Neverboy is Shaun Simon, Tyler Jenkins, and Kelly Fitzpatrick’s upcoming miniseries from Dark Horse Comics. The series, written by Simon, is about an imaginary friend that became real and struggles to stay that way. The first issue is due out in comic shops and available through Dark Horse’s digital store March 4th.
Mark Stack for Comics Bulletin: Could you explain just a bit of the premise behind Neverboy?
Shaun Simon: It’s about a former imaginary friend who wanted to stay in the real world after the child that created him tragically died. The way he does this is through drugs and story starts when he is almost out of them.
I never had an imaginary friend growing up but my daughter does. I started thinking about what would happen to her imaginary friend when she doesn’t need her anymore. That led to, what if this imaginary friend wanted to stay in the real world and wanted to live a “normal” life.
That sounds like a story that deals pretty heavily with the metaphysical. Have you always been interested in stories that walk the boundary of reality and imagination?
Absolutely. I love surrealism. I love abstracts. Comics wise, the stuff that really got me interested in writing were books like Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man, Gaiman’s Sandman, and Morrison’s Doom Patrol. The boundless creativity and energy of those books had a huge impact on me. But that’s not to say the grittier, real life stuff like Watchmen didn’t though. I think what you’ll find in Neverboy is a balance between the two. Neverboy is someone with very real problems–he’s a dad and a husband and wants to keep things that way but, when the drugs wear off, his reality sets in. And his reality is that he’s not real and maybe nothing in his life is.
You mentioned that Neverboy has real problems (being a father and a husband). Is that something that you can relate to at this point in your life? Have you found the writing to be cathartic in that way?
I can definitely relate. I have three young kids and a wife of my own. I’ve never thought of it as being cathartic, I guess it can be. I’ve always looked at it like that scene in What About Bob? where he fakes a heart attack because, if he fakes it, it’s not happening in reality. So, if I write this fiction, it won’t happen in real life, right? Hahaha.
How long has this idea been gestating with you?
It’s been a few years now. Neverboy originally was part of something larger but after developing him, his story felt like it needed to be told on its own.
What changed to make Neverboy’s story something smaller, more self-contained?
His story stood out. He became this character I could really relate to and felt it would get lost alongside anyone else’s. I started coming up with these scenes–putting him in situations and giving him choices that would radically alter his life. It became a story about creativity, art, and life that I felt needed to be told on its own.
Speaking of creativity and art, how has it been working with Tyler Jenkins on this book?
Tyler is amazing. He’s really gets this book and has made it his own. Every page we get in from him is better than the last and he’s not afraid to try new things. I love that about him. He also draws one hell of a city. Tyler also recommended Kelly Fitzpatrick on colors, they have worked together before and her work is stunning. If nothing else, this book is gorgeous to look at with those two.
When you’re working on something like this, something that can become so personal, how did it feel to pitch the book? Was there a lot of anxiety in the process?
There really wasn’t and I think because it was who I was pitching it to. Sierra Hahn is an amazing editor who puts characters first. I felt totally comfortable with bringing these characters to her. She only made them better.
Was there anything that really changed during the pitching process that you hadn’t anticipated?
There was and it was a pretty major change. The “bad guy” of the book was someone totally different at first. It was only through writing it that the real antagonist made himself known. That’s the interesting thing about writing, it surprises you and takes you places you don’t expect.
What do you want prospective readers to know about Neverboy that they can’t find out in the solicit text?
Neverboy is someone we all can relate to. He’s someone who is taking the easy way out and will realize the easy way isn’t the right way. Making things right again will be the hardest thing he’s ever had to do.
It’s a story of abusing creativity and imagination and what the consequences of that are.