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    Image Expo: Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s “Drifter” Crashes Down at Image [Exclusive Interview]

    By | July 23rd, 2014
    Posted in Interviews, News | 4 Comments
    The cover to Drifter #1

    In such a well worn genre like science fiction, it takes quite a bit to stand out. In comics, that can be the case even more so, but for “Drifter”, Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s upcoming science fiction series that was just announced at today’s Image Expo, that certainly won’t be a problem. Why? Because Brandon and Klein have an absolutely fantastic concept with fresh, fleshed out ideas to pair with Klein providing career best work in a style that’s more painterly and powerful than ever before.

    Here’s a breakdown of what this book is all about:

    Mankind’s colonization of the galaxy has left countless planets mined bare and lifeless. A space transport crashes onto a backwater world whose unique properties set the stage for a story that combines the dark wonder of a strange and alien landscape with the struggles of an abandoned and lawless frontier town.

    This duo previously worked together on “Viking” at Image, and with “Drifter”, they’re going the other direction in time but still bringing all the storytelling power they brought to that title. It’s a gorgeous, haunting looking book in the vein of “Fear Agent” to a degree, and one of my most anticipated titles from today’s laundry list of standouts at Image Expo.

    Thanks to Image, we’re excited to exclusively reveal four pages from the book below along with an interview with Brandon and Klein about teaming up again, building a world and what that means for their book, how Klein’s art will be different than ever before on this title, and more. Thanks to both Brandon and Klein for the conversation, and don’t miss this book, folks. It arrives in November, only at Image.

    Page 1 from Drifter #1
    This a reunion in a few ways, as the two of you are working together again for the first time since you released “Viking” at Image. What made this the right time and project for the two of you to work together again, and what made a homecoming to Image the right choice for it as well?

    IB: For me the time’s always right to work with someone who can do what Nic can do, but our schedules had sorta looped away from each other for a while and we’d been trying to figure out what the best next step was for us to take together. There’s that weird perfect storm where a concept takes its own life creatively and if you can start off from that place you can hopefully make something special. In a lot of ways Image has been my home for a lot of years… they’ve been supportive of every kind of weird idea I’ve put forward and given me the kind of stage I’ve never found anywhere else. Now more than ever they’re the perfect place for the kind of comics we’re trying to make.

    NK: Ivan and I are friends and have kept in close contact… We both knew we wanted to work together on a new book, so while we were both busy with other projects we always kind of tinkered around with ideas. Science Fiction was always a direction I wanted to go into, even with small self-written comics in art school. So it seemed like a natural place to take a new title.

    As for the homecoming to Image, I can’t imagine a better publisher for a creator owned book. The support we have received on all our projects there really made it a no-brainer.

    Page 2 from Drifter #1
    From the press release, it sounds like the two of you knew that you wanted to work together, and this book just came from that. How did you guys develop this world and story? Has “Drifter” been something in development for a while now?

    IB: It’s been a little over a year of trying to get it right and trying get the stars aligned to make this our main focus. We needed to make sure Nic especially could shift into it full time. It’s a long story and we wanted to be able to get ahead so that no one’s ever waiting for the next one.

    Continued below

    NK: I don’t know the exact time we started to actively work on this, Ivan had some ideas and I had some ideas. The cool bit was that they were pretty merge-able and could go into a whole new direction once brought together. Since then it has really been “just” a matter of putting the walls up around the structure of the house, and applying some paint.

    “Drifter” looks and feels like the dirty kind of sci-fi in the best ways, with the world it exists on having more in common with a frontier town from a Western than the sleek, futuristic sci-fi cities we often see in fiction. For the both of you as fans of sci-fi and as storytellers yourselves, what appeals to you more about this type of sci-fi world, and what makes it such a fertile ground for telling a story?

    IB: I gravitate in a lot of cases to a pretty well-worn environment…I didn’t grow up in a pretty place and I find it easier to believe a world exists if I can see the miles on it. But honestly in this case it’s not a question of preference, the timeline and the context for the story meant we were going to have to get down in the mud a little. This is about a new era for a new kind of society and any new era is built out of a lot of blood and a lot of sweat.

    NK: I don’t think its a versus question, I think all sci-fi settings have valid right to exist. Its just a matter of what kind of story you are trying to tell. The shiny futuristic cities and polished spaceships exist in our universe as well I would assume, just not the the world our story takes place. There is technology, but limited by resources…if you’re stuck in the Australian outback for example, and you can’t have a fire, we have the technology to just google it on your iPad. That technology exists, but not if you don’t have wifi available…

    Page 3 from Drifter #1
    We know this story takes place on a rather undeveloped world after a transport crash lands on it from the press release, but little else is known as of yet. I have to ask, what else can you tell us about this book? What is “Drifter” all about?

    IB: It’s about trying to survive in a place that isn’t predisposed to accept you. It’s about transposing elements of a structure without the structure itself. It’s about trying to be human.

    One of the things that stands out about the concept is how in the thick of things it sounds like it will get, that it’s not just going to be about a single narrative, but building the world in a way that almost makes the planet they crash on a character unto itself. Am I reading that right? How important to the two of you is it to build a world that isn’t just a setting, but an important element to the story in its own right?

    IB: It’s off the charts important. It could be argued that the world is maybe the most important character in this story. Worlds, even ours, have their own processes to stay alive and humans aren’t exceptionally good at respecting the balance an environment needs to maintain. Without spoiling too much let’s just say Ouro, the world in Drifter, is not a passive environment.

    NK: Yes, the Planet is a very important character. As humans we have basically learned to adapt our environment to our needs, on a foreign place we have to start from scratch, basically. If you don’t know what dangers a world holds in store for you, what weather, what resources you can harvest, etc., you have to adapt to the world, and quickly. Because outside of civilization to fall back onto, every mistake can be your last.

    In the press release Nic, you mention that you’re looking to take your art in a new direction with “very few black shadows and most of the rendering done through color.” Is this more of a situation where you have the freedom to explore with your art so that’s what you’re doing, or is it more of you trying to find the right look and feel for the book, and that’s what it called for? The pages I’ve seen are gorgeous, managing to bring a real natural, organic feel to the page without losing any of the wonder, so I’d say whatever you’re doing is working.

    Continued below

    NK: It’s both. Of course, on a creator-owned book I can pretty much do whatever I want (as long as Ivan is on board), but doing a lot of work through the color and having a painterly feel makes sense for a book playing on an alien world. It lets me try to make it a visually surprising book. Much more than I could with straight black and white art with flat colors, for example. Also, I come from a painting background a little bit and rendering in color adds a lot more depth to the work. It just seemed like a good route for the world we’re building.

    Pages 14 and 15 from Drifter #1

    For the full press release from Image, please see below.

    Image Press Release

    Ivan Brandon (Wolverine, Men of War) and Nic Klein (Captain America, Thor) team up for DRIFTER, an all-new science fiction series from Image Comics coming in November 2014.

    Mankind’s colonization of the galaxy has left countless planets mined bare and lifeless. A space transport crashes onto a backwater world whose unique properties set the stage for a story that combines the dark wonder of a strange and alien landscape with the struggles of an abandoned and lawless frontier town.

    “Space stories are always this polished thing, but you can’t pack infrastructure in your backpack,” said Brandon. “For all our advancements in technology your gadgets need a signal to talk to, they need a power grid or they die. In Drifter there are still space ships and lasers but this is not a story about space admirals in starched shirts. This is about the first wave who get their hands dirty, the folks out in the mud and in the mines. It’s about going from our regimented society into the unknown.”

    “Ivan and I have been wanting to do another new book for quite some time,” added Klein. “He asked me what I would be stoked to do and I answered ‘science fiction.’ Ivan had some ideas kicking around and I did as well, so we got to work building Drifter. Visually I am very excited to draw cool sci-fi stuff, but also I’m taking my work in a new direction, very few black shadows and most of the rendering done through color.”

    “Over the last few years, it’s been really gratifying to welcome various writers and artists back to Image,” said Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics. “Ivan’s no stranger to Image—he’s written and edited some fantastic comics for us over the years, most notably Viking—but it’s especially cool to have him back here with a series as stunning as Drifter. The work he and Nic are doing on this series is simply amazing.”

    DRIFTER follows a diverse group of characters, trapped and isolated, with no hope of rescue, surrounded on all sides by alien dangers and the decaying beauty of a dying world. Coming to Image Comics this November.

    //TAGS | Image Expo

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).


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