Synopsis:“A sci-fi short about augmented reality. “Strange Beasts” is an augmented reality game. It allows you to create and grow your own virtual pet. How far can it go?
Personal Thoughts: Creepy, because this fantasy is not far from reality. It’s got all the feel of an episode of Black Mirror, including a dark twist to the end. The far effects of this AR and eventual VR would be interesting to the effect of one’s mental health and long-term sanity. The loneliness at the end has me pondering, what if more people engaged in this AR game? I think back to the silly episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The Game“). That and this situation seems dark and creepy, but at least the victims are happy, right?!
Brian Haberlin is a modern visionary through his special brand of science fiction storytelling.
He is a creative writer, artist, colorist, producer, and much more. You may have discovered Haberlin’s work through his critically acclaimed graphic novels (now in print and digital), Anomaly and Shifter. Recently, he brought forth via Image his latest comic book series, Faster Than Light; a cosmic adventure series of explorers braving the dangers of space travel and intergalactic relations. Through his own Anomaly Productions studio, he creates his stories, while working with a broad array of new talent to tell new tales. Much of his current productions uses his own Ultimate Augmented Reality (UAR) apps, where readers with the use of their mobile devices, may delve deeper into his work to reveal 3-D holographic-like imagery with revealing extra information.
Here is a video sample of a more recent issue of Faster Than Light with UAR app integration:
Haberlin’s work goes far back, for over two decades, beginning with his work at Top-Cow Productions where he co-created the Witchblade series. He would move on to work independently for the Marvel, DC, and Image comic publishers. Later, he cofounded Avalon Studios, where he would bring out new independent titles, including Aria, Stone, Area-52, and M-Rex. He also teaches comic art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and contributor for 3-D World and ImagineFX magazine.
Overall, Haberlin is a creative soul who enjoys storytelling through comic books. I also feel is also an explorer at heart, trying out new ways of content delivery through digital technology and the use of UAR and beyond. He often presents his work at his Anomaly booth at various conventions, where his stories and associated UAR tech are featured; drawing fans in, old and new. During the recent 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, I talked with Brian Haberlin about his work and thoughts on humanity’s future.
Below, is our enlightening discussion:
Hello Brian! I much enjoy your current work of Faster than Light, which will soon reach its eighth issue. What are your thoughts so far on bringing this comic series into the comics market, and how it originally developed?
Brian Haberlin: It’s been very successful. It’s been a book I have wanted to do since 1994. I had ghost-written a (Star Trek) Deep Space Nine episode with Evan Carlos Summers on staff. I was busy with Warner Brothers, and he was doing his thing. I didn’t think the freelance writing stuff was going to work. But we did an episode where a Kai was killed (Season 1.13 – Battle Lines). There was a problem with what was going on with the Star Trek stuff I saw at the time, where if you relate it to what’s happening right now there was this excuse of someone whose ‘oh, he’s into ancient earth music’ or, ‘or oh, that’s ancient earth history..’
I wanted to do a space show that’s happening now. If anything is happening on Earth now, you can reflect it in the show. You can have people comment, which I do quite often, on pop culture or the other sci-fi that happens in fiction that you can relate to that. Then you can mention and talk about it, without rationalizing “oh, it’s the year 2500, and there’s something in 2017” kind of nonsense.
Yes, and Faster Than Light feels much more different from anything in science fiction, revolving around this adventurous space travel. It does not feel like Star Trek, Firefly, Lost In Space; or whatever else we are familiar with. What else do you feel on what you said, that projects it as unique and different to what people perceive as a typical space travel adventure?
Brian Haberlin: I think it falls pretty heavily on the influence of my older brother who is 12 years older, who really got me into sci-fi, to begin with. Of most of that stuff, I was heavy into Larry Niven. If you read Larry Niven’s stuff, it’s very heavily science-based. Since then, he’s been a futurist because there are so many things he wrote about from around the 60s on stuff that’s totally come to pass. So, I think it’s mix of ‘that’, where ‘this’ can happen..which I’m trying to do on what could be real and eventually happen.
One thing I find interesting about Faster Than Light is the human relation to other aliens. Humans are sometimes gullible, kind of naïve in their place in the universe..not in a bad way, just as the new kid on the block of the interplanetary neighborhood and we are just trying to fit in, which is part of the drama. What do you think can be done today, to perhaps prepare us better for the future to better ourselves in that galactic menagerie?
Brian Haberlin: At the core of Faster than light, there is the Aurelian Signal and the potential threat of whatever got them is coming to get us. But using that as a jumping on point for our adventure, I framed everything purposefully… You can’t go out there thinking , oh my god we are all going to die and we have to be super suspicious of everybody. If you don’t go out there with hope like Captain Forest, who has the best possible outlook. We are out in space where no humans ever been before. No one has ever done any of this stuff, so turn around and give yourself a pat on the back. I know we are trying to save humanity here, so appreciate the wonder of the moment. I think that is the key.
I like that message.
Brian Haberlin: Indeed, I think that was the wonderful thing about the reboot of Doctor Who, especially the Christopher Eccelston episodes, and the next one (David Tennant). There are moments of this Time Lord, this amazing character looks at humans and goes…’you don’t understand, you guys are amazing. You get up every morning, and do all these things, everything about you is amazing and you have this unlimited potential.’
I see (while admiring the fact that he gets the Doctor as a visionary for the good that humans can do)..
Brian Haberlin: Because right now in issue #10 of Faster Than Light, where they are dealing with multi-dimensional creatures, who know a lot of things about us and our true reality. In that one of them says at one point, you in your dimension..you are the tip of the iceberg. there is more to humanity in the other dimension, that you’re not even aware of.’ So, I think, of things I try to pull off , is the one or two of the impossible.
And that’s interesting, but also shows where we need to work because learning is part of the adventure.
Brian Haberlin: Yeah, well people forget and I hope I’m not tipping my hand too much but there is a line from issue #10 I use.. when Pandora’s box is open and all the horrible things come out and there is one thing else left in the box, and that was hope.
Hmm… Speaking of hope, is there any updates on the news from April about a Faster Than Light TV show?
Brian Haberlin: Ah, I had a meeting with Skydance (Skydance Media) last week, and we are going over potential showrunners for the show.
Cool. And, nothing more on that, right?
Brian Haberlin: I just have to read the people and see if they can carry the ball or not. And, I am looking forward to it. But, I think of my goal. It’s not to just do comics and think I’m getting a big movie or TV deal. My goal is I love comics, I love the screen, I love telling stories. I see it all as good from what comes of it. It just comes down to if someone doesn’t do it right and doesn’t get it, I take it off the table. There have been other books of mine that are been a fast track for feature films and finally, I see the pitch and think, oh that’s nice then go back and talk to my agent and think, I wouldn’t make that movie with their money.
Like I think when the World War Z film happened, based on the book. I thought wow, they have the same title.
Brian Haberlin: That’s something as a creator that occurs quite frequently. Like when I had the Hellcop option, and it has been this, that and the other thing and when they come back to me with what it is..I think, then why didn’t you just buy the title from me?!
Yes. I see a lot of what you put into your current work, especially with the UAR app, where when used with the book gives all this additional info on elements in the story, sometimes as much as the book. How much time for each chapter do you spend on the what goes into the app, versus the actual book?
Brian Haberlin: It’s about a week.
Then there is the virtual reality tech, that is now on its steady rise. Have you been thinking or planning on using that technology in your storytelling?
Brian Haberlin; We have a couple VR apps already going. We have a Shifter Oculus App, we have Anomaly on Vive..that’s not finalized yet. But we are looking into a couple of companies now, doing some short VR stories based on Anomaly.
That’s great, as I think there is a lot of potential in VR that I can’t even begin to pick apart just yet. Possibilities are endless. So, are there any other news on Faster Than Light and other projects for the fans to get excited about?
Brian Haberlin: Anomaly 2 will be out beginning next year. Fury Formula will be out around the same time, which is a modern take on the Jekyll and Hyde story.
Ooo (out of personal of interest for anything Jekyll and Hyde).
Brian Haberlin: The tagline is “Everyone has a dark side, his has its own wardrobe.” We also have some free Faster than Light stories on the website (See the Mission Logs here). The first one is “The Hermit” story on our website, which is available on the black and white ashcan here (at the convention), and every month a new black and white issue, focusing on a single character. First one focuses on Hippie, the second one focuses on Sally… And then we go back, as we have talked about in the book, a mini-series that is the Daedalus mission, which is why Forrest got the command and to begin with.
That’s great as that’s what i wanted more in the book, which is more focused on particular characters, to get to know them better.
Brian Haberlin: Yeah, problem is that end of the day where I love the characters, great ensemble piece., but at 22-30 pages it can be such a double edge sword where people think oh, it’s just a talking head issue. So, you have to be careful with the cool splash page and whatever, then have the character moments. Now, I think we are having interesting stuff going on with Malcolm and Sally right now, and then Ryan has a thing for Sally too, which is his unrequited love of her..for Malcolm how that will manifest, we will see.
Those ashcans look great. But will those ever be collected into a trade paperback?
Brian Haberlin: Yes, and that will be colored and put into a trade paperback.
Do you have any final message out there for fans, and perhaps new fans interested in checking out your book through this interview, and those looking into the far future?
Brian Haberlin: You keep your eyes and keep yourself open to endless possibilities… As long as you don’t let the shit get you down and you keep going forward, then good things happen. If you’re not open to the possibilities of success of good things, guess what that’s not going to happen. If you can’t believe in yourself, like people who think, no I can’t do this..No. It’s better to not look at such as a fail, but give it a try. At least give it a try. If not, then give it a few tries.
Thank you, Brian!
Faster than Light monthly issues, the Volume 1 paperback (ISBN – 978-1632156846) , and other works of Brian Haberlin are available everywhere at awesome comic stores and the best book retailers still around. Digital back issues are available via all current digital outlets that carry Image titles. You may download the UAR apps from the Apple and Android stores. For more info on Anomaly Productions, visit their official site at experienceanomaly.com and follow them on Twitter @AnomalyWorld and on Facebook.
– Interview by Orion Tippens (Orion T) – eic, frequent writer of the Stranger Worlds,explorer of all science fiction across all planes and platforms.