If the success of television series such a the first season of HBO’s True Detective and films like director David Fincher’s Seven and Zodiac are any indication, humans are fascinated with the occult and the end of days–or, at least, what’s “next.” Writer Michael Moreci and artist Michael Battaglia’s newest Z2 Comics series Indoctrination taps into that fascination from its first issue, debuting this Wednesday.
I spoke with Mr. Moreci recently about the genesis behind Indoctrination, what works have influenced his writing, and why he thinks we’re so intrigued by tales of the occult.
FreakSugar: For folks who are considering picking up the series, how would you describe Indoctrination?
Michael Moreci: I’d call it True Detective meets Seven with a dash of Nailbiter. It’s a horror/crime hybrid that has shades of contemporary politics in it, much like my series Burning Fields.
FS: The ideas behind Indoctrination are incredibly timely to what’s going on in the world and taps into that zeitgeist. What was the genesis for creating the book?
MM: Like Burning Fields, Indoctrination taps into my own concerns and thoughts about the world. We’re becoming, more and more all the time, a radicalized planet—all of us. Just look at this election—the thoughts and ideas that are passing for mainstream politics are so far out there, so crazy, so, I say it again, radical. And what’s scarier is that people are following it, and what’s scarier still is what sort of actions are supposed leaders are engendering.
Then, of course, there’s the far more dangerous aspects of radicalism that’s been directly responsible for violence and worse. Make no mistake—this has become an increasingly difficult book to write, but it’s important to me, and [series artist] Matt [Battaglia], to tell this story nonetheless.
FS: As you said, the book seems to share DNA with stories such as True Detective’s first season and David Fincher’s Seven. Are there any specific works that influenced this tale?
MM: It’s like you read my mind! I’d say those movies, then there’s Brubaker’s Criminal, Silence of the Lambs, Zodiac, things like that.
FS: What kind of research did you have to do in preparation for writing Indoctrination?
MM: Matt and I like to consider ourselves politically aware people, and even though our politics are pretty oppositional, I think we’re both dedicated to trying to understand the truth and see how things can improve. With that, we’ve kept an open political discourse between us, and we pass each other articles all the time and converse regularly. We’ve both read a lot, talked to engaged political people—like Matt Kibbe and Eric Stoner, of Free the People and Waging Nonviolence, respectively—that have helped informed our perspectives and ensure we tell this story in the best way possible.
FS: The look of the first issue has an eeriness about it, one that could not be more suited to the story. What was the process like collaborating with Matt Battaglia in deciding how to get the visuals just right?
MM: Matt and I have been in sync from day one about the look and feel of the book, and I think we you see on the page is the result of our tight collaboration. I put a lot into this script—A LOT—and Matt did as well. We had very particular goals about breaking down the comic page to show the fragility of everything happening in the book, all the chaotic mental states of our characters, and I think we delivered what we aimed to. But, again, this was the result of a really tight collaboration and a willingness, from both of us, to take chances.
FS: The book is very upfront about exploring ideologies and their impact on people. Are there any particular political scientists or philosophers and their discussion of ideology that made a particular impact on your telling of this story?
MM: Well, I’ve always been an acolyte of Noam Chomsky. If there’s any political thinker that’s had a remarkable insight on my personal and political ideologies, it’s him. I can’t even say how many books of his I’ve read, but it’s quite a lot. Otherwise, I stay engaged by reading Harper’s, The Atlantic, things like that. I don’t watch any news programs on TV—except local news—so my info-gathering comes from long form print media, more or less.
FS: Have any of your past works influenced how you approached Indoctrination?
MM: Burning Fields, for sure. I’ll always be proud of that book, and the acclaim it garnered, and the statement it made about modern warfare. I think we made that book a salient, relevant thing packaged within a whiplash plot—the politics, I hope, never burdened the storyline. I hope we accomplish the same in Indoctrination. Roche Limit, my sci-fi series, is similar in this as well, in that there’s much deeper things going on beyond the story.
FS: I was speaking with writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads about The Sheriff of Babylon about the latest issue of that series and they both said that sometimes the material is heavy to the point they need to take a breather for a couple hours. Do you ever find yourself doing that with Indoctrination?
MM: For sure. I can’t even think about this book too much, because it bothers me. It touches on so many things in the world that cause me anxiety, and I’m challenged to put that onto paper. But art should be challenging, and that means I just have to push myself a little harder to tell this story.
FS: When I was reading the first issue, I couldn’t help but think about my fascination with stories of cults and the apocalypse and the macabre. Why do you think we’re drawn to those types of tales?
MM: I think, honestly, is the perversity we’re attracted to, and this goes hand in hand with our fascination with serial killers. These are minds that are so outside the norms of the human experience, and I think it’s only fair to be fascinated by them. How do these minds work? How did they form? We’ll never understand, not without being equally unbalanced (or whatever you want to call it) and we’re attracted, naturally, to things we can’t understand/obtain.
FS: What can we expect from the series moving forward?
MM: Ultimately, Indoctrination is a freight train of a story. It has killer plot twists and cliffhangers and, like we discussed, some salient real-world issue woven within that make it a truly scary, and thought-provoking, story. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!
Indoctrination #1, written by Michael Moreci with Matt Battaglia on art, hits comic shops this Wednesday from Z2 Comics.
From the official issue description:
How do you kill an idea? Across the dusty plains of America’s southwest, a deadly storm is brewing. A string of murders portend the sinister designs of an infamous terrorist to bring about the end times. Two FBI agents have heeded the signs, and only their rogue actions, aided by a potentially untrustworthy expatriate with deep ties to the terrorist, can push this darkness back. Indoctrination explores America’s terrifying underbelly-of death cults and sleeper cells, serial killers and apocalyptic nightmares.