“I wanted to see what the future would be like in a smaller, more intimate setting” Silicon Heart’s Sam Roads talks Welsh science fiction and Kickstarter funding

Silicon HeartThe Welsh valleys may not be the obvious place for a sci-fi love story between a bullied teenage girl and an artificial human (known as a Sy-B). But that’s what makes the new Kickstarter funded series Silicon Hart such a wonderful and charming story. We catch up with writer Sam Roads and artist Kat Nicholson, who are looking to crowd fund the remaining issues of this 4 issue series to find out more about their star crossed lovers from the valleys..

Silicon Heart page 1

“I like to know the protagonists very well, including their favourite TV shows, colour, childhood experiences, friends, politics, idiosyncracies”

Silicon Heart sees a bullied teen fall in love with an artificial human to create an unconventional love story, tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the stories and the characters?

SR: This meme: I saw it in 2011 when the government was refusing to allow gay marriage. I wondered what it would be like in the future when people looked back at now. Following that I worked out what I believed would have to happen for AI to be a realistic proposition (emergent intelligence) and from those two things the story was born.

The amount of detail you have put into the world is great, from the advert on the first page to the bands and TV shows you name check, how important was it to create those elements of the world and did you do that before you started writing the script or did you develop them as you went?

SR: I do a huge amount of preparatory work. I know that in comics creation its often said that it takes something like four times longer to do the art than to write the script, but I’m not sure that’s true in my case! 🙂

I like to know the protagonists very well, including their favourite TV shows, colour, childhood experiences, friends, politics, idiosyncracies. So when it comes to writing dialogue, I *know* if I’m writing something true to them.

Which of the products or ideas are proudest of? Are there any that make you want to pat yourself on the back for coming up with something really smart and cool? 

SR: I really like Kat’s work on a character called Pi, who does not appear in issue 1. Patting yourself on the back is anatomically awkward. 🙂

Silicon Heart page 2

“I don’t think most films or stories about AI do it right. Sy-Bs intelligence emerges, through experience.”

Silicon Heart mashes together two of our favourite genres – science fiction and high school movies. It reminds us of everything from Mean Girls and Heathers to Bladerunner and AI, but what were the touchstones for you and Kat?

SR: Heathers, absolutely. It’s a fantastically good movie and I hope we’re channelling some of the same charm. Robocop and Judge Dredd are influences in terms of a satirical future. I don’t think most films or stories about AI do it right. Sy-Bs intelligence emerges, through experience. No-one will ever successfully ‘program’ sufficient intelligence to create consciousness.

You’ve set the book in Wales how important was it to keep it set in Wales and how do you think it benefits from having that as a setting? 

SR: Silicon Heart is set in Pontypridd, in The Valleys, just north of Wales’ capital city Cardiff. So many stories are set in metropolises (metropoli?) and I thought it would be much more interesting to see what the future would be like in a smaller, more intimate setting.

I did think it was absolutely vital to tell the story here because I know the Valleys and felt I could make January memorable by drawing on all my experience of Valleys life and culture. I’m actually a Londoner, but I moved to Cardiff in 1990 and love it here. It’s a high density of culture without London rush hour!

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“The characters Sam has created are so fleshed out and real-feeling that they’re really almost like friends to me now.”

How did you and Kat meet up and how did you come to work together and collaborate on Silicon Heart? What do you think each of you brings to the table creatively?

SR: We met at a Cardiff Comics Creators pub gathering but I contacted her because I had seen one picture done in a certain style, and I felt that this style would be absolutely perfect for Silicon Heart. Obviously I’m delighted with what followed, as she has breathed energy and life into my script.

Kat adds: Working on Sam’s script has been wonderful, as while creating the world of Silicon Heart was at first very daunting, Sam actually packed so much detail and description into his script that visualising it was very much easier.. reading certain panel descriptions feels almost like I’m actually THERE watching the proceedings, which makes drawing it all the more easy! Finally, the characters Sam has created are so fleshed out and real-feeling that they’re really almost like friends to me now… – while I enjoy drawing them very much, I could never have made these visuals without Sam’s putting the pictures in my head to start with. 🙂

Silicon Heart coverYou are funding future issues via Kickstarter, tell us about your experiences with crowd-funding so far and what are your hopes and dreams for this project and future comic related projects in general?

This is my second Kickstarter. The first was for my first graphic novel, called Kristo, a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, set in Soviet Russia! That one succeeded, so we based a lot of the choices for Silicon Heart on what went right on Kristo. One of the lessons is that you need to get a lot of pledges in early, and we’ve achieved that with this one, hitting 33% funded on day one!

I hope that once we complete Silicon Heart we will be able to release all four issues together in a single graphic novel. I will be trying to get interest from one of the major indie publishers, such as SelfMadeHero or Oni Press.

I’ll also approach S4C and the BBC to see if there’s any interest in bringing the story to TV or Radio, and the very distant goal would be finding a film production company that would be interested in adapting it. These might not be likely outcomes, but it’s good to have goals! 🙂

Will you be releasing Silicon Heart digitally on ComiXology or another platform?

SR: We may well release Silicon Heart on ComiXology, but if anyone wants a digital copy, you can get them via the Kickstarter!

For more information and to help support Sam and Kat visit Silicon Heart’s Kickstarter here

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.