LEMIRE & NGUYEN Head Upward with ASCENDER

Ascender
Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)
Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dustin Nguyen are returning to the world of Descender for an all-new series, aptly titled Ascender. Once again at Image Comics, this upcoming series is set 10 years after the previous series and focuses on Mila, the younger daughter of Descender's Andy and Effie.

In this new time peroid, magic has replaced science as the driving force in the galaxy, with a new ruling class - a vampire coven and their matriarch, Mother. But something or someone pulls Mila out of hiding and puts her in danger. Luckily, her dad Andy and the family's robot pal Bandit are by her side.

With Ascender #1 due out April 24, Lemire and Nguyen spoke with Newsarama about their return to this memorable universe, a timeline of what has happened, and a look at what's to come.

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Newsarama: Jeff, Dustin, Ascender takes place 10 years after the finale of Descender, which we'll get into in a bit, what's happened in the 10 years since then?

Jeff Lemire: I can't reveal many specifics, as one of the main thrusts of the book will be the mystery of that 10-year gap and slowly filling in the puzzle pieces. But, generally speaking, all technology has been banned and strictly prohibited since the Harvesters attacked at the end of the Descender series, and took all the robots away with them to parts unknown. That left a huge vacuum in the galaxy and In that time magic has reclaimed the universe.

The world we enter in Ascender #1 is familiar, yet completely different at the same time.

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Dustin Nguyen: 10 years in comics Lan, only about one year in real life. I was drawing this entire time though.

Nrama: It's kinda hinted that there will be cameos along the way, so how are you writing this: a sequel or more of a spin-off?

Lemire: It is definitely a sequel, not a spin-off. Many of the cast members of Descender will be part of this story and it really is the net chapter in the larger saga. Part of the fun will be seeing how much some of the familiar faces from Descender have changed in the 10 years since we last saw them. And of course, not all of  them are still alive. There will be many new faces as well.

Nrama: Dustin, on an aesthetic level, what did you want to bring out for the new world of Sampson?

Nguyen: I've just been wanting to illustrate the scary and weird, more organics for a while. I've been craving to use more flesh and earth tones in my palette for a while. I love drawing tech and space, but now we're finally expanding into a world of horror as well, so you'll see a lot of that in this series.

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)
Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Nrama: How long into Descender was this story in the works?

Lemire: It developed something around issue #24 or #25 of Descender. At that time, I had an ending in mind for Descender, but the closer I actually got to that ending, the less satisfied I felt with it.

Around that time we also did a fun one-off issue where Driller lands on a swamp planet and in that story I sort of off-handedly introduced vampires and magic into the story. It was just going to be a fun change of pace issue, but it ended up sparking this larger story and showed me a new path of exploring this universe that Dustin and I had put so much into.

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Nrama: Was there something you have planned in Ascender that you wanted to try in Descender that didn't quite work?

Lemire: Funny enough, not really. This feel more like all new ideas and new stuff to play with. I think we both felt like we did everything we set out to do with Descender - except for providing closure for many of the characters. This felt more like a chance to explore things we couldn't explore in Descender just because world has changed so much now.

I'm sure Dustin feels the same way, in terms of his visual approach. This book has a much more organic/natural feel to it than the tech and robots of Descender.

Nguyen: Pretty much what Jeff said, I'm just very glad we didn't have to stop telling the stories of our characters. I feel like Jeff and I both grew alongside them, and now just giving ourselves the chance to keep going.

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Nrama: Dustin, were there a few designs that you might have had trouble with?

Nguyen: Not too much. we develop things pretty organically between Jeff and I. Also being we're always building things from the ground up, there weren't too many things to have to follow. Kind of make it up as you go.

Nrama: There’s something I wanted to bring up, but always curious about how working together affects the team so how has this collaboration made you both better storytellers?

Credit: Dustin Nguyen (Image Comics)

Lemire: Definitely. Working with Dustin was the first time I did a creator-owned project that I didn't draw myself, and he was the best possible collaborator for me. We have a similar sensibility, but he approaches his panels and page layouts much differently than I would If I were drawing so it opened me up to all sorts of new storytelling ideas and directions.

And every time he delivers art for a new issue, I still get inspired and get new ideas that I would never get on my own.

Nguyen: Just working with Jeff in the past three years changed the way I want to tell stories. Being he's also an artist and to see how he breaks down a page to pace his stories has really taught me about taking your time and making every page count.

Most things are trial and error for me, having Jeff as a partner and being super open to it all just fuels my confidence even more. Every time I get a new script from him

I feel like it's just a new opportunity make something better than the last. The freedom we have on our own book really allowed me to try new things I'd never get to do on a more mainstream title.

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