Superman: Earth One artist Shane Davis is launching a creator-owned series called Axcend through Image. I got a chance to talk with the artist about doing creator-owned work as well as taking on the writing chores for the new series and working with his wife, artist Michelle Delecki.
SHANE DAVIS: First off, we will only be in the game for the first issue of Axcend. At the heart of the book, Axcend is about crossing the line where fantasy ends and reality begings. We follow Eric Morn as he is chosen by an omnious video game A.I., DOG, to be one of three players to beta test a new online game AXCEND. The other players are Rayne, a drug addicted pop-star, and Ruin a mysterious and vicious gamer that seems unbeatable.
DW: Where did the idea for the series come from? Your main character, Eric, is in a difficult point in his life, was there any real-world influence on his situation?
SD: I wanted to do a comic on Power and Consequences. I felt strongly about using teen characters, some with a broken moral compass, and give them the power of gods.
We come into Eric’s life a year after the tragic death of his twin brother, Erin. Eric’s character is half of a whole. His social skills and day to day life is accustomed to being a twin. He finds interactions with others to be difficult and spends most of his time gaming online.
DW: Now you’re known for your art, but here you are also writing the series. Have you always wanted to write or was this something that came along with the concept?
SD: I kind of laid out the whole series in one night. I sat on it for a couple of years, moved some pieces around. At the end of the day, so much was developed with the concept and story that I had to do it on my own. I had done some writing on LOTDK with Brandon Montclare, so this isn’t my first outing.
DW: Joining you on the series are your wife, Michelle Delecki. What is her role on the series and how does the collaboration between you work? Who else is involved in the project?
SD: Michelle is doing inks and she is really keeping an organic detail to my artwork. She also edits me, laughs. She gives everything a once over and opinion. She is very helpful with our female co-op protagonist Rayne. Issue 2 follows that character, as we see her Pop-Star, drug binging, tabloid life. It’s really helpful to have a female’s perspective on Rayne because she is a HUGE part of the story. She will team up with Eric and DOG to try and get to Ruin before he activates in the real world.
DW: What are your long term plans for Axcend? Is this a mini-series, series of story arcs or an on-going? Where would you like to see the story end up?
SD: I plan to go as far as we can with fan support. I’m hiding some of the crazy ideas in the series to be revealed in issues 4 and 5, and plan to do a lot of bold actions with the book. I will be tackling issues like bullying, depression and nuclear globalization. With fan support I would love to go into the second arc, as it is planned out.
SD: I read mostly Image books, like East of West or Low. So as a reader, I find a lot of new books and concepts interesting because I don’t know what to expect. I think your question reaches across the whole comic industry. There are a lot of great new takes on classic charcters that just don’t grab people. At the same time, the same classic X character story can be comfortable for some, but predictable for people too. I’m not sure what the right formula is for a title to take hold.
For me, Axcend is a story with a lot of heart. There are twists in the story and it’s unpredictable, maybe at first glance, but readers will see the big picture of the concept of the book. I have drawn comics for 13-14 years and I really had to put my heart into something at this point and time in my career. Whether that takes hold or not, I still HAD to do this.
DW: Besides Axcend, what else do you have on the horizon? Will you be doing any more Superman: Earth One?
SD: Superman: Earth One Vol 3 is out, you should be able to find a copy.