ideas if we’d tried.Continued below
RM: I’ll just point out here that I did try. I wrote the first story in the anthology. Leo clearly isn’t a fan.
No, as proud as I am of the story Alberto Muriel and I produced, Leo has a point in that the combined efforts of everyone involved lend this book an emotionally rich, epic scale that a lone creative team would’ve been unable to match.
LJ: I want it on the record that I love Ricardo’s story, even more so because it was the first bit of Transience to ever exist.
I think a lot of readers now understand more of how writers, artists, colorists and maybe letterers make comics or their process. What actually goes into putting together a comic or editing a comic?
LJ: It involves a lot of emails, haha. “Transience” has creators on three different continents and who knows how many time zones, so everything took a ton of coordination. Even when it comes to me and Ricardo, I live in northern California and he’s in southern England, so we’re always seven or eight hours out of sync and constantly sending the other messages while they’re asleep.
Ricardo wrote a story too, on top of editing, so his experience is probably slightly different than my own. For me, it was mostly just about trying to keep things moving. Invariably, we’d hit a snag, but it was mostly just about keeping things moving along.
Of course, we’d also have discussions about each story as they came in. Does it make sense internally? Does it make sense within the context of the larger world? If no to either of these, is it because it’s something that can change about the world or is it something that needs to change about the story? At all times, we tried to make the stories as good as they could be, so that meant we’d change a “rule” about the anthology here and there if there wasn’t a particularly good reason for it.
RM: I have a confession. I thought editing an anthology would be a lot easier than it turned out to be. All of our contributors were wonderful about lending their time and efforts for free (writers) or a small page rate (artists), but still coordinating over a dozen creatives is a monumental task. Truth is, writing my own story for the anthology was the least stressful part.
LJ: I can’t argue that the whole thing was harder than I expected. Yet, I want to make more anthologies…
Because I don’t want to spoil any of the actual stories in the book I focus again on the theme. We see each story vary with when their story takes place and its broad enough a theme to really allow the stories to feel different. Is that room for creativity in a theme what makes a good anthology or what do you think it is that does make a good anthology?
LJ: That’s honestly a hard question to answer. I do think the room for creativity is a big part of it, though, especially in the case of this anthology. Like I said before, the stories everyone made surprised us with their tone and content. With themed anthologies, I think you can’t go too broad or too narrow. You have to find that sweet spot where you have constraints and rules, but also give everyone enough freedom to show their individuality.
A big part of any anthology’s successful execution is, of course, the creators involved, too. It doesn’t matter how good an original idea is, if you don’t have talented people to execute and expand that idea, it’s worthless. That’s why we got really lucky with everyone we worked with. They’re all top notch talent, even if comic companies haven’t caught onto it yet.
RM: A good anthology needs a killer theme with that wiggle room you mention, great contributors, and editors with inhuman levels of stamina and determination.
I really enjoyed the choice for the different color shading for each story. Was this an idea you guys had going in early on? Were the artists able to choose or work within the colors that might fit their story?Continued below
LJ: That’s actually something we had no intention of doing early on. We originally intended for this to just be black and white, with maybe some half tones or a little grey wash or something. But then Eric [Grissom] and Will [Perkins] sent us their story with the orangish tone that it has. Once Ricardo and I saw that, and Eric explained how simple it was to do, we thought it might be cool to do the rest of the stories in differing color tones. So we ended up going with a tone that felt right for each story, with the exception of the Sam Read/Cian Tormey Ireland story because Cian’s inks are just so damn strong.
Leo will know as someone who has done his fair share of interviews that there are questions you know someone won’t answer so with that, what is your guys favorite story in this collection?
LJ: It is honestly really hard to pick and I don’t know if I have an actual favorite, but the story that plays with ideas I’m most excited about is Eric Grissom and Will Perkins’s story. As soon as we started working on this anthology, I became fascinated by the idea of a toddler or baby not being able to make memories and what sort of teenager or adult they’d then turn into if they can’t really learn by the same process as young children do. Of course, I didn’t want to push any of the creative teams towards the idea because that takes away some of that freedom we talked about, but I was elated when Eric and Will not only explored that idea, but did it in such a great way.
A close second for me is the Ben Kahn/Bruno Hidalgo Spain story. The act of building a castell, a human tower, is such an interesting and beautiful thing, especially set against the world of “Transience.” Those two absolutely knocked that story out of the park.
RM: I refuse to choose a favourite out of all my beautiful babies. See, Leo, that’s how you answer this question!
Not good enough? Fine, then I choose my own story!
LJ: Choosing your own story is a cop out!
What is a comic for you that you have read that if you woke up tomorrow and could not remember would want to read again for the first time?
LJ: Jeff Lemire’s “Sweet Tooth.” Probably my favorite book of all time and there being a nice chunk of issues of it makes it even more appealing to have to read again for the first time.
RM: “Sweet Tooth” is a great choice. I’d have to go for “Sleeper” from Brubaker and Phillips. In my opinion, the best book from a creative team who always bring the fire.
For anyone interested in “Transience” where can they get or read the book?
LJ: We’re on Kickstarter right now! We’re doing a simple, digital only campaign where the only reward tier is a digital copy of the book. Ricardo and I are both big believers of digital, so we wanted to see how a streamlined digital campaign would do for our first Kickstarter. There’s no extra stuff that you may not really want, just the book that we really want everyone to read. If somehow we do crazy numbers, we might end up seeing print, but for now it’s just digital through KS and maybe eventually comiXology.
What do you want people to get out of reading this title?
RM: The best fiction kickstarts your mind, so I would hope we can get readers thinking about memory, personality, and what truly makes someone who they are.
LJ: I hope they get the desire to give us tons of money? No, like Ricardo said, the best stories make you think. If we can get people thinking, then we’ve done our job.