Rick Remender & Jerome Opeña have already made their mark on sci-fi with books like FEAR AGENT and Uncanny X-Force. What are these two cooking up next? Their next project together is SEVEN TO ETERNITY, a ten-issue fantasy series set on a world filled with magic, temptation, and fear.
IMAGE COMICS: How do you describe SEVEN TO ETERNITY to people?
RICK REMENDER: It's a psychedelic fantasy series following Adam Osidis, a dying knight from a disgraced house, on a mission to rid his world of an insidious God who has offered to give Adam everything his heart desires.
All men have surrendered their freedom for fear. The last free man must now choose between joining a hopeless band of magic users in their desperate bid to free their world of the evil God's burden, or accepting the evil God's promise to heal Adam's ailments and return his family to prominence.
Gharils Sulm is both The God of Whispers and The King of Mud. He is a Machiavellian warlord who holds sway everywhere in the world of Zhal. He's spread an omnipresent paranoia to every corner of the kingdoms; one of his spies hides in every house, every family, every hall. His shadow covers all, spreading mistrust and fear, a population hiding in corners whispering of conspiracy upon conspiracy. The people of Zhal live under one rule: “trust no living thing.”
IC: You two have a long history together, from STRANGE GIRL and FEAR AGENT to Punisher and Uncanny X-Force. What keeps the band together? What do you see in each other's work that keeps you coming back?
OPEÑA: For me, I think it's first and foremost that we're friends and not just collaborators. Of course, it helps that we do work well together and I think we bring out the best in each other's work. We also came up in the industry together, and Rick was a believer in what I could do long before anyone knew who I was, so for me, there's an element of loyalty there as well. Oh, and he also happens to be an amazing writer (laughs)!
REMENDER: When we were coming up together we became friends. I identify with Jerome, and as part of the marginalized subcultures of Generation X, we speak similar languages and have similar ideologies, humor, and ethics. He also happens to be one of the greatest artists to ever grace a comic book page. It's not very often that you meet somebody who you work well with and then become close friends with, too. I've been very fortunate to have had a number of those in my career, and I always do everything I can to hold them together. It's the reason I wanted to make comics, to collaborate with like-minded people who I get along with and have some fun. That's what we do.
IC: Both of you are artists, and a book like this obviously had a thorough design phase. Were you both trading sketches while firming up designs? How do you describe the look of the series?
OPEÑA: Even though Rick is a fantastic artist and is more than capable of drawing or coming up with some great designs, for this particular project, Rick was kind enough to leave that aspect to me. There was a nice back and forth when it came to what needed to be designed for the book, though. Sometimes, it would be Rick describing something that needed to be designed, or other times some doodles I would send to him would spark more ideas.
The look of the series is definitely very much Moebius inspired. We both wanted to just go kind of weird and crazy with the world we created, and looking at Moebius's work most certainly pointed us in the right direction.
REMENDER: I didn't do any sketches on any of these characters. Jerome and I spent hours and hours on the phone talking about the book and the cast and cooking up ideas for them and then he'd just deliver these spectacular sketches. Once I have the sketches, it's so much easier to know who the characters are. Once you can see how Jerome realizes the cast they start to tell you their own story. His faces are also hugely expressive; they sort of have a hidden tale in each one.
IC: What does Matt Hollingsworth bring to the book for you two?
REMENDER: Matt's incredible. He always finds a way to do the most lavish and beautiful work while making it subtle and never competing with the line art. You almost can't tell how much beautiful painting he's done underneath because of that subtlety. He brings this amazing rendered watercolor to life through countless hours of work. You can see in every single panel what he and Jerome put into it. He's established the world of Zhal as much as Jerome with his approach on this.
OPEÑA: Matt is a true artist and he has this really amazing ability to make digital colors look like watercolors. I really don't know how he does it. Must be magic. He's one of the best and most unique colorists working in the industry today, so we're really lucky to have him on the series with us.
IC: Jerome, you've said elsewhere that Moebius is a core inspiration for the look of SEVEN TO ETERNITY. What are you taking from his work as an inspiration? How do you describe the visuals of SEVEN TO ETERNITY?
OPEÑA: There are countless aspects of his work that I could list, but the thing that sticks out most would have to be the really strange and psychedelic nature of his work. When Rick and I were starting to talk about the look of the book, we both wanted it to be something really strange and fantastical. Something where we could just go a bit crazy with everything, and Moebius's work was a perfect place to start.
IC: Rick, your books often have a very relatable core inside a fantastic wrapper, like how BLACK SCIENCE digs deep into family and fatherhood or DEADLY CLASS and finding your way. What do you see as the human core of SEVEN TO ETERNITY?
REMENDER: At its core this is a story about the idea of compromise. What would you really compromise to survive and save your family?
People don't like to think of themselves as compromised. But every year of your life you're presented with decisions and, whether or not you're aware, you're making compromises. You don't get everything the way you want it. The question is one of those compromises crossing a line you can never come back from. When is it absolutely necessary for the good of your family and when is it something else entirely? And when we refuse a compromise due to our ideologies what does that say about us? That we're so dogmatic that we can't make a smart choice to find the middle ground? Or that we're staunch and upright in the defense of our beliefs? Compromise became a very interesting theme to me in developing this, and that's the undercurrent we're exploring.
IC: Is SEVEN TO ETERNITY an ongoing series?
REMENDER: The first story is ten issues, but they set up a slew of other stories we've cooked up in the world of Zhal. A lot of other stories.
SEVEN TO ETERNITY #1 is available now.