Chris Roberson has earned a loyal following for his prolific and eclectic work on everyone from Superman to Elric to Cinderella to his iZombie series with Mike Allred, but his new series from IDW might be his weirdest, wildest ride yet. Memorial, which launches this December, is a tale of a woman with no past and an equally mysterious future, who finds herself swept up into a fantastic journey that spans fantastic landscapes, creatures of myth and legend… and terrible danger. We talked to Roberson about Memorial to get a taste of the new book, and even got some exclusive character designs from its artist, Rich Ellis.
Newsarama: Chris, tell us about the concept for Memorial and the main character.Chris Roberson: The “This meets This” formulation is “Doctor Who meets Sandman by way of Miyazaki.” Memorial is about a young woman who shows up at a hospital one day with no memory of her previous life, and no clues to her real identity.
A year later she’s managed to rebuild her life, getting a job and making friends, and all of that is upended when she walks into a strange antique shop she’s never noticed before, and when she walks back out the door. she finds that the shop has moved to somewhere else entirely.
Nrama: What was the initial inspiration for this story?
Roberson: Memorial actually began life the better part of a decade ago, as an idea for a Doctor Who spin-off novel. It quickly evolved in different directions, though, and before I’d even had a chance to pitch it to publishers who held the Who license at that point I had decided to develop it into something new.
Nrama: What were some of your biggest influences? The captions reminded me a bit of J.M.DeMatteis' work on books like Moonshadow and The Stardust Kid
Roberson: The biggest influences on the shape and tone of Memorial aren’t comics, actually, but the novels and stories of writers like Roger Zelazny and Diana Wynne Jones. And the reason for the third-person past-tense captions is that I wanted to give the series a narrative voice that felt something like an old storybook.
Nrama: Okay, so let's talk up our boy Rich Ellis – how you found him and what he brings to this here project.
Roberson: I found Rich through the good graces of my pal Paul Tobin. When we were first talking to IDW about the project, I went looking for an artist to partner with, and Paul was the first person I called. Since he works in Periscope Studios in Portland and has written scads of comics over recent years, he knows a lot of artists, and I hoped that he might know one who would be a good fit for Memorial.
Rich Ellis’s name was one of the first two that Paul mentioned to me, and as we were talking on the phone I pulled up Rich’s website to take a look at his stuff. I told Paul to stop talking, since I had found our guy.
I think we had Rich’s name on a contract within 48 hours. At this point, I cannot imagine anyone else doing Memorial, since Rich has completely swooped in and made the book his own.Nrama: What can we expect as this series goes on?
Roberson: Evil sentient puppets. Living statues. The Court of Shadows. The blind kung fu librarians of Babylon. The Everlands. The Land of Was. The Land of Maybe. The ruins of the Forecastle and the steadfast castle at Darkness Falls. And a talking cat.
Nrama: Is it just the one mini, or do you see it as a series of minis, a la Locke & Key at IDW?
Roberson: Memorial is definitely modeled after Locke & Keyin terms of publishing format, and will follow the same “series of mini-series” structure.
Nrama: Why did you decide to go to IDW with this?
Roberson: Memorial is a project that, as I mentioned, I’ve been working on for the better part of a decade, and I finally got the concept and characters into their final forms about a year ago.
My wife (Allison Baker, who is completely and utterly in charge of me) and I spent a lot of time over the following months trying to figure out what the best home for the project might be, and the answer we kept coming back to was IDW.
Ted Adams, Chris Ryall, and the rest of the gang at IDW are really good at what they do—namely, making great books and then getting them into the hands of readers. So far, our faith in them has been more than borne out.
Nrama: For fans of your other work, how is this unique from your other projects?
Roberson: Tonally it’s very different from iZombie, or Cinderella, or Elric, or any of the other things I’ve done. This is more like a fairy tale in structure and tone, taking familiar concepts and doing twists on them that hopefully readers won’t have encountered before.Nrama: What's next for you?
Roberson; I’m still plugging away on iZombie for Vertigo, and am about to start work on the “Cinderella” arc for the upcoming Fairest. For BOOM! I’ve still got nearly two-thirds of the 12-issue Elric: The Balance Lost still to come, and for IDW I’m doing the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes crossover mini-series. I’ve got a few more things in the works, but those are the only ones I can talk about so far!
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Roberson; Memorial is a series with an evil living puppet and a talking cat. What more could you want?
But seriously, anyone who is still on the fence (even after hearing about the evil puppet and the talking cat) should check out the free preview that IDW has released. It contains eleven pages from Memorial #1, and is available through the IDW app on the iPad, on the IDW website, or in select IDW titles released in October, or by clicking right here and viewing it on Newsarama!
Enter the world of Memorial this December from IDW.