The Symbiotes

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Story by Davis R. Vaughn
Computer Art by George Lippert
Published by Drive Comics

There aren’t that many comics with computer-generated art… yet. But among those that are making a real go of it is Davis R. Vaughn and George Lippert’s The Symbiotes! This comic book is outstanding!

I happened upon The Symbiotes #1’s Matrix-esque cover on the shelf of my comic shop when it first hit a month or two back, picked it up and thumbed through it. The computer-generated art struck me immediately with its captivating depictions of Davis and George’s universe! So, on the strength of the art and the hefty page count (48 pages of story), they got my money. I got it home but was unsure what to expect… I’d never heard of the concept, the creators, or the company before; however, what I got was an incredible sci-fi chronicle done with topnotch art and a well-executed story! Forty-Eight pages worth of perfectly carried out adventure for $2.95, I knew I was getting the rest of this series.

Then, at Wizard World Chicago, I ran into the creators at the Drive Comics Booth and had the opportunity to talk with them at length. They showed my girlfriend and artist, Jessi Nelson, and I a LOT of the next issue. They even did some The Symbiotes CGI animation on the spot. These guys are just genuinely nice and monstrously talented! Totally humble and totally devoted to what they are doing.

With The Symbiotes, Drive Comics is producing an epic well worth the money! And at Wizard World Chicago I had the opportunity to set up an interview with Davis, George, and art assistant Matt Metzker to discuss how this project came about and where it is going!

Egg: First off, what’s the cold-sell/pitch for The Symbiotes?

Davis Vaughn: Because the science fiction elements are what you see first, people keep calling it a sci-fi book, which, yeah, it is, but really the whole thing started off as a superhero premise and to us, it’s still a superhero book. The sci-fi was necessary to make the superhero premise work, and we’ve really enjoyed that aspect of it as well, so we don’t dislike the label sci-fi, we just want to make sure people know its more than that. The premise isn’t given away until issue 4, but there’s strong hints in the first three issues and once you get it, you’ll see why we needed the science fiction to make it work.

The other way to answer your question (the answer you were probably looking for) is that it is about Khalid, an officer in what is known as the Human Empire, who can’t rise in the ranks of the military for fear that it will be discovered that he has some non-human blood in his ancestry. When he is sent to investigate a destroyed power plant he runs into super powered rebels against the Human Empire known as The Symbiotes. Saying more would give away things that are better read.

Egg: Ok. Now, introduce yourselves and give us the brief job description on what you do with the book.

George Lippert: I’m George Lippert. I am the creative director and chief artist.

Davis Vaughn: I’m Davis R. Vaughn. I came up with the premise, the characters, the story and so on. I write the scripts, do stick figure storyboards, and give the thumbs up or down when George shows me concept sketches. I also have the fun tasks of doing the business, taxes, accounting and so on for Drive Comics, but I’m sure you don’t want to hear details on that.

Egg: Why does The Symbiotes stand out when compared to other works of science fiction?

George: It challenges a lot of the traditional interpretations of the way science fiction and super powers works; it takes the concepts back down to the foundation and rebuilds them with a stronger basis in physics and science, which surprises the uninitiated with a far more believable feel and allows the traditional fan a fresh look at some familiar, older concepts that otherwise tend to be taken for granted.

Davis: Taking this question from the angle of a sci-fi fan I would say two things: one, it’s interlaced with a superhero story, and two, our approach to the science is kind of unique. I make the science absolutely real when possible (even going so far as to consult members of NASA about the way a ship would revolve around a neutron star… oops, don’t want to give away too much!), but when it’s not possible to be completely real I just skip it--I have no interest in the Star Trek “insert-techno-babble-here” style of sci-fi writing.

Egg: As “novices” (and I use that term lightly because your book reads really well) why go with sci-fi? And why come out of the gate with a plan to do nearly 400 pages of story over 8 issues with a dozen or so characters spread across as many planets?

George: Because we are gluttons for punishment. And I don’t think of the book primarily as sci-fi: I think of it as a classic story of rebellion against oppression, of man finding his dragon to slay, a story of the complicated gradations of good vs. evil that happens to take place, incidentally almost, in the distant future.

Davis: Honestly? Lack of foresight. (laughs) I am a producer, accountant, business manager… I am all these random things that I have little or no interest in being just so I can write and have my writing published in a visual medium. But when the whole thing started, I had no experience in any of those. So I just said, “Okay, this guy with sick CGI skills has agreed to work with me… what’s the absolute coolest idea I have?” and The Symbiotes was it. If I had experience as a producer I would have said to myself, “Whoa there… do you know how many models this will require and how much time and money this will cost?” The writer got ca