“Usually in a sci-fi alien invasion you start with them burning cities to the ground with their lasers!” Justin Ryan discusses his unconventional sci-fi horror comics Trespasser
When a mysterious alien stranger is found by a farmer and his daughter, things take an unexpected twist when he decides to everything he can to protect his family in Alterna Comics sci-fi horror, Trespasser. Writer Justin Ryan tells us about the inspiration for his alien invasion series and why he decided to make the visitor a benign force, instead of a marauding invader!
Trespasser sees a father and daughter encounter an alien in a woodland wilderness, tell us a bit about the inspirations for Trespasser and where the idea for the story came from?
Justin Ryan: The first image I had in my head for Trespasser was of the alien stuck in the bear trap, and the rest of the story grew from there. I really liked the concept because it’s a difficult position for the protagonist. Usually in a sci-fi alien invasion type story, you start with the aliens coming out as a strong threat, abducting people or burning cities to the ground with their lasers. Here was something completely different. The ‘alien threat’ began at the mercy of humanity and everything that happens afterwards grew from the seeds of this scenario.
You seem deliberately vague about why the characters are alone in the woods and the state of the world, is that a deliberate ploy to keep readers reading and not give everything away too soon?
JR: I think ‘deliberate ploy’ may sound a little too sinister for my intentions! I do enjoy revealing the world slowly and through the lens of the characters rather than dumping a lot of exposition on the reader, but to be honest the real reason is that the setting and backstory of Trespasser exist to serve the characters and the plot. I’m not intentionally holding back, but the focus is, and will continue to remain, on the protagonists and the events unfolding around them.
How did you and artist Kristian Rossi meet and start working together? The art in Trespasser is just gorgeous and makes the book feel really different.
JR: Kristian is awesome and I couldn’t have asked for a better artist to bring this book to life! Originally Trespasser was a twenty page, black and white one-shot and I posted an ad looking for an artist. A lot of really talented people responded but Kristian’s style automatically stood out and I asked him and a handful of others for test pages. The page he sent had Hector, Maria, and the trespasser and even though this was the first time he’d drawn any of them, their designs still haven’t changed a bit and I knew that this was my guy. In fact, his test page didn’t even need to be edited for the pitch, it was sent in as is along with the rest of the story. We ultimately decided to expand the story and produce it in color, which turned out to be a great idea as Kristian is also excellent at using color to create mood and emphasize his work.
You’ve gone for quite a classic alien and spacesuit design (a grey alien and that suit which looks like an old cosmonaut) was that a conscious part of the story-telling from you or something Kristian brought to the book?
JR: A little bit of both. As I mentioned above, the first image in my head was the alien in the bear trap, and thus in the story he’s described as such. I considered making him more bizarre or unique early on, but I decided to go in favor of a more iconic look so that the readers would have no doubt about what they were seeing. Even though practically nothing has been said as to the creature’s origin, nobody thinks he’s a monster, or a mutant, or anything else. It’s very obvious what he is and where he came from. I knew early on that he could very possibly end up looking silly, so I give full credit to Kristian for how cool the trespasser ended up appearing on the page.
How long a series will Trespasser be? Is it a mini-series or part of an ongoing world?
JR: It’s a four issue mini-series, which will culminate in August of this year!
And finally how did you come to work with Alterna and what can we expect from you next?
JR: Alterna was a natural fit for Trespasser since they produce creator owned work and are willing to give first time creators a chance if the pitch is good! I was originally drawn to them because not many companies at that level are interested in one shots, which is how we started out, and Alterna really focuses on making sure indie creators get seen and read.
Up next is difficult to say, but I’ve got a couple of projects in the pipeline. I’m in talks with an artist now for a twenty issue series that’s kind of a mix between Godzilla and Moby Dick called ‘Comes the Leviathan‘ and I’ve got a script for a horror graphic novel called ‘Fifty Teeth‘ that I might see if the Trespasser team wants to work on once we finish production on the final issue. Chances are those two will be the next things with my name on the cover, assuming all goes well!