Comfort Detox by Erin Straza, Free for CaPC Members
Comfort Detox is a valuable stepping stone for people who are disquieted with their own excess but are not sure what to do next.
The following is an interview between CaPC editor Alan Noble and the author of The Blessed Machine, Mark Rodgers. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
MR: The quest for knowledge of the workings of the universe has always been a goal of the hard sciences, but Forster didn’t anticipate the degree to which scientific advances, such as the atomic bomb, could literally threaten our planet and human existence. When I started the script, the CERN Collider was still under construction, and I conjectured that it might inadvertently create a black hole that would destroy our environment. Little did I know, a few years later (in 2008) opponents of the project sought an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights to block the collider out of fear that it would create a mini-black hole that could tear the earth apart. Since writing the script, I had to change the premise from CERN’s confirming the existing of the Higgs Boson, called the God Particle, to the splitting of the particle to unlock even deeper secrets of the universe.The story works wonderfully as a comic for the same reason it so masterfully captures the imagination without illustration—it presents a complex and compelling underground existence, maintained by various pieces of technology.
MR: Although we didn’t include it in the final draft of the comic series, I did explore in my script developments in genetic engineering, and conjecture that there is a “God gene” which theoretically inclines some people more than others to believe in the divine. However, we added the concept that technology might become sentient. Artificial Intelligence was not something Forster could have foreseen, and we felt that this was a useful way to further explore the idea that we can become slaves to our own creations, especially by becoming too dependent on them.
MR: The story works wonderfully as a comic for the same reason it so masterfully captures the imagination without illustration—it presents a complex and compelling underground existence, maintained by various pieces of technology. While a reader of the short story can enjoy dreaming up their own images of what this underworld looks like, readers of the comic will be enthralled by Jesse Hamm’s rendering of the underground city, the visual evidences of its decay, and the technological components (like the help-bots) that keep the city going.
MR: You are right that Cave’s mission is to engage and even challenge readers to reflect more deeply about the stories we tell and their own lives, experiences, and the world around us – while entertaining them as well! The Blessed Machine has some great comedic moments, but ultimately it is a cautionary tale and raises a lot of questions about technological dependence and the potential dangers of worshiping what we create. The ambiguity of the ending is specifically intended to evoke the reader’s reflection, regarding both the world of the story and our own.
MR: I grew up reading comics, so they have been a personal passion of mine for decades. Comics are accessible for readers of all ages and are much less expensive to experience than going to a theater (whether film or live), concert tickets, visiting an art gallery or purchasing fine art. And comics are quicker and less expensive to produce than film, stage plays and television. At the same time, they are the ideal medium to develop a story for further life as a film or TV/streaming series, because the dialogue and visual storyboard is right there on the page! Comics have also gone mainstream, in a sense, thanks to blockbuster superhero films of the last decade. Marvel and DC are now household names and comic-cons have exploded around the world, with countless suburban towns hosting conventions where fans can dress up as their favorite characters, buy comics and related merchandise, and see celebrity guests. There is a great contemporary passion for comics that Cave hopes to both fuel and benefit from.
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