Talk about Identity Theft. Imagine the technology is available where customers can basically make a back-up of themselves. Their personality, their memories, their feelings. It’s all been enabled to be captured. The purpose of this is to give people an opportunity to make their lives end the way they want after an unexpected death. With the plan, you are given 48 hours after your death to have all that data transferred to a duplicate body. During those 48 hours, you can clean-up any loose ends and make your final goodbyes to your loved ones. That was the concept. But what happens if someone steals your backup data and puts it out there for all to access on the dark web? Soon you could have numerous versions of you out there. And not necessarily looking like you. That is the premise of writer Chris Sebela and artist Cara McGee’s new book .Self, which comes to comiXology Original November 2nd.

With this unique and well thought-out story coming out, we wanted to talk to the mastermind behind it all. So, let’s welcome talented writer Chris Sebela to GVN’s Talking Comics.

Starting Out

GVN: Thank you for sharing a bit of your time Christopher. So let us start with a bit of your background. You have written for various publications in your time but when did you decide to give comics a go and whose work inspired you to take that plunge?

CS: I moved from the midwest to Portland, Oregon on New Year’s Day of 2010 with a vague notion that I was going to finally pursue writing for real and not just write things in my laptop that no one would ever see and that instead of writing endless novels, I’d write comics. I’ve loved them all my life and I had a huge circle of friends who were working in or around comics, it just all kinda made sense to me to do this. And then it somehow worked out. More than anything, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s work inspired me most because we’ve been friends for years, way before any of us was published, and watching them bust into comics was inspiring to me and I thought I could maybe do it too if I tried real real hard.

Writing Methods

GVN: You have written for pretty much all the big names in Comic Publishing, Image Comics, DC, Marvel, Boom Studios, Dark Horse, Oni Press, Skybound, IDW and Dynamite. Does your work flow change depending on who you are working for or is it pretty much how you write is how you write?

CS: Mostly the way I write is the way I write across the board. Sometimes, when it’s a licensed or work for hire project, you’re given more rules and you have more mythology and past stories to sort through than others, so it’s more difficult from a research angle. Occasionally I’d just get lost reading old comics and forget that I’m supposed to be doing homework. But I try to treat every project the same and of equal importance, even if some can be harder to crack than others.

Self-Owned vs. Established Characters

GVN: So you have written creator owned material High Crimes, Dead Letters, We(l)come Back, and now .Self, as well as working on established characters, do you prefer one over the other and is there more pressure in working with the established ones?

CS: I definitely prefer creator-owned. It’s mostly what I focus on these days. Getting to build my own worlds, populate them with my own characters, take things in weird directions, tell stories that interest me the most, it’s the best job. Writing for someone else’s characters can come with a lot more pressure, because there’s a lot more eyes on it and there’s a lot more canon and facts to keep straight while also trying to tell a story I can be proud of, but at the end of the day, they’re not mine and there will always be a bit of emotional distance there that doesn’t exist in my creator-owned stuff.

.Self

GVN: So let’s get into your new book .Self. This has to be the most original and mind blowing story I have ever had an opportunity to read (Talk about Identity Theft!). What was the inspiration for .Self and has this been an idea that has percolating for a while?

CS: I honestly can’t even remember where the idea came from. It’s been around since late 2017/early 2018. But there was no official light bulb moment I can remember. It mostly came out of the idea of if you could back yourself up on a hard drive, what would happen if someone stole the file of you? And what would happen if they started giving it away like a movie on piratebay where anyone could grab a copy and do what they wanted with it? I’m drawn to ideas where a thing becomes capable of generating a lot of chaos and weirdness and this seemed like a perfect formula for something like that. So I just started slowly chasing it down and figuring it out over the next 6 months or so until I knew who the characters were and what this book actually was, other than just a fun idea.

Artist Cara McGee

GVN: You are working with talented artist Cara McGee (Black Canary: Ignite; Star Wars) on .Self. How did that collaboration come about and how closely did you work together in creating the book’s look?

CS: I’ve always loved Cara’s work since I read DODGE CITY, a book she did with Josh Trujillo about dodge ball. I never knew I’d like reading about dodge ball as much as I did, and Cara’s pages were just charming as all get out. I wanted to work with her on something, in a “that would be cool” sort of way. But I assumed it would be a pipe dream. Once Comixology said they liked the idea of .Self, I reached out to her and asked and luckily she was up for it. It felt like a good fit and also felt a little mysterious too? I had no idea what it would turn out to be, but I knew that I wanted to see what the end result was, which made me even more excited about the book and what it would end up being.

We did a decent amount of work in the lead-up of figuring out characters and technology stuff, but once we started in, I tried to stay out of Cara’s way and give her good scripts that she could do whatever she wanted with them. I always figure it’s best to let the people who know what they’re doing do their thing without being hovered over. And that worked out here.

A Self-Contained Story

GVN: With Issue 1 coming courtesy of comiXology Originals on November 2nd, the series is set for 5 issues. If it is well received as I imagine it will be, do you have any plans for a follow-up to the story or did you design it as a self-contained narrative?

CS: I try to keep things contained. I like stories with endings, so I always try to write with the ending in mind and get there in as enjoyable a fashion as I can without dragging feet. That said, if it somehow blows up and they want more, there’s enough in there that we could do more. I’ve done all the hard work of building the world and figuring out the logic, so there’s lots more we could do with our main character and where she’s at when the book wraps. But I’m happy with the story as it is — a complete thing. If this is all we get, we already did what we set out to do.

Upcoming Projects

GVN: Thanks once again for your time, Christopher. Before I let you go, do you have any other projects you can tell our followers about and when can fan’s follow you on social media or the web?

CS: Thanks. I currently have a book coming out from Oni Press called DIRTBAG RAPTURE, that’s about a woman who works as a ghost transporter and might be responsible for the impending end of the world. It’s funny. And the 3rd and final volume of CROWDED is coming out as a trade early next year. Plus I have a kickstarter I’m about to set loose on the world for a comic called FOULBROOD, about bees and crime. If anyone wants to learn more about any of this, they can find me on twitter – @xtop.

.Self by Chris Sebela and Cara McGee comes to comiXology Originals on November 2nd.

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