The east coast got pummeled by one of the biggest snowfalls on record with Snowstorm Jonas and parts of the country are still shut down as emergency services continue to steadily plow roads. In Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo’s upcoming Snowfall, from Image Comics, shows a world where snow is a thing of the past and weather has been weaponized.
Debuting February 17, Snowfall is presenting a look an America, now christened the Cooperative States of America, where the climate change situation is beyond repair. The worst part is those who were responsible now have the ability to lighten the damage in their own society, while less-fortunate individuals suffer, creating this tension between the two worlds.
To make matters even more interesting, a new figure appears that brings the world something it hasn’t seen in decades: winter. Called the White Wizard, his science summons wintry winds and snow, but he’s an icy shadow wrapped in mystery and the only person who can take on the corrupt and powerful Hazeltyne Corporation.
Newsarama recently spoke with Harris and Morazzo about Snowfall, and its themes resonates with the team’s other eco-centric book, Great Pacific. The duo also discuss how the White Wizard plays into Snowfall and of course Harris’ passion to behind the climate change debate.
“For me,” Harris started, “we know the earth is getting hotter and the scientific community is pretty much agreed on who and what's to blame.”
He then explained that is the basis of Snowfall and the how the crisis of the world is only the start.
“So we open Snowfall by presenting a not-too-distant future that's suffered drought and extreme weather conditions, warmer temperatures that cause acidification of the oceans, and all of the other awful shit you've heard people who care about this stuff screaming about for years and years as an article of faith.”
Harris continues on how he wanted to explore how humanity would really deal with that as a background element of the series.
“As I see it, the most powerful concentrated forces of industry will not turn their resources fully toward renewable energy and better stewardship of the planet until it's more worthwhile to spend their capital doing things in some greener way than it costs to keep burning dirty crap we dig out of the ground, and not a millisecond before.”
The writer talked about how he sees our current climate situation and how he sees it shifting to more of an agreement of fact rather than speculation.
“I think getting to a consensus that manmade climate change is actually real and happening would be relatively momentous, given our politics and recent history,” he said. “But I posit that, in terms of actions and behavior that would frustrate anyone who's been keyed in to this issue for many years now... we've only scratched the surface of what we're capable of.”
“We're set in an age where humanity has already hacked the planet via geoengineering,” he continues. “Made things a little better for those at the top of the privilege chain. While those on the bottom get it much, much worse same as it ever was.”
Harris talked about the level of research he’s done for Snowfall and has thoughts on the ramifications of if winter just ceased to be. He mentioned inspiration hit him while reading one day.
“There was an article in the New York Times a few years back that pondered ‘The End of Snow’ in a world seemingly doing little to mitigate the effects of global warming. I've also done some research on snowflake farmers, people who design and create snowflakes in a lab, and imagined them as a potential last glimpse at how things used to be... like they might end up as curators for the way life on Earth used to go.”
Similar to Harris and Morazzo's Great Pacific, Snowfall has a theme about being environmentally conscious and how mankind should take more responsibility for the planet. Harris explains how much it means to him.
“It's an important topic. It's hardly the only one I'm passionate about, but it does feel like one of the more topical and timely things I'm invested in.”
He goes on to say that he hopes to continues to tell stories that don’t really preach.
“I mean, you can get the scope of this series and the politics of the writer from the simple one-line pitch or a glimpse at the next Previews that comes out. Our point of view is pretty obvious on the subject. But the characters I write and Martin draws in these scenarios won't always be the 'good guys,' you know?”
When talking about the visual inspirations and sci-fi visuals about the book, Harris and Morazzo had specific aesthetics in mind when trying to piece together their world.
“The world we see in Snowfall is not that much different from ours,” artist Morazzo said, “but eroded and broken for suffering many years of wild weather! So the main reference is real life and places!”
He continued with how readers will see things get more futuristic on the Hazeltyne side of things.
“They’re the bureaucratic power of the story so they have resources and end technology that produces almost magical results.”
“But, for me, I always go back to Walter Miller's A Canticle For Leibowitz -- a classic sci-fi novel set in a post-nuclear deluged America that concerns the rediscovery of lost knowledge, the resurrection of society and the dawn of a new golden age," said Harris, "before the inevitable backslide toward oblivion once our worser natures catch up with us.”
On the subject about the legendary White Wizard, when asked about if he’ll be the central figure in all of this, Harris was slightly coy with the answer.
He went on to say that the White Wizard’s story is the driving arc for the entire narrative, but that’s not simply the whole of it. “It's the things he's done that define our other characters, at least at first. What he's done, and will do, to them. And what they end up doing to him, in return.”
Talking about the origin of the Wizard, which will be discussed early on in the book, Harris talks about the character and his crusade against Hazeltyne.
“Snowfall is a character portrait of a very dangerous enemy of the state who's got quite a bit of blood and tragedy on his hands,” he starts. “Before he launched his one-man crusade against the "Cooperative States of America" and his former company, Hazeltyne, Dr. August Reasons was this gifted climatologist working to fix things as best he could. But desperate times led to bolder action and lots of wrongdoing by both the forces that would scapegoat Reasons for a devastating climate crash that seemingly ended snowfall as a natural occurrence, and his own share of earned blame and blood.”
Harris finished up with how he’s taking that idea and exploring these characters deeper and how Reasons motivations will affect the rest of the story. “As a sort of extension of that idea, we're going to explore a good amount of family tragedy too. Reasons took actions that tore his family apart, and did things in the name of his cause that will haunt him -- and shock readers -- throughout this series.”