The New World is the new Science Fiction romantic adventure series by Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, and Heather Moore. Set in a dystopian near-future America where cops are popular reality TV stars with the power of judge, jury, and executioner to the thrill of live audiences in a surveillance-ridden digital society, the story follows a pair of star-crossed lovers, a hedonistic young policewoman, and a straight-edge vegan hackivist who end up on the run with the whole society after them.
The series is in a lighter, more Pop satirical vein, the yin to the yang of Kot and Danijel Zezelj's dark political thriller series Days of Hate.
Here the creators talk about their collaboration process for the book. Given that Kot likes to work closely with his artists to make each of his books unique to their art, I asked how they went about it.
"Development on this book goes way back — we built this one from the ground up together. It started in 2013 with a one sentence pitch from Ales, 'A poor hacker boy and a tv executor cop girl star fall in love and go on a run during which they age and grow and change…', then turned into an idea sharing space for a few years. News articles, art, music, film, games, comics, concepts, thoughts, desires, life — we were firing away."
"I wrote the New World #1 in mid-2016. I finished its final chapter — #5 — a week ago. So it's taken about two years, and it changed a lot, but in an organic way. The blockchain thing always belonged there. I believe there's a reason a lot of right-wing / libertarian types flock to blockchain, and that its possible use is very wide and has to do with much more than money, so the idea of a future totalitarian government using blockchain in some ways, but also others occasionally using it in non-sanctioned systems and possibilities, well… it made some sense to explore.
I don't believe blockchain is a good or bad technology — nor that it's some sort of a magical pony that will save the Earth or the financial system or whatever. Our tools are what we make of them. But also, maybe some tools are not worth making, not worth using? And if we find ourselves already using them, well, maybe we should really consider what the uses should be."
"Pencil hit page in 2016, and from there we've communicated weekly or daily for two years. That constant communication is what makes this book feel so unified and uniquely "us", in my opinion. Following our idea sharing stage, we initiated work on The New World in a different manner than usual: design first, write second. Ales told me he wanted to be inspired by my art and design, so I got the ball rolling with main character designs, concept sheets, and mood boards. We developed and sculpted the characters from there, gave them names, came up with fun scenarios, then Ales wrote the first script, and we were off."
And Kot, being on top of current technological and social issues, also touches on many hot topics like smart drugs, veganism, hacktivsm, and blockchain technology to give the story its frisson.
"And yes, the questions about blockchain are worth asking. You have your hacktivist character being deep into it. What's interesting is that he's not the ultra-competent, near-omnipotent hacker that too many stories fall back on. He gets careless, he makes mistakes. You set up a collision course between two young people on the opposite sides of the law who are both tech- and media-savvy, but both might be as much victims of the system, trapped in it as everyone else."
"I wanted to tell a good story and felt the inspiration float from all kinds of directions, like contemplations of relationships, concerns about what's going to happen with the US over the next decades, old personal trauma, desires, hopes, more more more. One of the biggest points? Being able to work with Tradd again. Our collaboration brings me so much joy. So a lot of The New World is directly inspired by his art."
"I wouldn't say either of us adapted our style or sensibility to fit or express the other's desires here, because our desires were cohesive. The New World is a jointly crafted vision, story, and world. We're doing the best work we can as individuals, and we inspire one another, and we developed in the creative directions we did through teamwork and mutual freedom of expression and individuality. Ales takes a step with the right foot, I take a step with the left, we walk!"
Tradd Moore's art has always had a crystal precision and clarity about it as well as becoming more and more stylised and stylish as he evolved over the years. The New World has a lot of splash pages and large panels to push the impact of each big moment. He talks about the style he developed for the book.
"We decided what we wanted in terms of the pacing and storytelling style during the aforementioned 'idea space' stage. We wanted to make a story that felt spacious. Simple and consistent layouts, low panel count per page, splash pages for impact and air, and of course clarity, clarity, clarity! We wanted this to be inviting to new readers, technically impressive to old, and legible to ALL."
"Ales didn't write a series outline on this one, and I did the remainder of my design work right on the pages of the comic, so every panel, every page, every script has built upon the other and propelled us forward. It's that 'right foot, Ales, left foot, Tradd' thing. We were writing and drawing and developing simultaneously in tandem and response to one another. We just kept doing cool work, not entirely knowing what the other would do next, but trusting each other, and constantly keeping each other informed and bouncing ideas off one another."
The New World #1 is out in July.