To be fair, Our Love Is Real would be unexpected coming from anyone — it's about a man in a committed relationship with a dog who falls in love with a woman who has sex with crystals. That's correct. Illustrated by Steven Sanders (Marvel's S.W.O.R.D.), the book takes place in a dystopian future "five years after the AIDS vaccine," and clearly contains some social commentary, but Humphries says that he "certainly didn't want to preach."
How do you get the comic? It's mainly available online through ComiXology, but Humphries is producing a limited print run — currently on the second round — with copies available through mail order and at a handful of stores in the US and Canada, with the full list found on his website.
This is the kind of story and publishing move that practically sits up and begs for an interview, so Humphries obliged, and fielded our questions over email.
Newsarama: Sam, the first question I have to ask about Our Love Is Real is probably the one that a lot of people are going to be asking: Where did this come from? Is this as much a left turn as it may seem to people familiar with your past work (basing this mostly on Fraggle Rock), or is this closer to your sensibilities than work we've seen from you in the past?
Sam Humphries: Hahaha, yes...you may have a point.
Well, by definition it's closer to my sensibilities, because it is a creator-owned work. Fraggle Rock and CBGB were wonderful working experiences, but in both cases, they were work-for-hire situations with pre-defined concepts.
I am a bit of a science fiction junkie, especially weird-ass sci-fi like The Fountain and Akira. But Our Love Is Real is only my third published story, and my first full issue. I'm too green to predict what is or isn't my sensibility yet. The work tells you what you are.
I used to make all sorts of jokes about going from Fraggle Rock to CBGB, from signing Muppets to punks, drunks, and junkies, like there was no way they had anything in common. Then a friend pointed out the most obvious thing, which was that both of those short stories featured main characters who literally made art from trash. I had no idea.Second printing cover. So maybe there's more to divine from my limited body of work than I previously thought and I should just shut up.
Nrama: Also curious about the decision to release a limited print run. In an age where more and more importance is being placed on digital comics, why was it important to get some hard copies out there?
Humphries: The limited print run was a reflection of my limited resources. I'm not a full-fledged publisher or distributor, I'm just one guy!
I am very happy to have the book available digitally via Comixology. I love their service and I love what that frontier represents for the future of comics.
But having a hard copy of your comic in your hands, and the hands of your friends and family, and the hands of readers is still a wonderful, special experience. If there is a day in the future where that isn't true anymore, I hope we never get there.
Although I was trepidacious to put it in the hands of my mom.
Nrama: There is obviously an element of social commentary in the comic. Is that a crucial part of the story for you, or is it more of a, "enjoy the story, and if you get more out of it, great" type situation?
Humphries: To me, it's a love story. It's about people trying to find out who they are in a chaotic world. Think Eat Pray Love with more… well, you know.
There's a lot of hot-button issues I wanted to press, but I certainly didn't want to preach. I don't think there are a lot of role models in Our Love Is Real. Do not try this at home.
The comic is the comic. My intentions become largely irrelevant when people pick up the book. I hope people enjoy it and maybe trip out a bit.
Nrama: At what point did Steven Sanders become involved with Our Love Is Real? And how excited was he to draw things like a poodle in bed with a dude?
Humphries: Secret origins: I've had various drafts of Our Love Is Real kicking around for a long time. I first approached him about it five years ago or so, but I didn't have much momentum and it didn't go anywhere.
Late last year, when I became determined to make a go of it again, he came to mind immediately. His passion for sci-fi design, his fluid sense of action, his facial expressions… he brought so much to the book, I'm just glad he was game!
I can't speak for Sanders' level of excitement, but I think that panel with the poodle is among the most touching panels he's ever done. Maybe that in itself tells us all we need to know.
Nrama: Another unique thing (among many, y'know) about the comic is that it's a self-contained one-shot. Why was that route the best for the story?
Humphries: Well, there wasn't a lot of compelling evidence that the comic book market was ready for a 60-issue saga about dog-love. In fact, there wasn't any evidence that it was ready for a one-shot.
But I was determined to go ahead anyway, so a one-shot seemed like the safest bet. You can take a lot of bold chances in a one-shot since you don't have to clean up the mess in the next issue.
Nrama: And though there is a lot of elegance in the simplicity of a one-shot, are there any preliminary plans to follow up Our Love Is Real in any form? If not a straight sequel, maybe something else set in the world — or perhaps just another one-shot in the same format by you and Sanders?
Humphries: I've definitely got ideas for further stories set in the setting of Our Love Is Real, at least three or four long-form stories with inklings for more. There's a lot going on in this little world, some things that people have picked up on, and others that I think would surprise everyone.
My expectation was that I'd be sitting on those stories for a long, long time. But then again, this book has done a good job of thoroughly demolishing almost all of my expectations, so who knows what will happen next.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!