Boy Bot Blues in Jeff Lemire's Descender

by Vince Brusio

A long love for sci-fi pushed Jeff Lemire to team up with Dustin Nguyen for their new Image project, Descender (JAN150567). It’s a first for Lemire in that it’s a creator-owned title that he’s not illustrating. He chose to hand over the visuals to Nguyen, whose background in mechanical designs was a natural fit for this futuristic story about a boy robot that’s on the run from bounty hunters. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, both creators explain the passion that went into this title.

Descender #1 (JAN150567) is in comic shops March 4.

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PREVIEWSworld: What can you tell us about the storyline for Descender? And spare no details. We’re counting every crumb!

Jeff Lemire: Descender follows TIM-21 a young robot who wakes on a distant mining colony in space to discover that a decade earlier, MASSIVE robots called The Harvesters attacked the galaxy decimating most planets. In the wake of these attacks, the universe turned on their millions of Robot workers, droids, and drones in galaxy robot-culls. All robots and androids became outlawed and hunted by ruthless bounty-hunters called Scrappers.

When TIM's existence is discovered, he becomes the most hunted robot in the universe because he may hold the key to the mystery of The Harvesters in his machine DNA.

PREVIEWSworld: A young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a world where androids are outlawed? Who among you has the Blade Runner poster in his man cave? And while you hit the button to reveal the sliding panel that takes us down the steps into the man cave, can you tell us what sci-fi movies would be at the top of your list for inspiration?

Jeff Lemire: Kubrick was my guiding light on this project for sure. 2001 is my favorite film, and a massive influence. But certainly Blade Runner and Urasawa's PLUTO were also influences. I think Dustin can probably speak more to his visual influences here too.

Dustin Nguyen: I'm right there with Jeff on 2001 when it comes to tone and voice for a space setting. I do also draw a lot from the more recent space horrors of movies like Event Horizon and Pandorum, plus a ton of other movies I'd be embarrassed to admit I love. Maybe not, but the list is too long.

Visually, I go back to a lot of 80's animation like Akira and Macross. I'm a huge G1 Transformers fan. I was always fascinated with the mix of mechanics and human interfacing from the old school stuff. I do love the clean, minimalistic, and almost nonexistent look of technology today, but before there was touchscreen and the overuse of holographic and heads-up displays, as an artist- you had an obligation to really prove to the reader/viewer that your machine could somehow really work. It’s fun, challenging, and makes for very cool (sometimes bulky) mech imagery. I came from a mechanical design background before comics, so this is pretty much the comic I’ve been wanting to draw forever.

PREVIEWSworld: Why did you decide to write Descender? What was the motivation? What did you need to get out of your head?

Jeff Lemire: I think I never really know what it is I'm writing about until I finish a project and get some distance from it. The work is largely about that discovery process for me...exploring ideas and characters to see where they lead.  I certainly have a pretty solid blueprint of where I want to go, but I'm just following TIM and his companions to see where they actually end up taking me.

PREVIEWSworld: Without spoiling anything, what scene(s) would you be most excited to write about, or blog about in full geek mode?

Jeff Lemire: My excitement comes from seeing how Dustin interprets my scripts. This is the first creator-owned project I've done that I haven't also drawn myself, and I wouldn't do that unless it was with an artist I admire as much as Dustin. So seeing the pages come back — these beautifully realized, fully painted pages — is so exciting. I have to say, seeing his first rendition of TIM broke my heart and his Scrappers are so incredible. The atmosphere and world building he has done is really something.

Dustin Nguyen: I'd say my favorite scene to draw so far is our very first introduction of Tim. It had the perfect blend of the story we're telling and the life Jeff has breathed into his characters before, but it's completely new and just grabs you from the get-go. It's a mostly quiet scene, but when I read the script for the first time I was pretty much just saying "THIS is what it's like to read a script from Jeff Lemire." It's fantastic.

PREVIEWSworld: If people want to learn more about Descender, how can they use social media or other web sites to get information?

Jeff Lemire: Dustin's and my own Twitter feed are going to be full of Descender news and spoilers from now on...so follow us!

Dustin Nguyen: I'm honestly just now learning to use my Twitter account, but I'll be posting a bunch of work in progress and some fun non-spoiling reveals on my Instagram (http://instagram.com/duss005) and Tumblr (http://duss005.tumblr.com/).

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