Have you ever come to an end of vacation and found yourself not looking forward to going home?
Now imagine your vacation is in an alternate reality with things changed just the way you’d want them. I wouldn’t want to go back either – I’d want to keep going.
That’s the conceit in the new limited series Infinite Vacation, which debuted this week on comic shelves around the country. Published by Image Comics, it’s written by comics’ resident wunderkind Nick Spencer and illustrated by the innovative artist of Olympus, Christian Ward. In this colorful series, a young man named Mark has crisscrossed a myriad of alternate realities trying to find a place to settle down, but has found himself wanting. In this world, jumping to an alternate reality is like booking an airline trip, and he’s gotten frequent flyer miles and nothing really to show for it. It isn’t until the events of Infinite Vacation #1 that he thinks he might have found what he’s been looking for.
For readers who’ve been following Spencer’s line of hits or maybe someone on the fence, read on to find out more about the book and if you want to give this new creator-owned series a try.
Newsarama: Coming on the heels of all your previous work, I can definitely say that Infinite Vacation is one of the most imaginative ideas you've created, Nick. Can you tell us about the world Mark lives in here?
Nick Spencer: The world set up in Infinite Vacation is one where the ability to move in and out of alternate realities has become a commercial enterprise; it’s something consumers (i.e. people) do everyday. They do it for fun and vacation. They do it for work. They do it out of convenience. They use it all the time. People swap in and out of infinite variations of themselves in alternate realities.
Our story is about Mark, who is very much addicted to the “Infinite Vacation” trip and the possibilities it provides. No matter where he goes, he keeps finding himself stuck in the same places and picks up and moves on.
Nrama: How does someone go about skipping to an alternate reality? Is there a magic button or something?
Spencer: It’s set-up as an app on mobile devices, so you would punch it up on your phone.
Nrama: “There’s an app for that!” as Apple would say.
Spencer: Right. So people might want to buy into a world where they got to where they were going half an hour earlier. They might want to buy into a world where they’re in Hawaii. It’s as simple as pressing a couple buttons.
Nrama: Sounds like a great life to live; what's standing in Mark's way of eternal happiness?
Spencer: No matter how much he seems to keep switching lives, he continues to find himself ending up in a sort of bord, restless place; relationships that fall apart, jobs that don’t inspire or excite him. He seems to keep falling into the same trap over and over again, and he’s perplexed by it. And in the first issue, he also starts to learn that the other “hims” in the alternate realities seem to keep dying under mysterious circumstances. That certainly perks his interest.
Nrama: This ability to shop around to different alternate realities seems to depersonalize the people he works with – but who are those people around him in this book?
Spencer: Mark starts out alone in the most of the 1st issue, but towards the end of the issue he meets a woman who will be very important to the story.
Nrama: Like your previous work, this story has a big concept but at its heart is about people and their relationships. How do you work to keep both things working well without overpowering the other?
Spencer: I don’t think I could ever write a hollow high-concept story; I’d just lose interest. If I’m dealing with a high concept idea, I tend to look at how it’s reflected in people’s personal situations and figure out what a successful allegory for that would be. I tend to establish the story on both of those planes with pretty much anything I write. I think at the end it makes it a much more r ewarding experience. In addition to having a fun and intriguing high concept to explore, we’re also exploring something about ourselves and how we view each other.
Nrama: Some writers say that each character has a little bit of themselves inside, sometimes more than others. Do you see any resemblance between yourself and Mark from Infinite Vacation?
Spencer: I never think of any of the characters as like me. There might be pieces of characters that I recognize as part of myself though. Sometimes I see my own characters adopting mannerisms and affectations of myself, but in terms of Mark being a stand-in for me? I don’t necessarily think so.
We’re pretty different in a lot of ways. Mark embodies what a lot of us feel in a mass-consumer society; we keep getting things, acquiring things, experiencing things and find that it doesn’t necessarily solve our problems the way we think they should. I think Mark is representative of living in a modern culture; that sort of rampant mass-consumerism often leaves a lot of people wanting.
Nrama: Although you wouldn’t compare yourself to Mark, I found one way you’re alike – you don’t like to stay in one place too long. You've jumped all over the board with your various creator-owned and even DC/Marvel stuff. This isn't a psychatrist's chair Nick, but why do you think that is?
Spencer: [laughs] You just made me realize I’m more like Mark than I thought.
I set-up my career so that I get to work on a lot of things at a lot of different places. It keeps the enthusiasm high, and keeps your energy level higher because you’re not slogging through the same thing over and over. I go from writing a sunny, best-case-scenario script and the next thing would be a very slow, methodical and serious piece. I like variety and diversity. It’s one of the most fulfilling things about my slate this year.
Nrama: Most of the artists you've worked with previously have been relatively new to the scene, but your collaborator here Christian Ward broke onto the scene around the same time you did with the miniseries Olympus -- a kindred soul of sorts. How did you two hook up?
Spencer: I believe my first book, Existence 2.0, and his first, Olympus, actually came out at the same month even. We started talking just before our first issues had come out because we just noticed each others works. Since then we’ve become really good friends; I’d certainly call him one of my best friends in the industry, and I enjoy hanging out with him in addition to working together. I think that with the two of us, we always knew we wanted to work together, but it took some time to find the right story. Christian has such an amazing and distinctive style that we needed just the right fit. We kicked around ideas for awhile, then finally one day I had the beginnings of the idea that would become Infinite Vacation, so I wrote it up and we immediately began batting ideas around. It’s been a really fun experience so far, and very collaborative; I leave a lot of the final details up to him. He has story credit on the book because I’ve left a lot of room for him to come up with things, and he has – especially in terms of how it’s paced. Christian’s somebody I hope to work with for a long time.Infinite Vacation is in stores now! Will you take an infinite vacation?