With the close of its first arc, Jim McCann's conspiracy thriller with a supernatural twist "Mind the Gap" has come full circle on many of the mysteries presented in the first fifteen issues. We now know exactly what happened to Elle Peterssen to put her physical body into a coma while her spirit explored a realm between life and death, and we know just how close the responsible parties are to her. The history of her family has been exposed, lending clarity into Elle's current condition and abilities, and, as McCann promised from the very first issue, no one has been innocent.
With the debut storyline wrapped, and a new round of mysteries to solve on the horizon, McCann spoke with CBR News about the Peterssen family legacy, the deep connection he shares with Elle and announces Sami Basri joining Rodin Esqujo on the art team for "Mind the Gap" Act II.
CBR News: Now that a lot of the mystery has been uncovered about who the Hoodies are, who attacked Elle, and who The Fifth is, should we still be reading with an eye to unlocking more mysteries about Elle?
Jim McCann: Ohhhhhh, yeah! The first act had the slogan of "Everyone is a suspect. No one is innocent." ACT II's theme is "Everyone lies. Every truth hurts." There are still many mysteries surrounding Elle's past, some huge twists involving people we've already met, a new wrinkle or two no one sees coming and even higher stakes. Oh, and the question of "Where is Elle?! Is she dead for good? Who has her?" So many mysteries!
Have the characters all revealed their true motives?
Not by a long shot! [Laughs] To answer that further would give away a surprise I've kept hidden in plain sight since issue one, but when you see it unfold, you'll think, "Damn! I almost feel like I should Wiki everything!"
The most recent issue -- #15 -- is titled "The Escape." Who is escaping?
Good question. It's a layered title. It's Geller and the Hoodies planning their escape with Elle's body, Min and the Jairus project's similar goal to escape with her, Elle's escape of her own by going into the pure white anti-Garden (whatever that may be, as you'll see eventually), and finally the mystery of the final escape of Elle's body.
So much of the Peterssen family legacy is rooted in escaping the stigma that came with their scientific research, and in beating the cycle of death that has torn them apart. What fuels their obsession?
As shown in this arc, "R.I.Peterssen," it started with Lars' research on bettering humanity and changing the world. Erik's loss of his brother Konrad to Polio 5 days before the Polio vaccine was discovered re-lit that fire and took the form of defeating Death (keep in mind, there are Five, and we only know Erik -- "The Fifth's" -- mission and field of research). He found happiness in Nora, his wife, but continuing his family line failed with every miscarriage. When he finally used his own early research in preserving life, beginning with fertilization, on himself, he gained a son at the cost of his wife. When Elle came along, a new condition presented itself, one that Erik has never seen; one he isn't sure he is responsible for, but one that presents two paths: as a grandfather, he sees a way to play savior; as a scientist, he sees a way to race Death and finally defeat it. The latter, as it manifested in Elle and the Jairus project, you will see more of in Act II.
It seems like Dr. Geller has a strong connection to the research leading to Jairus, and to the moth symbolism we see with Elle. In Act II, are we going to learn more about what connects Dr. Geller to the Peterssen family?
We've seen the early implications of Dr. Geller's work on Jairus and Elle, but we'll see Geller- and her wife, Det Wallace- move into a more central role in Act II.
Throughout the last few issues, we see a lot of in book art style changes, from the pulpy flashback sequences, to Elle's early years done in a blue and green color pallet -- will these style choices carry over into the future issues?
Every fill-in/flashback artist has been chosen to reflect a specific style or time period or a character's POV. We're moving more into the present full-time, so we won't have as many going forward, but when we do, those choices will still be made with that criteria.
Will there be any changes to the art team for the next act?
Well, breaking news, you're reading it here first -- Rodin will be joined by Sami Basri (who did issues 11 & 12) as they rotate arcs.
At the end of issue #15, you share a very personal story about your connection to Elle's condition -- your journey with a childhood of Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Do you feel like its important to create stories that can connect people to conditions like this and give them heroes with similar, although not widely discussed, obstacles?
I don't know that I set out to shed a light on RDS -- it was mainly that I found in Elle a character I could relate to and knew I could write -- the feeling of knowing your family did everything they could to save you, being part of something that's grown into making a condition that used to have a 90% mortality rate become less than 10%. But also the flip side of it -- feeling a bit of a freak sometimes while also realizing how lucky you were to survive.
To this day, my family says I'm their "miracle" baby and that I fought to stay alive, to keep coming back alive, literally, and that there's a reason I'm supposed to be here. While that's a powerful and beautiful sentiment to hear, it can sometimes be a pretty big thing to live up to and can cause subconscious pressure. Elle became an outlet for a lot of that, someone I could share that with, in a way.
Throughout the first act, we primarily see Elle in an out-of-body state, able to connect to the living world through possession of other bodies. Do you have any first hand connection to out of body experiences? Did you do any research to flesh out that plane of her existence?
I did read a number of articles and a few books on how coma patients can possibly communicate with the people around them, people who've had near-death experiences, and people who've had out-of-body experiences.
Personally, I swear I remember being at a very low point in my life as a teen, sitting alone in my room writing, when I felt "something" that gave me this sense of saying, "It's going to be OK, trust me." At the time, and then years later when I remembered it again, I swear it was like some part of grown-up, successful-me going back to younger, terrified/emo-me to relay that and give myself a boost I needed to get on track. Weird, I know.
What part of Elle's continuing journey are you the most excited to tell?
Tricky to say, since last we saw Elle, she was dead and her body was gone. That said, the fall-out from that and the revelations still to come are going to be so much fun! Oh, and don't get comfortable with the alliances. There are a lot of backs ready to be stabbed!
"Mind the Gap" picks up again with the next arc in December. A trade paperback collecting issues #11-#15 is now available.