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Devolution Goes Forward In Reverse

When Dynamite Entertainment announced Devolution #1 (NOV151268), the new title created by Rick Remender, it was a comic that had been a decade in the making. Described by Remender as “The Road Warrior meets Jurassic Park,” the comic features the artistic prowess of Jonathan Wayshak and Jordan Boy who bring a post-apocalyptic world (that’s also pre-historic) to life. Here in this interview by Elliott Serrano, Remender discusses the importance of artists Wayshak and Boyd, and how the story reflects Rick's love of popcorn flicks.

Devolution #1 (NOV151268) is in comic shops January 20.

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Elliott Serrano: Tell me about the genesis of Devolution (pun intended).

Rick Remender: The outline and the concept was a book that I cooked up in 2006. I had just started doing Fear Agent and Strange Girl and a number of other books so this goes all the way back to then.

And I pitched it to Nick at Dynamite in 2006 and then one thing after another, schedules couldn't get lined up to get it done. We found in Jon Wayshak and Jordan Boyd the art team that could make this visually exciting enough to do. And so now we've decided to put it out. It's something. It’s an interesting process to see something I cooked up a decade ago brought to life now. But obviously I'm very excited by what Jon Wayshak and Jordan Boyd have been doing with it. Seeing it come to life has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the project.

It was born from the very basic idea of everyone on earth beginning to devolve —as well as plant life and animal life — as well as reverse mutate and devolve into a sort of strange alien prehistoric world. And in that world we are following a group of scientists and marines who were inoculated from the chemical agent that was used to cause the devolution. And they are attempting to re-evolve all life on earth into something a little more recognizable.

Elliott Serrano: You've got this element of going back to an earlier form of the world like in Jurassic Park or Jurassic World, which are incredibly popular with audiences. Why do you think that's the case?

Rick Remender: It's an entire history of our planet that didn't involve us. It was an entire history of our planet when where we live now was dominated by giant reptilian creatures, crazy chickens with talons, strange plants, and giant mosquitos, and that’s fascinating. It’s our history. It’s earth’s history. And those things (our world meeting with that world) never stops being interesting.

This is a little bit different in that this is a look at our devolution as a society and using that bit as a metaphor for the devolution of human beings into the strange Neanderthal-type creatures. And they’re not quite Neanderthals. It's dancing around some of the science of the Missing Link. They’re called “Thrals” for short and it’s what most of the population has devolved into.

Beyond that, in 2006, I had a deep desire to mix The Road Warrior with Jurassic Park. Pretty much everything I’ve ever done comes from the fact that I've watched The Road Warrior hundreds of times as a kid over and over again. One of my all-time favorite movies, that and Big Trouble in Little China somehow seemed to color everything I was creating, especially ten years ago. And so it’s sort of a mix of those two things, while also providing some zigs and zags that I still think are exciting, some interesting characters, and a look at the devolution process that we are witnessing in human society that might lead to something like this.

Elliott SerranoYou mention "Road Warrior" and "Jurassic Park" and crossing them, so will there be cavemen driving high-powered jeeps? I'm just curious.

Rick Remender(laughs) No, they haven't figured out the jeeps, or how to get the gas. But there are a lot of them. There are warlords riding on woolly mammoths; trained saber tooth tigers, giant ants. We have some fun with that stuff. It's very much just trying to conceive of cool #$%* for Wayshack to draw. Taking that original outline I have, and then re-tweaking things here and there. But, it's also interesting to see a story from a decade ago kind of come to life. Let it be what it was, which is a writing style and approach to things that I've sort of changed. It's kind of a fun exercise, re-dialouging scripts that come from deep in my past.

Elliott SerranoWhat was it like looking at Rick Remender from ten years ago?

Rick RemenderYou know, there's good and bad. I can't help but to look at anything, as soon as I finish a comic and it goes to print, I'm always seeing what didn't work and I'm very critical. But in terms of this there was some rule-breaking that I'm not sure I would do today, that led to some interesting things happening. At the end of the day, it's been fun. And that's only because of John Wayshack and Jordan Boyd, and taking these (ideas) and breathing life into this fever dream I had ten years ago. And here it is coming together. It really is a lost comic from my first run at Image Comics. 

Elliott SerranoHas anything changed with DEVOLUTION because of the collaboration with Wayshack and Boyd? Maybe you thought this was the way you envisioned it but went "wow, we're going with what they're doing" instead?

Rick Remender: I mean yeah, sure. And you have to let the artists add their own thing to it. I help guide, and I try to add notes when they're valuable. But ultimately you leave it to the art team to decide these things. And they've done a tremendous job. Wayshack came up with Jerome Opena and the two of those guys were two of my very favorite artists going back to my days in San Francisco. And so I've always wanted to work with Jon. And Jordan is obviously one of the very best colorists in comics, and someone I'm using on "Deadly Class" and hope to continue to work with. So you pick good people and kind of get out of the way and see what they do.

Elliott SerranoIt's interesting that you have the heroine of Arab descent. Considering the current political climate, is it something that you thought about changing?

Rick RemenderUh, no. I mean why?

Elliott SerranoWell you have Americans - I won't say all Americans, I'll call them "Donald Trump's Americans" - who just have an issue with Arabs and folks from the Middle East.

Rick RemenderYeah, well f@#$ pandering to stupid people!

Elliott Serrano(laughs) alright. 

Rick RemenderNo, I don't ever consider stupid people. That never crosses my mind. The character has a reason for being from Saudi Arabia that plays into her character, and who her father was, and why shes now on her journey to the tech region in San Francisco. It paints her perspective on the dilema, you know?

Elliott SerranoAnything about the book you're really looking forward to the readers seeing?

Rick RemenderJust seeing John Wayshack illustrate crazy Neanderthals, woolly mammoths, giant spiders, and eventually some very strange things that come in the last few issues. It's a visual feast what Jon and Jordan have done here. Hopefully people pick it up and fall in love with these guys the same way that I have.  

Elliott SerranoOkay, quick sidebar, a DEVOLUTION movie gets made, what's your dream cast?

Rick Remender(pause) I'm sorry, off the top of my head, I've got nothing. I'm terrible at the fantasy football of casting stuff. I have to dig through photos and really remind myself of actors and actresses before I can ever hit on any of that.

Elliott SerranoOkay, what would be one toy or action figure that you'd like to be made from the comic?

Rick Remender(pause) Nazi Gil is one of the coolest villain designs I've ever seen. The way John designed our redneck, Nazi militant monster man (laughs), I think he'd be a pretty great toy.