We Talk “IF” With Alterna Comics – Part 1

Nicholas Bennett Nicholas Bennett
September 10th, 2015

We Talk “IF” With Alterna Comics – Part 1

We at ComiConverse are pleased to present to you a series of Q&A's with some of the many diverse voices from the upcoming science fiction themed anthology by Alterna Comics - IF.

Started by Peter Simetti, Alterna Comics offers a unique platform for writers to write in the short-form and present their unique ideas. While one of the big lines in IF says "there are no questions, only answers", we hope to do a little bit of both in these posts.

Below are a series of back and forths with some of the creators, who give their take on science fiction and the many questions that are arising in the genre as a whole.

More of these exchanges will be posted in the coming weeks.

You can check out their  for this project for more information:

You can also visit Alterna Comics and get your copy of the series.

Nick Bennett for ComiConverse:

I am starting with you Glenn Matchett's story because of the fact that Love by Numbers was chosen as the cover of IF and it depicts an assembly line of robots. Whether it is by coincidence or design, all of you have written stories that deal with the concept of identity in some way. It seems to be the overarching theme of the anthology in fact.

The cover of the anthology perfectly plays into that, as well at the title. Love and Numbers are such antithetical concepts. Yet, you find a way to reconcile them in the character of 915. 915 even says "Humans are so fragile. So much life in them that wants to escape." In reality though, 915 is referring to itself.

Why do you think that science fiction has become the predominant domain for exploring questions of humanity and identity?

The obvious answer would be that we can use robots to explore humanity in a new light. Do you think there is more to this choice though?

Dino Caruso, author of Smash Atom and the Arachnid Assignment:

I wonder if every story (not just science fiction) is, in reality, a way to explore our humanity and identity...

However, specific to science fiction, I think that when the setting is far different from what we perceive as "normal", it allows us to view the story and the "search for identity" through a far more objective lens than the one we use in our everyday lives. I think we're able to inject ourselves into the story...to put ourselves in the place of the protagonist...when we can say to ourselves "oh, it's not real...it's got robots and aliens and stuff in it". And I think that allows us to sympathize with what the characters are going through, and how it can apply to our own lives.

Maybe if the story is too true to life, and we recognize the grocery store, the microwave oven, the taxi cab...we use a subjective lens and we're not able to empathize with the characters in quite the same way.

I think it's kind of the same reason why Star Trek is able to comment on so many social issues, because they're "hidden" in the genre and the audience can interact with them in an objective way.

Alex Eckman-Lawn, author of Moon:

Yeah, science fiction offers a sort of high contrast version of our lives that can make it easier for a reader to accept radical ideas. If you tell a story about the complicated ethical implications of drone strikes, it might feel too close, too emotionally charged, too specific. If you do a story about AI controlled patrol ships destroying apposing colonies, you can approach the same topic, tell the same story, but taken to its natural extreme without the knee-jerk reaction.

Right now, our world is defined more than anything else by the technology we interact with almost every minute of the day. I'm 30 years old and i've already seen enormous changes in the way i live my life, even just in the last ten years. I think we're reaching a point where it's hard not to wonder where this is all headed. The short version is, science fiction is becoming more relevant every year, as our lives are starting to resemble the science fiction we grew up with. Basically, now that the hover-board exists, we're living in Marty Mcfly's future. It almost feels like we can create the future by dreaming it up right now.

Glenn Matchett, author of Love By Numbers:

I think in some ways, science fiction allows us an outside view of ourselves (as in humanity).  We get to look at how we would be as a race where we to encounter this type of technology or this alien race or deal with this fantastical situation.

Sometimes its a little more than that but science-fiction is such a wide genre that it allows a lot for creators to explore how people would act in situations where the only limitation is our imaginations.

I've always been a big fan of robot stories because there's a lot of fantastic ground covered already in things like Terminator and Blade Runner and a lot of other stuff.  Humanity is the creator of robots so like we are a reflection of our creator, robots are a reflection of us.  So it's interesting that in a lot of fictions, stories involving robots take on quite a sinister tone. There are brilliant exceptions of course but the most tried and tested robot tale is one of their creators (ie. us) being doomed by the very things we create, I think there's something very telling about that and science fiction gives us a wonderful place to explore that along with many other fantastical theme's.

Like I said before, its such a rich genre I'm not surprised that its one of the most popular.  Things like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who and many more all fall under this genre and are some of the most successful franchises on the planet.  I think its cause that we can see ourselves in those worlds but at the same time it creates a place where anything is possible and like I said, the only rules are not focused on the 'why' but more on the 'why not.

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Credit: IF by Alterna Comics

Nick Bennett:

Can you tell our audience a little about yourselves and the stories you've published in IF?

Dino Caruso:

Smash Atom and the Arachnid Assignment was illustrated and lettered by George Athanasiou. Smash is a character that George came up with, and I've been thrilled to participate in telling his adventures. George and I have some big plans for Smash and we're eager to unleash this creepy, crawly tale of spider-ific weirdness on the readers of the anthology.

The Initiation was written by me, illustrated by Sam Agro and lettered by Adam Wollet. I've had the pleasure of working with Sam and Adam several times, and I feel that this is a fun story with a memorable character. It'd be great to one day continue the story of Zane, the "hero" of the tale.

Glenn Matchett: 

I'm a comic writer and sometimes editor for Northern Ireland.  I've worked in small press for a number of years, mainly through anthologies both as a writer and the person responsible for putting them together.  In the past I've received strong feedback for my stories and even picked up a nomination or two along the way.

My story, Love By Numbers which has art by Dan Laurer deals with a robot servant having feelings for its female owner.  While wondering about its own state of existence, we see the robots very black and white views towards having feelings for someone and how it perceives humanity in general.  I'm very proud of the story and am very happy with the art Dan did.  We both feel very privileged and honored that the first page of our story was chosen as the cover of the anthology that was such a great thing.

Garrett Sneer, author of Automata

Automata, my contribution to IF, is technically my first comic. I did both the writing and the artwork.

Although I'm a graphic designer by trade, I've always wanted to create my own comics. I jumped at the chance to write something for IF because I felt like it was a good starting point for me.

My latest project is an ongoing web comic called Play Devil's Advocate at playdevilsadvocate.com.

Alex Eckman-Lawn:

I'm Alex Eckman-Lawn, a greasy little dirtball, scumbag illustrator from Philadelphia. I make comics, album covers, and poison water supplies with my spiteful tears.

My story in IF is called Moon and it's a mostly wordless 8-page-short about being late for a very important job.

James Roche, author of Apex War

My Name's James. Writing comics, with the goal of sharing them with more than just the friends who are into them, is something I've been doing for just about four years now. I love it. The whole process is amazing. Everything, from the ideas and pictures in my head going down onto paper in the written word, to the artist bringing it to life and making it far better than any thoughts I could ever have.

When the Apex War breaks out between Humans and Bots sides aren't chosen, they're assigned at creation. At first, the sentient Bots wanted nothing more than their own freedom. In the end, they wanted the planet. It wasn't long before both sides came to the same disturbing conclusion, ‘If we can't have it, no one can'.

When the countdown to destruction begins, a family must sacrifice all they can to get off of the planet-- before it's too late.

We've only just scratched the surface of our dialogue with these amazing science-fiction writers. Check back soon for more of our dialogue with the team from IF, by Alterna Comics.

Nick Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy

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