One man is about to find out his average, everyday life - wife, two kids, a dog on a suburban street - is an illusion. The truth will set his family on the run, desperate to find a way to keep going, as forces close in determined to destroy them….and those forces might be right.
That’s the twisted premise behind The Normals, a new miniseries from writer Adam Glass (Suicide Squad, Rough Riders, TV’s Supernatural and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders) and artist Dennis Calero (The Dark Tower, X-Men Noir) that premieres this week from AfterShock Comics..
Newsarama talked with Adam Glass to in an attempt to get the secrets of the book’s premise and learn what makes it personal to him.
Newsarama: Adam, tell us what you can about The Normals – the mystery of the book’s twist has been a big part of its promotion.
Adam Glass: The mystery of the book is a big part of the story, and I can talk to you a little about it, but it’s a key part of the story, so I don’t want it to be revealed in this interview.
Nrama:[Pause] Is it bigger than a breadbox?
Glass: I have a way of explaining it to people - I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m pretty happy, where I have a beautiful family, and a beautiful home, and a beautiful life. Of course, like a ton of Jewish writers, I have a fear of losing all this. And I started to wonder - what if it wasn’t real? What if it was all a lie?
And I started to spin this family tale, taking inspiration from movies like Running on Empty with River Phoenix, which was one of my favorites when I was younger - and The Mosquito Coast, and stories of families on the run in extraordinary circumstances and trying to stay together.
So I put all this together with the story of a family - and it really is my family - in a science-fiction story, with everything that I enjoy as a writer.
The first part of the story is this guy who’s really the perfect family man, married to his high-school sweetheart, and is in the place where he’s the little league coach and madly in love with his wife and his kids and has this home filled with memories, and it’s this really blessed life, and it all turned on its ear when he finds out it’s not what he thinks it is.
And the idea is, once that’s revealed, and what the series is about, is “What would you do once that’s revealed, and what would you do to keep that?” And the answer is, you’d do anything. You’d even kill. Even the most mundane life is better than what he’s learned.
So it’s about the nuclear family put under the most extreme circumstances, and a man fighting to keep his family together.
Nrama: So, would you say he finds out that this is not his beautiful house, and this is not his beautiful wife?
Glass: Buddy, I can’t believe - the title of the first book is “Same as It Never Was.” I mean, every single title of the book is a Talking Heads song. We open the first book with the character quoting that song. So that is mind-blowing you brought that up.
Nrama: But it sounds like you’re exploring the idea of the idealized American dream versus a darker reality.
Glass: Yes, and - again, I want people to read the first issue [Laughs], but what I want to tackle in the story, what’s interesting to me is the idea of, “This might be a lie, but it’s real to me - I love my family, I’m not going to let you take that away.”
So the family is on the run, and they have some information that’s for lack of a better term, a treasure map. And they’re looking for help from those who are like them while they’re being hunted down.
It’s a series that’s about what it is to be a family, what it is to be a human being. Much like Supernatural, there’ll be a story of the week where they go into a town or city with very little clues, and have to find who they’re looking for…and that might not be someone who’s particularly nice.
So it’s about trying to stay together, and figuring out who you are, and surviving against this outside force, and there’s a little Waiting for Godot in there, because with each new encounter, they’ll come a little closer to finding out the truth about themselves and who’s behind this.
In a nutshell, that’s what The Normals is about.
Nrama: So it sounds like there’s a mythology.
Glass: Yeah. And you know, there’s an irony, they’re going to be learning a lot more about the different types of people out there and what connects us than those leading “normal” lives. At the end of the day, it’s a series about humanity, and having a family of four, looking at it from four different perspectives.
Nrama: Well, here’s a question - you’ve talked about this from your perspective, but if you were in a situation like this, would you want to know the truth, or keep on living the lie?
Glass: Man. I always like to say, it’s easier for me to make decisions when they involve fictional people. [Laughs] As far as this character - I’d do take the route that meant my family would be happy, even if they’d have to forget me. For me, personally… I think the truth sets you free, even if you don’t like it.
Nrama: Tell us about working with Dennis Calero.
Glass: Dennis has been great. It’s funny, because we inadvertently worked together on Luke Cage: Noir - he did one of the covers. I wanted more of a neo-noir look for this book, with shadows and hard lights, and Dennis was perfect for it. He really helps set a mood and conveys emotion - the story is about tone, and he really sets the tone.
Nrama: How long do you see this series running?
Glass: We’re going to do six issues, and if it does well, we’ll keep going - I could probably do a hundred of these. That’s the idea of this - you have an overall myth-arc, which is “Who are they? What are they? Why is this force coming after them?” and it takes you down a whole rabbit hole. The family drama alone is worth at least 40 issues, but there’s so much to tell with this – I feel like it can go on as long as people want to read it.
Nrama: What else do you have going on?
Glass: Still doing Rough Riders, and want to do more Brik at Oni, but waiting to get a sign from Oni, and my work on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders just finished airing, and now I’m working on a show called The Chi, which is going to run on Showtime – it’s set in Southside Chicago, and I’m very happy to be back on cable and using harsh language. [Laughs] Keep checking my Twitter feed to see some behind-the-scenes photos.