Metal Made Flesh is a critically acclaimed high-octane comic book series set in a hi-tech cyberpunk world, produced by Subversive Comics. Well regarded for its eye-catching art and addictive storylines, it’s always a pleasure to see new Metal Made Flesh books come out. We caught up with writer Cy Dethan and legendary artist Gary Erskine to find out more about the latest instalment, The Final Piece of Me.
STARBURST: Tell us about your new Metal Made Flesh book.
Cy Dethan: The Final Piece of Me, and by necessity any peripheral story told within Metal Made Flesh, is a tightly-focused snapshot of a galaxy in motion. By taking the workings of a traditionally near-future SF genre and unfolding them into this enormous, war-riven epic, Simeon and Jeremy have built a supermassive vortex of alien politics and universal extinction. Any story told within it, however personal its concerns, needs to reflect that. You're basically picking a single atom from the larger whole and splitting it, then riding the chain reaction outward.
Gary Erskine: I was a fan of the Metal Made Flesh series already so was excited to be a part of this universe. Cy’s script really captured the world perfectly while also allowing for more personal moments with the character and inspired me to push the visuals as much as I could on every page. Simeon’s art is so rich with detail that it played to my strengths and I had a lot of fun working with Cy’s script to push that.
What challenges did you face writing for the MTF world?
CD: It's always a blindfolded tightrope walk when you take on characters and settings that other creators have invested so much of themselves into developing. The trick to it, for me, has always been to lose the pseudo-omniscient "writer's distance" mindset and drench yourself in the world they've created for you. If you can place yourself in the position of an inhabitant of that world, then the stories and characterisations grow organically. Ditch the outsider's "wouldn't it be cool if...?" mentality and instead think, "Here I am. Now what?" I'll also drop in here the fact that working with the amazing Gary Erskine was necessarily an exercise in upping my own game. Gary's a legitimate rock star in comics, and every page he draws offers up new, unexpected opportunities. Creating a story with him is humbling and inspiring at once.
GE: I love the cyberpunked genre very much and always enjoy any opportunity to return to that world. Jeremy and Simeon have already created and established a rich and detailed world in Metal Made Flesh and a host of wonderfully realised and eccentric characters including Izobel. For my part, I try to bring the very best of my game to the story and made sure that there was a level of commitment to the art that complimented Simeon’s work and also allowed me to have fun. Cy’s script also helped tremendously as it had some great scenes and the flashback part of the narrative really helped show a bigger story within the build of a tighter story. The action scenes in particular were great to play with!
Is cyberpunk ever going to go away?
CD: Not while I live... Honestly, the relationships between the gross machinery of our bodies and the intricately fallible software of our consciousness is something that I can't see getting definitively resolved any time soon. As long as there's tension and evolution in the way people and information interact, I think the cyberpunk conversation is always going to be relevant and worth pursuing.
GE: No. The genre is too rich already and open to new interpretations. If anything, it will become more relevant to our current lives with the assimilation of machines/gadgets in our everyday lives. We are so tied to devices now for almost every aspect of our lives that cyberpunk is a closer possible narrative than many will consider.
Why do you love dystopia so much?
CD: Perfection is tedious. Harmony is not my field of expertise. As an unreformed Generation X-er, I'm genetically distrustful of anything resembling an authority structure and so profoundly desensitised that I doubt I'd recognise true inner peace if it were thrashing rabidly in a cage strapped to my face. You call it dystopian nihilism. I call it Tuesday. To-may-to, to-mah-to...
GE: I think a dystopian future is more realistic and expected than a harmonious perfected world. That is not a nihilistic viewpoint but more of a considered acceptance of where we will end up as a species. It is also a prepared position and unlikely to disappoint when it happens. I can’t image a ‘sunshine and lollipops’ future the way we are heading right now politically or socially.
What makes Metal Made Flesh so unique?
CD: Simeon and Jeremy's universe offered a number of very specific and fascinating opportunities when writing The Final Piece of Me. For one thing, as an action-based story it allowed me to combine my enduring love of fast-moving and/or bladed metals with my overwhelming suspicion and resentment of the fragile human(oid) form. More importantly, it was an invitation into a vibrant, vital world and a chance to pry apart some of its most intriguing characters - physically, psychologically and philosophically.
GE: I feel Metal Made Flesh reflects the combination of many great sources and inspirations including film and art: Metal Hurlant, manga like AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell/Appleseed and other Sorayama’s Gynoids. The work that Jeremy and Simeon have done to distil everything into a fully realised and personally individual world is remarkable.
What other projects do you have planned?
CD: Right now I've got a paranormal spy-fi thriller called Phantom Lung & the Garden of Dead Liars in production at Markosia, along with a graphic novel and two one-shots coming from Barry Nugent's Unseen Shadows project. Row Bird and I have a story in the upcoming Bomb Scares anthology from Time Bomb Comics, and I've contributed an angry steampunk short to Adam Cheal's next British Showcase collection (also from Markosia). Loads more in various stages of development, but those are the ones I can talk about in my outside voice at the moment.
GE: My current project is FRONTLINES: Requiem with Ivan Brandon and Yel Zamor. Requiem is a sci-fi limited series based on the FRONTLINES novel series by Marko Kloos and very much in the Starship Troopers mould. Having a lot of fun building the visuals and designs for that world. I then return to my creator-owned project ROLLER GRRRLS based on the roller derby sport and community. Other work on hold for now include Incendiary.US, Zachariah Gunn: Dakota and Island Life. They will be hopefully be developed and then Kickstarted next year.
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