In the year 3535, Mars is in pretty bad shape. Its proud past as a vacation spot for the rich and famous long forgotten, stripped of its natural resources, the red planet has become a home for - as Cher would say - gypsies, tramps and thieves who think that our pop culture is their real history. That's the background to forthcoming graphic novel The Martian Confederacy, by Jason McNamara and Paige Braddock, which shows what happens when outlaws have to save the day from corporations trying to clean up the air... for a price. We spoke to writer McNamara about the book, as well as the seductive lure of writing SF.
You're following up your Continuity graphic novel - about a girl who changed realities every time she fell asleep - with a book about tri-sexual redneck outlaws fighting for the survival of Mars. Why can't you write something a little bit more imaginative, McNamara?
I try to write the books I'd love to discover. That doesn't always translate into an easy sell. You might like my next collaboration with [Continuity artist] Tony Talbert, it's pretty dull. It's called Sucker and it's an examination of the failed pursuit of American Ideology from the point of view of a guy who comes back from the dead to eat children and hump his sister.
Nothing kills a comic book for me more than cheap realism. It's boring and a waste of an artist's talent. I'd much rather adapt real world themes into a fictional landscape. For example The Martian Confederacy was inspired by the American super conglomerate Bechtel's failed attempt to privatize the drinking water of Brazil. Now I could barely stay awake writing that sentence, imagine trying to read a graphic novel about it. But throw in a horny android, a drinking bear, and some two sided ladies and it's suddenly fun for me to write and you to read. The goal is always to create someplace you'll miss when you close the book.
You've said elsewhere that the book takes place in a future where historical records have been lost and "the people of the future think Planet Of The Apes, Star Trek and Pulp Fiction actually happened" - Is this some kind of comment on the dangers of sci-fi being taken too seriously, or just an excuse for pop-culture reference nerds to piss themselves in glee?
I look at Science Fiction as a living language that's always building on itself. So the challenge for me was how to recognize where we've been while still going forward without being trapped in homage. Instead of worrying about what's been done before we just decided to recognize all science fiction as our past and theirs.
It's also a reflection of people like me who were raised by TV. I couldn't tell you what I learned in grade school but ask me about how Different Strokes and the Facts of Life exist in a shared universe and suddenly I'm an expert on something.
Art for the book is by Jane's World creator and former Charles Shultz assistant Paige Braddock - What did she bring to the project besides making it look so good?
Because Paige is such a great writer herself, I actively sought her feed back in writing and editing the script. We had some spirited discussions over content and the book is better for it (if the book seems like it's missing a crucial poop joke it's because she asked me to take it out).
Paige also brought some unintentional anxiety to the partnership. I mean she goes from being nominated for an Eisner to working with me? Not since Cuba Gooding Junior has recognition destroyed such a promising career.
When The Martian Confederacy gets optioned for the inevitable movie treatment, who will you demand to play the lead roles before collapsing in a drug-induced stupor on top of your multiple Hollywood-paid hookers?
Optioning The Martian Confederacy would be a death sentence for me. My vices are only controlled by abject poverty. But if you really want to see me dead...
Ashton Kushter as Boone. The two of them are a pair of idiots, it would be perfect.
Natasha Lyonne as Lou. They're both trash talking, fun loving gals I'm crushed out on.
John Goodman as Spinner. Goodman might actually be too hairy to play the drinking bear.
Gene Hackman as the Alcalde. Hackman could easily embody the charm and menace of Mars sole lawman.
Carrie Ann Moss as both sides of Sally. Moss would be great fit for the two headed Sally. She's played both villain (Memento) and hero (The Matrix) before and after Red Planet still owes us a good Mars movie.
Last chance - Why should io9 readers pick up this book in twenty words or less?
Imagine The Dukes of Hazzard meeting Noam Chomsky. It's a perfect mix of social commentary, science fiction and cleavage.
The Martian Confederacy arrives in stores in July, and is available for pre-order now.