Time travel, techno music and tannerins – we talk to Curt Pires and Dalton Rose about new series Theremin from MonkeyBrain Comics
Packed full of time-travelling Russians and turn of the century techno wizardry this week sees the launch of the brilliant Theremin from MonkeyBrain Comics. From the spaced out imagination of writer Curt Pires and Phabula artist Dalton Rose, this gem of a book is available exclusively via ComiXology and centres around the time travelling titular hero as he sets out to use his scientific discoveries for the better of Mother Russia throughout time and space. Looking to discover the secrets of time, space not to mention get some tips on the best in experimental music we turned to Curt and Dalton and asked them to share their time with us.
Tell us a bit about the inspiration for Theremin? It’s got a real Dr Who meets Quantum Leap and Real Science Adventure feel to it, (but with a dark edge to it) would that be a fair assumption to make?
CP: I have not actually consumed any of those shows. But anything you want to associate the show with is cool. That’s the cool thing about comics, what readers bring into the fold.
For this book I was inspired by things such as , but not limited to : The Filth by Morrison and Weston. Casanova by Fraction, Ba and Moon. City of Tomorrow by Howard Chaykin, American Flagg, also by Chaykin. Planetary by Ellis and Cassaday, Global Frequency by Ellis and an All Star Crew of artists. Way and Ba’s Umbrella Academy. The Invisibles …. I could go on for days. Another big inspiration was that last Bond movie Skyfall There was stuff I noticed in it, in the genre of spy films and literature in general that I loved, and that disgusted me, and I wanted to own that and take it on , and try and break the genres back , and kill what felt old discriminatory and disgusting to me , and rebuild it how I would like it .
The first book is based mainly in Russia, will that be a recurring theme for the rest of the book or will we be jumping about through time and meeting other historical luminaries? If so can you let us know any who we should be keeping our eyes out for?
CP: There are other historical figures that appear in the work, but I’m trying not to be fetishistic about just jumping around for the sake of it. The people who we see are in the story because they felt like they had to be a part of it to me. A very young and hip and not yet peeing in jars yet Howard Hughes is involved at some point.
Where will see the character go in the next few issues? Will there be any major new characters arriving in the upcoming issue for example?
CP: Hawaii , Sarajevo, LA, the edge of timespace, and more. Major characters introduced in two including our female lead, Katya Nova. a hot head masochistic agent Nikita Nero , and a surprise in issue three that will have readers of some of my early work smiling from ear to ear.
Does Theremin have a long term planned story arc or are you just waiting and seeing how it works out?
CP: It’s definitely planned out. I know the ins and outs of the beats of this story like the back of my hand. The first run of issues is a complete story, told in 8 segments. I have ideas for second and third stories that from a super structure and sort of big meditation on the spy genre, but volume one has to be successful enough for us to consider that. People have responded super positively to issue one though, so I’m optimistic.
Have the pair of you worked together before, and what does each of you bring to the partnership? If not, how did you hook up and get involved with the MonkeyBrain guys?
CP: This is the first thing me and Dalton have worked on together, but we’ve been at it longer then I think most people realize. We first collaborated on some of these pages in June/July of 2012 and have been working together on and off, ever since then.
Dalton and I were at a large electronic music festival trying to conjure the spirits of Jack Kirby , Dennis Wilson, and Moebius, as Skrillex lured the crowd into a MDMA fueled dub trance. When the hole opened in reality out walked Chris and Allison with a shimmering majestic iPad , loaded with beautiful creator owned comics. We gazed into the iPad and saw the cover of first issue of Theremin. We awoke from our trance state cold and back at our respective homes. We still don’t really understand what transpired. We sent a sample over the next day. The rest is history.
MonkeyBrain are carving out a brilliant niche for themselves as a digital only publisher, what are your thoughts on the rise of digital publishing and how has it helped writers and artists like yourself?
CP: Digital publishing is huge because it gives an avenue for creators to connect with a massive audience that it would be extremely hard, or near impossible to hit. It helps us build audiences and fans, and get eyes to our work that we couldn’t otherwise.
DR: Working with MonkeyBrain is a blast. It’s been pretty incredible to be able to put something together and have in front an audience a few weeks later.
Are you fans of comics on the iPad in general and if so which ones do you read and rate?
CP: I’m a huge fan of the other MonkeyBrain stuff. I love Edison Rex, I love High Crimes, Knuckleheads is great, and the first issue of Skybreaker had me wanting more. I like the DC digital first stuff depending on whose doing it. Looking forward to reading friend of the book, Ales Kot’s , Batman story with Ryan Sook . Loving the ComiXology submit stuff. Ryan Ferrier’s Tiger Lawyer work is amazing, Fabian Rangle Jr and Ryan Cody have Doc Unknown going up their soon. I really like the comics Challenger comics are doing too, you can see those here: readchallenger.com
DR: Huge fan of comics on the iPhone and iPad. It’s incredible. Being able to buy and read Saga on the bus on a whim [on my phone] is pretty cool. This is a super millennial generation/ mac commercial story but I’ll tell it anyway. I was getting coffee with some friends a few weeks ago and Phabula came up. I was trying to describe it and a friend downloaded it and started flipping through it right there on her phone. It was so cool and I couldn’t stop smiling.
I’m a huge fan of Phabula, which Dalton released via MonkeyBrain earlier this year, when can we expect more issues from you?
DR: Phabula #2 will be out soon! Soon as I finish coloring it. Right now it is my back burner pet project.
Curt, what can we expect from you next and where else can we see your work?
CP: I’m launching a DRM free pay what you want digital version of my first comic “LP” with art by Ramon Villalobos, soon. That’s the first time the comic has been available digitally so it’s a big thing for us. I’m hard at work on Theremin, a few shorts, and a major project I intend to be my follow up to Theremin. That last ones really early in development.
The early 20th century seems to be a really rich period for science fiction writing, what inspires you the most from that period? Is it the nascent technology or the social change or just the combination of all those factors? Does setting your story in that time period ever limit your story telling or does it just make you be more creative to make it work?
CP: We’re playing in a limited sandbox for this story, but at the same time we’re really not . There’s nothing to say we have to stay at where we are timeline wise. It’s a time travel book, and part of that, part of my approach to that, is a certain anything goes element.
Finally, your lead character is named after the quirky electronic instrument the Theremin I presume, so what is your favourite piece of theremin infused music?
CP: The Beach Boys “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”. It utilizes a Tannerin , an advanced keyboard controlled form of the Theremin .
Theremin is available exclusively from MonkeyBrain via ComiXology.