INTERVIEW: Michael Gordon is Transdimensional

One of the coolest things about living in the 21st Century is the way in which artistic patronage has again become popular. This means through websites like Kickstarter or Patreon I can directly support projects I find interesting from creators I like.  So in the past few years I have found new projects from beloved creators, reprints of old comics I missed the first time around and, most exciting of all, new creators doing fantastic new work ! One such creator is Michael Gordon, writer of the Transdimensional series. The first issue was successful on Kickstarter last year, and the second issue is now available to be backed. We had the pleasure of speaking to Michael about Transdimensional, the importance of strong characters and the  emotional powder-keg caused by distrust.  

Geek Syndicate (GS): What is the elevator pitch for Transdimensional  ?

Michael Gordon (MG): Transdimensional is a four-issue sci-fi/horror miniseries, in the vein of Alien, The Abyss and Scott Snyder/Sean Murphy’s The Wake. The story focusses on Deacon Price, an emotionally broken underwater archaeologist who charters an expedition, under false pretences, to a downed Soviet submarine that’s been missing for decades. What he and his crew find there will not only put their lives at risk, but also the lives of everyone they’ve ever known!

GS: What are the inspirations for the overall story ofTransdimensional and the character of Deacon Price ? 

MG: The initial inspiration for Transdimensional, the kernel of an idea that got me started, is actually pretty predictable and mundane; I wanted to write my own version of something like Alien. Now, in the last four decades, imitations of Alien or stories that are inspired by Alien have become pretty damn commonplace, so thank the comics Gods that my lovely wife actually suggested setting the story underwater, as opposed to space!

I then wrote a short six-page comic script entitled Thalassophobia (which is defined as an ‘intense fear of the sea’), in which a scientist named Deacon is chased through a submarine by some sort of creature. I was super lucky that a wonderful Italian artist named Federico De Luca (who you will recognise as the cover artist of Transdimensional) wanted to draw the short for his portfolio. It turned out really well, and was included in an anthology graphic novel (my first published work) in 2015.

After the short was published, I found I couldn’t stop myself thinking about Deacon Price. How did he end up on that submarine being hunted down by that awful creature? Who was his fellow scientist Grace, who met a sticky end?

Pretty soon I had worked up an outline for Thalassophobia as a four-issue miniseries, and this outline (thankfully) bore very little resemblance to Alien. I was able to make it my own thing, and in late 2016 I pitched the story to TPub Comics at a convention. Then the real work began (starting with a title change, although I did manage to include a reference to the word ‘thalassophobia’ in #1)!

 

GS: I enjoyed the relationships you set up in #1, and the way layers of relationships were introduced.  What made it important to you that you built up the characters in this way ? Did you do this so you could toy with our emotions ?!

MG: I have a feeling that most writers will say something very similar when it comes to characters in their stories: compelling characters are THE most important aspects of any story. At a very simple level, if a reader is reading a comic book and they don’t care about any of the characters, they won’t ultimately care about the story. It’ll just be consumed in 10 minutes and then immediately forgotten about. This is especially apparent in a genre like horror comics. If I hadn’t made any effort to present Deacon and his crew as well-rounded, interesting characters with secret motivations and complicated inter-personal relationships, why would anyone read further than #1 (other than to gawp at Henrique Pereira and Jan Wijngaard’s brilliant artwork)?

I want people to be intrigued by Deacon and his story, and to empathise with his plight, so it’s really awesome to hear that the character work was something you enjoyed about #1. Deacon is a very mixed-up man in this story, and his obsession with finding some way to save his sick daughter Evie is definitely noble. But his methods and the choices he makes that affect the people around him are…not always on the up and up.

GS: The first issue seems to sets up themes of trust and doubt – Deacon in particular is dealing with both self-doubt and a potential lack of trust in a number of areas.  What made you want to explore this theme ? 

MG: I’ve always loved stories with contained settings and a limited amount of characters. That’s what Transdimensional is, in the end: a crew of five people who go deep beneath the waves to explore the wreckage of a mysterious vessel. Any group of people in close quarters, even in real life, will eventually start to get on each others’ nerves. So think how much worse this will be if the group has genuine issues with trust and a ton of simmering resentment? That’s an emotional powder-keg.

Deacon feels like this mission is something of a last chance for him. He and Grace have a very extensive backstory, which will be explored more as the story goes on. He has effectively forced her to come on the mission with him, in some sort of misguided effort to win her back so he can have his happy family again, but Grace doesn’t really trust Deacon or want to be around him anymore. We also find out in #1 that Grace and Coop, Deacon’s best friend and the crew’s engineer, have something going on between them. And it’s strongly hinted that Deacon isn’t being entirely honest with his crew about why they’re going to the L285.

It was important to me to set these elements up in #1, as they will all start to play out as the story continues to ratchet up the tension and scares. Hopefully it heightens the drama!

GS: The ending to #1 set a very grim note and suggests there is a lot more going on under the surface than it initially seems. What can we expect our intrepid crew to face in future issues? 

MG: All manner of horrors! (Laughs)

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to give too much away, but the story does get increasingly dark, intense and harrowing as it goes along. This expedition will NOT turn out well for Deacon, Grace, Coop, Roxanne and McCall.

A hint at what’s to come is in the title, by the way. That’s where the story takes on some sci-fi tones, as well as horror.

 

 

GS: The creative team for the book has quite the international flavour. How did you put together a group from different countries ? Does that make story discussions or editing the comic challenging ? 

MG: I genuinely don’t know how I would’ve gone about putting Transdimensional together without the internet. It has been absolutely invaluable when it comes to finding collaborators. And the crazy thing about it is that, with e-mail and messaging and Dropbox etc, you can put a project together with awesome people from all over the world…and yet never meet each other face to face! That kind of boggles my mind sometimes.

Henrique, our penciller/inker is from Brazil, so initially I was a tad worried that there might be some sort of language barrier, and that we might run into trouble. But it’s turned out great. He’s never told me that he doesn’t understand something in any of my scripts, and always produces EXACTLY what I’ve asked for. It’s really quite incredible. Our e-mail conversations are usually pretty short, but I massively appreciate the fact that he understands English so well. Because, let me tell you, my Portuguese is non-existent!

Jan and Jim Campbell, the letterer, are both from England, and are much more experienced in the industry than I am. So I’ve just tried to soak up as much knowledge from them as possible. The same goes for Neil Gibson, the editor of Transdimensional and publisher of TPub. I can genuinely say that when it comes to the ins and outs of actually getting a comic book made? He’s taught me everything I know.

GS: You have launched a Kickstarter for Transdimensional #2, and there are some great extras. What can lucky backers expect to receive ? 

MG: We have indeed!

Transdimensional #1 did very well on Kickstarter, and I’m proud to say that I delivered ALL backer rewards within the time-frame promised. So anyone that backs #2 can expect the same kind of service!

The backer rewards start off with a simple PDF copy of #2 (the #1 PDF is actually also available through a download link on the #2 campaign page as well).

We then have beautiful signed print versions of #2 on offer, as well as a catch-up option with print versions of #1 and #2. My hope is that some people will read the #1 PDF and then decide they want it in print too. I know I prefer physical copies of my comics.

We have A4 350GSM poster prints of BOTH Federico’s covers for #1 and #2, as well as a spiffy bookmark and set of pin badges. There’s also a black t-shirt, featuring the #2 cover image.

And for any original art fans out there, there are a few pledge levels that get you an original pencil/ink commission drawn by Henrique’s fair hand! He’ll draw you anything you want (within the realms of good taste, of course!).

And finally, I recently announced our first Stretch Goal reward! If/when we reach £1750, EVERY print level backer will receive an A4 Transdimensional print by artist Chris Shehan (Prometheus, Ghost Island: Crossing Over). He’s currently hard at work putting together his piece, and I’m sure it’s going to look incredible.

 

Geek Syndicate would like to thank Michael for his time and great answers !

Find out more at: Kickstarter 

Interviewer: Brett Harris 

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