NYCC ’17: Analog Announced From Image With Gerry Duggan

by Hannah Means Shannon

At a special press event at the opening of New York Comic Con today, Image Comics revealed information about upcoming books and gave press a chance to talk to creators about these reveals.

Gerry Duggan joined us to talk about his new series with Image Comics, ANALOG.

He’s working with David O’Sullivan, a newcomer to the industry. They were introduced by Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire will be coloring it.

It asks the question, “what if the internet became less reliable than it is today”. In the story, secrets are no longer safe to be transmitted online any more, since things can’t be scrubbed. Now secrets are being put into “briefcases” and moved by “ledgermen” or “paper jockeys”. One such man is Jack McGuinness, who may have had something to do with the downturn in the Internet in the story.

It’s “near future speculative fiction”, and has action and romance. Our wifi was down in the conference room, and Duggan found this very funny and appropriate.

The series started work in late 2015, and the election changed their thinking. By the time the series arrives in stores in the first week of April 2018, they’ll be working on their second trade, so retailers will be able to get a good look at it.

He’s going to be at C2E2 in the spring, the weekend after their first issue is in stores.

It’s an ongoing series from Image.

Asked about the changes in tech that might influence even trying to publish this comic, Duggan said that the fact that “people don’t interface with the internet” in the same way in the story makes that easier.

It’s a world where everyone’s “browser history” has been doxed. It’s a “leap over” our current technology, and tech is considered “extremely unreliable”. A lot of “visual storytelling” allows that world to speak for itself.

Asked what’s driving the distrust of the internet, Duggan said that there was an even called “The Great Doxxing” overnight that dumped private information into bins and it continued to be an “ongoing worm”. It’s a little like 12 Monkeys, he said, unsure whether people saved the world by destroying the internet.

Asked if there’s going to be some meta-elements that go with the comic, like a website, Duggan said yes, definitely. It’s still in the works.

Asked about the visual style of the comic, it’s a “grim fun world” he said, but it has “brightness” to it, Duggan said. It’s “scummy” but “rendered beautifully” and has “globe hopping”. Tokyo will feature, showing a difference in international reactions.

It’s a 1970’s mindset after the Doxxing, and that’s reflected in Tokyo where people have gone back to using film-cameras, Duggan said.

There’s Artificial Intelligence in this near future, and it “takes it personally” that the internet has been turned off, Duggan teased. The way the Intelligence represents itself is “fun” and is something that “works well in a comic”, he said.

The reality is that “lives are instantly ruined” through the internet, and in the story there are “even more broken people” connected to that. Jack and the woman in his life, Una, are a ray of “hope” though. They are “marked people”.

Duggan feels that intelligence agencies are not good at “human intelligence” these days, and Jack “buts up against an NSA who’s trying” to recreate itself, and just has “rows and rows of copiers”.

Asked if this is like 1970’s espionage films in that way, Duggan agreed and said he loves 70’s espionage. Parallax View, 3 Days of the Condor, and Point Blank are all favorites. It’s a “juxtaposition of visual styles”, too. Jack is “the only driver on the road who is actually driving his car”, which makes a statement about old-fashioned things vs. the near future. Other people are eating, talking on their phones, recording themselves, so the contrast is there.

Jack is a “freelance courier” who was once part of the government who is now in the private sector.

Duggan’s other two books at Image have been sci-fi. This is about looking at “where we are now” and asking “what’s the thing we couldn’t see coming and how could it make life worse?”

Asked if there will be “real companies” languishing in the aftermath of this event in the comic, Duggan said, it’s more about the internet than “about us”, but that’ll be part of the background. You’ll get the sense of things in details, like the fact people are using cash again.

Asked about the plot of the first arc, Duggan said it’s about catching up with Jack on the job, and his meeting with one of the “big antagonist” and another key player in the first arc. This includes the woman who is in charge of the New York division of the NSA, called “Aunt Sam”.

Asked if there’s going to be a “generational” element about the loss of privacy, Duggan said it’s not in the “front of his mind” but it can hardly be absent. Duggan is “Gen X” and remembers life before the internet, and that feels like a “gift”.

Asked about really “digging in” with a series of his own after working in various Marvel books, and he said it’s great, since these ideas have been “nagging” at him. He also has an “itch to write a novel” and has several on his desktop. He had to ask himself if he wanted to fail at a novel or instead do something he knows how to do, and create a creator-owned book. He found that he could “react” to the world more immediately in comics, too, and be more relevant due to the medium.

There may be a very narrow stop between arcs since they have worked so far ahead, Duggan said.