A party you’ll never forget.At least that’s the idea of the upcoming New York City event called Forgetless. And your admission is $3.99 – for the comic, that is. Released earlier month and described by series creator Nick Spencer as “Rashomon in a night club, just with a lot more bullets,” Forgetless #1 (of 5) takes the reader behind the scenes of this A-list event and sees it from different points of view – as far-ranging as two models-cum-assassins and a group of New Jersey suburbanites scheming a way to get in.
Joining Spencer on this project are artists W. Scott Forbes, Marley Zarcone and Jorge Coehlo, who will be alternating on the book. The debut issue was released earlier this month, and with four more waiting in the wings we talked with series’ writer & creator Nick Spencer.
Newsarama: Nick, what can you tell us about Forgetless?
Nick Spencer: Forgetless is an experiment, an attempt to introduce something a little different to the market. Employing three amazing artists to tell a set of interconnected storylines across an abrupt-cut timeline, we really tried to create something that would stand apart here. So, if you're looking to take a chance and try something new, this book is for you.It's about a very popular club night in New York called Forgetless, which is coming to an end. At the very last edition, Sara and Sonia -- two struggling models turned professional killers -- walk in the door with orders to kill Derrick, a failed graphic designer and part-time hypnotist's assistant. Things go wrong, everything gets a little messy, and living to see last call becomes everyone's top priority.
Nrama: Flipping through the first issue — this is a real departure from your work on Existence 2.0. Where’d the idea for Forgetless come from?
Spencer: Well, some of that was a conscious decision. The last thing I wanted to do was more of the same. Even with Existence 3.0, the sequel, it's a lot different from its predecessor. I just tend to enjoy trying to stretch out into as many genres and styles as I can get away with. I never want to get too comfortable, or let anything become routine.
With Forgetless in particular, I wanted to do my 'New York' story. Now, a lot of comics, and a lot of fiction, are set here in New York, but most of the time, it's just acting as a stand-in for 'generic big city.' In this book, New York is a living, breathing thing that affects the story both directly and indirectly.
Living in Williamsburg right now, I wanted to try and document this 'subculture' or whatever that I'm surrounded by -- all these broke aspiring somethings trying to survive here while going out every night and overdosing on experiences. The characters in Forgetless are all just microcosms of that stuff.
Nrama: Getting back to it, why is this party so big that everyone wants to be in on it?
Spencer: Forgetless the club night is loosely based on Misshapes, which was kind of a big deal party in NYC a few years back, a real 'love it or hate it' thing. And it went from this small dance night in a tiny bar to this cultural staple, to the point where the last one had the Times and Mtv and all that down there covering it like it was Studio 54 or something. On the one hand, it was fun, and on the other hand, it was manufactured, but the bottom line is everyone knew about it, it had its own presence. And while plenty of great new nights came around after it, I don't know that any (for this particular 'generation' or whatever) have managed to match it, at least in terms of that 'awareness' factor. So I thought, 'this is the perfect setting for this story', the sort of end of the high water mark.
Nrama: So can you tell us about the two characters in the first story, Sonia and Sara?
Spencer: Sonia and Sara are basically semi-pro models barely managing to cover their rent, who end up moonlighting as professional killers -- and respond to that situation very differently. Sara is pretty much a shark in water, she takes the whole killing thing very easily. Sonia on the other hand, she still has the 'Jiminy Cricket' inner voice -- so there's some hesitation and some worry there. Which again, goes back to the social microcosm: I see people all the time who move here from Ohio or Michigan or wherever, and for some of them, they just take to it right away, it's like they're finally home. But to others, this place is just too rough or too cruel or too hectic, and they're simply not willing to adapt to that or accept that, so they end up heading back home in six months. Sonia and Sara represent that choice.
Nrama: And what about the group from the second story?
Spencer: If Story A is about surviving in New York, Story B is about getting there in the first place. It's about these three South Jersey high school kids who feel very out of place in their suburban surroundings, and have built up New York -- and Forgetless in particular -- as the place they belong. It's been their dream to graduate, move to NYC, and become Saturday regulars at this thing. But now, it's ending, and they have one last chance -- so they set out to get some fake IDs and head into the city on last minute notice, and all kinds of crazy misadventures ensue.
It's basically a story about what it takes to get here, and what you find once you do. I've never heard anyone say that moving here is easy. People like me, from the south or the midwest, will regale with their horror stories of their moves -- but they see it through because it's their dream, and they have the dedication to see it through. It takes a certain kind of person to just wake up one day and say 'I'm leaving for New York.' And the kids -- Darla, David, and Leigh -- are about to find if they have what it takes.
Nrama: Artist Marley Zarcone does some amazing work with those pages.
One of the things that thrilled me with the book was mechanics – so pardon me if I peek under the hood, but using twitter posts as inner dialogue is great. How’d that come to you?
Spencer: Ah, thanks! Well, like I said before, this book was an attempt to document a certain 'lifestyle' or 'subculture' or whatever you want to call it. And sites like Twitter and Facebook are such a big part of people's lives now -- so that would be true for these characters as well. So the intention wasn't to be gimmicky or to be the "twitter" comic -- it just would've felt dishonest to not include that stuff, it would've been a less accurate representation. I've tried to keep the actual usage believable as well -- for instance, in a scene where Sonia is sitting on the couch while the "grown-ups" are talking, of course she'll twitter. But when Derrick has a gun to his head, he isn't updating his FB status. So we're not using them as clever narration or as punchlines to word balloon jokes, we're using them as these characters would use them. While we're not the first comic by any means to use these, I think we might be the first to take that 'sincere' approach.
Nrama: Getting further, this first issue has two stories of two groups of people getting (or trying to get) in the party, with two different artist. What led you to this format?
Spencer: I'd been wanting to experiment with format for a while, because a lot of times I think we get way too wrapped up in what's familiar. I wanted to come up with a model that was a little more visually exciting, had a little more variety, but in a way that felt natural and cohesive. As in, how do you involve multiple and rotating artists, but in a way that doesn't disrupt the story? And I think we found one solution here. The key was knowing the format, and the artists involved in each story, before anything was plotted out or written. That made it all come together very nicely. We've got three amazing artists on this book -- Scott Forbes, who does Story A on Issues 1, 3 and 5; Jorge Coelho, who does Story A on Issue and 2 and 4; and Marley Zarcone, who does Story B on all 5 issues.
All three of them are doing absolutely incredible work on this book. They all have a sort of indie-yet-accessible style that I think readers will go crazy for. For art lovers, I think this book is a definite must-have.
Nrama: The cover has a real eye-catching and modern looking design aesthetic – a magazine format really different than most comics out there. Who designed it, and why’d you go this route?
Spencer: Credit for that goes to the amazing Tim Daniel, who helps with covers and production on all my books. I remember we were having fits with this cover, and Tim comes in, and just nails it within 24 hours. The guy is an absolute genius, and I'm very lucky to get to work with him.
I think it's a great fit for this book. I mean, for Sonia, struggling model that she is, she finally gets a cover -- maybe not the way she wanted, though.
Nrama: Before I let you off the hook, since some people already have Forgetless #1 in their hands can you tell us what’s coming up in future issues?
Spencer: Well, Issue 2 is all about someone we see a bit of in Issue 1 -- Derrick, the Bushwick hipster kid that's about to get himself killed (maybe for a good reason). Issue 3 is really a spotlight on Sara, and answers the question of how a model becomes a professional killer in the first place. Then Issue 4 is about a sex addicted koala -- don't ask, trust me, I know what I'm doing! And finally, it all comes to a head in 5, as all these lives going at different speeds really crash into each other head-on.