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Thumbs #1 (of 5)
Story by SEAN LEWIS
Art by HAYDEN SHERMAN
Imagine someone like, say, Mark Zuckerberg created his own army of tech-obsessed teens and directed them to take on the government. What would the fallout be? Charley “Thumbs” Fellows is a member of just such an army. Poor and raised by the influential MOM™ app, he finds himself in the center of a war. The Social Network meets Blade Runner in this big event book from the team that brought you the hit series THE FEW!
Diamond Code: APR190011
FOC due MAY 13TH, 2019
In stores on JUNE 5TH, 2019
Why It’s Cool:
“I love this book because, well, I’m a sucker for a good cyber-punk story, and THUMBS is a great one! It’s all television static and neon magenta, with one foot firmly rooted in 2019 and the other in the book’s unspecified near future. And as much as it focuses on the tech, THUMBS never forgets the family and humanity at the center of the story. Like a lot of good sci-fi, the future THUMBS posits feels possible, although in this case I’m not sure that’s such a great thing. Either way, Sherman and Lewis have created a kinetic action story of generational conflict, video games, and AI parents, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!”
Q&A with Sean Lewis & Hayden Sherman:
Tell us a little bit about THUMBS. How did everything come together?
SEAN LEWIS: Well after THE FEW, Hayden and I, immediately started talking about doing another book together. We both have a lot of trust in the other one and I think we make this comic in very different way than we do books with other people we collaborate with. I asked Hayden what he wanted to work on next and he mentioned something about siblings and how that would relate to his own experience. I was getting very obsessed with the ramifications of our daily technological use and reliance. I just started thinking, “what is the next step for these juggernaut tech companies?” Tech is such an effective drug: it’s tailored to your exact needs and wants, it never turns off or leaves you without a dose… I just started thinking- what if Mark Zuckerburg created an app their parents could download that would literally watch and raise people’s kids? What if he gave war games and strategy games away to these kids? What if he created a tuition free school for them? What if he was grooming them and we as a society willingly handed them over?
And, brining it back to Hayden, what if a brother and sister were at the center of that. Separated by these actions but having a deep and intrinsic missing of each other. Something very human and invisible, in a world of tech and buttons. A human network.
HAYDEN SHERMAN: Visually, it’s sort of a spiritual successor to our last book, The Few. Taking on situations where rag-tag groups stand in opposition to unified utilitarian forces. With the emphasis on technology here however, THUMBS quickly grew into its own, bringing to the page a world that is never quite dull, and is frequently vibrant. Sean had this wonderful story for a future where tech had fallen out of favor with parts of society, and the natural way for the art to go (in my mind) was to make everything feel dimmed down, as if it were part of that tech that was just waiting to be turned on. With the monochrome approach then, any time we see color it pops all the more. It’s been a long and thoughtful process building this book, and I’m really satisfied with the result.
What are you reading/watching/listening to as inspiration for this work?
SL: I’ve been reading Warren Ellis’ FELL. I’ve been looking at Philip K. Dick collections and Black Mirror. I’ve been listening to the paranoid rapping of El-P and Aesop Rock. I’ve been reading the science sections of every magazine: the breakthroughs in AI, the podcast rantings of Elon Musk on whether or not our entire lives are being lived in a simulation. Seth Godin’s AKIMBO… it’s been a hedge lodge. Mostly, I’ve been slowing down and going to my local parks and malls and watching people. And thinking, when I was 16 the internet was an oddity, now it’s omnipresent. And then I daydream about what’s next.
HS: For me, I’ve been taking in Evangelion, Mob Psycho 100, David Bowie, and such. I don’t know if there’s a clear link between those things and our book, but the feeling that they generate is in the vein that I’m always hoping to steer THUMBS in.
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?
SL: The entire world! No, I kid. Sorta. I think anyone who owns a cell phone, anyone compelled to flame war on twitter, anyone who plays video games or keeps track of the latest apps, AI conversations or future speculation would dig this.
The truth is- I do the books I write as a way of exploring my own failings. I usually look at stuff in my own life like a technological reliance (where I just refresh my email all day or have my mood shifted by the receipt of a message) and go “what is going on with me.” And then I think about Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison. And I go, “I bet lots of people are feeling like me. Or wondering about this. Or are scared of this. Or see this in themselves.” And I write.
So, again. I think this is for everyone with a cell phone in their pocket or a game device in their home.
Can you give us an idea of what readers can look forward to in this series, maybe a little down the line?
SL: Imagine Mark Zuckerburg has built an army of kids out of the apps and games he has flooded into their life. He’s created an app called MOMtm that is an AI nanny that raises your children. And imagine, the US government has enough of this and attacks this group mercilessly. The AI is shut down. But then, one kid survives these attacks. And has a goal, he wants to find his sister that he’s been separated from for years. And as he searches, his own MOMtm wakes up and starts to help him. Thumbs is that boy who has woken up. He’s a lost kid, like I was. Like most people were. He likes games and fantasy and the idea of being a hero. He is not expecting to be one. But for his sister, he will try.
And when he finally gets to her… he finds out she has some beliefs of her own. And that is when things get very complicated.
What’s great in comics right now that you’re currently reading?
SL: There are so many great books. GIDEON FALLS is great. I really love it. Lemire’s pacing is fantastic. The stuff Hayden is doing on WASTED SPACE is top notch. I’ve been catching up on GRASS KINGS by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins. SO GOOD. And Jenkins art, with the water colors? It’s fabulous.
It’s important to have books like these. They just make me want to be a better writer. To compete. Each time a Brian Vaughn or a Lemire or Kind throws down a gauntlet like that, just pure imagination, it’s awesome. It always makes me go- “Oh I see you. Bar raised. Time to leap!”
HS: I’ve been deep in Justice League and Superman. It’s hard to keep up on everything as it comes out, but those two consistently give me joy.
How has your creative process working together evolved since your collaboration on THE FEW? What’s similar/different about the two projects?
SL: Book 2… I think we just trust each other implicitly. We’ve worked with a lot of people since then and I think have learned stuff from that and brought it back. Though the over all process is really the same. I believe a lot int he artists I work with. I want to tailor the project and the experience to them because I think folks like Hayden, when given the room, can literally do things you haven’t seen before. So, I want that space to be there. And it pushes me to be meticulous with he story and the emotional arc of the characters and the worlds. It’s been seamless. I love making books with Hayden. I am always impressed by what we end up with. It lets me dream bigger, you know?
HS: More than anything, our process has just streamlined. There hasn’t been much change, we only trust each other all the more with each issue, and the result is having a bigger better time as we go.