“Former Chicago Bear star linebacker Lance Briggs, ULTRAMAN writer Kyle Higgins, rising star artist Danilo Beyruth, superstar colorist Tamra Bonvillain, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou and designer Sasha E. Head are creating THE TRAP, an all-new 120-page sci-fi graphic novel, now funding on Kickstarter.
In THE TRAP, Jaylen Robinson is a rising sports star from a not-so-great part of the galaxy: Earth. He’s worked hard his whole life. Everyone’s saying that Jaylen is the Next Big Thing for the interstellar sport of the future: surfriding. The future is his. This is his chance. Until it’s not.”
Comic Watch’s Cody White and Mike “Scoop” Eakins had the distinct of honor of interviewing Lance and Kyle about The Trap, which you should go back NOW on Kickstarter!
Comic Watch: Kyle, we know from Google that you’re from just outside of Chicago so it stands to reason that must be a part of how you two came to connect on this project. Can you both talk about how you came together with the rest of the team to put together The Trap?
KYLE: So actually, Lance and I have know each other for years — it was a shared love of comics, football and the Chicago Bears that brought us together. We met up in Chicago a few times, and then in Los Angeles where we did a tour of the DC offices with Alex Antone. We’ve stayed in touch over the years, and about a year and a half ago, started meeting up more seriously to see if there might be a book in the future for us.
For Danilo Beyruth, I didn’t know him before this — but I was aware of his work, which I loved. Danilo is represented by one of my favorite people in comics, Joe Prado, who works with a lot of Brazilian artists. So, I reached out to Joe when we were looking for an artistic partner. Tamra Bonvillain is one of my favorite colorists working, Sasha E. Head and I met while she was at Image, and Hassan is a killer letterer who I’m working on a few other things with. I thought his aesthetic would pair really nicely with Danilo lines.
CW: How much inspiration came from the current state of the country’s affairs gave way to creating The Trap, and how you turned your frustration into art?
KYLE: A lot. And, obviously, the issues we’re discussing and exploring are not new. But over the last four years, I don’t know how you could possibly argue that they’ve gotten any better.
LANCE: And, you know, a book like this isn’t exactly going to solve them. But hopefully, if we do our jobs right here, we’ll be shining a light on some of these affairs in a new way. At least, a new way for some readers. Giving them a different way of thinking about and hopefully relating to the real struggles that so many people in this country go through, on a daily basis.
CW: The Trap that deals with systemic racism. Was there any part of this project meant to attract an audience of people that may not be into superhero comics but introduce them into comics and use them as a form of escapism and hopefully provide hope for the future in the fight against systemic racism?
KYLE: Well, this isn’t a superhero comic. There’s certainly quite a bit of the “fantastic” in this story, but It’s rooted in science fiction — like Lance said, this is about using the fantastic to reframe matters that matter. That’s one of the best parts of science fiction, of genre in general — being able to tell a dynamic, compelling story… while also using it as a vehicle to talk about real problems and topics.
LANCE: We’ve been talking about this a lot during the Kickstarter, but it’s about empathy. About putting yourself in someone else’s shoes so you can hopefully relate to matters that — perhaps — you wouldn’t normally identify with, because you didn’t or don’t struggle with them on a day to day basis.
But, just to pick up on something else you mentioned — escapism is important. So is imagination. I was telling Kyle the other night, my imagination — which very much was fueled by comic books — was so important, growing up. Believing the impossible, to be possible? It’s so important. Especially when you grow up somewhere or in a situation, that’s not ideal.
CW: Lance, you talk about The Trap as allegory for the systems put in place that make it difficult to escape poverty, particularly for people of color in the United States. This all feels very connected to the widespread social justice movements sweeping professional sports and the entire nation right now. Could you speak to your feelings on the current state of the NFL and your feelings on the connection that might have with the book?
LANCE: I think that most athletes, in the world, a lot of them come from less than ideal situations. But, there’s no bias or designation for talent — you’re either born with it, or you’re able to learn it, and you have the ability to display it during your life. But there’s no rules on race, gender, ethnicity or creed. If you have it, you have it. And that’s a beautiful aspect of sports. Especially at a high level.
CW: Along a similar line of thinking, Kyle, what is it like working on a project with such obvious and strong social resonance as The Trap? Is it a story you and Lance share or is this journey more of a learning process for you?
KYLE: I feel both incredibly honored and humbled. It’s always a learning process for me. I don’t have the same life experiences as Lance — but, regardless of being a writer — asking questions, listening, and considering different perspectives and other people’s life experiences, I think, is incredibly important. As a human being.
CW: Lance, for me [Mike “Scoop” Eakins], being a life-long Chicago Bears fan, the defense during your time at Soldier Field seemed superhuman at times. Did you ever find yourself drawing inspiration from superheroes, a certain comic, or a comic event while on the field?
LANCE: I wouldn’t say I was ever “inspired” by superheroes while I was on the field, but I do think it’s a fun game to look at the way I played the game and equate that with different superheroes. The strength of the Hulk, smoothness of the Silver Surfer, the viciousness of Darkness and Wolverine, and of course, the strategy of someone like Batman.
And there you have it! Enjoy these preview pages and creator Biocards and make sure you head over to Kickstarter.com to back this monunmental project!
Being Human: A Conversation with Lance Briggs and Kyle Higgins
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