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Creator, Writer & Artist of Jan's Atomic Heart
Published by: New Reliable Press

Interviewed by: Richard Vasseur - (Posted: 6/7/2009)

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Simon Roy

Richard: How did you get the idea for this comic?

Simon: Well, the idea kind of generated itself - I had just spent a few weeks in western Europe, and wanted to recapture some of that feeling - y’know, the clean, safe streets, etc - but with a more post-apocalyptic twist. I did a few pages of these kind of as an exercise in creating environment, and the story grew from there. I’ve spent most of my life reading sci-fi, so it was more a matter of pulling elements from that pool of ideas and putting them together in a way that worked then anything else.

Richard: What exactly is the storyline?

Simon: It’s the far-ish future, and Frankfurt - as the EU’s main transportation hub - has taken a hell of a beating after a brief war with Lunar separatists. Jan is a computer analyst who’s living through a tele-operated body while his real one’s in the hospital (he was in a car accident) - but that same model of prosthetic body is also being used by a splinter group of lunar terrorists in attacks on UN targets. Jan gets a little freaked out at that, and so goes to his best friend, Anders, for help…

Richard: Who is Jan?

Simon: Basically, just a guy with really bad luck. He’s kind of the stand-in for the audience - we only know as much as he does throughout the story, which I think works well for involving the audience in the story.

Richard: Who are a few of the supporting characters?

Simon: Well, the only other really important is Jan’s best friend, Anders. He is an avid jogger and employee of the EU’s Federal Finance Ministry. I’d tell you more, but that’d give away the key twist of the whole story…

Richard: Do you enjoy drawing robots, cyborgs?

Simon: Yeah, but in all honesty, I think right now I’m enjoying drawing prehistoric hominids and beasts right now - mammoths, Neanderthals, etc.

There’s something exciting about working on depicting these ancient creatures, because they exist on the same scale as most of monsters you see in fantasy books, but they actually existed - some of them alongside our own ancestors.

Richard: What is the one thing that stands out the most in this comic?

Simon: Maybe the pacing, actually. I wanted to have a more organic and relaxed story then the hard, goal-driven type of narrative you so often seen in Sci-fi books - you know, the “We’ve got to escape/stop him/defeat them/etc.” Type of story, where none of the characters ever stop to go to the bathroom or have breakfast.

Richard: Do you think our science will ever advance to the point of using robots as in this comic?

Simon: I think that anything’s possible, but I’m not sure if people would ever really be comfortable living through an artificial body. That being said, it seems like every year we get more and more comfortable with artifice, so maybe entirely new bodies will be our future’s equivalent to plastic surgery.

Richard: Do you plan to create any more comics?

Simon: Hell yeah!

Richard: Have you worked on any other comics?

Simon: Not on any that have been published. But I am starting work on a couple of new comic projects that I’m pretty excited about.

Richard: Are you a sci-fi fan?

Simon: Of course! I think my first big introduction to Sci-fi were the star wars movies, which got re-released RIGHT when I was at the perfect age to enjoy them. Since then, my tastes are definitely on the hard sci-fi end of the spectrum rather then the space-opera end. Authors like William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Ben Bova… this is the stuff I read all through my teens, and it’s definitely pushed me towards the more realistic style of story. I wish there were more good sci-fi movies out now, though (flicks like ‘Children of Men’ and ‘Sunshine’ being the major exceptions).

Richard: What do you think of the Canadian comic book scene?

Simon: I’m not sure if there’s a cohesive Canadian ‘scene’, but we’ve got some really amazing creators working right now. Obviously there are guys like Seth and Chester Brown, but we’ve got everyone from Michel Rabagliatti (one of my personal favourites) to Brian Lee O’Malley. Canada’s actually rolling with a pretty winning team of cartoonists right now, and they cover pretty much the entire range of genres and styles.

Richard: What other comic books would you recommend besides your own?

Simon: Well, my favourite comics are mainly non super-hero ones - and rarely sci-fi, as it turns out. I’d definitely recommend books like Gipi’s “Notes for a War Story” - this book was the one that actually started me working on stories seriously. Also, any of the ‘Paul’ books by Michel Rabagliatti. They read like incredibly engaging memoirs, and are among the best comics I’ve ever read.
Oh, and try ‘Exit Wounds’ by Rutu Modan - it’s a great read.

Richard: How can someone contact you?

Simon: The easiest way would be through my email: .

Richard: Any last words of wisdom?

Simon: Hmm. I guess the most useful thing that I could say is that ambitions are better to have then dreams. I hope that doesn't sound too mercenary - but I think that's all I've got.

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