Generation Gone Interview with Andre Araujo and Ales Kot

This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on June 12, 2017.

Generation Gone is the next high-concept, socially aware, sci-fi series from Image Comics. It tells the story of three young people trying to escape the rat race of day jobs and a scientist who shatters the boundaries of what humans can do. Their stories quickly merge to explore themes of technology, unintended consequences and the superhuman in a comic that is equally explosive and thoughtful.

What sets Generation Gone apart from similar series is the maddeningly talented creators behind the book. Writer Ales Kot and artist André Araújo have united to tell this ongoing narrative of exploring the future and how human nature will change it. After reading the first issue it is abundantly apparent that this pair is speaking to ideas that transcend the moment. It is a comic that is both aware of now and interested in what comes next.

ComicBook.Com was able to interview both Araújo and Kot about their work on the upcoming series and what they hope to achieve.

ComicBook.Com: You’ve done a lot of work at Marvel on the Spider-Man and Inhumans properties as well as a The Wicked + The Divine one-shot recently. What was the biggest change for you when you began to design the world and story of Generation Gone?

André Araújo: The biggest change is that it’s all up to me, basically. All the designs, all the details, I’m completely free to create it as I see fit. On Marvel comics (or other pre-existing IP) most of it is already defined, from character designs to the places. But when you create your own stories, you are free to design the world and story as you see fit. I already had that pleasure with my previous creator owned book, Man Plus, and it really is a joy from a creative point of view.

ComicBook.Com: As an artist you’ve shown a knack for detailed world building and big, surprising visuals. What element of your work do you expect to surprise readers with in the new series?

Araújo: In this story there is a demand for subtle acting that I’ve never had to deal with before. So I had to employ a lot of care and detail into choreographing those scenes, which depend much more on small gestures and facial expression and demand a lot of precision. There’s a lot of spectacular, big scale action as well, but I’m particularly proud of the quiet moments.

ComicBook.Com: The first issue focuses a great deal on character building. While there are fantastic elements, most of the impactful moments come in quiet moments of conversation. How do you make quiet moments like those feel big?

Araújo: The hardest part in a comic book is always the quiet, subtle moments. It’s relatively easy to draw the big action scenes, the explosions, the fights, the crowds, the city-scapes. But three people having a conversation while having dinner? Dam, that’s tough. As I said above, it’s all about details, about the small things, being precise with gesturing and faces as much as possible, make it suit the dialogue well, and create a good flow with interesting camera angles all the time. Also it helps that Ales wrote very good scenes. With his dialogue there was already a rhythm that made things easier for me.

ComicBook.Com: Along those same lines, there are a couple of sequences that silently detail the lives of the core trio of characters in this first issue. How do you go about deciding on what are the right moments to show them in their “ordinary” lives?

Araújo: I think one of the strong points of Generation Gone is that you get to know deeply know these characters, from a personal level. For me, as an artist, at times it got so close that I felt I was peeking into a stranger’s private life when reading the dialogue and looking at what I had drawn. And I think that’s because we made the right choices about what to show. It always comes down to: what matters to the story. That’s how I decide what is included or not. It’s not math, so how my decision process works is mostly up to my personal preferences and style. But overall, I believe every detail you add to a panel is a chance to give more depth to the story, to show something about the characters and the world. In the same way, every scene is a chance to show character development, and combining both we had the silent scenes which help to show the lives of our characters. They come in a point where you’ve seen enough about them that you don’t need dialogue to follow it, as well as contextualize much of what will be seen throughout the future issues.

ComicBook.Com: Generation Gone is also set in a world not too dissimilar from our own with a few heightened details. How do you go about deciding what to keep and what to alter in order to create that facsimile?

Araújo: Again, it’s all about what fits the story. We serve the story with dialogue, art, color, lettering, design. And that’s always the factor I weigh in when creating it. We let it flow naturally within a world that’s pretty much like ours, but when needed we heighten certain aspects. To give a specific example, the labs/military facilities look a bit more sci-fi-fi, to convey the sense that despite this world looks like ours, there is certain technological development that’s already beyond the one we have in the real world.

ComicBook.Com: When you think about the thematic core of Generation Gone what is it that you find most compelling about the comic as a storyteller and how has that influenced your work?

Araújo: At the core of Generation Gone is the emotional link between characters. That’s what guides their decisions and moves the story forward. So I think that the personal motivations of the characters have influenced me more on this story than on my previous work, and that has been very interesting for me because it forced me to improve my work in relation to acting and emotional range that I’m able to convey to each scene. I believe that, due to it, we ended up with a book that doesn’t disappoint with action and big scale scenes, but also brings some very compelling dramatic scenes.

ComicBook.Com: What about Generation Gone are you most anticipating seeing an audience respond to for the first time in July?

Araújo: The fist impressions will be very interesting to hear. I think that the first issue sets the entire story in different ways than what we’re used to see, so I’m looking forward to see what the reader’s response will be to it.

ComicBook.Com: The last question I’d like to ask is in regards to your collaborator Ales Kot. How did you two first connect on the series and what makes Ales a good storytelling partner for you?

Araújo: The first time I heard directly from Ales was through Tumblr. He wrote me a note saying he loved my work and wanted to do something creator owned together for Image. I was immediately interested, so we started emailing and talking, figuring out what we wanted to do. My suggestions were more abstract, since I wanted the opportunity to work with the sense of scale, by drawing stuff that was intimate as well as large, sprawling scenes. So he suggested an idea about teenagers who find something that gives them superpowers and we quickly agreed with. I think the way he builds characters through dialogue makes his writing special and gives a lot of substance for the script, which is what you want as a storyteller. We also connect well in the sense that we allow each other space to do our own thing, and that is a major point in any writer-artist relationship.

ComicBook.Com: Over the past few years you’ve created a pretty diverse catalog of work. What sets Generation Gone apart in tone and theme?

Ales Kot: Generation Gone is a story of three hacker kids who get superpowers and their lives fall apart just as the military goes after them. It’s SKINS meets UNBREAKABLE and bits of AKIRA and who knows what else, set in the United States of America, pretty much NOW. It’s raw and it’s real and it’s elevated and it goes places that, I believe, will surprise most readers.

ComicBook.Com: You’ve never hidden your politics in public or in your work. Have the events of the past year living in America impacted your conception of what this story will be?

Kot: Completely! One of the characters, for example, deals with the pressures of having two jobs while supporting her mother, who has cancer, both in regards to her treatment and the mortgage on their house. And with a relationship that starts showing signs of something…well, do I really need to say more? If I’m making a story set in the US right now, it’s impossible to not be political. As a matter of fact, it’s always impossible to not be political. Even a refusal to be political is a political statement. And not one that ages well. That, of course, doesn’t mean I have to be didactical or simplistic. I’m not interested in that. What I’m interested in exploring and showing is real people going through extraordinary changes and circumstances. What I’m interested in is exorcism as alchemy.

ComicBook.Com: One significant theme raised in the first issue is the unpredictable impact of technology and the amorality of it. When looking at the current jumps in technology and how they impact us, do you find yourself feeling more optimistic or pessimistic?

Kot: I find myself realistic. What the word means to me is utilizing both logic and emotion to see clearly. Technology is not moral nor immoral; it just is. How we work with it — that’s another question entirely. Is it true we’re losing jobs to automatization and that the technology sector doesn’t seem to have much respect for human rights and life? Sure. Does that mean it’s bad? The second, yes, definitely, but the first, not necessarily — what we need is to find a way for automatization to improve everyone’s lives, and that’s a part of fixing the second bit. The way we are conducting our society, the way the technological growth process is conducted on a large scale, is currently pretty vile, because there’s so much parasitical behavior attached to it. It’s rooted in human greed and human lack of empathy. So we need to change that because we have such potential to do good things, and we’re doing many of them already, there’s just so much ballast to still unlearn and undo in how we live our lives and treat our communities! We need more empathy. We need more listening. We need more open communication. We need less judgment. But the technology and the machines themselves? They are fine.

Though, of course…as we program the machines, they become infected with our own problems. So we could go on.

ComicBook.Com: Generation Gone appears to be brushing up against the superhero genre in some ways. What is it about that genre that continues to draw your attention?

Kot: I mean, I haven’t really done much in the genre, have I? Besides my work at Marvel and the four issues of Suicide Squad, and even that’s a…superhero book by very strange standards? So my sense is this is the first time I’m actually doing something that could be classified as a superhero book where I have full control. Or rather, a superpower book…we’ll see about the hero part.

What drew my attention here was exactly that: I realized I’ve never done a book with superpowers that was truly my own, where I and my collaborators always had the last word. I wanted to see what happens when you find these kids just as they are diving off the edge — and they go through a transformation that makes all of their issues pop times hundred. Can’t do that in a corporate superhero/superpower fiction without risking being held back.

And…I love Ballard, but also, I come from a place with a history of the Second World War, and the commonality between Ballard and the atrocities of that era is seeing who people are when pushed far. The natural consequences of high pressure and fast change. Chaos and order messing with each other. It’s where we find out what we’re really made of, often.

ComicBook.Com: One thing I appreciated about another Image Comics series of yours Material was the inclusion of footnotes recommending additional reading. What books, films, or comics would you recommend to someone after they picked up Generation Gone #1?

Kot: First of all, thank you! Material remains one of my most beloved creations. As for recommendations, let’s say I’d pick one per each medium you mentioned…Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels cycle for books, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank for films, and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira for comics.

ComicBook.Com: What about Generation Gone are you most anticipating seeing an audience respond to for the first time in July?

Kot: Honestly, I’m not anticipating anything. I just hope it connects, you know? But I don’t want to give people a map of how it should connect. That wouldn’t be art. That would be economics.

ComicBook.Com: The last question I’d like to ask is in regards to your collaborator André Lima Araújo. How did you two first connect on the series and what makes André a good storytelling partner for you?

Kot: I reached out to André through Tumblr. I connected with his art a long time ago — ever since I first saw it, I suspect? What caught my eye were the depth, subtlety, directness and playfulness of his lines, and gradually also the quality of his character work, the way he lets characters act. André’s ability to help me connect with characters and convey wide variety of emotions reminds of the great late Steve Dillon, one of my all-time favorite comics artists.

Then it was just a matter of talking and figuring out what project felt right — and we pretty quickly agreed on Generation Gone. It was because of all I described above, plus the sense of influences I could gather from André’s work (Otomo comes to mind), plus my sense that he could pull off any sort of scale — from the most intimate to the largest, most space-y scenes imaginable. And the thing is, he’s even better than I believed he would be.

 

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About chasemagnett

Chase is a mild-mannered finance guy by day and a raving comics fan by night. He has been reading comics for more than half of his life (all 23 years of it). After graduating from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with degrees in Economics and English, he has continued to research comics while writing articles and reviews online. His favorite superhero is Superman and he'll accept no other answers. Don't ask about his favorite comic unless you're ready to spend a day discussing dozens of different titles.
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