Not long ago I was given the treat of being introduced to Eddie Sharam’s Road. I admit, at first I was a bit apprehensive at the thought of a series called “Road”. I feared it to be a Fast and the Furious comic, but what I got was much more than a lame racing comic. Road is a thrill ride of a series, one that screams “MOVIE!” at you as you make your way through the ever more exciting pages. The story and structure are well rounded and solid, which are only complimented by Sharam’s artwork. This series also made my Top 5 of ’09 as can been seen here.
If you haven’t experienced Road yet, it is a must.
I recently caught up with Eddie to chat about his history, his affinity for comics, and the webcomic we call Road.
-Alex Rodrik, Editor of Features and Interviews
Alex Rodrik: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Eddie Sharam?
Eddie Sharam: Who indeed! I think I have yet to work that one out myself. Basically I’ve always liked drawing and creating better than anything else. I’ve worked mainly in the videogame industry creating worlds and characters and bringing them to life. Along the way I’ve also illustrated some books, and in the comics world, I’ve co-created and drawn stories in Heavy Metal magazine and in anthologies like Event Horizon. But the biggest comic project that I’ve worked on is Road for DC’s Zuda webcomics imprint. That story has become something special to work on, and at over 100 pages and counting, it feels like it could be an epic tale.
AR: What drew you to comics?
ES: I guess it was from watching 80’s cartoons when I was a kid, then picking up the comics that related to them, like Action Force (G.I. Joe) and Transformers comics. That led to discovering the American superhero stuff, like Spidey, X-men and Batman. I also liked European works like TinTin and Asterix. I basically read anything I could find, which was mostly random collections, re-prints and issues from many different companies. I remember having a book of the [Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles first half-dozen black and white issues, which I thought was pretty good. And a paperback novel sized book which had Amazing Spider-man issues 7 to 13. I didn’t know they were very old stories. I just liked them. I think the UK had no discernable plan as to what they reprinted. Then when I got hooked reading comics I never really stopped. There were times over the years when I didn’t read many comics, but I always kept some level of involvement.
AR: Road, is one helluva ride. Tell us a bit about the series.
ES: The Synopsis for the series is:
Felix is a ‘Pilgrim of the Road’. In this world there is one road grander than all others and it runs possibly forever in length. No one knows if the Earth is no longer a sphere, or if it has just increased massively in size. All that is known is that there is a road with populated cities and settlements along it that you can travel down your whole life and it will never end or repeat. Once there was no road like this and the world was a nice small manageable place.
The Pilgrims of the Road are a group devoted to finding the Source or Terminus of the Road, and they travel down the Road for their entire lives. When they die, each Pilgrim passes the task on to one of their sons or daughters and then they travel the Road. Chosen Pilgrim families have the knowledge of their ancestors stored in an AI implanted into their skulls. These are ancient artifacts passed through the generations, designed to accumulate knowledge of the Road and aid the current Pilgrim’s progress by supplying information from past experiences.
We join Felix as he’s readying to leave a city to join the Road again, but this time he’s cutting all ties with the Pilgrims. He is one of the Chosen with an AI in his forehead. The Pilgrims are unlikely to let him leave freely without his obedience to their cause assured. Felix is on the run from his fellow Pilgrims and assorted city low-lives while trying to get out of the city and further down the Road.
AR: What inspired Road?
ES: Road was a story I had been planning to do for a few years, but never had the impetus to actually start drawing that first page. It is the comic I wanted to read, that didn’t exist.
I’ve always enjoyed dystopian science fiction, as it just seems to fit. Maybe I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe in happy peaceful futures. Someone’s bound to stuff it up somewhere along the line. Road is the tale of a world with something very wrong with it.
On the other hand, inspiration for Road could be as simple as the fact that I have a very long drive each day to the studio I work at, so the idea of an endless road doesn’t seem that unreal to me!
AR: How did Road get to Zuda? When did you decide that Road would be a webcomic?
ES: A friend of mine pointed out to me Zuda’s existence and said I should do something for it. So I thought it was high time to try and tell Road. And here we are nearly 110 pages later, telling that story. And a great thing about webcomics is the almost instant feedback from the readers. I do read it all and enjoy the interaction on the comments thread about the latest pages.
AR: Where did the names Galen and Kyde originate from? Do they have a deep rooted meaning?
ES: The name for the character Galen came from a dim and distant memory of a history lesson. Galen being one of the most important people in the early history of medicine, his drive and determination to try and understand the human body even though most of his experiments and ideas caused outrage at the time seemed to fit our character perfectly. Themes of discovery versus blind loyalty and obedience are central conflicts throughout Road. Catalyst characters like Felix and Galen are interesting as they try and push the boundaries of what’s accepted as unchallengeable facts.
I don’t really have anything to say about Kyde. He says enough himself. :o)
AR: Who are some of your biggest influences as both a writer and artist?
ES: Influences, hmmm, I’d say just about everything and everyone who I come into contact with influences me to some extent. I find writing and art are as much about your mental state of mind at the time you’re doing them, as anything else. Which is strange doing Road, as it is an ongoing comic series, so you do the art and writing over a long period of time and so your mood, state of mind, taste and perception, change over that time. As long as t
he concept itself is strong enough, none of that should matter.
In terms of writers I like, I think William Gibson and Frank Herbert both have left their mark on how I approach Road. In comics, two big books that impacted me greatly when I read them were Watchmen and Akira.
As for artists, I like too many to mention. Anyone who can put lines down and convince me their world is real.
AR: They say that every writer places one character in the mix that they speak through. What character is that for you? Which do you relate to most?
ES: I find all the characters now seem to write themselves without much intervention from me or my co-scripter Jamie Woodhead. It’s more the case of, “No, they wouldn’t say or do that, they’d say this”. Which makes things easier, as they all do what they like without wanting direction from me. As to what characters I like, that changes too. There was one character I was sure would die, who somehow didn’t, and I quite like them now. Other characters I have liked, then gone off of. I tend to like whomever I’m drawing a scene with, then go off them when I haven’t dealt with them for a while. But basically I don’t put any character in the story that I don’t like, why would I?
AR: Can you give us any hints (without spoiling anything) of what’s to come for Road?
ES: That’s a hard question. There are some plans for Miah that are sounding quite cool, that we’re trying to hammer out now. And Felix and Kyde . . . nah I won’t say. ;o)
AR: Are there any other titles our readers should look out for coming from you in 2010?
ES: I think I’ll be busy with Road for the moment. Hopefully a print collection might be in the cards for it at some point. But I’ve committed to squeezing in doing a short story in a British anthology comic called Smartbomb which should be out before the end of the year. Not sure what the story will be yet.
AR: Anything else you want to get out there?
ES: Well, I’m currently creating artwork for a big exhibition telling the story of the Roman invasions of Britain, that’ll be touring museums in the UK for the next 2 ½ years. So if you live in the UK keep an eye out for it and you might learn something about your roman ancestors.
Other than that, take a look at Road at http://www.zudacomics.com/road — there’re over 100 pages up to read and it’s updated with new pages every Monday.
Drop a comment if you like and let’s hear your thoughts on it.