“I liked the trope of the action hero put into, literally, an impossible position” Chris Sides talks Impossible and Frostbyte Industries

For his follow up to the critically acclaimed Dark Matter anthology series, writer Chris Sides has gone big and crafted an ambitious science fiction trilogy based around a shadowy futuristic corporation known as Frostbyte Industries. The first chapter, Impossible is released at this year’s LSCC, but how will this cryptic company influence the action, and what will happen to our lead character who starts the book stranded in space and plummeting to earth?! Tell us a bit about the inspiration for Impossible?

Chris Sides: I genuinely can’t remember where the original idea sprung from – I think it was around 6 or so years ago, when Chris Travell and I threw a bunch of ideas into a pot and I think this was one of them. Interestingly, what I originally jotted down didn’t deviate too much to how the finished book turned out. I wanted to do something science fiction-y / action and I liked that trope of the action hero put into, literally, an impossible position, all the odds against them, there’s a million to one chance they’ll make it, but, hey, let’s ramp that up to 11 and really put them through the wringer.

It reminded me of those great 70s and 80s crews in space movies like Alien or Event Horizon, and it feels very cinematic was that part of the plan?

CS: Oh, cool! That was kind of what we were aiming for – again, looking through that original outline, I was aiming for ‘summer event movie’ (I’ve used the word BOOM quite a lot in that…hmmm…). Just a fun-filled adventure comic.

You also use a lot of those great team book clichés (the new guy, the guy who’s not supposed to be there, the tight knit team, the team leader who sleeps through a launch like Hicks in Aliens) was that intentional as a way to build the story?

CS: I love me a cliché! Yeah, a little – some of that, I suspect, was subconscious, but some were definitely a nod e.g. the sleeping through the launch. It hopefully gives you a sense of who these folks are out of the gate, so when the shit starts hitting the fan (and quite quickly), you’ve got a rough idea of what to expect from each character.

This is part of your new FrostByte series can you tell us a bit about what this is and how Impossible fits into this new universe? What made you choose to develop an overarching world for your stories?

CS: It is, yes and yes, the Impossible books are a planned trilogy – the Frostbyte series is a run of stories/books that fit within a shared universe. They’re all standalone stories/books, with some having more obvious connections than others, but the one constant is Frostbyte Industries, the multi-national technology company that has its talons into all facets of human civilisation. Without giving too much away, what the crew are after in Impossible is part of the aftermath to events that you only get a glimpse of. This is explored in sort of ‘prequel’ (a 3-issue thing that’s written and hopefully going to start development within the next 6 months, fingers crossed). However, Will McGillis’ journey isn’t finished yet (see below). In terms of what made me chose to develop it like this – pure accident. I had a number of science fiction story ideas that I wanted to develop and on a particularly productive afternoon, I found some connections between some of them and then all of them and it all just sort of clicked and went from there.

You’re releasing it through Markosia, how did that come about and how is it different from your self-published works?

CS: Chris Travell and myself got involved with the first British Showcase Anthology that Adam Cheal put together through Markosia a few years back. We got to know Harry Markos through that and stayed in contact and I pitched him IMPOSSIBLE about a year later. It’s my first foray into longer form stories going through a publisher and towards the end of the production process, it was really weird not being involved with every facet of it e.g. the printing etc. It was an odd feeling sending the finished files off and giving over that responsibility, but Harry and his team have been amazing and we’re dead happy with how it’s all turned out.

How did you and artist Jake Rowlinson come together, have you worked on stuff before?

CS: Following on from the above, Jake and I had never worked together on anything before. I’d pitched Impossible to Harry just after LSCC around 2 years ago. He was interested in the project, but I didn’t have an artist involved at that time. Jake had shown Harry his portfolio at the show and after I’d pitched, Harry put me in touch with Jake, who sent through some mind-blowing sample pages from the script and the rest is history. I’d worked with Dan Franco, the colourist, on a very brief one page thing – I pitched him the story with Jake’s samples and then we were away! Those boys did an amazing job.

It ends with quite a tonal change and a great cliffhanger so is this part of an ongoing series or part of the trilogy?

CS: Part of the trilogy; it’s all roughly outlined, with Book 2 being a little further ahead than 3, but it’s a direct continuation that explores McGillis delving back into a side of himself he’d tried hard to leave behind. If I can pull off some of what I’ve got planned, the poor bastard’ll be put through the wringer a fair few times before we’re through!

You’re launching it at LSCC, how important are events like this for you as a small presser and how would you like to see them improve things for indie creators? How does it compare to other events you’ve been to?

CS: Massively important – it’s direct contact with the audience and putting your work straight into their hands without an intermediary. It’s one of the main sources of income for our books and how we’re able to fund more titles and other shows. It’s meeting fellow creators face to face, as well as being able to chat to editors and other industry pros too. It’s the bread and butter for indie creators, I think. How could they improve things for indie creators? This is a tough one – there’s been a huge outcry about this recently and it’s been covered quite widely. Actually focusing on the comics would be a big help. There are a lot of shows that do – LSCC, Thought Bubble, True Believers, ICE, NICE, Nottingham – but even more that don’t. I take no umbrage with those that focus on guests from film/tv, not a problem; just don’t call it a ‘comic con’. Because it’s not. With that, I love LSCC – it’s one of the first shows I ever went to and its sole focus is comics and their creators. Can’t ask for more than that!

You can find out more about Impossible at www.facebook.com/frostbyteindustries and for more on Chris’s work visit  www.chrissideswriter.com and for Jake’s work visit www.jakerowlinson.blogspot.co.uk and for colourist Dann Franco visit www.dannfranco.com