To say that we're living in an interesting time in American history is a bit of an understatement. Canadian artist Steve Skroce channels a bit of that insanity and unpredictability into his new Image Comics limited series Post Americana.
Post Americana tells the story of a dystopian America that's an equal parts hellscape and Mega-City One and led by a man who named himself President after the U.S. government collapsed.
Skroce, a long-time Marvel Comics artist who transitioned to storyboarding such films The Matrix Trilogy and Jupiter Ascending, talked to Newsarama about the upcoming series, working with colorist Dave Stewart, his visual inspirations, and his hope for America in the years to come.
Newsarama: Steve, talk us through the world and landscape of Post Americana. What is the Bubble?
Steve Skroce: The Bubble is a futuristic, super bunker, built inside a hollowed-out mountain in Colorado. It was designed to ensure that the American executive branch of government and its best and brightest citizens survived in case the end ever came. It has the resources to rebuild, whatever the calamity; it's the staging area for the next age of man.
The world outside its walls is a ruin, full of roving gangs and warlords. Scavengers who live off the corpse of the gone world. The new self-appointed President of the United States and leader of the Bubble‘s forces plan to flatten every new settlement that's grown up since the big death and build something new from the ashes.
Nrama: What was the aesthetic you wanted to go for visually for the Post Americana?
Skroce: I wanted to apply that dystopian, Mega-City vibe to American cities and yet have the locations feel like a recognizable and plausible futuristic America. Then I imagined all that as a ruin, brought down by mega quakes, war, and disease. I wanted the American wasteland to feel empty and sparsely populated like a sword and horse story or something almost prehistoric. With Dave Stewart's colors, another layer of beautiful decay is added.
Nrama: Since you're writing and drawing yourself, did you know right at the start what you wanted conceptually for the characters or did that evolve to where we are now?
Skroce: I've had a very clear idea about the story and characters for a long time. By the time I was ready to draw, it became more about just getting it out and on the page.
What was great was when the artwork comes back from Dave, and you see the depth and emotional and dramatic tones his colors bring. The same goes for Steven Finch; He knows how to integrate his balloons and sound effects into the artwork, perfectly.
Post Americana #1 preview
Nrama: What can you tell us about the mysterious girl from the Wasteland, Carolyn, that seems to be our main character?
Skroce: Carolyn is a descendant of a tribe of U.S. lawmen and survivalists. In the generations since the apocalypse, her people have been keeping the road safe for innocent travelers from brigands, and worse.
All that changes when the Bubble sends drones and soldiers to kill her mother and everyone she ever knew. The only survivor, she walks the American wasteland, a gun for hire always searching for the 'new Americans' and her revenge.
Nrama: How would you compare working on this to also being a one-man writer/artist when you were doing Maestros? Did you learn anything about yourself as a creator in that time?
Skroce: It's a very similar process to Maestros; just me in a room drawing, writing, and revising, and at the end of it all there's a comic. The one thing I've learned would have to be that I really need to work in some cardio here and there; comics are a very sedentary profession.
Nrama: When scripting for yourself, are you looser or you know exactly what you want and it's all set in stone?
Skroce: I'm not writing for an artist so it's definitely looser. By the time I'm drawing the pages, I know what everyone is saying but everything will still evolve and get revised pretty much up until I release the pages to Dave Stewart and Fonografiks for color and letters.
Nrama: Just looking at the covers, it definitely feels like an old early '90s arcade beat 'em up. Having small flashbacks to the Bad Dudes arcade game but in the best possible way. Where did you pull inspiration from for the story?
Skroce: I'm a child of the '80s and the end times were just a part of your day.
I remember watching a TV movie called The Day After; it was a horrifying story about picking up the pieces after a large scale nuclear war between the US and Russia. It traumatized me, but also ignited an interest and love of the post-apocalyptic genre. Road Warrior, Damnation Alley, Escape From New York, The Stand, Thundarr, Kamandi, Blade Runner, and Star Blazers all makeup bits of Post Americana's DNA. A version of this story has been cooking in my mind for decades.
Nrama: What genre would you even call something like Post Americana?
Skroce: It definitely sits perfectly in the post-apocalyptic genre but it's got some cool sci-fi elements as well and a bit of superhero action with a twist.
Nrama: As a child of the '80s myself, Russia and China seemed like a huge threat, throw in Suddam Hussein it was such a weird time to grow up to feel like with global bogeymen that could seemingly bomb us at any minute.
The boogeyman so to speak in Post Americana, is the President of the United States. What can you tell us about him and how he came into power?
Skroce: Nathaniel Hawksworthe was the first generation born inside the Bubble. He grew up obsessed with the idea of American exceptionalism. When he comes of age, he leads an expedition into the American Wasteland to see the country he only learned about in video reels. He's gone ten years, when he finally returns he's a different man; a Svengali, he gives the people a purpose their pampered lives didn't have before. He tells them he's going to rebuild America. No one objects when he names himself the new President of the United States of America.
Nrama: Lastly, back in the real world, what are you hoping for the next two years for America?
Skroce: Less horror, in general, would be nice.
Post Americana #1 (of 6) goes on sale on December 16 in print and digitally. Check out our list of the best digital comic readers for Android and iOS devices.