Singularity 7 creator Ben Templesmith

Ben Templesmith is the popular artist of such books as Dark Horse's Criminal Macabre: A Cal McDonald Mystery, and IDW's 30 Days of Night, its sequels, Dark Days and Return to Barrow; and Silent Hill: Dying Inside. This month he writes and illustrates IDW's Singularity 7. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently caught up with Templesmith to find out more about this book.

Westfield: Up to this point, you've been known as an artist. Why did you decide to try your hand at writing with Singularity 7?

Ben Templesmith: I've been writing my own stuff since before I broke in. And yes, I did start as an artist, and probably will (I hope!) continue as mostly an artist. Trying to write my own stuff on Singularity 7 happened for a couple reasons. One, I had a story in a different genre I really wanted to do; I'm not just vampires and 'horror' as such; and two, I really wanted to take some more control of the story telling process - have more control over pacing, and decisions about what I put on a certain page etc. I really wanted to try some new things for me; evolve a little, and there's no better way than writing it yourself too. It means complete freedom (for better or worse!).

Westfield: How did Singularity 7 come about? What is the genesis of the story?

Templesmith: It came about from my urge to try and attempt something a bit different for me really. Both visually and with the actual content subject matter. S7 started with me thinking about Nanotechnology, which is a real technology and progresses in research more every day. This new area of research could potentially change the world in ways no other technology ever has. More than nuclear, more than the internet, more than the wheel even. Get it right and it changes our entire lives, society, our very bodies. Get it wrong and we have a more horrific doomsday scenario than nuclear weapons. I wanted to explore all that a bit in a futuristic sense.

Westfield: Is this planned as an ongoing series or is it a mini-series?

Templesmith: It's a mini-series right now. It's a real story with a beginning, middle and end. After that, who knows? It wouldn't work as a long form serialization though. Not this particular story. You could potentially do new things with new characters in the same 'world' though. Perhaps later on.

Westfield: What can you tell us storywise about Singularity 7?

Templesmith: Well, it's set in the future slightly, and deals with the ramifications of nanotechnology messing up the planet to a large extent. Basically within the story, and characters, things will come to a head and we'll see if humanity can survive their darkest hour against an enemy that can control matter itself. The real motives that drive the main players however, won't actually become apparent until close to the end. It's going to start out appearing to be one story, but probably finish with a completely different slant.

Westfield: Who are the main characters in the book and what can you tell us about them?

Templesmith: There's 7 main 'human' characters who get thrown together as humanities only really viable option left to combat what's happening to the planet. Not all of them like each other either.

There are two other main characters: 'The Singularity' itself; the being that's in ultimate control of the nanites that are shaping the entire planet now through mere thought. Once human, his very body has been twisted and warped (and so too the planet) by his own imagination. The world is dominated by a single mind. And an insane one at that. Want to take all the oxygen out of the air? He can do it in about 5 minutes just because he wants to see what it would be like.

The final guy that will be focused on is called 'Devik.' He's one of the central hubs the Singularity uses for whatever he's up to. An autonomous sentient being to a degree to allow better performance, he's a clone, just like the rest of the beings called the 'Gosiodo' who are tasked with rooting out the last survivors of true humanity that are holed up in sealed underground areas, surviving as best they can.

Westfield: Aside from the fact that you're writing the story, do you work differently as a writer/artist than you do when working from someone else's script? For example, do you write out a script that you follow when you're working on the pages?

Templesmith: I have strong plot points I map out before hand, then it's all about the visual storytelling of it for me. Then, as I knew vaguely in my head what I wanted the characters to say when I planned it all out, I go back in and add the actual dialogue. If I have some particularly pertinent or interesting bits of conversation or what not, I will make sure it's all noted down before I draw sometimes though. In the end, I can use a much more organic approach really.

Westfield: Who or what are your artistic influences?

Templesmith: Well the few strong ones I really identify with will always be Ralph Steadman, Ashley Wood and Dave McKean of course, but the newer ones also hopefully shaping me within comics are guys like Mike Mignola, Paul Pope and Travis Charest.

Westfield: Horror comics are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Why do you think that is?

Templesmith: I think there are very few actual 'horror' books. To an extent it was kinda kicked off by 30 Days of Night recently and the frenzy that surrounded that. At the time it was something new. And to my mind, it worked because it was scary. It was a horrific situation. The vampires, the blood and gore and such were extra trappings. It was the situation itself that made it what it was. Since then, we've done sequels of course, but others have seen the potential in the subject matter, and some have missed the point entirely. Horror as I define it must be scary and truly 'horrific,' otherwise it's something else. Many of the newer comics coming out now are simply trading on the horror bandwagon and putting vampires or whatnot into otherwise other genre stories that you could generally call superhero or action based things. A story where some guy just fights a werewolf isn't necessarily horror, it's action or something else. True horror comics are extremely hard to do. They're about mood and fear. I wish I was good enough to really do them the way they should be!

Westfield: Do you have any other upcoming projects you're working on you'd like to mention?

Templesmith: Well, I'm still finishing up the latest continuation of 30 Days of Night, called Return to Barrow. After that there'll be a couple one shots and such I hope, and a few other 30 Days related things, but for the first time in ages I'm trying to keep my options open a little more and not get too locked in in the longer term. Nothing terribly big I can really yap about yet!

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Templesmith: Aye, thank you very much for the interview! I should point out I'm Australian and like the occasional beer... which probably explains why my artwork looks the way it does!