Creator Mark Roslan has worked numerous jobs throughout his comic book career. As an inker he's worked with Adam Kubert on "Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine," "X-Men: Schism" #5 and "Fear Itself #7.2" for Marvel, as well as with Art Adams on "Ultimate Comics X." Prior to that he was a letterer on countless titles, but it's with Aspen Comics that he's found a home as Director of Design and Production. More recently he's added writer to his growing resume, debuting with the creator-owned "Broken Pieces" in 2011. With Aspen's 10-For-10 initiative celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Michael Turner founding the company, Roslan is back with his latest writing effort, "BubbleGun," a cyberpunk, neon-tinted tale of exaggerated tech and high-flying personality featuring art by Mike Bowden and colors by David Curiel.
Available June 12, "BubbleGun" follows sisters Molli and Devyn in a tech-funk society in a not-so gloomy future ruled by corrupt corporations. CBR News spoke with Roslan about "BubbleGun," the tech involved in his story and how it's unique from other cyberpunk genre comics. Plus, exclusive art!
CBR News: Mark, what's the gist of "BubbleGun?"
Mark Roslan: "BubbleGun" is a futuristic action adventure series in a world where information is power and computer anarchy runs rampant. Set in the year 2084 with some dark science fiction elements, you could easily classify "BubbleGun" as a cyberpunk story. We follow a team of mercenary intelligence thieves and their mentor Zuse, who live for the rush they get from taking on these crazy eccentric missions.
They each bring their own unique set of skills and take on jobs involving corporate espionage, usually hacking into sensitive computer networks and making money on the information they steal or destroy. We jump right into the action with the first issue -- competing hacker outlaws are pitted against each other to access a high paying job. The winners find themselves in a world that's way more trouble than they bargained for. I like to say it's "Mission: Impossible" meets "Bladerunner."
What sets "BubbleGun" apart from other cyberpunk comic books?
Most cyberpunk stories are dark and bleak with a strong sense of misery following a lowlife loner, but "BubbleGun" is more of a bright and artificially happy world following a team of optimistic youths. I don't think the future is dark and scary -- I think it's like Times Square on neon crack. Instead of dark leather trench coats, we have orange see-through plastic cardigans. Of course there are evil corporations behind this happy facade that want to control us all. Society in "BubbleGun" is mostly unaware of how much these mega corporations are in control of the world, and how the government is weak compared to their influence. "BubbleGun" follows a team that supports each other, making money off exploiting feuding conglomerates and enjoying every minute of it. It's lighter on the philosophical statements and more on the wonder that the future can bring.
Is the BubbleGun an actual object in the story or is it just a fun title?
It's both and more! I wanted a conflicting title; two words that balanced the fun nature of the book but also the dangerous life the characters live. I gave the youngest character on the team, Molli, a non-lethal weapon. It was originally a high-powered stun gun but I thought it would be a lot more fun if it was as if Spider-Man's web shooters were handguns, so I changed the taser to a paintball gun that shot a basketball-sized bullet of adhesive goop. It's way more embarrassing finding yourself shot to the wall in pink gum and that suits Molli's personality.
Given this is cyberpunk, why do the protagonists walk the edge of the law?
They each have their own reasons, and while this miniseries isn't an origin story, we'll learn about each of the characters throughout the course of the book. Devyn and Molli are sisters and you could say they took on the family business. Roman's past is a brutal one and he holds a grudge against the world. Kyo, who's naturally gifted with technology, fell into this way of life. I have plans to delve deeper into each of these characters that I've grown to love.
What's the story with tech-loving sisters Molli and Devyn that makes them so endearing?
The heart of the story is Molli and Devyn's relationship. Devyn has always looked after her younger sister since they were very young. She's protected Molli like a mother, but Molli is emerging as an overconfident brat since joining in on the team's missions. Their relationship is tested. The very concept of "family" is a big part of why I'm telling this story. The members of this hacker business have been through a lot together and consider themselves family -- I explore that as the series goes on. I grew up with two sisters and an older brother, so some of my personal experience is reflected into the story, and I think there is something in each of the characters that readers find relatable.
You mentioned the BubbleGun -- what other special tech do the main characters wield that gives them an edge?
The team acts like a business, with Devyn in charge. Like every business, there are financial struggles so the team isn't as high tech as they'd like to be. However, each of them have their own gadgets that echo a part of their personality. Deyvn graces a bodysuit that can reflect light, giving her temporary invisibility, allowing her to be more cautious and stealth like. Roman's right arm is completely cybernetic. While it's not the newest model, it does have some nice hidden tricks. In fact, he might be due for an upgrade in a later issue, so stay tuned for that! And of course there is Molli with her fun sci-fi Bubblegun!
How about Roman and Kyo -- what's their relationship like with the leading ladies?
Roman and Kyo, like most guys, hold back their feelings. One of them holds his feelings in until he explodes, while the other slowly explores them. I think there is a little Roman and Kyo in every guy, so I hope readers find it hard to choose which one they like better. Kyo is soft spoken, but when he says something, it's important. He is half Japanese and half Chinese and tends to be the voice of reason. Kyo carries a suspicious staff and is one of the best pilots around. Roman is more headstrong and the alpha male. He's the muscle of the team that loves to lead them into battle.
Who are the villains in the book and what makes them a threat?
In 2084 we see mega corporations become more like mini-governments. As these conglomerates compete for power, they find themselves pitted in secret battles of counter intelligence. One of most important is Vitadrone led by Drazic, a man who has ushered the company to greatness, intending to keep it that way by any means necessary. As ruthless as he is, he likes to keep his hands clean, so his second in command Craine does all the dirty jobs. One wears a suit, and one wears battle gauntlets, but both would rip your throat out with their teeth -- as long as no cameras are watching.
What can you reveal about the greater picture the main cast gets wrapped up in?
Vitadrone knows Inotech is developing some world changing technology. In 2084, daily life is impacted greatly by the technological changes that occur more rapidly than what we're used to. Think Zach Morris' brick phone to flip phone to iPhone 5 in the matter of a year. Devyn and her team are hired to retrieve a package containing Inotech's newest advancement in technology that they thought was kept secret. Another hacker team is hired by a different employer to retrieve the same package. Both teams clash inside Inotech's headquarters. One team comes out the victor but the package itself brings on a whole other level of trouble that multiplies as the series goes on.
What about artist Mike Bowden's past work made him right for the book, and how do he and David Curiel manage to capture the look of the technology you created for the world of "BubbleGun?"
Via the Internet, I've been creepily watching Mike Bowden develop his artwork since he first popped onto the comic book scene in the "World of Warcraft" books. I wanted an artist with a lot of energy but not so serious or realistic in style. Someone whose pencils screamed fun with every line. He posted on his deviantArt page beautiful depictions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, Transformers and other characters that captured the excitement those properties from our youth injected into our hearts.
His hyperkinetic and cartoony approach gives "BubbleGun" a unique look, giving the title more life than my words ever could. He's complimented perfectly with David Curiel's color palette. David has worked with Aspen on "Idolized" and Marvel with "Avenging Spider-Man," and his bright colors and expressively rich tones help set the stage for the fast pace emotional roller coaster "BubbleGun" follows. I begged Editor in Chief Vince Hernandez to ask Curiel to be on the book, and I'm thrilled he agreed. Both Bowden and Curiel are as enthusiastic as I am in depicting this colorful, hyper-detailed futuristic landscape. I suggested a hoverbike in the script and Bowden turned in three different unique versions for us to choose from and Curiel has been experimenting with his coloring effects. It's exciting to be a part of this team that tries so hard to push the envelope.
In the "BubbleGun" press release you mention you "really wanted to make a comic book that had that fun and high-energy storytelling that [you] grew up reading." What works were you referencing and how have you worked them into the book?
I got into comics during Image's formation so each of the founding fathers' books should be noted. In each title you could feel the passion from the creative teams poured onto every page. "Generation X" was another book I felt the art and story matched perfectly, and each issue was very memorable. Even more so was the Cliffhanger line of "Battle Chasers," "Crimson," and "DangerGirl." Those three books had everything going for them and I ran to the store to find out what the next issue would bring. Each issue was jam-packed with detailed artwork and story that didn't slow down. You really felt like you had gotten your money's worth. I hope readers of "BubbleGun" get the same feeling.
You've been working on "BubbleGun" for over 2 years -- what was the ebb and flow process like to get it completed?
Building a brand new property from scratch is not an easy task, as any creator-owned writer can tell you. It's tough to build up a world and get acquainted with it than it is to take on a story that has been around for years that the majority of the general public is already familiar with. I spent time every night building up this new world and detailing little aspects of it in my notebook, adding thoughts on my smartphone notepad when I'm on the go. Some days there was nothing new and some days I couldn't sleep until I had it typed out. I just wrote everything down. There wasn't a rush of deadline so that was good. I like to take the time to figure out as much as I can and then marinate in what's there. I like getting to know my characters as much as possible before writing their dialogue and if a path of choice is presented, exploring each way to see which one is more gripping. I'm very conscious in the decision to make things different than what we've seen before. While "BubbleGun" has been influenced by other stories, I'm presenting a comic book that is unlike any other on the stands. If you feel like this story is familiar to you in issue #1, I'll change your mind in #2 and then again in #3!
Any future plans to continue with "Broken Pieces?"
I'd very much like to revisit "Broken Pieces" again. Some fans have personally reached out to me and said how much they appreciated the story. I do have something in mind for a sequel but one of the things that made "Broken Pieces" special was how the story itself was presented -- broken apart. To do that again, I'll need some time to figure things out, to present it in a nonlinear way that I'll be happy with. Then again, it's pretty much up to demand. I'd like to take a moment to tell readers of this interview that pre-ordering and reserving copies of your books is very important. It helps your comic shop know how much they should order and it also helps the publishers gauge the response of the property and lets them plan the future of the title. So please be vocal and active in your comic book store and let them know you'd like to try something new and to hold a copy for you! Otherwise you'll end up seeing rehashed storylines and less creative-owned titles. If you need help finding a local shop, CBR's FindAComicShop.com service can help you.
"BubbleGun" #1, as well as all of the first issues of Aspen's "10 for 10" initiative are only one dollar, so please let your store know you'd like something fresh in your pull box!
"BubbleGun" #1 is on sale June 12.