[Interview] David Schulner Talks “Clone” & Developments On The TV Adaptation

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Last year Robert Kirkman’s Skybound launched “Clone”, a new ongoing science fiction epic by writer David Schulner about a secret government cloning project gone awry. The series features the artistic talents of Juan Jose Ryp who has been turning in ultra-detailed, blood dripping pages month in and month out. Together Schulner and Ryp have made “Clone” one of the most underrated books out there.

Issue #11 kicks off a brand new story-arc that serves as the perfect jumping on point for new readers, and Bloody-Disgusting had the opportunity to sit down with Schulner to discuss where the book is headed. Schulner gave us the inside scoop on the latest developments on the “Clone” television series and what readers can expect in the coming months as the characters battle religious zealots, fear, ignorance, and intolerance from the world at large.

Bloody-Disgusting: I’m interested to hear what spawned the initial idea for Clone, because the idea of cloning has been a hot topic across the globe over the past few years. Is it true that the idea blossomed out of your wife being pregnant?

David Schulner: That’s right. This was seven years ago. That’s how long these things take to get off the ground. My wife was pregnant and I was like, “Holy shit I’m going to be a father!” And not because I felt immature, but because I just became a husband. And I still felt like my parent’s son. How could I become someone else? Again? Then couple this identity crisis with all the debates about embryonic stem cells and the ethics of cloning happening in the news everyday and BAM, Clone!

BD: You are a television writer and this is your first foray into the comic book world. How big was the learning curve from TV to comics and how different is it writing for each medium?

DS: Well, the truth is there’s a huge learning curve. In issue #11 (which will be the start of our 3rd trade) we do a big reset, where new readers can jump in without having read the first 10 issues. And the reason we did this was twofold. One was just practical, we want new readers! And the second reason, to be completely honest, was that I finally felt like I knew how to write an awesome comic and I didn’t want people to read those first 10 issues. But to be fair (to myself and to the amazing team that makes Clone every month) people really liked the first ten issues. But I only see what I could have done better.

And in terms of writing for the screen vs. writing for comics, I think we’ll start to hear more and more people say there isn’t much of a difference. Because a lot of us go back and forth now. One of the reasons I’m writing Clone with Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre is that I love the TV model of a writers room – a bunch of smart folks sitting around pitching ideas with the best idea always winning. Especially for a comic like ours, which eats up a ton of story and plot, it makes the heavy lifting more bearable.

BD: Jose Ryp has been turning out some jaw dropping pages in this book each month. Tell us a little bit about the creative process between you both. Do you give him tight, detailed scripts or do you leave the scene up to him to come up how to portray it on the page?

DS: Juan is incredible. I mean, he’s in a class unto himself. He has a splash page in issue 13 that is the greatest (and when I say greatest I mean most horrific) in our series. Or the cover for issue 15? It’s breathtaking. So, in terms of process, we give Juan the emotion of the scene, or the takeaway of the scene, sometimes we’ll have specific angles, but we try to be as open as possible. I don’t want to tell Juan how to do his job. He’s been doing this a lot longer than me. I want him to be as creative as we get to be coming up with the story. It’s the same when I work with a director on set. As long as they’re telling the story, surprise me. You didn’t think I wrote all the excruciating detail Juan puts in his panels, did you? Nope. That’s all Juan.

BD: In the last two issues have begun the third arc, where a new threat has emerged for Luke and the clones in the form of religious zealots who believe that the clones are abominations against god and must be killed. Another big part of the third arc is that Clones are now on the run from the rest of the world. That must open the door for you as a writer to play off humanities fears and prejudices…

DS: I think anytime a new race/class/religion/genetically modified clones are introduced into the populace there is some pushback out of fear, ignorance, and intolerance. So we thought once the clones were outed to the public this would be a realistic reaction. What it does is it puts pressure on Luke to find the remaining clones. Like he was found by Foss (R.I.P.). But once Luke is captured by the Coalition, and a very needy member of the Coalition I might add, he realizes no clone will ever be safe here again. But how do you escape the country with sixty clones who are America’s Most Wanted?

BD: Luke’s wife, Amelia, also seems to be going through some major transformations in the past couple of issues, but she seems to be taking on much more of a leadership role within the Clone safe house. What can you tell us about her character and where she’s heading in the coming months?

DS: Amelia’s strong as hell. But what’s great about Amelia is that she’s also a new parent. And new parents are very vulnerable, fiercely protective, but also quite emotional, and completely self-sacrificing. They are pulled in a hundred different directions. And that’s fun to write. As much as we put Luke through the wringer we wanted put Amelia through the wringer as well. Just because she’s not captured by the Coalition doesn’t mean she’s not going to face the toughest decision possible for a new mother.

BD: At the end of issue #13, Luke meets a series of female clones. What can you tell us about that development?

DS: Luke just assumed he and his clones were the only clones “made”. So we get to blow his mind here and hopefully the reader’s. These new clones were also made by Luke’s father, and they have decided to risk exposing themselves to save their “brothers”.

BD: Clone has been optioned for television, can you give an update on the series status and how far in the development process it is?

DS: The script is done. It was a blast to write. Everyone wants to be in business with Robert [Kirkman], who is executive producing with me, so we’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.

BD: I remember Robert Kirkman saying that he wants the Walking Dead television show and comic to be two separate and different entities, because he doesn’t want fans to watch the show and know what to expect next. How closely is the Clone television adaptation to the source material and will the comic and show be able to exist simultaneously?

DS: Robert is very smart for someone who is so good looking. Usually god doesn’t give with both hands. But I digress. The TV script of Clone is different from the comic in that I combine certain characters (The Vice President and Davis become one character) and Foss, a fan favorite in the comic, dies at the end of the pilot episode. But it’s very much the same in terms of Luke’s arc and emotional journey.

BD: How far do you have Clone planned and is there a definitive ending in mind for the series?

DS: We are currently writing issue 17 and we have a detailed storyboard through issue 25. No end in sight! We have so many insane twists and turns coming up we’ll just keep going until someone turns off the lights.