During the recent Image Expo, an all-new horror/sci-fi series was announced from writer Becky Cloonan (‘Batman‘) and artist Andy Belanger (‘Kill Shakespeare‘). Take a terrifying trip into a dimension of terror in ‘Southern Cross.’
An Interview by Jorge Solis
In the vastness of space, Alex Braith is determined to solve the mystery of sister’s death. Her investigation leads her to a dark and terrible secret that was never meant to be unearthed. Cloonan and Belanger spoke to me about their upcoming title, the look and design of the comic, and why readers will be frightened by this twisted space mission.
Bloody-Disgusting: How did the premise come about?
Becky Cloonan: It’s funny because Andy has been talking about working on a sci-fi project for a very long time. I stepped into it like, “All right! I’ll write one for you!” [Laughs]
Andy Belanger: Yeah that’s pretty much how it went. I’m a horror movie fan. I love horror, science fiction movies, like ‘Alien’ and ‘Event Horizon;’ stuff like that. I’ve been dying to work on something like that. I’ve been working on ‘Kill Shakespeare’ for years now, doing sword and medieval stuff for the last bunch of years. I really wanted to do anything that was in space, preferably something that had to do with horror. In many comics, that sort of storytelling is perfect.
BD: How did Image Comics become involved?
BC: I had an idea for a short mystery, but when Andy was talking about working on a sci-fi together, I kept going back to that idea. It kept building and building, and soon we had enough material for an ongoing series. Image Comics seemed like the right time, the right publisher, so
I sent an email to Eric Stephenson like, “Andy and I have this idea…” He said, “Let’s do it!” No hesitation. I’ve been dying to work with Image for years so this is really cool.
AB: Yeah, I think a lot of stuff that’s happening with Image right now is the place to be and they’re just doing really cool stuff. Half of the comic book store is pretty much all Image now. I think even our friends that work at Marvel and DC are all starting books at Image. The cool thing is that we own it too, which t makes it even more special.
BD: Tell me about the plot, which we at Bloody-Disgusting have called, ‘The Shining In Space.’
BC: That’s a pretty fun way of describing it. The story starts off quietly. We follow Alex Braith, a passenger on board the Southern Cross tanker bound for Saturn’s refinery moon Titan. Her sister Amber was working for Zemi, an oil company that owns the rigs up there, when she suddenly passed away. Alex is making this trip to recover her sister’s remains and belongings, but as the days go on, she starts unraveling the mystery surrounding her sister’s mysterious death, and taps into a horror much bigger than she ever imagined. What starts off as an Agatha Christie in space turns weird fiction by the end. A little Lovecraft, a little F. Marion Crawford… but at its core ‘Southern Cross’ is very much a mystery.
BD: Tell me about the cover that also came out with the announcement.
BC: The clothes are actually Andy’s design work. I was just going off with what he designed for the characters. He had ideas for costumes. He is making this story feel like a well-realized world.
AB: As far as the fashion stuff goes, the problem that I find when you do science fiction is, especially with comic book artists, most of our influences come from movies and animation. A lot of that stuff I’m looking at is more from fashion designers and melding that with analog/junkie tech. Everyone else has a look but you’ve seen it before. We’ve all seen ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘Star Trek.’ I wanted something where it was cool to be different. ‘Southern Cross’ definitely has its own look now that it is pretty unique. Our main character has some cool duds.
BD: In the overall design, the sci-fi is not extreme and more urban. Tell me about this.
AB: Urban is a good word to use for what we are doing. It’s perfect word to describe it. We definitely aiming for stuff you’ve never seen before.
BC: The first story arc is set aboard this ship, and so we focus on the people who work on the oil rig of Titan. The look, the feel of the ship, the clothing, and the design, it all leads to a bigger tapestry that we’re weaving.
AB: I have some crazy ship designs already finished. I’ve designed a bunch of characters. As far as getting into the story, all of the other work I’ve done has been work-for-hire. I’m going to get obsessed with the design for sure. I’m actually really excited about that!
BD: Because you are both artists, do you feel you can communicate with each other better.
BC: I’ve been writing Andy full scripts. Usually I try to make a few notes, but I also trust him. Andy is an incredibly proficient storyteller and artist. I mean, when I’m writing a script, of course I have an idea how the page should be laid out and I’ll make a note of that, but if Andy has a better idea, I am down for it! Plus, his comics have way more sense of humor than mine do, and I’m trying to play to that. Being so familiar with his storytelling, the beats he uses, I can make this script better for Andy. Plus like, I know I can write crazy things and not have to draw them! [Laughs]
AB: You’re like, “I don’t want to draw this space hanger.” And I’m like, “Space hanger!!”
BC: Andy is going to knock it out of the park. And he’s one of the hardest workers in comics today. It’s been a lot of fun!
AB: It’s going to be cool! Expect a lot of creepy hallways!
BD: What can you tease about the first issues?
BC: The first six issues as its own story arc. We’ll be establishing these characters, setting the mood, and getting to know the ship. There is a few creepy moments in the first issue as well, that I am psyched to build on in the next few.
AB: A lot of times in science fiction, we think the same thing. When is the alien going to show up? When is the psychopath guy going to show up? We’re really going to do stuff that you haven’t seen before. We don’t want to say too much. We want it to be a surprise!
BC: I will say this too, there is a level of actual science happening. That’s actually fun to work with, even if I end up embellishing on a lot of these theories. I fell into a pit of science research.
AB: I’m looking forward to how creepy this is going to be. It’s going to be neat!
BC: The main goal is to make a book that will slowly get under your skin. And hopefully, by the end, you’re going to want to flip back and read it over again.
What other projects are you working on now?
AB: For me, I’m finishing up on the last issue of’ Kill Shakespeare.’ The next couple of years are going to be straight-up ‘Southern Cross.’ I have smaller projects and another big project that I’m developing, but all of that stuff is on the super back-burner, while I’m working on this book for Image.
BC: I’m co-writing ‘Gotham Academy’ with Brendan Fletcher. Karl Kerschl is doing the art for that, it comes out in October from DC comics, which is exciting. Besides doing some cover work, I’m also working on a graphic novel that is unannounced. I can’t say too much more than that!