Ashley Wood and Chris Ryall already made memories with their Zombies vs. Robots, and now they're upping the ante with Robots and string theory.
You got that right -- string theory.
This summer, IDW is launching the comic series String Divers featuring an elite android squad who is tasked to tackle the biggest problems while shrunk down to the smallest sizes. Originally created by Wood for his 3A toy figure line, he brought the idea to IDW and is now overseeing the comic series written by Chris Ryall and Nelson Daniel.
Newsarama spoke with Ryall about the series, from the sometimes mind-bending idea of string theory down to the brass tacks of robot adventuring.
Newsarama: Chris, what can you tell us about String Divers?
Chris Ryall: I can tell you that it’s a high-octane, sometimes over-the-top action/adventure story that largely takes place at sub-God Particle depths but nevertheless with lasting repercussions in our own universe.
The String Divers are an elite—also, ornery—team of androids, each with its own ability and personality and they traverse the theoretical strings that make up the building blocks of all life in this universe as they face dire threats both microcosmically small and exponentially huge.
Nrama: Seeing you, Ashley Wood and robots is familiar territory -- but what makes the robots of String Divers unique?
Ryall: These robots are very different than the Zombies vs. Robots ‘bots in that they’re built to resemble humans, their personalities are ever-developing in a very human way, and they exist in a world that is otherwise no different than the one in which we live. So the world won’t be overrun by zombies, other ‘bots or other superhuman creations. But at the sub-cellular level, there is some very bad shit going on—things that affect not only the three known dimensions but also the seven or eight other dimensions (depending on which theoretical physicist you believe) and they’re the only team that can possibly combat this.
Nrama:And who or what are the String Divers team?
Ryall: They’re a team that operates in a secret department under CERN in Geneva, Switzerland (you didn’t think that giant particle accelerator was only there to accelerate particles, did you?). They’re androids, yes, but very human in their mannerisms and reactions to danger. And they’ve got a team of human support staff who help them along the way. Until a very human problem occurs and threatens worlds both microscopic and large.
Nrama: This fictional story hits on the idea of string-theory physics. I'm no scientist, so can you give me and the readers a kind of layman's view of that with respect to this series?
Ryall: It’s fun that this series involves string theory since that’s been an interest of mine – supplemented even more recently by watching Nova episodes and Ted Talks and discussing string theory with people who make a living studying it—but in simple terms, string theory involves particles that make up the building blocks of the universe. That’s way too simple a description but the science shouldn’t get in the way of the story, and it won’t in the comic, which basically involves very big things happening at very small levels. But let’s say that not only do these strings exist but that something or someone out there has found a way to damage or even destroy them. If the things that make up the particles that make up our entire universe are damaged, well, that’s got to mean bad things for our world, right? (hint: yes.)
Nrama: Ashley Wood is overseeing this project -- can you tell us about your interactions with him before writing the story?
Ryall: Conversations with Ash in general are like no other conversations I’ve ever had, so that “interesting” factor goes up exponentially when discussing string theory and quantum physics. Luckily, Ash is an artist first and foremost, so any time I would tend to get lost in making the science make sense, he’d keep me firmly focused on just telling a kick-ass, fast-paced story and not bogging down on things that Stephen Hawking might approve of but could lose readers of the comic.
Nrama: People know Ashley best as an artist -- any chance he could do a cover or some art for String Divers?
Ryall: Most definitely! Every issue. He’s also serving as the series art director and creative story consultant, too, so this has the stink—er, sweet smell—of Ash all over it.
Nrama: The artist illustrating this series is Nelson Daniel. What does he bring to the project?
Ryall: Awesomeness. I’ve worked with Nelson on the Stephen King/Joe Hill project that he and I adapted, and also on his concluding-soon run on Judge Dredd with Duane Swierczynski, so I know well what he can do. He’s inventive, smart, creative and has sensibilities and stylistic approaches that very much fit into the “Ash aesthetic” while still being very much his own thing. And my god, his skill with colors over his art (or over, say, Zach Howard’s art on Wild Blue Yonder) is unmatched. And will very much be brought to bear here, with the craziness he’ll be working up on a monthly basis.
Nrama: This is spun out of Wood's 3A Toys line -- will you be doing some tie-ins to those toys specifically?
Ryall: Most of the String Divers team exists as toys through Ash’s 3A company now, but there’s at least one or two new characters that I’m really pushing to follow suit and make the leap off the page into full-on toy status.
Nrama: Last question -- why should people be interested in String Divers?
Ryall: Hopefully every answer above this one has helped answer this question; but essentially, we’ve tried to create something that’s a good mix of action-packed comic craziness with smart undercurrents, big action, big impact, and different kinds of characters and abilities all brought to life with wild, interesting art.