Greetings space cadets, to a very special interview! We recently caught up with Natalie Raffaele, creator and writer of ANANKE: The Prologue. ANANKE is planned as a four issue (not including the prologue) mini-series and the Kickstarter campaign for the prologue is live now! So then, let’s see what Natalie had to say about ANANKE!
AP2HYC: What were some of the inspirations behind ANANKE?
Raffaele: ANANKE was really an amalgamation of all my childhood loves; science, ancient history, space, robots, manga and anime. They came to the surface in my twenties and I found myself getting lost in all those subjects I was fascinated with years ago. I wrote my first scene for ANANKE in 2011, and it wasn’t even for the prologue! It was for what will now be in volume 1 of the ANANKE series.
During these past five years, I became particularly fascinated with our ancient cultures, Eastern philosophies, and this really intriguing phenomenon on the rise; merging science and spirituality. We’re at a time right now where science is beginning to justify concepts in spirituality that were once leaps of faith, if you will.
Everyday, we’re being inundated with more and more scientific data that supports these claims. To give you a quick example, I define spirituality as a connectedness with something, if not everything. If we were to take the scientific route, there’s the concept of quantum entanglement, which explains that entangled particles remain connected despite the difference. So if one action is performed on one particle, it affects the other in the same manner. This is absolutely incredible, and yet it’s part of the science canon.
When you go quantum, things start to get really weird and interesting. Imagine if the spirituality of the ancient past, recycled by the religions of today, actually do have some validity and can be explained by science? I believe something like that really changes you as a person, and I wanted to create a story that focuses on this idea as an undertone.
AP2HYC: You seem to be well-versed in science studies. Do you have a formal background there, or are you just a serious fan of science?
Raffaele: I have two degrees; one in Film and the other in History! No science. I think it’s because I was heavily involved in science studies when I was in Intermediate School and High School. In fact at 14 years old, I was a Junior Fellow for the New York Academy of Medicine. When college came around, I wanted to learn other disciplines in the humanities, and now I find myself merging the two and discovering they’re not so distant from each other!
AP2HYC: What made you want to write a comic?
Raffaele: Graduating with one of my majors in Film, I immediately understood the benefits of storyboarding ideas. That was also heavily influenced by my live for Japanese manga. I view comics and graphic novels as an essential medium for sequential art. I have a very specific vision for ANANKE and I felt it was appropriate and natural to make it into a graphic novel. Do I imagine ANANKE becoming a film series one day? Absolutely.
AP2HYC: The mysteries of ancient cultures are fascinating. What role do they play in ANANKE?
Raffaele: I’m fascinated by the mysteries shrouded in our ancient past, especially Ancient Egypt and its structures, like the Pyramids of Giza or the Sphinx. We have one group of Egyptologists with a plausible theory of how and when they were built, and then we have other anthropologists and geologists who infer even greater claims about the history of the Ancient Egyptians and the basis of their knowledge.
If I were to go into specifics, we’d be here for hours, but it plays a role in ANANKE, especially in the ensuing volumes. There are distinct visual motifs in ANANKE inspired by the Art Deco period of the 1920s. Ancient Egyptian art heavily influenced Art Deco because of the unearthing of Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb. In ANANKE, this unique nod to futurism is reborn by the connections our characters make with Ancient Egypt. The future meets the past in a perfect circle.
AP2HYC: Explain a bit about the collaborative process between yourself, Aaron Parks, and the rest of the creative team.
Raffaele: When I first began writing ANANKE, it was well, just me! But when I finished my first draft of ANANKE: The Prologue, that’s when I started building my team. I worked with story editors Matt Pavone and Vito Ramos to fine tune the work, and sough specific concept artists for the visual elements.
Nick Machado, an architect by day, worked with me to design the spacecraft and interiors of ANANKE, and Noelle Raffaele worked on the initial character designs and early plot visuals. Aaron Parks was the final piece to the puzzle! Aaron is my illustrator for ANANKE: The Prologue and he works closely with me to interpret my screenplay and visual ideas to paper, cell by cell. It’s a very meticulous process that can take weeks to get just right, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
AP2HYC: As far as character designs go, does Aaron have a lot of input on the finished product?
Raffaele: When it comes to designs, I do have a very specific vision for everything involved, and I mean everything! But Aaron has this uncanny ability to interpret my script with the exact tone and feel I’m looking for, which is everything to me when storytelling. His masterfulness of form, value, and color (three key elements in mood building) have made creating ANANKE a real joy, and I’m really honored to be working with him!
AP2HYC: The Kickstarter is for the prologue to ANANKE, which will eventually be comprised of four more subsequent issues. What can you tell us about the story without giving too much away?
Raffaele: I’m very David Lynch-ian when it comes to revealing my secrets. I don’t like to reveal too much, and I want my readers to make the discoveries I’ve planted on their own! It’s a much more fulfilling read that way. If I could give just a little bit away, I’ll say this: our ConneXions are sent by Latimer Industries to the planet, ANANKE, to see if habitability is possible for humans.
But our ConneXions discover something on this planet that changes the course of their programmed lives, along with the inhabitants of the Earth. It continues to haunt our characters in volumes I,II, & III, and they’re forced to come to grips with what this discovery is and how it motivates all of our characters throughout the entire series.
AP2HYC: On the Kickstarter you mention that you would like ANANKE to “teach” readers. What do hope for them to take away from it?
Raffaele: I’d like to introduce readers to specific science disciplines that are integral to ANANKE‘s world, like electromagnetism, cymatics and piezoelectric crystal technology (to name a few). This ties in with my overall mission to merge science and spirituality through visual storytelling. Examining the mysteries of ancient cultures also ties in closely with this spirituality/science theme.
At the heart of ANANKE, it’s all about further understanding the nature of our reality and expanding your mind and your connectedness with the Universe!
AP2HYC: For those who haven’t yet visited the official Kickstarter, tell us a bit about some of the rewards you are offering to those who donate to the project.
Raffaele: Making our Kickstarter prizes and ANANKE: The Prologue accessible to people in all financial situations was a priority for me. You’ll see that the prizes range in price, but the story is accessible to everyone. In fact, for a $10.00 (USD) pledge, you get the digital copy of the graphic novel! That’s the same price as lunch nowadays! We also have a softcover, and a limited/signed hardcover edition for pledgers with an analog preference!
But it doesn’t stop there! We have stickers, art cards, t-shirts, an ANANKE Mission Badge Patch, posters, crystal jewelry (since crystals play such an important role in ANANKE) and two original paintings by artist Noelle Raffaele. We even have a secret raffle painting available where anyone who donates $10.00 has a chance to win an original painting created for the ANANKE Kickstarter! An original painting that can be won from a $10.00 pledge would be an absolute steal! But your chances increase the more you pledge since every $10.00 is one ticket.
AP2HYC: What are some of your favorite comics, books, and films?
Raffaele: Blade Runner is my favorite film by far. But other film works include Alien, the works of David Lynch (like Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and Twin Peaks), and more recently, Under the Skin. I also really liked The Neon Demon by Nicholas Refn. For comics, I have to say I lean more towards the Japanese interpretation with manga. My favorite manga is Yukito Kishiro‘s Battle Angel Alita from the 90s!
The connecting theme with all these mediums is a very dystopian present/future shrouded in mysteries for the audience to slowly unravel. This approach is what I take with me as I develop ANANKE: The Graphic Novel Series.
AP2HYC: Thanks Natalie!
Well gang, looks like we’re all ready for some serious space and spiritual exploration with ANANKE! As always, check out the official Kickstarter campaign and donate to the project to get your own copy of the book, and some sweet rewards!