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Written by Simon Roy & Daniel M. Benson
Illustrated by Artyom Trakhanov & Various
SERIES PREMIERE! From SIMON ROY (Prophet), Sideways Award-winning author DANIEL M. BENSEN (Junction), ARTYOM TRAKHANOV (UNDERTOW), JASON WORDIE (GOD COUNTRY), and HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU (Red Sonja) comes a sci-fi adventure equal parts Conan the Barbarian, Mad Max, and The Expanse.
Of all the tribes that dwell in the hot ruins of far-future North America, the Hudsoni reign supreme, but even they fear and obey the godlike Devas. When the Devas warn of an old-world demon in the conquered city of Shikka-Go, Hudsoni war chief First Knife decides to deal with the threat personally.
Diamond Code: NOV190012
FOC due January 6th, 2020
In stores on January 29th, 2020
Why It’s Cool:
“Imagine if Miyazaki did a far future, post apocalyptic sci fi movie? That’s pretty much Protector in a nutshell. The first issue gives us a ton of worldbuilding, and it’s the way all the factions and ideas interconnect and threaten one another that’s going to make this book stand out. When you’ve got slavers, alien god machines, a rogue combat cyborg, and at the center of it all a runaway slave girl, things are bound to get weird and bloody before the story ends.”
Q&A with Simon Roy, Daniel M. Benson, & Artyom Trakhanov
Tell us a little bit about Protector. How did everything come together?
Simon Roy: Well, Daniel and I have been working on this project on and off for years! It started when I was still in art school, around the idea of god-like, extraterrestrial machine intelligences interacting with technologically primitive human tribes. I showed my budding project to Daniel, and he began to ask me questions about it. These questions spurred us into building the far future world of Protector, where these god-like machines are busy repairing Earth’s biosphere for their own purposes, with mankind squabbling away below.
These two conflicting elements – tribal warrior societies and transcendent machine-gods – fit together oddly well, imitating some of our own traditional religious conceptions of the universe; distant gods presiding over the conflicts of mankind. But it prompted us to introduce a third element, something to disrupt that closed system of man and god. So the story evolved further – amidst the ruins of the old world, a slave girl finds a still-functional combat cyborg, waiting below the rubble. As this newly awakened cyborg tries to understand the new world he finds himself in, this slave girl offers him a new, potent identity: that of saviour.
After Daniel and I had been passing these ideas back and forth for a while, Artyom approached me about collaborating, and I presented him with the story ideas and rough layouts I had been chewing on. He proceeded to then completely knock it out of the park! I got in touch with Jason Wordie, with whom I had been a friend and collaborator with in art school (we made a little-known book called “Tiger Lung” together for Dark Horse, back in 2014), and whom had ALSO worked with Artyom on a previous comic (the stellar “Turncoat” from BOOM), and all of a sudden, our team was assembled!
What are you reading/watching/listening to as inspiration for this work?
SR: As Artyom will mention as well, the manga of Nausicaa, by the great Hayao Miyazaki, casts a long shadow over this whole project. Miyazaki’s films, too, were a big influence for me; he has a great knack for making characters that have perfectly relatable motivations for the ill deeds they do… which just so happens to be something we wanted to explore in this story, as well. How would an immortal death machine deal with waking up into an era completely different from his own, where all his friends and family have been dust for centuries? Why would a slave girl partner up with this same immortal metal monster?
Daniel M. Benson: As far as godlike uploaded intelligence goes, I was probably thinking of Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow’s Rapture of the Nerds, Sheri S. Tepper’s Sideshow, and Guy Haley’s Champion of Mars. Then, as we were wrapping up the script, I reread Guards Guards by Terry Pratchett. I was struck by Havelock Vetinari saying that there are no good people and bad people, just bad people on different sides.
When you started this project who did you have in mind as an audience for this, and did it change by the time you finished?
SR: In all honesty, my primary audience when I’m working on a comic is myself. Protector is a carefully curated construction of a lot of my own overlapping interests, from transhumanism and ecology down to pre-modern warfare and anthropology. But from my own experience, I know these overlapping interests are not just my own indulgences.
Can you give us an idea of what readers can look forward to in this series, maybe a little down the line?
SR: This arc is mainly concerned with the very tense re-negotiation of power relations between Gods, slavers, slaves, and one rusty old cyborg (locally interpreted as a demon). These re-negotiations will involve a lot of edged weapons, black-powder muskets, and even a few laser beams, so readers can anticipate all the severed limbs, divided loyalties, and unearthed ancient secrets that would be encompassed by such an endeavour.
DB: What we have in store is the best kind of team building. Everyone is the sworn enemy of everyone else, driven by utterly different values, toward mutually opposed goals! We got emotional break-downs, speculative biology, buckets of blood, and just a little bit of nudity. It’s very tasteful.
What’s great in comics right now that you’re currently reading?
SR: The reprints of the magnificent French “Ogre Gods” series, from Lion Forge, are my current favorite comics on the shelves. Though the later volumes aren’t quite as flawless as the first volume, called “Petit”, they are a wonderful example of how a creative team can balance world-building against the actual concrete needs of a story. They’ve got this interesting method, reminiscent of “Watchmen”, and Image’s own “Nowhere Men”, where breaks between chapters of comic story will be filled with careful short chunks of prose that elaborate on the horrid, fascinating world the story is occuring in. And most of the time, at least, they manage to keep these prose interludes short enough that you can very naturally jump between the two styles of storytelling.
Artyom Trakhanov: My favorite 2019 book so far is probably LITTLE BIRD – I’ve been following it since the earliest tiny teasers on Ian Bertram’s instagram and all throughout it’s publishing history. I love this book so much so that when I got a chance to get my hands on the earlier released French hardcover, I grabbed it! And now I just can’t wait for the next volume (PRECIOUS METAL) from Darcy, Ian and their team.
Also, I’ve been re-reading NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND again. Not exactly the freshest of releases, but this book is timeless for me. You could find a ton of its DNA in Protector, and I always keep these two massive tomes around.
DB: SAGA and FULL METAL ALCHEMIST. The second for the terrible choices the author forces the characters to make, and the first for the clashing cultures and the cute baby. Now I’m going to be that guy, and tell you about my favorite authors right now: Greg Egan, R. Scott Bakker, Kerry Greenwood, Sam Hughes, and Louis McMaster Bujold.
What’s your next project?
SR: Currently, I’ve been building up two longer comic books on my patreon – treating it as a sort of monthly subscription service, where $3 a month gives subscribers a short standalone comic or a chapter of a longer ongoing story. The first book, co-written with fellow Vancouver artist and writer Jess Pollard, is a set of easygoing, pastoral science fiction short stories. The first of these involves an archaeologist finding the still-working brain of one of the robots that helped her ancestors settle the planet, and the dark secrets hidden within that brain. But the characters within this story are busy reading a longer, continuous fantasy novel called “Brave Bird,” where a war god is accidentally trapped in the body of a chicken by a careless, hungry wizard.
But the current long-running feature is a set of cynical sci-fi action-comedy stories I’ve been making with the help of Damon Gentry, of Sabretooth Swordsman fame. We’ve been co-writing the scripts and outlines, then I’ve been doing the layouts and pencils, and Damon has done inking and lettering, a method which was partly inspired by the collaborative work of Malachi Ward and Matt Sheean, who made the amazing book “Ancestor”. If you’d like to investigate, my patreon is here: https://www.patreon.com/simonroy
Meanwhile, Artyom has been engaged in a similar process of book construction at his own patreon, which can be found here: patreon.com/ohotnig
Artyom’s patreon is currently home to, among other things, a wonderful set of stories called “Slavic Nihilism”, which is fast becoming a very impressive window into the Russian comics scene. Not only is Artyom releasing his own long-running fantasy stories through the platform, but also a variety of other fantastical and horrific short comics from fellow Russian cartoonists!
Meanwhile, Daniel is currently working on a sequel to his strange, wonderful sci-fi novel Junction – a tale about what happens when a wormhole to another world is found in the highlands of New Guinea – and what competing nations will do to keep the wormhole to themselves! Daniel’s home base can be found here: http://www.thekingdomsofevil.com/