Lost Loves and Alternate Realities - Champagne on Nevermore

Keith Champagne on Nevermore

Nevermore #1, page 1

Best-selling author Dean Koontz is bringing a brand new story to comics, and Keith Champagne is the writer tapped to make it happen.

As announced recently, the five-issue comic book series Nevermore is based on an outline by Koontz and will be published by Dabel Brothers Publishing starting in February. Based on characters and ideas by Koontz, who has more than 350 million copies of his novels sold worldwide, the comic will feature art by Andy Smith with a story written by Champagne about searching for a lost love across parallel earths.

While Koontz has dabbled in comics before with the graphic novel In Odd We Trust, which focused on a character from the author's novels, and Frankenstein: Prodigal Son, an adaptation of his book by the same name, Nevermore is an original story developed specifically for comics by Koontz.

Newsarama talked to Champagne about how he got involved the project with Koontz and what it's like taking a best-selling author's ideas and putting them in comic form.

Newsarama: Keith, how did you get involved with this project?

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Keith Champagne: As always seems to happen with me, it was one of those serendipitous things. I was about half finished with my obligations to Ghostbusters for IDW and was picking my head up out of the sand to look for a new project. Andy Smith, who had already been hired for the project, suggested I touch base with Les Dabel because he wasn't sure they had locked down a writer on Nevermore yet. So I did and, about a month later, as I was finishing the third Ghosbusters script, got the gig.

Like I said, serendipity. Beats the hell out of unemployment any day!

NRAMA: Were you familiar with Dean Koontz's work?

KC: I was familiar with his name but not necessarily his work. I didn't quite realize how popular his work is until I told a few people at my high school reunion what I was going to be up to. It's kind of cool. Thanks to Mr. Koontz's name recognition, it seems like the project will attract more attention from the book store crowds than something purely superhero-y would.

I imagine on the cover of the book, Mr. Koontz's name will be HUGE while mine will be maybe hidden in parentheses somewhere on the back cover. Actually, I hope it is, that would be kind of funny. We could play "Where's Waldo" with my credit and hide it somewhere on the cover.

NRAMA: You're working from the author's outline. How is it working from someone's outline, and what kind of process is it?

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KC: It's actually similar in process to writing something like the universally adored World War III or Countdown: Arena. Not identical, but close enough where those two gigs gave me on-the-job training in how to incorporate someone else's ideas into a story that I'm writing.

Mr. Koontz's outline is ten pages long. He describes the premise and the characters and explains the rules of this universe, how he sees the science working, and some touchstones as to how the bigger picture unfolds. It's very clever stuff -- a great starting point to develop further.

Luckily, Mr. Koontz seems laid back enough where he didn't feel the need to detail plot point after plot point. Like I said, he suggests a few touchstones and leaves it up to me to construct a story from his basic ideas. When all is said and done, this comic will be 90% me and 10% Mr. Koontz. If this was just a connect-the-dots kind of job, I would have turned it down.

It'll be interesting to see, if Mr. Koontz ever decides to write Nevermore as a novel, what he may keep from my interpretation of the characters and ideas for the story I'm bringing to the comic, and where he'll completely go his own way with things.

NRAMA: What is the story about?

KC: True love. Alternate Earths. A quest. A dimension-hopping, alien menace. The secret origins of mankind. And did I mention true love?

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NRAMA: What makes this time-traveling/dimension-hopping story unique?

KC: Nevermore is a capital 'B' Big Adventure that winds through a host of alternate dimensions but underneath the action and science, at its most fundamental, we're telling a love story. More poignantly, a story about lost love. So even though the settings and scenarios might be so much larger than life, on a personal level, it's relatable to all of us. If you lost your soulmate, the truest love of your life, ironically at a point where you could just begin to really enjoy that life together, what stone wouldn't you turn over to get another chance?

With the resources that Bobby Godric has at his disposal, the answer is "None."

NRAMA: Is Bobby the main character? What can you tell us about him?

KC: Bobby Godric is our main man. He's a self-made multi-billionaire in the Bill Gates fashion, except more successful, much smarter, and better looking. He's a natural leader who thinks outside the box and, as Mr. Koontz describes in the outline, "A good man of high principles."

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In a desperate attempt to bring back his wife, Nora, who died at 33 of an aggressive brain cancer, Bobby puts all his resources into inventing cross-time/dimensional travel. He puts together a team of some of the greatest minds on our planet to come along for the ride as he searches for a living Nora on the infinity of parallel Earths.

Bobby is driven by love and the last thing the team expects is to encounter an alien hivelike race — the Hydra — that is conquering Earth after Earth after Earth. Suddenly, the stakes skyrocket. If the Hydra find our version of Earth by following Godric back to it, our civilization will not survive the invasion.

NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell readers about Nevermore?

KC: Andy Smith kicks ass!

And did I mention the concept for this book springs from the fertile imagination of one of the best selling authors on the planet? The first issue ships in February and I promise not to ruin it. So keep an eye out and let me know what you think.

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