Robert Kirkman Talks Oblivion Song and How He’s a Comic Book Kind of Guy
A decade ago 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them but after many years they gave up. Nathan Cole… won’t. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those lost, alone and afraid, living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe… Nathan is looking for something else? Why can’t he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?
Oblivion Song is the new comic series from writer Robert Kirkman, artist Lorenzo De Felici, colorist Annalisa Leoni, and letterer Rus Wooton being published by Skybound Entertainment and Image Comics.
The series follows Nathan Cole as he goes into another dimension, the Oblivion, looking for survivors, a sci-fi story that’s unique in many ways, not just on the page but also the lead up to its release on March 7, 2018.
Kirkman and De Felici have worked on the comic for over a year allowing them to polish the story which included adding pages to earlier issues after reading later ones. The lesson is not to rush to market, it can help make a much better comic. With a sibling Kirkman felt the
The core concept of the series is the guilt the main character feels and his search for his brother. Unlike Kirkman’s Walking Dead and Invincible, this series is about two brothers as opposed to father and son. There’s unique aspects to the relationship and there’s dynamics there that don’t exist elsewhere due to that relationship. It’s an area that yields to a lot of story potential.
Nathan is an aspirational character who see injustice and wants to do something about it. In an interview roundtable, Kirkman said it was fun to write a character who’s willing to make sacrifices. A character, that can be put on a pedestal and be admired.
De Felici has been in comics for a long time, and Kirkman was directed towards him by Cory Walker about three years ago. The style is unique that lends itself well to a monster heavy series. He has a background in science that is being brought to the series. The series needs someone who can do a scene in a cafe over coffee and an entire alien ecosystem. He’s able to juggle both worlds.
We were able to participate in a roundtable discussion of which you can find our questions below.
Graphic Policy: With your success in other media, has it changed your approach to this at all?
Robert Kirkman: It’s something I try to ignore but I can’t but think the kind of things that get translated into other media have universal appeal. The kind of comics that seem to have universal appeal. The kind of comics I like to do have universal appeal.
It’s not like I sit around with artists thinking about things that can easily be translated into a cool movie or television show.
It’s a goal of coming up with something that entertains yourself. That entertains a lot of people. It could lend itself to another medium. As long as you strive for something as interesting as possible or as cool as possible it somehow is tailor made for this kind of thing.
This doesn’t seem like it’d lend itself to another medium, but we’ll see. It’s always in the back of mind just because I’ve had success in the past. But, I’m a comic book writer first and foremost.
When I sit down to come up with an idea for a comic book it’s really about if it’s something that I’d enjoy doing? Does it excite me? Will it make a cool comic book? Any thought about another medium is secondary.
I’m a comics first kind of guy.
GP: The first issue strikes me as something that reflects a lot on the years after the United States and Vietnam? There’s the wall, not leaving someone behind.
RK: That’s all there. That’s a perfect example of a time in our history of these themes. That’s something I drew from because it’s all there. It’s a perfect example of how people reacted so it’d be foolish for me to not acknowledge that.
GP: The first issue touches on PTSD with a few characters. How much is that explored in the series?
RK: That’s a big part of the first year of the book. What they would have gone through. How they would have survived. And that I think is the aspect that most resembles The Walking Dead. This is the type of Walking Dead story where someone could have lived in a zombie apocalypse for ten years and then somehow could have gone home. I think that’s really exciting because it changes the story dynamic up from what I’ve been doing with The Walking Dead. It’s also a great minefield for story development. How does someone survive in another dimension? Scavenge for food? Fighting for survival? And then one day go through a portal and Starbucks is down the street and rent’s due. You have to get back to life. There’s a great bit of potential there.
That’s something we’ll be exploring with Duncan and newer characters that are being rescued that have to acclimate to life on Earth.
GP: You tackled a bunch of different genres and now sci-fi. How’s it feel to you as a writer to go in a whole new direction.
RK: I’ve done a lot of horror and there’s some horror aspects to this but to have new tools in the tool box and to be able to expand what you can do with your storyline is really rewarding. I think the thing that keeps me energized in comics, that gets me to want to write me, is the fact that you can do a wide range of things. I do have freedom to do whatever I want. To be able to bounce between genres and expand what I’m known for is a great opportunity. TO be able to dive into a whole new genre and tell all sorts of different stories is really excited for me. I’m happy to do it and hopefully I’ll be able to do it all kinds of times on all kinds of books going forward.
GP: There’s a memorial scene in the first issue that’s very interesting and there’s a poem on it. Is there any significance to the poem?
RK: Yeah, there’s significance behind everything. I’m not going to get into where that’s going. There’ll definitely be focus put on that in the future. You were meant to notice it.
GP: The series is heavy sci-fi, how much thought towards the tech of the world have you done?
RK: That’s crazy sci-fi fun. There’s not too much basis in reality there. We try to think of pseudo-science things that sound logical to a certain extent. We talk about molecule vibration and tuning into one dimension or another. As far as functionality of things, we wanted to play up the aspect that this is busted beaten up technology that’s been used for ten years. A belts malfunctioning in the first issue. We wanted it to feel like duct tape and ripping wires apart to get it to work. We wanted it to feel real world but taken for granted.
I’ve always loved George Lucas’ concept of “used future” that he did in THX and then Star Wars. That these are lived in and not being used for the first time. This is not clean in a way that some sci-fi things are clean.
We wanted everything to be used, dirty, and functional. You’ll see this is a guy who’s been doing this for ten years and lost his funding and trying to make it work somehow and often times it doesn’t work.
GP: So, you have one series that hasn’t dealt in the “why” of it. Will this one, will we find out the “why” as to all of it has happened.
RK: Yes, absolutely, we’ll find out. We’ll slowly pull back the layers as to what occurred and how it occurred as the series progresses. There’ll be various different stages along the way. We’ll get a piece here and a piece here. This will be a fun mystery as it comes together. This is not a story where I won’t be answering how it has happened. It will be revealed as the series goes on.