Protector is the new standout post-apocalyptic comic series being put out by Image. The creative team of Simon Roy, Daniel Benson and Artyom Trakhanov have combined their efforts to build a world full of history, mystery, and danger which the reader get to explore a bit of in the opening action scene of the book. It was my pleasure to discuss Protector with co-writer Simon Roy. Please enjoy our conversation below.
Mike Nickells for Comics Bulletin (CB): How would you describe Protector?
Simon Roy (SR): Protector, by my estimation, is a fantasy adventure story with a secret science fiction core. In the hot, wet ruins of far-future North America, a slave girl accidentally awakens an ancient war god, and sets out to use this war god to free her people – with unforeseen consequences for all involved.
CB: What are your creative influences?
SR: It’s probably obvious, but the works of Miyazaki were a huge influence on this project. One thing Daniel and I talked about a lot was constructing a world where all of the opposing characters would be the heroes of their own stories – very much like in Princess Mononoke. Visually, I know both Artyom and I thought a lot about Nausicaa for this project, as well.
CB: What inspired you and Daniel Benson to write Protector?
SR: Protector had it’s roots in a project I was working on in Art School, about extraterrestrial machine intelligences forming relationships with post-civilizational tribal human societies in the far future. But that story seed began to grow into something larger. I sent what I had over to Dan, and he began to ask me questions about the story. Those prompts helped us flesh the whole thing out. In fact, there is a record of some of the stuff Dan and I talked about online: http://www.thekingdomsofevil.com
CB: It’s unusual to have two writers on a comic. How and why did you guys collaborate on this project?
SR: Dan and I have had a creative relationship since at least 2012 or so, which originally entailed a sort of mutual aid. He would help me with dialogue editing, and deeper structural questions about my projects – prompting greater exploration of ideas, catching awkward plot turns, etc – and I would lend him visual aid and what story feedback I could for his. So expanding that into a more fully collaborative project happened fairly naturally! In terms of the actual nitty-gritty of making the story, most of our collaboration has taken place within the battleground of shared google documents. First, in detailed outlines that get pulled and pushed back and forth, and then, once said outlines are more or less set, in a script written in a very similar manner. Lots of back and forth, and editing and counter-editing.
CB: This creative team seems to be from all over (Canada, Russia, Bulgaria). How did you guys come to work together?
SR: Very naturally, actually! Back when Artyom was working on the Image series Undertow, he approached me about working on a variant cover for the first issue (which went swimmingly). Meanwhile, Dan and I were passing what would become protector back and forth between us, and at some point, Artyom asked me if I had any projects that I wanted a collaborator on. From there, things just escalated! Once pages started to emerge from this story, I talked to Jason Wordie, an old friend and collaborator of mine from art school (in Calgary). Not only had Jason and I worked on a whole book together (with Jason on both co-writing and coloring duties on a book called Tiger Lung, published in 2014 through Dark Horse https://simonroycomics.bigcartel.com/product/tiger-lung ), but Jason and Artyom had also worked closely together on a wonderful book called Turncoat. The team practically made itself!
CB: Is this an ongoing title or a miniseries?
SR: Well, the market will help decide that, but to start, the first five issues are a largely self-contained storyline. But, as will be evident to readers once they’ve finished these five issue, the events of this first arc radically change the balance of power in Far Future North America.
CB: What other projects are you currently working on?
SR: Alongside my friend Damon Gentry (the writer of Sabretooth Swordsman and Vinegar Teeth, both printed by Dark Horse) we are currently building a book of science fiction comic stories, eight pages a month, at my Patreon. Unlike Protector, which has a sort of swords and sorcery vibe, these stories are more cynical and satirical, in the same strain as Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop, or Starship Troopers. A hellish future of peak capitalism, where the entire solar system is being busily strip-mined by two competing corporate powers…