The upcoming Black Cloud looks like it'll be as epic as it is surreal. Image Comics just announced the new series today, with a creative team comprised of writers Jason Latour (Southern Bastards, Spider-Gwen) and Ivan Brandon (Drifter, Viking), penciler Greg Hinkle (Airboy, The Rattler), and colorist Matt Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine). The official description says the story is about some kind of group that “built a world where dreams come true … and those dreams went to war.” It will follow someone named Zelda, someone who’s “exiled to Earth” but “holds the key to the world she left behind.”
Black Cloud launches this fall, and we have an exclusive look at the first few pages. We also talked with Latour and Brandon, though they retained an air of mystery about the whole endeavor.
What was your elevator pitch for Black Cloud?
Jason Latour: Hmm. Jessica Jones meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A noir about our world intersecting with a dangerous place where everyone's story is literally magical.
Ivan Brandon: Black Cloud examines a world actually crafted by dreams. And the things that happen when you realize those dreams aren't yours.
What are the origins of the project?
Latour: I'm drawn to creating things with people I know and like. As uncomfortable as it is for me to admit this in print, Ivan is both of those things. This was a story that just kind of evolved organically between us. It's a strange take on noir, but it's also kind of about what working in comics and art has meant to us, done for us, and maybe even done to us.
It appears from these pages that the protagonist is a woman of color. To what extent do you think creators have a responsibility to create protagonists who aren’t white men?
Brandon: Trying to answer broadly, because we haven't revealed a lot about our protagonist, but: White men make up something like 30 percent of the population of the U.S., and about 90 percent of the leading characters in U.S. entertainment. So, for example, for kids like me who grew up speaking Spanish and eating plantains, there's a sad — and hopefully accidental — subtext there that says we're not hero material. If you're not a white guy, you get to be the girlfriend, or the sidekick who heroically gives their life passing the white guy the ball on the ten-yard line so he can make the touchdown. "Casting" processes, both for actors and characters in print, are insanely outdated and I think it's super important for us to be mindful of trying to speak to as many unique humans as we can.
Latour: My goal is always first and foremost to push the story in a direction that inspires me to ask myself better and more challenging questions. That's what telling stories is about. So that's really what we're trying to do here.
The fourth page has narration saying, “We tell these stories to ourselves. To keep on going.” What stories do each of you tell yourselves to keep going?
Latour: That I'm funny. Despite the mountainous Twitter feed of evidence against it.
Brandon: That I'm getting incrementally better at everything I'm terrible at. Which is basically everything.
What was the last interesting dream you had? I mean actual, while-you-were-sleeping dream.
Brandon: Believe it or not, the last lucid dream I can remember: Jason and I had lunch with Robert Kirkman and we pitched him terrible joke ideas for the Walking Dead show.
Latour: I dreamt my hands were made of paper and I cut them up with scissors. I might need a vacation. Or a psychiatrist. Or just something to hug.