Marc Guggenheim: Resurrection 101

Marc Guggenheim: Resurrection 101

Resurrection trade collection

And one day, the explosions stopped.

That, in a nutshell, is how Marc Guggenheim began Resurrection at Oni Press. Through the six-issue series and its one Annual, Guggenheim, with artists David Dumeer and Douglas Dabbs told the story of what happens after the alien invasion. No, not the fighting the flying alien ships and infecting their computer systems with a virus part, after that. After the aliens have left and the survivors are left to pick up the pieces of their lives and their world.

In this introductory look at Resurrection, we talk to Guggenheim about the world, the aliens, and the characters that make up his story. Check back with us on Thursday for a look at what’s to come, both in the Free Comic Book Day issue of Resurrection (available this Saturday, May 2nd) and the new full color series, launching in June from Oni Press.

Newsarama: Marc, let’s set the stage here – where did Resurrection come from for you? At the surface, it looks to be one of those rare, rare ideas that writers get where they say, “No one’s thought of this before? Sweet!”

Marc Guggenheim: (laughs) That’s right. What’s funny actually, is that I hjad this idea years and years ago, before I broke in, back when I was in Boston and practicing law and writing on the side. It really started off as just wish fulfillment – I was asking myself the kind of questions you have after you see something or read a story. For this, specifically, it was after I had seen Independence Day. That was got be asking questions, and that led to me concluding that I hoped one day, someone would do this kind of story, but no one did!

Years kept going by, and I kept being surprised that no one was doing it, and then, in about the fifth year of my professional career after I had broken in…

Resurrection #1

NRAMA: And still no one had done it?

MG: Right! Still no one had done it. I ended up talking to the Oni guys, and we started talking about doing something together, and this was the first thing I pitched. They loved it, and immediately saw the promise of the series, and have always been really supportive of it. And we took our time with it – we did a year’s worth of development on the visuals with me doing the backstory. If anything, it was anything but rushed into existence. It took years for me to break in, it took me years to be ready to tell this story, and then it took me a year to get it ready and written. It’s kind of insane that no one jumped on it – and our good fortune, I guess.

NRAMA: Let’s talk about the world of Resurrection - it’s our world, and your story literally starts on the day the explosions stop. That is, the alien invasion ends, for all intents and purposes – your first scene is the cast realizing that there are no explosions going on…

MG: Yes – it literally starts on that day, which, in the parlance of the series is called “Evacuation Day,” meaning that’s the day that the explosions stopped, and the aliens, known in Resurrection’s world as “bugs” leave the planet. The surviving humans are left wondering why they left, if we actually kicked them off, and if we did kick them off, how did we manage to do that? After all, “Evacuation Day” happens after ten years of occupation.

Resurrection #2

So the series starts chronologically in 1998, when the bugs first arrived. Bill Clinton is the President, and it was exactly the world outside your window. One of the things I’ve really labored to do is to make sure that on May 19, 1998 – the day the aliens arrived – we were starting off the narrative with exactly the world as it existed. There are no superheroes, there’s no magic – no preexisting alien contact. It’s as realistic as I could make it – while still being a comic book. And then – well, chaos ensues.

So the series picks up on the day the explosions stop, and will periodically flash back to the events before the invasion and during the invasion.

NRAMA: Probably the closest book to this on the stands today is Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead. When asked about it, Robert has always maintained that he doesn’t want to go back into it to show how the plague happened, or dig into specifically what happened. You’ve said that there will be flashbacks, and there have been a few in the opening series, but do you feel the same way about the world’s “origin story,” for lack of a better term?

MG: What’s really interesting, first, with the comparisons to Walking Dead - it’s been a very interesting experience doing this book. We did volume one, which was six issues, plus an annual. All of those were written and published without me ever having read a panel of Walking Dead. During the publishing and then when the book went on sale, through reading a lot of reviews, there were a lot of comparisons to Walking Dead> I was kind of fascinated by that, and found myself wondering what kind of similarities there were.

Resurrection #3

So after we finished volume one, I picked up the first Walking Dead trade – and as a sidenote, I’ve become completely hooked. I own all the trades, and loan them out to friends. In fact, Resurrection volume 2 #1 which relaunches the series in June is my homage to Walking Dead. I try to do a year’s worth of Walking Dead in 30 pages. That having been said – while I understand the similarities people are making between the two, Resurrection is actually a very different animal from Walking Dead, and as a result, certainly our narrative scope and POV is very, very different from Walking Dead. Walking Dead is really focused on Rick and his world, and they very rarely break POV. Robert never really flashes back into the past, and like you said, he’s said he doesn’t really want to go there. This is one of the ways in which Resurrection is different from Walking Dead.

I always felt that a big part of the Resurrection series would be the mythology of what happened during the alien invasion, and what happened to stop it. Resurrection was conceived in a very different way from Walking Dead - while it is character-centric like Walking Dead, we have an added mythology element. We get periodic glimpses to what I like to call “the alien invasion movie” that preceded Resurrection. Also, unlike Walking Dead, where he’s focusing on one group of characters, the scope of Resurrection will take us to other survivors, other groups of people, and other countries. So it’s a similar kind of story told completely differently. People who like The Walking Dead will like this book for reasons similar to why they like The Walking Dead, but they’re going to be getting a completely different reading experience. Resurrection is telling a story with similar themes, but we’re telling it in a completely different way.

NRAMA: About the characters that you chose to follow from the start – Sara and Ben, specifically – you could have gone in any direction with your point of view characters. Why start the story with their experiences?

Resurrection #4

MG: I wanted to begin the story with average people. They’re not the military or the President – it’s average people, and that was very intentional. I wanted to start the book off in a very human way. What we see in volume 1, issue #1 is that one of those average people, Sara, goes out and meets up with Ben, and they begin journey. They’re the average everyman – and woman.

Coming up in volume 2, issue #1, we’re changing things a little, and making it more new-reader friendly. At the same time, I didn’t want to just jump to a different locale and focus on an entirely new group of characters, because I felt that would be…well, great for new readers, it wouldn’t be fair to the readers who read volume 1 and had an investment in Sara and Ben. So I found myself in a little bit of a catch-22 – and the solution I came up with is that book 2, issue #1 goes back to the group that Sara was with at the start of volume and follows what happened after she left.

So if you read book one, and are familiar with the characters, you’ll see that I haven’t abandoned them entirely. If you haven’t read any of Resurrection and volume 2 #1 is your first exposure, then you’re meeting new characters that you don’t have to have any prior knowledge of. So I think it works out pretty well. And for the readers of volume one who are curious about the fate of Ben Dellacroix, Paul Dolan and the other characters from that series, we haven’t seen the last of them. I’m just going to be introducing them slowly throughout the new series, so readers of the original series will see the characters that they were familiar with, and new readers will get a full understanding of the story we’re telling.

NRAMA: Something else to help people become familiar with the world of Resurrection - there has been continuity of government, and as it stands, Paul Dolan sees himself as being in charge. Now…Paul – he’s quite…familiar…

MG: Right – Paul looks a lot like Karl Rove. Then again, I think Karl Rove looks like any fat white guy. So certainly, I think Paul Dolan’s look was inspired by Karl Rove, but as I said, this is the world outside your window when we began, so Karl Rove was alive when the aliens invaded.

NRAMA: So what has the government been like during the occupation? As you’ve shown, the government’s seat of power was moved to Mount Weather in West Virginia, but besides an all-out resistance, has there been any effective or recognizable government for the past six years?

Resurrection #6

MG: (laughs) God, there’s such an easy joke there. But basically, no. The aliens have been carpet-bombing the earth for about ten years straight, so all that continuity of government – all the government can really do is stay put and stay alive. That having been said, in volume 1, we did establish that there was a plan to drive the aliens off the earth, referred to – mysteriously – as “Operation Longbow” – and that’s part of the mythology of the series: what was Operation Longbow, and how did it succeed in driving the aliens off? That’s something that we will revisit in volume 2.

Part of the exercise here for me as a writer is being very mindful of new readers coming on to the book. A Free Comic Book Day issue, a $6.00 trade, and a new series launching in color – I think we’ll be seeing a lot of readers who are unfamiliar with the world of Resurrection, and I’m really writing with them in mind. As such, I’m taking care to slowly reintroduce concepts that were introduced in those first six issues that people may have missed. One of those, eventually will be Operation Longbow and how that shadow government was working with other nations to drive the aliens away.

NRAMA: Before we wrap up this part of talking about Resurrection, let’s touch on the other two groups of characters – aside from the humans and the bugs: the Burns and the Road Agents…can you shed some light on them?

MG: The Burns are humans who were captured during the occupation and operated on, tortured and experimented on. The experience has left these people shells of their former selves, mentally ill and disfigured. They’re roaming the countryside – they’re not zombies, but they have zero quality of life. Our characters naturally are fearful of them as they don’t quite understand them, and can’t predict their behavior.

As for the Road Agents, they were only referred to in book one – the characters just mention them. If you’re an old reader of Resurrection and always wanted to see what the Road Agents are, pick up book two, because we get to meet them in the series for the first time.

Resurrection volume 1, a trade paperback collecting issues #1-#6 of the series, as well as the Annual, is due in comic book shops tomorrow, and carries a $6.00 cover price. Read a 26-page preview of the trade here.

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