Christopher Sebela has written for all the major comic book publishers. He's written books like Demonic and Escape From New York, and Co-Written books such as Green Lantern and Detective Comics. Most recently I discovered his latest title, Crowded, from Image Comics. It is one of the most unique stories I've read in a while, and it also recently got optioned to be made in to a feature film. I loved the book so much I had to learn more. I'll let Chris tell you guys all about it.
1. Crowded just came out to rave reviews, can you talk a little more about it?
Sure. Crowded’s a bunch of different things in one. It’s a thriller, a comedy, a bit of dark sci-fi, an action book. It’s kind of everything I love all wrapped into one. The basic story is a future where everyone works on the share economy, doing stuff like Uber and Postmates and the jillion other jobs you can get via apps and platforms. Only one of the apps is a crowdfunding platform for assassinations called Reapr. And our story focuses on Charlie, who wakes up one morning with a Reapr campaign open on her for over a million dollars. While everyone is trying to kill her, she hires a guard, Vita, from the Dfend app who has to protect her for the next 30 days while trying to figure out why so many people want someone as unremarkable as Charlie dead.
2. I love the aspect of everyone working through different apps, including the crowdfunding Reapr app, how did you
come up with that concept?
The Reapr thing just kinda popped into my head a few years ago. Not sure where it came from or why. I think it was mostly the idea that if you wanted to kill someone and kinda excuse yourself from being prosecuted or holding yourself morally responsible, if you did it on a platform where you’re just one of a couple thousand people, then you don’t ever have to hold yourself accountable. And then I quickly thought about how that could spiral out of control. From there, I pretty much had the concept, then i just had to work out who Charlie and Vita were — aka the actual story.
3. It also just got optioned to adapted for film, how do you feel about that?
It feels good. It’s a nice confidence boost if nothing else, and we’re getting some money so we can focus on making the book. Beyond that, it’s all kind of a fantasyland for me. Until we get somewhere concrete, all this stuff is mostly semi-fictional. I’ve talked to Rebel Wilson on the phone twice now, so she seems serious about it, but we’re mostly focused on just making our book and not worrying too much about the movie happening. If it does, that’ll be really cool, if it doesn’t, it’s still been pretty cool.
4. Do you have an endgame planned for Crowded?
Yep. I know the last scene and the last line. I know how some of the arcs are shaped, but we’re still figuring a lot out as we go. Our ideal is that we go for about 20+ issues, following the campaign all the way to the end.
5. You've done work for other publishers as well, do you have any stories that you would love to do with some of the mainstream characters?
There’s definitely some characters I’d love to work on, but they’re all pretty small in terms of those universes. I love the characters who are kinda on the fringe and haven’t been made the focus of stuff. I mean, I love writing characters like Harley Quinn and Killer Croc and Ghost Rider, but all my dream characters are 4th tier “who’s that?” characters that me and like 4 other nerds probably obsess about.
6. How did you get your "big break" in the comic book industry?
I don’t know if I have? I still feel like I’m breaking in. But I started out doing creator-owned books and it was my book HIGH CRIMES that caught the attention of editors and started getting me hired at publishers. It’s a book we did for zero money, on our own time, as something we really believed in and hoped would get to the right eyes. Lucky for us, it did.
7. Are there any other books you're currently working on that you can talk about?
My other Image series, SHANGHAI RED, is wrapping its 5 issue run in October and I’m currently working on HOUSE AMOK, a 5-issue creator-owned mini with Shawn McManus at Black Crown/IDW. It’s a horror book about a family going insane together. Also the 3rd and final season of HEARTTHROB will be coming out later this year. And then lots of secret stuff I can’t mention.
8. What would you say influences your writing the most?
Everything does, to some degree. I can pick up a story idea from some random link on twitter or in response to a movie I just saw or a comic I just read. I think it’s too hard for me to single out the influences my writing. Mostly it’s being open to the universe and the weird stuff floating through it and deciding what weird stuff interests you most, what you wanna say, and then chasing that kernel of an idea down until it turns into a story or winds up just being a failed experiment. And even the failed experiments help.