Sean Lewis And Hayden Sherman Talk ‘The Few’
Earlier this year, Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman came together for The Few, a six-issue series from Image Comics. August will see the release of the trade paperback. Outright Geekery had the chance to speak with the creators of this book so they could tell readers about the book and the work to put it all together.
For someone not familiar with The Few, what can you tell them about the book?
Sean – Welcome to America’s future. The flyover states have been abandoned and power has been isolated to the East and West Coasts. The Midwest, South and Mountain States have become wastelands overrun with cults, revolutionaries and extremists looking to create their own kingdoms in the badlands or disrupt the power held in the Palaces on the Coast.
We meet Edan Hale. A woman with a past connected to the Palace who now is running through the badlands trying to rescue the life of a child she saved from a massacre in the badlands. Cults, terrorists and survivalists collide as we discover the world of THE FEW.
Hayden – Enjoy your stay.
The Few definitely has that dystopian feel to it. What is it about this setting that made the story happen?
Sean – I live in Iowa but grew up in New York. The way in which each part of the country sees each other is crazy. It’s filled with judgment and frustration and, above all, ignorance. I grew up obsessed with B Movies- lots of dystopia: Escape From New York, Blade Runner, Warriors and the like. There is something distinctly American about rebels. We come from rebels. We love stories of tyranny overthrown, individuals rallying for a greater good… I also think we have a constant fear of mass destruction. I grew up in the 80’s with the nuclear arms race and the thought that at any moment the world could be blown to pieces.
Extreme situations bring out people’s true character. So, I thought it’d be exciting to set a comic in my version of that world.
How much research, story and art, was done for The Few? Did you have to browse through some pretty questionable survival sites and such?
Sean – I read sites and definitely ordered some books from Amazon. I also have a few relatives- one cousin, in particular- who is basically a survivalist. He worked as a fire jumper in Oregon (basically firemen who parachute into wild fires) and then lived in Montana for a year or so. He’s basically MacGyver. So, I’d listen to his stories and ask questions.
I also am first generation Irish-Catholic. I grew up around conversations that referenced the Irish Republican Army and the concepts of terrorists and freedom fighters. The idea of guerrilla warfare was weirdly a dinner conversation in my house.
Hayden – As far as the art was concerned there wasn’t a vast amount of research. More so there was imagination. The future that we’ve imagined in The Few is fairly indistinct in how far ahead of us it is, so when thinking about these people surviving (or conquering) we were able to pull from how the world is now, more or less. There was a sense of the current day that I wanted to bring to it, as if this world was the same as ours but then tilted just slightly enough to be seen as something else entirely. So throughout the book we have moments of familiar settings, small towns, city streets, forests, etc. But whenever these familiar things are shown there’s an air of being left behind that comes with them, as if the people just decided to carry on without the things we have now.
What was the process like for getting the book published with Image? Did this project get turned down by a few other publishers or was the idea to always have Image put it out?
Sean – Always Image. Image is the only publisher who ever saw the book. I grew up reading Image books. My first comic book SAINTS was lucky to be published by Image. The experience was so great there was no point to go anywhere else.
I’ll speak very plainly… I work in a few mediums: radio, film, theater… The best work I have ever seen is when artists are given freedom. Image does that. They let you make the book you want to make- and they let you own it- and the trade off is… you’re responsible. If it fails, it is on you. If you’re lazy and don’t push your story to the best point, that’s on you. Art is late, that’s on you. Proof reading sucks, that’s on you.
They are an amazing fraternity. Every month we got released next to amazing books. We got solicited next to Greg Rucka, Donny Cates, Charles Soule, BKV, Kirkman. That’s where I want to be. I want to be surrounded by those names because I am competitive. It makes my work better because those guys are amazing and I’ll be damned if I am going to let my book look like shit next to theirs.
Hayden – I don’t think there’s a better way to say it. Image is just where it’s at for this sort of thing.
Sean and Hayden, who were some of your comic book influences?
Sean – My gateway was Chris Claremont writing X Men. Then I was hooked on DC Vertigo books: Ennis and Neil Gaiman. Then I went away from comics for years. Maybe 4 years ago I was given a copy of Jeff LeMire’s ESSEX COUNTY. And that was hit. I was back. Obsessively. I read a lot of LeMire. I dig BKV (I’m late to the party but currently reading Y The Last Man), I just read King City and loved it. I think I want things that raise the form. Comic books that feel as honest and poignant and singular as my favorite novels. What Tom King did with Vision was pretty amazing.
Hayden – There are so many names to bring up! I mean, if I can just list some out: Matt Wagner, Paul Pope, Tim Sale, Ashley Wood, Mike Mignola, Sergio Toppi, Moebius, Jorge Zaffino, Bill Sienkiewicz, and the list goes on. The usual suspects to some degree, but there really are so many artists that pulled me into comics and continue to influence me. Overall, I love seeing artists who take the comic medium and play with it to their heart’s content. Seeing that an artist isn’t afraid to abstract and cartoon and play within their story just does my heart good.
This book has such an incredible look to it. Hayden, what if your artistic background like and if you could, what kind of materials are you using for this work?
Sean – Hayden is the illest.
Hayden – I just graduated from college so, funny enough, I don’t know what my background really is, I mean there’s not much of it yet at least. More than anything I’d say my background is comics though. This really is the thing I’ve always wanted to do and spent my life working to get better and better at. And I’ve still got plenty of ground to cover, so thankfully the adventure continues. But yeah, comics comics and, wouldn’t you know, more comics.
As for the materials I use, I like to vary it up from project to project as I can, but my greatest affection is for ink. I use just about whatever inking tool I can, as it fits the job. I’m generally rotating an assortment of pens, brushes, brush pens, calligraphy pens, pen nibs, charcoal, whatever gets the job done best. Coloring in The Few is all digital, but I’m playing with more traditional approaches now. So everything’s shifting and changing.
One thing that really stands out is that there is a smaller color palette to this story. Was that Sean or Hayden’s idea and why go that route?
Sean – Oh, that was Hayden. That kid’s a genius.
Hayden – Oh man, yeah that’s on me. I felt it would be interesting to see the color in the story be used as a reflection of Hale’s feeling within each of her settings. So by reigning in the color to a limited palette, we draw a bit more attention to the mood of things, and how Hale is fairing in the moment. This is another area where comics just continue to be fun. The color doesn’t have to be there, but if it is, why not try and bring it into the story that much more?
Sean, how much input do you have on the art? Are you just scripting it and letting Sean free to do whatever he wants?
Sean – Hayden has free reign. All of the artists that I work with do. I am really particular when looking for artists. I want to know the energy of their work is right and that they themselves have a true design eye. Why? I will write and create a full world. Deep characters. Nuanced plots. Details upon details of what the world looks like, what it believes in, what it destroys… and then I want to see what you do with that, how you as an artist translate it… and then I want to go in and write to those panels so the book is truly collaboration, truly mutual.
Hayden – This seems like the perfect opportunity to restate how cool Sean is. The whole book is a really full collaboration where we each trust each other to play our parts. And then, by playing our parts, end up with a new product that we hadn’t exactly planned out before. There’s a fair amount of planning, matched with a fair amount of figuring it out as we go. And getting to just go ahead with the art and interpret his script as I feel works best is incredibly liberating. I’m always trying to tell the story in the best way I know how, but having that freedom to really go out and do it is something that’s typically pretty hard to find. So yeah, truly mutual.
What’s next for the creative team?
Sean – We have a new book that Hayden just sent me the pencils to the first issue on… it’s amazing. It’s an amazing issue and will be a special book. I’m excited for it. It’s called THUMBS.
Hayden – Shoot, that looks like a full announcement! Yeah, I’m inking issue one right now, and this book is shaping up to be a real good time. Sean’s outdone himself.
The trade paperback of The Few will be available August 23rd.