Ben Fisher, known for writing Grumpy Cat comics, has a new horror series The Great Divide from Dynamite kicking off this September and he talks with Byron Brewer about what it takes to write a series about a world where two people must work together to survive but can never touch each other. Covers by Adam Markiewicz and Kevin Stokes.
BYRON BREWER: What are the difficulties/challenges of writing a dramatic, character-driven tale about a man and a woman working together in a world where any physical contact results in agonizing death? How do you achieve closeness, romance, etc. …?
BEN FISHER: That tension is exactly what makes writing the connection between Paul and Maria so compelling. Their bond is formed begrudgingly and is tested at every level during their journey. And when you add in the fact that Maria’s dead brother is trapped inside Paul’s head … well, there isn’t a good “relationship status” setting in Facebook for that sort of thing.
But on the other hand, everyone struggles with concerns about intimacy and meaningful connection at some point in their life – this world just happens to have those issues literalized. So in that sense, I approach Paul and Maria much as I would any other complicated relationship.
BB: In any world, it seems some humans thirst for unknown thrills. Tell us about the “baredevils” and what gives them a high.
BF: “Baredevil” is a broad description for anyone who refuses to let the Divide control their behavior. It could be an adrenaline junkie who thrives on the constant risk of exposed skin, or an activist rejecting protective clothing as a statement of optimism in the face of fear.
But whatever their reason, they don’t tend to be especially popular outside of their own communities.
BB: Any new characters come to the forefront in #2?
BF: Oh, yes! This issue introduces Eli, a former soldier who encounters our protagonists under rather dire circumstances. We also meet Sebastian, a former self-help author who has transformed himself into something exceedingly dangerous in the post-Divide world.
Both of these characters will have important parts to play in our protagonists’ story.
BF: There’s a bit of me in all my characters, certainly – but there’s no question that Paul serves that function most frequently. For example, Paul’s inherited (from me) notion of constantly feeling out of his depth is why Maria so often takes the reigns on decision-making during their travels.
And although I adore Grumpy and her brother, I see myself more as Dog. He might as well have a flashing neon sign attached to his collars that reads, “Like me, PLEASE!”
BB: Each issue of The Great Divide comes with unique (like the series) additional digital content. What’s in store for readers of issue #2, Ben?
BF: Adam is bringing a very special treat this time around: pages to an apocalypse-themed adult coloring book. We hope it helps pass the time, should our readers find themselves in a dystopian world devoid of all human contact.
BB: Ben, aside from your Dynamite work, any new projects you’d like to discuss?
BF: There’s a few I’d love to discuss, but I’m bound to secrecy. I can talk about Splitsville, however, which is a comedy about an egotistic, overbearing superhero and his evil genius, yet socially conscious, nemesis – who happen to be two sides of a split personality. As an extra twist, their respective sidekicks are secretly exploiting both personalities for vast personal gain. The series will be exclusive to Comixology and the first issue will be available in early September.
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