“Speculative science fiction was a part of comics from early on in the medium. The very origin of Superman is an apocalyptic reading: The last survivor of the doomed planet of Krypton finds his salvation in a new world called Earth.”
Justin Ryan began work on his brilliant debut comic, Trespasser, about two years ago. “It originally started…as a cheap-to produce, 18-page, black-and-white, one-shot that was more or less for me to prove I could make it,” Ryan explains.
Ryan describes his work by explaining, “Trespasser is about xenophobia, and isolationism. Really though, it’s about family. It’s about a father and a daughter, and what they mean to each other,” Ryan explains, “It’s also about the end of the world and aliens with laser guns. Mainly, it’s about how much people suck, and how amazing they are.”
Stories of the apocalypse have become popular in modern television, thanks to record-breaking shows like The Walking Dead and small (amazing) shows like Falling Skies. When asked whether the apocalypse comic is weaker or stronger than it was ten years ago, Dr. Matthew Smith answered, “In three words? The. Walking. Dead. It’s the comics phenomenon of the last decade—an independent black and white comic that has not only become an industry sales leader but a worldwide phenomenon thanks to a canny screen adaptation. When future histories of the medium are written, they will have to acknowledge [The Walking Dead] is the first breakout comic of the new century and one that has capitalized on our fascination with apocalyptic literature.”
The world people know has changed significantly, and despite this as Dr. Smith illuminates, “We continue to tell ourselves that even in the most seemingly hopeless situations, we can find hope for a “here after” after the “here and now” is done,” and Ryan captures that feeling perfectly in Trespasser.
The Trespasser story is set at an isolated farmhouse surrounded by woods. Removed from the world, the main character, Hector, does his best to deal the changes in the world, which is now full of mutation and danger, so that he can provide for his daughter, Maria. It becomes clear very quickly in Issue #1 that the world as we know it is gone and the people left are just scraping by.
The beauty of the story is in the way Ryan uses common associations to his advantage. “The apocalypse story is still set on (usually) modern day Earth, so there’s a familiar base to build on. People are already invested in our own world,” Ryan explains. “The second you see the Trespasser, you have a rough idea of where they’re from, what they might want, and what their capabilities may be.”
The story focuses on Hector and Maria, giving those characters lots of depth, and the story keeps the monsters – or trespassers – simple so that nothing gets too complicated. “Apocalypse stories often focus on the human aspect of the situation, but it’s usually on a grander scale. Trespasser is a small story, with a small cast, but in a big, scary world. Trespasser, when stripped to its essence, is the story of Hector and Maria and their relationship.”
For now, Ryan explains that Hector’s story is done after the events of this collection, “but Maria might still be kicking around somewhere, and there are, of course, other people in the world who might be having an interesting time of it.” The idea of those potential stories is so popular that there are funds on Kickstarter that are meant to raise money to help Ryan be able to bring those stories to life.
(Statistics provided by KickStarter, Graphic Created by Evan Liss)
Currently sitting at $4,270 out of $4,000, the Kickstarter campaign has 14 days to go. Ryan explains, “Preparing the Kickstarter was a lot more work than I expected, and marketing has never been my strong suit. If I could live on top of a mountain and send my stories down by messenger pigeon I’d be perfectly happy, but running the KS has made me step out of my comfort zone.”
To read the story for yourself, go check out Trespasser on Kickstarter or the publisher’s page to buy the issues, and please be sure to leave a comment on this page with your thoughts!