William Gibson Goes From Sci-Fi To Sky High With Archangel

by Vince Brusio

Imagine the building of worlds. The scope is enough to make you head for a couch, potato chips, and TV remote. Way too much work if you don’t have the patience for contemplating contingency plans. Yet that is what author William Gibson excels at, and in his comic series Archangel for IDW Publishing, the promise of unilateral utopias will be up for discussion, and Mr. Gibson very well could make another movie out of it.

Archangel #1 (MAR160379) is in comic shops May 18.


PREVIEWSworld: At last year's San Diego Comic Con, IDW announced Archangel #1 (MAR160379) for 2016. At that point in time, where were you in the production of the story?

William Gibson: We had a very fully-developed world (two, actually), a set of characters, a specific scenario, and several draft versions, the result of what at one point was considered a screenplay, at another, briefly, as the universe for a game.

Having landed at IDW, that pile of stuff set out to become a comic, immediately seeming to really want to go there.

PREVIEWSworld: You're known for writing novels in the cyberpunk genre. What attracted you to writing comics?

William Gibson: I'm a visually-oriented writer, or at least I like to think I am.

My co-writer on Archangel is a film and television actor as well as a writer. Comics have been emerging, over the course of my life, as a major narrative form combining prose and graphic arts, so it didn't feel like that much a leap. More like "Huh, how'd I manage not to do this for so long?"

PREVIEWSworld: In works prior to Archangel, your stories touched on subjects such as reality TV, cyberspace, and how the Internet would "erode" the world's nation states. Without spoiling anything, will Archangel touch on any of these previous subjects, or are we more likely to get different predictions given the nature of Archangel's historical storyline?

William Gibson: Archangel is more like my other major collaboration so far: The Difference Engine, with Bruce Sterling. Both involve alternate histories. In The Difference Engine, advanced computing, steam-powered, takes off in the mid-19th Century, which of course changes everything. In Archangel, the United States *totally* wins World War II, which again changes everything. Both are arguably about emergent technology and political power.

PREVIEWSworld: What can you reveal about your main character(s), and what could you say about the supporting characters?

William Gibson: We have characters from both sides of an alternate-history fork. Naomi Givens is an RAF intelligence analyst (a materials scientist) in Axis-occupied Berlin, 1945. Another central character, known as the Pilot, is from 2016, but on the other side of the fork. He's a Marine pilot, but something else as well. Between 1945 Berlin and the Pilot's seriously nasty-ass "future," we don't lack for colorful characters, either major or minor.

PREVIEWSworld: What's the fun factor like in creating Archangel? What's given you the greatest satisfaction in developing this mini-series?

William Gibson: Doing the original world-building with Mike was huge fun, and the narrative that grew out of that had that certain self-generating quality that I always hope for. Getting it into shape at IDW, with their excellent help, has been both fun and crash-course *educational*. But easily the most exciting aspect so far has been seeing Butch bring it to life on the page. To me, that's actually more amazing than seeing  screenplays of mine filmed, because it's not the result of hundreds of people and millions of dollars, but of the talent of one person, someone who just sits down with a pen and *does it by hand*. That continues to blow me away.

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