Arks #3 continues the story of Joe and Lilith, two planetary engineers that have landed on a terraformed world orbiting a distant star. As the two struggle to survive on this planet, they soon find out that there are threats all around them. With acid-filled oceans, water that tastes like blood, and transplants, animals that came to this world with them, roaming around. Including a pack of vicious wolves which end up severely injuring Joe, putting him on the brink of death. As Lilith frantically searches for medical equipment Issue #2 ends with an explosive cliffhanger, leaving audiences wondering what’s next for this world created by Rory Collins and Holly Cameron.
Collins, who went by R.J. in the previous article review on Arks #2, is the graphic novel’s writer and helps out with the art as well. A screenwriter and an illustrator himself, Collins began this storyline in mid-2020 and is close to getting us three issues of this visual masterpiece in a very short period of time. Fortunately, we were able to speak with Collins about Arks #3 and what to expect going forward in this miniseries. Here are his responses!
AP2HYC: Explain Arks as an overall series and the inspiration behind your work throughout these three issues?
Collins: Arks is a first of its kind, science fiction based on the scientific theory called Directed Panspermia. The theory has been around for nearly half a century and yet there is virtually nothing about it in pop culture despite it being our only viable method of extrasolar travel. I kept reading about it and was fascinated by it and sooner or later I realised that it was an amazing opportunity to make some genuinely exciting and original sci-fi.
I think the eureka moment was when I read Craig Venter‘s memoir Life at the Speed of Light and he suggested building rapid synthesizers on remote planets with robots and then sending instructions to that machine to build a human. I already had an idea similar to this and when an ‘art Hack’ in the advertising industry has the same idea as the man who sequenced the first genome you know you are onto something!
AP2HYC: Arks #2 ended off with a literal bang! How does Issue #3 pick up with this storyline?
Collins: Basically, Lilith and Joe are f****d. The air is so thick on their exo that a spark nearly immolates Lilith and sets the Cradle on fire. Without fire, they can’t heat their bacteria which is the only way they can make the medical equipment they need to save Joe. So Lilith has an idea that involves ‘fieldwork’-they must venture back outside the Cradle into the forest full of deranged transplants (animals from earth booted on this new planet) and look for an intact stomach. With that Lilith believes she can make a battery to manually heat the bacteria. The result of which is that they finally put clothes on in this issue.
AP2HYC: How do Joe and Lilith continue to grow as characters throughout this new issue? And how does their relationship evolve?
Collins: Without wanting to spoil anything, what will become apparent as the story progresses is that Lilith and Joe are opposites. And they are opposites on purpose. As they mention in the story they are each other’s interlocutors. Their differing opinions form a kind of fail-safe to stop the process from going out of control. And on top of that, they are based on a couple that was married. So there is lots of potential for pandemonium ahead.
AP2HYC: What was the inspiration behind this comic series artistic style? How did your team put together these stunning visuals?
Collins: I met two very talented guys (Andrew Morris and James Daly) whilst working in the advertising business who had an appetite to do some long-form stuff. They were helping me with my various schemes for years before I came upon the idea of adapting Arks into a graphic novel. The art style came about initially because I can’t draw. I was put off by the idea of making a comic for many years because the thought of drawing a character’s likeness several hundred times for a graphic novel made me shiver. I knew I could do it, but as I wasn’t a jobbing comic book artist, I knew it would take me a long time.
Then I hatched upon the idea of designing the characters in 3D and posing them like marionettes (which is pretty easy to do now) so that’s how it came about. It’s still a phenomenal amount of work but I could concentrate on it looking good. Not whether the character looked like the same person in the previous frame. Issue #2 and Issue #3 are illustrated by the great Andrew Morris who unlike me, can draw and is taking that style to a new level. Including building our sets and locations in a computer games engine to use them as our backgrounds. Bringing us absolutely phenomenal results.
AP2HYC: do you want readers to get out of Arks Issue #3? What should they expect?
Collins: Like most sci-fi’s, the first act is normally a bit bulky as you have to hit the audience with a giant exposition dump to put them into the reality of the universe. That was the challenge for the first two issues, conveying information whilst still making it an entertaining read. Issue #3 is when the story really begins and I promise total chaos! The story evolves in terrible and thrilling ways that people will never have seen before. When this comic is complete there won’t be another comic like it, so to say I’m impatient for people to get their copy is an understatement.
AP2HYC: Any plans for Arks Issue #3 going forward?
Collins: Issue #3 feels like the end of the beginning. So we’re excited that we’ve finally got here. Next is to produce Issue #4, #5, #6 ( gulp) and hope that our marriage and artists survive.
AP2HYC: What projects are you working on now and/or plan on working on in the future?
Collins: The storyboard for Issue #4 is complete and the script for another story that is kind of a prologue to Lilith and Joe’s story set in the same universe is written and ready to be produced. The provisional title for it is Laniakea and it foreshadows the plot beyond the six-part story featuring Lilith and Joseph. The plan is to expand the story with other Arks on other planets struggling to survive and communicate with each other in the face of an ominous signal coming from earth. A signal in a beam of light with instructions to boot up a girl…