Its as only the other day we posted a review of new sci-fi space-faring saga 40 Seconds #1, and now we bring you an interview with writer and co-creator Jeremy Haun. We discuss the series – of course – as well as some of the influences behind the story and the themes explored within this five issue digital series from comiXology Originals.
Olly MacNamee: 40 Seconds is a new sci-fi adventure series that follows a rescue mission investigating a distress call a galaxy away. And, the first team has gone missing! While they claim it’s a 36 hour mission, there are clues along the way that suggest time is relative and therefore unreliable. My Spidey-senses are already tingling, so why not the team of investigators?
Jeremy Haun: There goes me thinking I’m all subtle!
On its face, this is a big, fun, world-hopping popcorn sci-fi experience. But out the gate we get this feeling that there is more here than meets the eye.
And look– there’s more. A lot more.
OM: Sticking with the title of your new sci-fi adventure series for a moment more, and while we don’t learn exactly what the eponymous 40 seconds relates to yet, there’s certainly a lot of mention of time in this first issue, isn’t there? What’s a reader to surmise from these seemingly deliberate inclusions in the story?
JH: It’s all about these gates. Where they lead. What’s come before.
This isn’t the first team to make this journey. Our team – this next group through is learning that this isn’t a simple mission of exploration. It’s all connected.
That’s all incredibly vague. I can promise, by the end you’ll absolutely know how this big puzzle fits together.
OM: While many will rightfully focus on the journey through space – by way of the forge gate technology – my interest was peeked when one of the rescue team suggest this is not necessarily at Star Trek like utopian future; people need to work for their place in society with a place on the sky platform, whatever that may be, as their reward? What can you tell us of this new world order?
JH: I hope at some point we can achieve some kind of utopian society. It isn’t exactly easy to look around and see that happening any time soon in our world.
That’s definitely the same in the world of 40 Seconds. It’s kind of a dark view, but I think the world in this story is broken. The planet got worse. Maybe people started to care, but only when it was too late. Only when they didn’t have a choice. They insisted that they do what they want the way they want – no matter what the cost. That led to building a sky platform. But that’s not for everyone, right? Only a few.
There’s a reason these gates and the final destination are important. We might not be long for this world. Here’s hoping this one a galaxy away can help.
OM: And, what can you tell us about the state of this future society given their obsession with space travel and the forge gate technology? It all seems calm enough, but then it was calm on the Nostromo too at one time. Certainly, by the end of this debut issue, it isn’t as calm, that’s for sure.
JH: Our team, and the home team, thought they were ready for this. They weren’t.
And as they go, our crew begins to realize something is really really wrong. Something else is out there and it’s using the gates too.
OM: Your artist on this book, Chris Mitten, is someone you’ve known for some time. I believe this was a story that pushed a lot of buttons of both of you. But, what was Chris’s contributions to the series as it began to take shape? And, as a comic book artist yourself, does this seep into your scripts in any obvious way?
JH: I’d been developing this story for a long time– years. Every time I’d talk about it, the structure and characters would become sharper.
It wasn’t until last year, when Chris agreed to do the project, that I could really see it. There’s just something about being able to visualize a story in a certain style while you’re writing it. The second Chris was involved things became so much more vast and beautiful.
We talked back and forth about the story a lot in the beginning. We’d have long rambling (we both ramble) talks about the story and how we wanted it to look and feel. From there I sent him the concept, then the pitch, then the full outline. Somewhere in there he jokingly said to stop sending him every adjustment and just surprise him with the script. As an artist, I completely understood. There’s something exciting about reading that script for the first time – feeling it – not knowing every turn.
OM: Chris is an artist who has made a career from horror, suggesting we’ve only touched upon the horrors to come in this book, I hope? How will yours and Chris’s horror sensibilities come to bare on this book going forward?
JH: Even with our fun little sci-fi romp here, we can’t stay away from horror elements for long. It’s just too much of a part of who we are.
Honestly my favorite genre stories tend to go for more than just one thing. Alien is clearly sci-fi and horror. Something like Knives Out can be both a crime drama and incredibly funny.
I’ve never been a big fan of having to tell stories that stick to one genre. Sure, I like horror. It’s probably almost always going to be my go-to. But growing up, I was obsessed with fantasy, sci-fi, and crime stories too. You’re definitely going to see some of all those from me in the near future. And yeah– they’ll probably all be at least a bit spooky.
OM: Do you have an overview; a map of the galaxies and the worlds your travellers will be venturing across all drawn out for reference? I mean, where does one start when building a new world, let alone a new universe?
JH: Well, you get yourself an absolutely fantastic collaborator who can (and love to) draw anything. The rest is just cake.
Okay, I’m probably over simplifying, but a lot of this universe we’ve built comes from conversations with Chris.
I knew several of the worlds that I needed along the way. World two had to be like this. Something big happens on world three – that sort of thing. From there it really became about me asking Chris what he wanted to draw. My favorite response was, “I really love drawing fish. Can we do something that feels like sea life?”. Boom. That’s a world.
I love having the kind of story where anything is possible. As long as it fits– makes sense to us, we did it.
OM: Jeremy, thanks for the times and all the best with 40 Seconds #1, which I know is out now on ComiXology.
JH: Thanks for having me.