Yesterday, we spoke with writer Michael Moreci about his new comic book series Indoctrination, hitting comic shops Wednesday from Z2 Comics. Today, Mr. Moreci’s collaborator artist Matt Battaglia was kind enough to chat with us about his involvement with Indoctrination, how the pacing differs from many films out today, and how he uses color to create the mood of the series.
FreakSugar: First of all, thank you so much for speaking with us.
Matt Battaglia: Thanks for having me.
FS: How did you become involved with Indoctrination?
MB: I colored Roche Limit for writer Michael Moreci and we got to talking about the other projects we had going on. Mike sent me this short pitch for Indoctrination, a political crime thriller, which had an immediate hook for me because the book focuses in on a variety of topics I’m heavily interested in. It’s a book that talks about subjects like Foreign Policy, the expanding surveillance state, and domestic terror that are generally not discussed in the medium as frequently today.
FS: I asked the same of Michael, but I was wondering how you would pitch Indoctrination to readers?
MB: The story of Indoctrination is frighteningly prescient, we’re tackling the issues that our country is grappling with right now and that is wrapped up in a tight crime thriller that hopefully keeps you on the edge of your seat. We ask few fundamental questions about what drives evil people to do horrible things — and how many of our freedoms and liberties are the people we place in power and the mobs that put them there willing to violate or remove to feel “safe”.
FS: The big release of Indoctrination is coming up just next week. I know that Z2 has really been pushing the series. I read that you worked with a Super PAC at one time. How have you personally been promoting the book?
MB: Yeah, I used to work for Matt Kibbe, now of Free the People where he’s CEO & Founder, and he wrote a scorching piece to close out the first issue. In fact Kibbe and I will be doing a signing at Fantom Comics, in Washington D.C., on the 22nd.I’ve done a few podcasts in the politics space and some writing talking about the book, and some of the identity politicking that has engulfed much of “comics culture”. Personally, I think the book has a hook for anyone who’s interested in the style of the 70s political thrillers and crime movies, where they’re exciting entertainment, but they have a smart edge to them.
Indoctrination is very much the antithesis of the movie with 15-minutes of explosions, 45-minutes of self-referential or pop-culture based humor, a few more minutes of ‘splosions, 20-minutes of attempted emotional significance, and then 45 minutes of ‘spolsions with an open non-resolution so you can go see the sequel. I’d have come up with a more comic specific metaphor, but I think you get the point.
FS: The pacing and shot sensibilities in the first issue felt cinematic in scope. Not really a question more than an observation I appreciated.
MB: Cool – thanks! I’d like to do some more wild comics angles and such – but this is the first book I’m illustrating, and it’s been a doozy just getting into the flow and having transitioned from traditional to digital, I’ve been learning a lot.
FS: The characters all feel like actual people, with wear-and-tear that would come with living in the world they occupy. How did you approach the character designs for Indoctrination?
MB: I just make it up on the page, sometimes I have a specific person in mind – other times not so much. I’ve been told since high school that I can only draw people who look like weathered alcoholics – so there’s that.
FS: When you’re doing art for Indoctrination, is there a particular headspace you have to immerse yourself into?
MB: Not really. I find I work most efficiently if I just put on a record (most likely Springsteen, Josh Ritter, Southside Johnny…) I don’t really do the “headspace” stuff. I find the hardest part is shuffling around my full-time work, where I occasionally make comics (Task & Purpose), Indoctrination, and other design work I do.
FS: Following up on that, is there any sort of decompression you find necessary after working on the book?
MB: Nope. When I sit down to work on Indoctrination I’m pretty factory-like. My only issue is the juggling aspect of my work, where I can sometimes give myself whiplash from jumping between design, video editing, to illustration for one of like five different things. Before Roche Limit wrapped up I’d have to remember how I’d color those issues versus how I color Indoctrination.
FS: As I was telling Michael, the book has a wonderfully eerie atmosphere that works beautifully with the tale you’re both telling. How do you approach that world and does the subject matter affect how you apply your artistic sensibilities?
MB: I try to do most of the “mood work” with color choices, I try not to be too explotative with the subject matter, and generally speaking I’m not a fan of explicit gore, so I try to make things feel more dramatic so the payoff doesn’t have to be some shot showing really fantastical violence.
FS: What takeaway would you want readers to have after reading the series?
MB: I just want them to buy the book and talk about it, hopefully recommend it to a friend. My goal and the book’s goal isn’t to tell our readers what to think – but to hopefully give them something to think about.
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.