So begins the WonderCon Aftermath. I was lucky enough to speak with the creator of the buzzed about book Nonplayer, Nate Simpson! After some technical difficulties (hence the fact it’s text and not video) I finally got it rolling. Enjoy the interview, and there are more coming this week!
Today we’re here with Nate Simpson; the creator, writer, artist and pretty much everything except for letterer (or font maker) [both laugh]. Why don’t you give us a quick idea of what the book is about?
Sure. Well, it takes place in two parallel worlds. One of them is an MMO in the future. A full-immersion massively multiplayer online game and the other half takes place in the Los Angeles of the future. And the main character is this girl who, in the real world, doesn’t have very good job prospects, is sort of a loser, still lives with her mom; but inside the game she’s this amazing super assassin. She ends up killing the wife of a celebrity nonplayer character right around the time the non player characters are achieving sentience inside the game. So she ends up the target of a massive blood vendetta that ends up spilling out into the real world from the game.
Where did you come up with that kind of concept?
Mostly I really like drawing robots and I really like drawing monsters and this is a nice excuse to get to draw both of those things.
What kind of research did you do? Did you become an MMO zombie for a year?
I gave it two weeks of research on WoW, and I felt the pull of the eye of Sauron, [laughs] and I thought “no, I can’t go there, it’ll end up ruining my life,” so I ended up backing away. I did it long enough to understand the basic principles of online gaming, yeah.
You did all the art and writing yourself. In a medium that’s usually collaborative, did you find it freeing to do everything yourself and do exactly what you want? Or would you like to work with someone else at some point?
Well I worked in video games before I came over to do this comic, which is my first comic. I’ve never collaborated with anybody on a comic before; I have of course collaborated on video games. That’s a highly collaborative medium. Part of the reason I came over is because I wanted to experience some of the freedom of getting to make my own decisions and not have to run everything through a committee or a focus group. But then again, it’s also kind of a lonely road because you don’t have people around to talk to while you’re working and that can help to create a process as well. I’m still not sure which I like doing more, I really am enjoying Nonplayer, but having a bunch of friends around who are creative is kind of nice too. We’ll see.
There are a bunch of comic companies around; what made you go to Image as opposed to one of the other indies or even Vertigo?
Probably the key reason is that Image showed the most interest and obviously Image is a very creator-friendly company. They’ll take chances on stuff that I think a lot of the other publishers don’t necessarily take chances on. And I really like the people who work there; I really enjoy interacting with them so far. They really support the book very well, so I’m not tempted to move, if that’s what you’re asking.
What made you decide to get into comics in the first place? Was it just the idea of working by yourself, or were there any other influences?
Well, I’ve always ATTEMPTED comics. I’ve got a garage full of half-finished, terrible, X-Men ripoff comics; I did that since I was in high school; since I read How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. Probably the proximate cause for me quitting my game job to try to do the comic seriously was a book of Hayao Miyazaki’s storyboards for Naushika. It’s just such a beautiful, pure, whole, thing. It was like Mozart had made it. It just flowed out of him; and shot for shot it was the same as the film. Yet it was the expression of one man. I had never seen anything like it before. So that got me really excited about the possibility of storytelling and how far one person could push something like this. This is my attempt to do something like this or something similar.Continued below
There’s been a lot of buzz on Nonplayer. I saw Robert Kirkman gave you a shoutout on Twitter even. How does it feel to be Image’s new golden boy?
[Long Pause] Would I be looking a gift horse in the mouth if I said it was a little scary? I feel like the expectations are relatively high right now; and I’m working on the second issue. I would HATE for it to not live up to the first issue, so that’s where I’m at right now. Of course, it’s wonderful. I love that people are interested in the book. I especially love seeing the way children respond to it. I sort of regret that it’s not the most child-friendly book. It’s got a little bit of violence in it and a couple of bad words. But that’s probably been the most gratifying thing is to see all the kids come up to the table and just get lost in it. And they don’t really guard how they feel about it; they just kind of bubble over. That’s probably the most fun.
Kids DO love their dinosaurs!
They sure do! Yeah.
How long is the book planned to go?
It’s planned for six issues. The whole thing has already been plotted out, it’s already been written, but I’m discovering that it may be a little hard to fit into the sixth issue. It may bleed over into a seventh issue. That, in fact, may be an exclusive to you guy, so you heard it here!
We’ll see if I can edit the story down. There may be a little fat that I can get rid of; but otherwise it may squeak out into a seventh issue. Or my personal favorite is to have the sixth issue be a double/gigantic issue, but I haven’t even talked to [Image publisher] Eric Stephenson about that yet. So he’ll probably get mad at me for saying that. [laughs]
Disclaimer! [laughs] We’re not saying it has to be like that. Don’t worry, don’t worry. But do you have plans for a second volume or even an ongoing? It seems like it’s a rich tapestry for lots of different characters even. Like, different people who go into this world.
Right! Absolutely. If the comic does well, I’ll probably continue to do self-contained storyarcs because I like the idea of writing an entire story and wrapping it up with a nice satisfying little bow. A lot of ongoing comics can creep a little bit. I like a nice, tight, plot. I really like some of these characters, especially the main character Dana. I’m really sort of falling in love with her. Not in the romantic sense, but I’m really enjoy writing the character. Maybe there are some places for it to go the second time around.
Well, I think that’s all I have for now. Good luck on the book. Maybe next year we’ll see you teasing a volume two!
That’d be great!