Join the Future is a thrilling new sci-fi western series from Aftershock Comics set to hit stores March 4th, 2020! From writer Zack Kaplan (LOST CITY EXPLORERS) with art from Piotr Kowalski (Port of Earth, Eclipse, Sex, Marvel Knights: Hulk, The Dark Tower) colors by Brad Simpson (Crone) and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Machine Gun Wizards), the series seeks to examine a future where everyone must ask what your values are truly worth.
This is a truly exciting new series that is already gaining high praise for both it’s compelling story and spectacular visuals. Be sure to add it to your pull list and check out our interview with Zack Kaplan below!
Comic Watch: First off, thank you for taking the time to briefly speak with us about this wonderful new series, Join the Future from Aftershock Comics. Can you give us just a brief history of how this title came to be?
Zack Kaplan: As an avid reader about futurism, specifically what our own country might look like, I became very curious about an ongoing trend of population migration from our rural countryside into the metropolitan areas, and I wondered what would happen to the small towns that are so indicative of American culture. It wasn’t long before I had myself a coming of age Western set in the future about small town ideals in the face of technology dependence and sociological pressure. I pitched the idea to Aftershock Comics, and they went nuts for it. It took a while to find the right art team, but once we discovered dream team Piotr Kowalski and Brad Simpson were available and excited about the project, it was off to the future!
CW: There’s an incredibly interesting duality at play in Join the Future which contrasts a technologically addicted lifestyle with one that is much more traditional. It’s hard not to see the real-world implications of this juxtaposition, but what can you tell us about some of the themes you hope to explore in this series?
ZK: Science fiction often explores the rebellious individual against technologically heavy institution and the pressure of progress and civilization, but so to can Westerns. Think the railroad coming through to displace the cattle rancher or the federal law replacing the small-town sheriff. So in this Venn diagram of sci-fi and western themes, I found the struggles between city and country, future and past, dependency and self-sufficiency, technology and Individuality. It’s the perfect landscape for our heroine (Clementine Libbey) who is holding on to the traditional ideals she’s grown up with in her loyal and loving community. But she’s also an adolescent who has yet to carve her own way and thus she has is torn herself, somewhat interested in the alluring intoxication of that glimmering city in the future. Both the world and our heroine exist in duality.
CW: The worldbuilding from everyone involved including Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou is simply riveting. What was the creative process like going into the project with such a talented team?
ZK: I try to be as expansive and thought out as I can when I develop a story and I put as much detail as I can in the story and the script. The more I can anticipate a question or aspect and clarify it for the world and characters, and put it in the scripts, the more cohesive the vision will be and the easier it will be for the creative art team to do their magic. And here, magic they have done! I always participate as the inks and colors and letters come in, but there is not much to do when dealing with incredible professionals like this. They are all simply at the top of the game and I expect this book to be one of the best artistically of the year.
CW: Join the Future leans heavy into its roots as a both a Sci-Fi and a Western, so what were some of your most influential inspirations for the writing process?
ZK: I played a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2 when developing the story, and I watched lots of classic Westerns, everything from Butch Cassidy to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I found The Mandalorian to be a good influence with its combination of sci-fi and Western tropes. The sci-fi was less important because the story spends more time in the countryside, and it wasn’t really necessary to duplicate any sci-fi style. I did lean heavily on corporate promo videos and airline safety videos to create the city promo we see at the beginning of the comic, which heavily defines the style of the city.
CW: Lastly, without spoiling too much, what are you most excited for fans to see as Join the Future continues?
ZK: It’s a provocative and immerse world, and I think readers will be blown away by it in the first issue, especially the artwork and world-building, but I think the story and our protagonist, Clementine Libbey, both have a ton of heart, and as the series gets going, I expect readers to fall in love with Clementine and really be torn up by some of the challenges she goes through. She’s really tough as nails, a kind of Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen or True Grit’s Mattie Ross, and that makes her delightful to read. I think readers will love her!
There you have it! If that isn’t enough to convince you to pick this exciting new book up, check out our own review of Join the Future #1 here!
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Join Us in The Future: An Interview with Zack Kaplan
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