Robert Willis is an information security professional, a "white hat" hacker who provides peace of mind for companies and individuals alike by showing them how to make their online experiences more secure. What most of the people who hire him don't know is that Willis has a secret passion: comic books.
"I've been obsessed with comics my entire life," Willis told Bleeding Cool, "and have been a dealer on the side for over two decades. I decided to take the plunge and become a creator, to make content I want to see more of and that can appeal to other hackers and younger readers."
As with many fringe or underserved communities, Willis saw a dearth of comics that speak to the aesthetic of hackers, the magicians of code who manipulate realties through creativity, force of will and technical ability. Given that he had an established community that regarded him highly and a plan, Willis began Paraneon as a way to provide stories that speak to both the aesthetic and community of hackers.
"The initial books lay out the world, which is very technocentric," Willis explained. "The stories introduce characters and the scenery. Future books will expand on hacking scenarios from real-world hackers — like myself."
The Hive Network is less The Matrix and more Upload, but made into a caste-based drama about the haves and have nots laid across a digital tableau.
Portals is an undercover police procedural focused on corners of the world not able to receive the light of the digital world and how that isolation has altered the people and mores of society there.
Neon Skyline takes place on Mars where the goal is hacking the human genome, where a prodigy discovers that many of the androids tasked with supporting this society actually have human brain tissue installed.
Each story is part of a shared universe and how these stories connect will be explored in the collection Initiating … Paraneon, which will collect all three of the first stories.
As of this article, Paraneon made almost three times as much as its Kickstarter goal, and is listed as one of the site's "Projects We Love." Artwork from the three "zero issue" books is available on the Kickstarter page.
"I put up a Kickstarter to promote the first three titles, which introduce the universe and different characters. Each title is based on specific characters, who come together at the end of the initial books, which will begin the ongoing series."
Hannibal Tabu is a writer, journalist, DJ, poet and designer living in south Los Angeles with his wife and children. He's a winner of the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt, winner of the 2018-2019 Cultural Trailblazer award from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, his weekly comic book review column THE BUY PILE can be found on iHeartRadio's Nerd-O-Rama podcast, his reviews can be found on BleedingCool.com, and more information can be found at his website, www.hannibaltabu.com.
Plus, get free weekly web comics on the Operative Network at http://bit.ly/combatshaman.