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David Liss on 'Angelica Tomorrow'

215 Ink's "Angelica Tomorrow"
Courtesy David Liss

Writer David Liss (The Spider, Black Panther: The Man Without Fear) is going creator-owned for the first time with his new six-issue series, Angelica Tomorrow. The series features art by Allen Byrns (Broken, The Price), and tells the story of a teenager whose life is changed by an amnesiac cyborg assassin. The first issue is available now on ComiXology for $1.99. Liss was kind enough to sit down for a quick interview on the eve of the book's release.

Reid Kerr: How did the idea for Angelica Tomorrow come about? How did you come to collaborate with Allen Byrns?
David Liss: I’d been wanting to work on a creator-owned project for a while. I had a great meeting with the guys from 215 Ink when I was at New York Comic Con a few years back, and they offered to help connect me with an artists, which can be the most challenging thing for a writer. I spent some time trying to develop a concept I liked, and when I sent it to the publisher they forwarded me samples form perhaps a half dozen artists. I loved Allen’s style, and I thought it was a great fit for the project, so we got to work.

Reid: After working with companies like Marvel and Dynamite, Angelica Tomorrow is your first creator-owned comic. What made you decide to go that route for this book? Does that give you more latitude in what you can do with the story you want to tell?
David: Absolutely. I could tell a story that doesn’t fit in with established genres and take it where I wanted it to go. I love working with established properties and continuities, but there is also a lot of enjoyment to be had in creating something completely new.

Reid: The first issue seems to set the stage nicely for the six-issue series, when you’re doing a miniseries how far in advance do you have the story plotted out?
David: I had the entire story mapped out before I began scripting, but there are always ideas that pop up during the writing that never occurred to you in the outlining phase, so I changed some things – mainly character arcs – along the way.

Reid: Byrns’ artwork is very stylish and dark, after seeing his work on your characters, does that help you define them in your mind? Was that dark feel what you were wanting for the book?
David: I think of it more as atmospheric than dark, but yes, the main cast of characters are all deeply troubled, so I think that’s what drew me to Allen’s style. That said, there’s a lot of humor in the story, and Allen’s art does a great job of conveying the contrasts between the emotional extremes.

Reid: The main characters in the book are high school students, which seems to make the story even darker and more desperate. Is that sense of being an outcast something you had in school?
David: Of all the non-autobiographical stories I’ve ever written, this one may be the most non-autobiographical, but I think all teenagers feel alienated and misunderstood. I like writing about high school students for that reason, but also because they are nearly adult in their thinking and emotions, but so limited in their options. Most high school students have limited financial resources and freedom, and they are bound by the inflexible rules of an institution that conscribes their movements for much of the day. High schools, like any place that has rules and limitations, is a great setting for just about any kind of story.

Reid: You’re writing comics, you’ve got a new novel coming out, and your book series “A Conspiracy of Paper” is in development by Sony's TriStar division as a TV series. Seems like a busy schedule for you, how do you decide which projects to take on these days?
David: I’ve always tried to pursue projects that I’m genuinely interested in and can have fun with. I have, for example, a middle grade science fiction novel coming out next year which is essentially a love letter to the movies, television shows, novels, and games I’ve always enjoyed. I can’t believe I get paid to do this stuff!

Reid: What’s next for you?
David: My novel The Day of Atonement comes out in September. Then, next summer, the book I just mentioned, Randoms¸comes out. I’m currently working on the sequel to that as well as my next adult novel and finishing up the script for my first graphic novel.

-- Reid Kerr really enjoyed Liss' The Spider.