There are creatures out there who feel no pain; who hunger for human flesh, and walk the earth as immortals and gods. These souls, called Revenants, have been part of mankind for centuries, but one of them walks the earth questioning his own immortality. His name is Mot.
In the upcoming comic book Incarnate, Mot’s quest for the meaning to his immortality is put to the test when a secret society finds a weakness to the Revanants, and a way to kill them. With these immortals now faced with the threat of death, Mot is pulled into his first life or death struggle.. even though he doesn’t know if its worth it or not.
Incarnate comes from the mind (and pencil) of famous rock progeny, Nick Simmons. Nick, the son of KISS bassist Gene Simmons, has become a star on his own thanks to the success of the A&E reality show Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels. Simmons stands apart from other celebrities who have ventured into comics, bringing his creation to life in comics not only as the writer but the artist as well.
We talked with Nick Simmons about this three issue series from Radical, and living in the public eye.
Newsarama: Thanks for talking to us, Nick. What can you tell us about Incarnate?
Nick Simmons: My goal for Incarnate is to challenge, somewhat, traditional views of what a hero, or even an "anti-hero" are, and why a protagonist always needs to fall into this category. I want my readers to find themselves identifying with monsters.
NRAMA: The lead in this is named Mot, and he’s a revenant. Who is he, and what are revenants?
Simmons: Mot is a boy who cannot die.
Riddle him with bullets, burn him at the stake, douse him with napalm, hang him from the gallows…still, he will walk away.
Forever haunted by a mysterious doppelganger that no one else can see, Mot has wandered the world for centuries, searching for meaning and, perhaps, an end to his endless life.
He is a Revenant—an immortal, ageless creature that has existed since time immemorial. Their origins are a mystery—they have been worshipped as gods, feared as monsters, and scorned as devils. But they have always been there, living in plain sight, in the bright altars and dark corners of every ancient civilization since the beginning of humanity. There has never been a force on this earth that has been able to give them the death that Mot, secretly, seeks.
NRAMA: He seems to be at odds with an organization called Sanctum. Who are they?
Simmons: Sanctum is a shadow organization that has discovered a way to kill the Revenants, and is carrying out a secret genocide of Revenants that spans the globe. Mot, his protégé Connor, and the rest of the Revenants now must decide how to ensure their place at the top of the food chain. Mot has bigger problems, however--he finds himself at odds not only with this organization, but with his fellow Revenants as well. He's a boy without a country, so to speak.
NRAMA: When you were dreaming up the idea for this story, what were you going for in terms of tone and subject matter?
Simmons: It's a dark tone, with humor interspersed throughout. That's my favorite formula for comics and storytelling in general--the macabre and the comedically macabre.
NRAMA: And how did the story evolve as you sat down to draw it?
Simmons: It's gone through numerous incarnations (redundant, I know), and I've redrawn the entire first issue at least 4 times, even before I even dreamt that I could publish it. It's had different names, and the characters' appearances have changed too. But they've grown as a result, kind of taken on a life of their own, so I'm glad I went through the long haul.
NRAMA: This is your first major comics work after doing some anthology work in Gene Simmons’ House of Horror. What’s it like to transition to a full-on book for you as a cartoonist?
Simmons: It's thrilling, really. It's kind of a dream come true for me. It's difficult and time consuming, but it's a labor of love. I've evolved and learned more as an artist during the course of this book than I have in my entire life drawing for pleasure.
NRAMA: From what I hear, Incarnate was originally titled Skullduggery and to be published by a different company. What led to the change in title and publisher?
Simmons: Well, first off, the art simply wasn't good enough. The people at IDW must have had the patience of saints to deal with the chicken scratch I turned in to them. My art was messy and juvenile. Amateur at best. I'm nowhere near pro now, to be sure, but I'm miles beyond what i used to be, especially in character design and overall neatness. And, with the help of Nam Kim and his team, the book has really turned into something I can be proud of. There was also some miscommunication which resulted with a rough draft version of, literally, a small random chunk of the book (complete with an unsatisfactory color scheme, text errors, and pacing/continuity problems) that was thrown together and released as a preview issue. The details are hazy, but I never would have approved it--it simply wasn't ready, on my end and on all other ends. It bothers me that some people think that it's a separate comic, that it actually has any story at all...there's only a few copies out there (I think), so I hope this new version thoroughly replaces that preview issue.
NRAMA: Were there any other changes of this story from the Skullduggery days to Incarnate?
Simmons: Yes, it's completely redone. There are only one or two pages and one chunk of dialogue that has survived from Skullduggery to Incarnate. But I'm glad people will finally see it the way that I intended it to be seen.
NRAMA: Your father has a long history with comics. What’s your comic background like, as a reader? Did your father’s exploits influence your jump into comics?
Simmons: Dad definitely showed me a lot, but I got into manga independently of him, and that's really my passion. Manga has such a unique point of view when it comes to paneling, pacing, and storytelling--when you come across the really good stuff, the top tier stuff, you are blown away with how dramatic it is, and how masterfully the authors control the flow of time for the reader.
NRAMA: You’re not only writing this – but also drawing it too. Can you tell us about that process, and your background drawing?
Simmons: I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon in my grubby little fingers. It's always a challenge getting the image in my head onto the paper visually--but as I go, I find that the drawings get more and more accurate, the characters start looking like themselves consistently. It's a wonderful thing, like watching a child grow.
NRAMA: Most people know you from being on the A&E TV Show ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels’. What’s it like to live your life in the spotlight?
Simmons: Pays the bills. That's really the only reason I do it, really. I like contributing to the family income so I don't feel like a freeloader. Living in LA, anyone has the opportunity to try their hand at being a socialite, but I've always found people, and especially those kinds of people, thoroughly annoying. I really can't abide useless people. It's a wonder I like LA at all, I suppose. But I really do. And being in the spotlight allowed me to get this thing out there, get some readers, so I'm grateful for that.