Ales Kot is a name that comics readers are getting to know better and better; from his breakout hit Wild Children to Change to Suicide Squad, he's been impressing critics and readers since he first appeared on the scene, earning comics' “Rookie of the Year” title from USA Today. I had some time to chat with him about Zero, his upcoming ongoing series for Image, as well as what's coming afterward.
David Fairbanks for Comics Bulletin: One thing that struck me as interesting about Zero from the start was your intent to tell different kinds of stories with different artists. It felt right in line with a character like James Bond, who has been portrayed by many actors over the years. Was this part of the plan when coming up with the idea for Zero Do you find that this approach gives you any advantages over the more traditional partnership of writer and artist on a comic?
Ales Kot: To answer the first question first: yes.
The approach…I am not sure whether it gives me something “over” something else, nor do I want to frame my answer that way. What this approach does give me is an exploration where the style/content (a false dichotomy) is so varied that it continuously influences the way I construct the story not only via one continuous thread (myself), but also via multiple threads that are joining in – the artists, the colorist (Jordie Bellaire), the letterer (Clayton Cowles), the designer (Tom Muller). The process is a bit like a Jackson Pollock painting or like layering an ambient/drone song.
It's also pure fun. I like fun.
CB: You've mentioned that you have every intention of Zero being an ongoing series, with the story arc of Edward Zero spanning 20 years; can we assume you've got an endgame planned out for varying lengths of the story? Could you see yourself writing Zero for as long as some of Image's other ongoings?
Kot: I have an endgame planned; how I get there is another thing entirely. I am keeping things fluid. There are signposts along the way that I want to hit, and I have a larger outline. It morphs continuously.
I want to write Zero for 35-40 issues.
CB: I know that the plan is to keep switching up artists for the book, but could you ever see an artist handling multiple issues, perhaps either as a flashback to a certain headspace for Edward Zero or in some other thematic way, or should we expect this to be a book where an artist does their 20-ish pages and doesn't return?
Kot: Yes, there is a chance that the entire second half of the comic will go with one artist only. What happens around the middle supports the approach; things will become clearer as we get closer.
CB: Zero is something of a rare breed of secret agent, the kind we tend not to hear stories about despite likely being far more integral to espionage than your James Bonds or Casanova Quinns. This feels like a pretty fertile playground, and while I think most of us would rather wait and see what's in store rather than get a play by play of the series, do you have any hints as to what we kinds of stories our readers can expect?
Kot: Sure thing, I'll give you some hints:
Hint #1: What if the best secret agent in the world realized The Agency he works for is rotten to its core?
Hint #2: What does the man in Rio know?
Hint #3: What happened to Zero in Belfast when he was nine years old?
Issue #1: Palestine. Zero enters a fight situation between two bio-modified soldiers. One of them has stolen Agency tech in his chest. The tech is not supposed to exist. How does Zero retrieve it?
Issue #2: China. Kickstarter for terrorists. Also: Mina.
Issue #3: Brazil. Carlyle, a.k.a. the man in Rio.
Issue #4: Belfast. Zero is nine years old and this is supposed to be his first kill.
Zero is a speculative fiction action thriller.
CB: While it feels like there could be a bit of an overlap between some general ideas and themes that could show up in Zero and your unfortunately short-lived Suicide Squad run, you've been pretty good about jumping between a range of genres in the medium. Since I've been a fan of what you've done so far, I don't feel as greedy as I probably should in asking you "what's next?" despite Zero not even hitting the stands yet.
Kot: What's next…as in after Zero #1 goes to print? I'd like to kiss this girl I know. Hold her for a while. Talk a lot. Stare at the sky. Walk around and discover things. Make more comics, too.