Regulation Resistance In AfterShock’s Relay

by Vince Brusio

On the heels of AfterShock Comics’ Relay #0 (JAN180015) which debuts May 5 on this year’s Free Comic Book Day, Relay #1 (MAY181312) by Zac Thomson picks up from the zero issue and shows what happens when you don’t question authority or think for yourself. Ultimately, you get stuck in the wheels of complacency, and you’re regarded as just another disposable door knob. But if everyone has a job, who cares, right? Zac Thompson cares, and in this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview he hints at what humanity loses when it gives up passion for prosperity.

Relay #1 (MAY181312) is in comic shops July 11.

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Vince Brusio: Tell us about the Galactic Relay. Its mission statement is to culturally unify every planet under one inclusive umbrella. That is a huge undertaking, and implies a governmental structure far beyond what we already have in place at Washington DC. So give us the grand tour. Who or what pulls the levers of power in the Galactic Relay?

Zac Thompson: The Galactic Relay employs thousands of people per every Monolith. Some larger planets need multiple monoliths to govern while others only need one. The internal machinations of the Relay are elusive even to those working for the structure. We pick up at a time where the Relay is taken for granted. It’s this huge imposing structure that many have forgotten about. Those who oppose The Relay and its rules are present and their numbers are growing but for most citizens of Earth - no one really questions this massive governing building. Their bred into complacency with every advantage one could have. I can’t tell you what’s inside The Relay or how it all works but rest assured you’ll get inside come issue #3 and you’ll get answers.

Vince Brusio: The Relay is also said to have its hands on steering the ship so that all ideas, technology, and progress are inspired towards conformity. Meaning, everything in the end serves the goals of the state. Correct? Sounds like communism. Yes?

Zac Thompson: Communism isn’t a bad reference point, for sure. Everything in the end benefits the Galactic Relay. Like a virus, it’s determined to spread and adopt more cultures as it does. It wants synonymous thinking across the cosmos and has established very firm rules for how people can contribute. There is no room for anything but order and compliance within the Relay system. 400 years after its taken root in Earth, the planet is prospering, interstellar travel is thriving, the environment has been saved but in the process some things have been perverted. Art, music, free expression… those are things people have seemingly forgotten about. In true Philip K. Dick fashion the massive operating system that guides the cosmos may have a few secrets and has been doctoring reality a lot more than people think.

Vince Brusio: Jad Carter. Who is he? An underdog? A reluctant foot soldier? Let us smell the soul beneath the skin. Educate us about his place in the wheel of conformity. Does he see it as chaos? Confusion? Or constraint without consent?

Zac Thompson: Jad Carter is an idealist. He truly does believe in the Relay system and although he was born into it, he sees it as a necessary guiding force on Earth. In many ways, the Relay, and the stories around it give Jad’s life purpose. He’s a company man who’s been doing grunt work for The Relay for years. He’s worked his way up into a leadership position and guides a small team. He sees the Monolith as clarity, as truth, and he is nothing more than an emissary educating and enlightening those who have yet to experience The Relay. He’s surrounded by others who constantly call his belief system into question but he is steadfast in his ideology. That is until something happens to his belief system… something he can’t reconcile.

Vince Brusio: What was it about the writings of Philip K Dick that left scars on your scalp? What ideas or insights cut the deepest?

Zac Thompson: Philip K Dick is one of those writers who has seemingly left a scar on the scalp of every single writer out there. The true measure of his influence is perhaps too difficult to gauge. However, it’s his constant use of psychedelia and the elusive nature of human perception that I’m most drawn to. Dick’s stories are often cerebral looks at how humans make errors in judgement or how reality is nothing more than a construct. He makes us confront and deconstruct the things within our society that keep everyone agreeing on what’s right and true. By upending the status quo, he then puts in the shoes of a protagonist who struggles with this ultimate truth. Which is a really long-winded way of saying that he showed me that science fiction can be challenging and trippy at the same time. That what we consider madness could just as easily be enlightenment and the best science fiction stories walk that line.

Vince Brusio: What’s it like to work with Andy Clark and Dan Brown on this book? Has their artwork ever made you change any of the narrative, or tweak anyone’s dialogue?

Zac Thompson: Working with Andy Clark and Dan Brown is honestly a dream come true. Working with Andy has been incredibly fulfilling because I’ve been a fan of his work for years, but he’s also brought me in on designs and world-building every step of the way. The result has been an incredibly intimate process where each page exceeds my wildest dreams. Andy is a phenomenal storyteller and I’m a very detailed scripter. I was afraid when we first started collaborating that I came on too strong, but Andy loves the detail. The world is richer for it. Dan is able to accentuate Andy’s work unlike anyone else. They’re an absolute dream team together. Dan has been doing some really incredible subtle details on the book that I can’t wait for people to see. And yeah, I’m one of those writers who tweaks dialogue as the art comes in. I do a full dialogue pass every time I get the art back. It’s always better for it. Most times Andy’s art can say a whole lot more in a single expression than I can with a paragraph of dialogue.

 

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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