Science fiction is a genre inwhich Image Comics appears to be making a run at as of late with the recent release of PORT OF EARTH (from Image/Top Cow) and VOID TRIP, plus Feburary 2018’s VS has been gaining some chatter. The next title to premiere is a mind-blowing series that is visually intoxicating entitled PARADISO.
Writer Ram V (Grafity’s Wall, Black Mumba), artist Dev Pramanik (Nightbloom, Black Mumba), colorist Dearbhla Kelly (James Bond: Moneypenny), and letterer Aditya Bidikar (MOTOR CRUSH, Black Mumba) have teamed up for the mind-bending science fiction tale PARADISO this December and this is a MUST for your pull list!
PopCultHQ had the privilege in interviewing Ram, Dev, Dearbhla, and Aditya to talk about their hot upcoming release. Check out the covers and synopsis of the title, hear the team speak on their love for science fiction, the challenges they face, and gain some insight on this living world that is PARADISO!
Available: December 6, 2017
Digital : $3.99
A cataclysmic event, now remembered only as ‘The Midnight’, led to the collapse of civilization. Now, centuries after, the remnant of a mega-city named Paradiso, is the only place on earth where humanity still thrives. When Jack Kryznan arrives at the outskirts with a mysterious device capable of bringing dead technology to life, his arrival sets off a power struggle that threatens to embroil the human settlers, bionic creatures known as Guardians and Paradiso herself. Jack and his companions will begin their journey of self-discovery through this living city even as the city itself strives to understand what it means to be alive.
PopCultHQ Creator Spotlight:
Ram V, Dev Pramanik, Dearbhla Kelly & Aditya Bidikar of
PARADISO from Image Comics
PopCultHQ: Ram, what can you tell us about “The Midnight Event” and its significance to PARADISO?
Ram Venkatesan: Without giving away spoilers, The Midnight Event fundamentally changed humanity’s relationship with technology and so for a largely technology based society, it changed the world. It was meant to be the culmination of humanity’s technological endeavors. Something that brought all of us together. But we reached beyond the boundaries of what we understood and in a single violent moment, all technology turned on us. From your average toaster to Nukes raining down from the sky. It was also the moment at PARADISO, the city, seemingly came to life.
Our story occurs centuries after the midnight event. The loss of life was on a scale that is impossible to comprehend. Most technology is burned out and defunct. With the majority of the worlds technical minds all gone, the knowledge required to sustain the level of progress that had been achieved was missing and with the generations that passed, our understanding of technology went backward. That makes for a very interesting world. Where the remnants of future tech exist but humanity no longer knows how to use it.
We’ll get a little snippet of the Midnight Event in issue 2. But to know just how deeply impactful it was, you’ll have to read pretty deep into the series!
PopCultHQ: Jack Kryznan is the character at the forefront of PARADISO, but you’ve also stated it’s based on “the idea of a city trying to understand its place in the world by understanding those who live within it.” Is there a much bigger narrative at play in your sci-fi epic?
Ram: Yes, following on from the previous answer. Arc 1 is scratching the surface of a much bigger, much more intricate narrative. PARADISO, the city, is very much alive. But what does that mean? Her idea of ‘alive’ comes only from the human idea of life and hell and can humanity really claim to understand what that means? What does it mean to live, to survive, to love, to die, to mourn. If one does not know these things, can they claim to be truly alive? Especially a near immortal thing like a city? These are the idea that we’ll touch on through the story. But they’re thematic ideas, bubbling beneath the surface.
That’s not to say that PARADISO is outwardly a rumination on these things. It is an entertaining adventure story. In the arcs to come there will be space vampires, sirens singing to wandering adventurers, robot battles, hallucinatory story arcs and so much more. I cannot begin to express how excited I am to unfurl all of this!
Devmalya Pramanik: The main thing I wanted to express from the moment Ram came to me with the idea/ pitch was the scale of Paradiso. I wanted Paradiso to be expansive and yet have a soul, have a personality. Building blocks for its characters. That’s what I have been attempting to bring out ever since my first lines on Paradiso. And it not only applied to Paradiso but the places around it, the characters in it.
PopCultHQ: What are you most excited about creating/exploring for this dystopian landscape?
Dev: Discussing with Ram, we have decided to have some very distinctive looks for every arc of the story. So, I am pretty excited to design and work on the different facets of Paradiso herself. I’m excited to draw the chemistry between the characters as they go on their journey. And I’m really excited to draw robots fighting each other and also space vampires. I mean, who wouldn’t be? But on a more serious note, just designing every single character is fun in Paradiso, to imagine and randomize their attire, give them attributes based on the kind of world they live in. I’ve always had a soft spot for scavenged tech, and Paradiso lets me explore that fully.
PopCultHQ: You’ve worked on titles across numerous genres. Along with PARDISO, you’re working on another sci-fi series at Image with VOID TRIP, as well as February 2018’s VS by Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribić. Do you approach sci-fi titles differently with which tools you plan to employ? What is it that you try to add and bring out of the genre?
Aditya Bidikar: As a letterer, more than the genre, it is the art style that I’m reacting to. A slick sci-fi book requires a very different approach from a grimy, gritty book. The genre definitely influences individual elements (such as, say, electric balloons or, as with PARADISO, thinking cities and little robots that come to life), but the overall lettering style definitely depends more on the art style and the mood and tone of the book than on genre. So for PARADISO, based on the textures that Dev, Alex and Dearbhla brought to the art, I want you think much more of early-90s Vertigo comics than of other sci-fi comics.
Aditya: The style for lettering Paradiso’s lines was something went through a few revisions. At first I’d approached it more like a generic monster, but as Ram and I continued talking about the book, Ram let me know how he imagined Paradiso’s thoughts would feel, and by that time, Dearbhla had worked in the circuit motif in her production design, so we tried a few things in that direction, until we reached what we have now. What we want you to feel when you hear Paradiso speaking is an alien central intelligence with these tendrils emanating from it, which is how it perceives the world and communicates with it.
PopCultHQ: (Hope this doesn’t sound crazy) I’ve known and met a number of artists across a number of mediums and most I know, who work with colors, have always expressed the energy and quite possibly the spiritual nature of colors. In coloring PARADISO, is there an energy or set of emotions you’ve tried to express based off your work?
Dearbhla Kelly: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked about the spiritual nature of my colours! With Paradiso the colouring style is very painterly so I think in a way the process itself is very expressive and can be really meditative for me. I try to approach it the same way I would have done traditional painting in the past which means a lot of the energy is in the brushstrokes themselves, whether they’re long and measured or short and quick – it’s digital but the rhythm of painting is the same for me as working traditionally (if less messy). Dev’s inks have this furious energy to them at times and I try to match pace with that where possible. The specific range of emotions depends very much on the scene, but I think in general in Paradiso there’s a sense of the mood being a little strange, a little off, so the colours are also a little offbeat to reflect that.
PopCultHQ: What aspect or component of PARADISO are you enjoying most in coloring? Is it a character, the landscape, or the city itself?
Dearbhla: This is a hard question to answer because there’s lots to love in colouring this comic. There’s definitely certain characters I get really excited to see turn up in the scripts, the slightly weirder characters like Hazard or Honeybad. I think at one point I actually texted Ram because I was delighted to be colouring Honeybad and Dandy again when they hadn’t shown up for a few pages. I get a kick out of colouring the little quirks that come with each character like Jack’s red scarf or Honeybad’s glasses – it kind of feels like getting to know each individual character. Dev also has this great way of inking clouds and open skies, and every colourist I know loves to colour a good sunset.
PopCultHQ: What is the most challenging aspect for you as a creator on PARADISO?
Ram: Balance. Stories like these need a lot of balance. There is so much going on behind every panel and each scene. There are interesting concepts and it’s easy to get lost in that. Explaining all the science or the amazing world that we’re building. But turning up the volume on that too much will drown out the story of the characters. And that’s why people read stories. Because they’re interested in knowing what happens to characters that they care about. The most amazing world or premise will mean very little if you don’t have a reason to care. And so, striking that balance, for me, is the most important thing as a creator.
Dev: Well, for me the most challenging part is the buildings. I always stress out when I’m making buildings because I have this tendency to overthink a lot. But buildings are easier if you have a very basic idea of what structures look like and knowing where things go. Although I practiced drawing cityscapes a lot before I started on Paradiso, I still get nervous about buildings. I also stress a lot about vehicles and to make them look good and the way they should in a post-apocalyptic world with diminished resources.
Dearbhla: Well a book about a city naturally features a lot of buildings! Before Paradiso I’d coloured buildings but not quite in these numbers, so for me that was the initial challenge – finding the right level of detail and light and mood to bring a city to life and really trying to give the city its own personality and texture. Alex Sollazzo did some great work on the opening pages so I was able to use that as a starting point and then find my own rhythm with it. There’s also been some great creative challenges you’ll see in later issues which have resulted in some of my favourite pages – particularly in Issue 3 where we experiment a little more and Aditya and I really get to work together. It’s a fully collaborative process between writer, artist, letterer and colourist and I think the challenge pays off.
Aditya: The most challenging aspect is also the most fun aspect – trying to keep up with the awesome things my collaborators are doing. As the issues go by, we’re growing more confident in how we work together, so we’re more willing to throw in things for the others to react to. For example, there is an entire sequence in Issue 3 that Ram wrote pretty much because he wanted to see what sort of bizarre requests I was willing to fulfil (and I think it’s ended up some of my most ambitious work). I have a feeling he’s not gonna spare me in the next arc either.
PopCultHQ: Everyone on the creative team seems to have a love for the genre, which will certainly carry over in the pages of PARADISO. What do you love most about science fiction? (What intrigues you, captivates you, fascinates you, etc.)
Ram: I come from a science background. I used to be a chemical engineer. I’ve worked in the industry and spent my share of time in research labs. So sci-fi is an almost natural draw for me. It intrigues me when it’s well done. Peeves me when it’s not. I particularly enjoy combinations of weird fiction and sci-fi or horror and sci-fi.
I’ve been discussing this with studio mate, Dan Watters, recently. And I think more than anything else, it is the use of science fiction as speculation into human nature and behavior that intrigues me. I try to do that with all sci-fi that I write, and I particularly enjoy it with sci-fi that I read.
Dev: I have always had a soft spot for science fiction and horror in my heart. Science fiction because it’s not just cool science stuff (which is pretty damn cool) but also it’s a mask you wear to a masquerade party. It’s not like your face, but the mask you choose, that says something about the kind of person you are. I feel that’s why science fiction captivates me. It’s not like something you know, but the way you want to tell a story with science fiction elements will change depending on the kind of story you want to tell. It’s a great tool not just to showcase some stunning imagery, but also for commentary on a lot of relevant issues. Also, Science fiction lets you imagine a world that’s different than yours, and because of that, it’s a major exercise of imagination, and who doesn’t like a challenging exercise? Every design, every idea I come up with makes me feel like I’m learning something more. Also, “look at this awesome guy with hundreds of lasers on his face” is also a pretty good reason, I think.
Dearbhla: I love science fiction for its ability to show us something about the world we know by taking us to a world we don’t. My favourite kind of sci fi stories are the ones that drop you right into the middle of something and you get to explore and piece together this new place for yourself, and maybe learn something else as you try to figure it out. And no matter how unfamiliar the territory you can always find something at the core of a story to relate to, I think there’s something pretty amazing in that.
Aditya: My favourite thing about science fiction is seeing what the human mind is capable of imagining. We inhabit the world of the present, but we’ve had thousands of pasts, and we’ll have thousands of futures, and I love that people are trying to see how alien these futures could get while remaining fundamentally human. Whether these futures come to be or not is irrelevant as long as they say something to us about ourselves that we hadn’t thought before.
Special thanks to Ram, Dev, Dearbhla and Aditya for taking the time to be interviewed by PopCultHQ.
Be sure to follow the team and Image Comics online to stay up on all the latest on PARADISO and pick up the debut issue on Wednesday, December 6th at your local comic shop and online retailers!
PLUS, you can meet Ram Venkatesan and Dearbhla Kelly on the PARADISO Signing Tour!
Be sure to follow the creative team!
Writer – Ram V
Artist – Devmalya Pramanik
Colorist – Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer – Aditya Bidikar