Smash Pages Q&A: Ed Brisson on Creator-Owned Boom Studios! ‘Cluster’

With issue 7 released of Cluster in early September writer edbrisson was kind enough to grant me an interview for his creator-owned Boom Studios! series.

Written by: Ed Brisson\Illustrated by: Damian Couceiro\Coloured by: Cassie Kelly

Midlothian is on the brink of a full-scale war between GOE and the rebels led by Samara and Grace.

Tim O’Shea: While the bulk of this interview pertains to issue 7, I would love focus on the opening of issue #1 with Samara Simmons’ arrest. How did you decide on that for your open?

Ed Brisson: It felt like a good place to seed the initial mystery of WHY Samara had ended up in prison, which eventually leads her to Midlothian. Love giving the reader just enough info so that we can get on with the story and then slowly doling out details as we go.

Also I love in issue #1, the story beat shown here. 

What prompted you to play it that way?

Samara has a lot of baggage and she’s trying to deal with it in her own way, without any help from others. She could have easily turned to her father and NOT ended up on Midlothian. She could try to make friends in  Tranent to make her time easier, but she didn’t. She’s in a self-imposed exile to pay penance for her crime.

What made you want to tell this original series at BOOM?

It was an idea that I’d been batting around in one form or another since high school. At one point, in early 2014, I’d picked it back up and was working on it and thought that Damian would be an amazing collaborator for it (He and I had done SONS of ANARCHY for BOOM, but had also done a few indie things together, going back to 2004). I was about to draft him an email and, I shit you not, as I was writing it, an email from Eric Harburn (my editor at BOOM) arrived in my inbox asking if I had any interest in doing a creator owned book with Damian at BOOM. It was fate! I told him that I was 100% interested and sent the short pitch for CLUSTER and, well, here we are now.

Who are some of the old-school, hard-boiled action storytellers that inspire you?

I’m a huge crime fan. My favourite authors are Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, Richard Stark, Charles Willeford, Richard Price, etc, etc.

I’m also a kid of the VHS generation and am a fan of 80s horror and sci-fi films. I tried to bring a lot of that influence into this book – movies like ALIENS (of course), DEADLOCK (rereleased as WEDLOCK), ROBOCOP, ENEMY MINE, THE BLOOD OF HEROES (basically any sci-fi with Rutger Hauer!). While CLUSTER is, of course, a comic first and foremost, giving it the flavour and feel of an 80s sci-fi flick was important to me.

Damian designed everything you see in the book. He’s responsible for bringing that feel to it. CLUSTER would be nothing without that.

Were there other names you considered or was the Punch always the Punch?

It was always The Punch. I like that it works two ways: that it’s your punch/time card and that if you mess with it, you’re gonna get hurt.

Compare the early issues to issue 7, which characters have grown on you?

McHenry is a character that really grew on me. He’s an awesome unstoppable force. If we were ever to do more CLUSTER, I’d love to do his origin story. Milton, one of the Pagurani, was a lot of fun to write, mostly because he doesn’t talk. His primary mode of communication is a big thumbs up.

I was struck at the scene were multiple dead bodies are draped next to active soldiers. Can you talk about not shying away from the casualties of war.

In that scene in particular, I just wanted to get across the idea that McHenry was this deadly bad ass that is not to be messed with. He’s not the type of guy who’s going to try and escape by sneaking around, he’s going to escape by cutting a path through anything (and anyone) that stands in his way.

I think it’s also important to pull back and show scenes like this sometimes to show what the actual devastation looks like. I mean, you can have a spaceship dog fight and ships explode and it becomes almost like a videogame, where once an avatar is killed, they just vanish. We really wanted to show that there are victims. There are bodies. People who once were are no longer. There’s a real devastation to this level of war and that should always be something that we think about – otherwise, why does the rest of it matter?

Do have anything else on the creator-owned horizon?

Well, although I can’t say much about it just yet, CLUSTER isn’t it for me and BOOM. Not long after it wraps, I’ll be writing a new creator owned book with them, due out in very early 2016, I believe. In fact, after this interview, I’m back onto writing the script for it. I’m very excited to get down to work on it and I think people are going to really dig it.

BUT, I can’t get into details! Just keep your peepers peeled.C

 

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