And we’re back with the long overdue 2nd part of our interview Jeremy and Simon, the creators of the Space Opera Cyber Punk Metal Made Flesh.
In this second part we talk with Jeremy and Simeon about why the Cyberpunk generally is arguable more relevant now than ever and the importance of walking the high tech low life wire.
You can go back and read Part One for the origin of their striking, unique blend of Space Opera with classic Cyberpunk elements.
We pick up the conversation looking at how Heavy Metal’s publication of an early Metal Made Flesh story lead to Grant Morrison inviting Simeon to illustrate one of his stories in the seminal Sci-Fi Fantasy Magazine.
AC: Simeon, the first time I saw your art was in Heavy Metal last year when you collaborated with Grant Morrison on the short story Option 3. How did that come about?
Simeon: That was a great gig. When Grant came on board the magazine he saw Heavy Metal had published our first comic ‘Infection’. He really liked the art and they approached me to work on Option3.
Apparently he was like “I want this guy.”
AC: And what was Grant like to work with?
Simeon: It was a great experience. He wrote me a amazing article detailing all the characters and the world. He encouraged me to go watch movies and study artworks from the era to get into the that 60s sci fi / free-love sort of vibe. Stuff like Barbarella, Star Trek and Zardos. Was a real daunting task at the start but by the end, just wanted to keep going. Was a proper trial by fire y’know?
That whole project was a real test of my abilities. I think a few years prior and I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off. I think the key is to just have fun with it and not doubt yourself.
AC: Cyberpunk is often seen as an 80s or 90s cultural throwback at least in terms of its visual style, do you agree with this?
Simeon: I guess. For me, visually, Cyberpunk is a gritty darker version of true science fiction. You gotta have the tropes, things like neon, pipes and looming skyscrapers. Rain and people with painful looking augmentations. But I think that a lot of the older stuff was based on ideas of the future and the potential. Whereas today a lot of these concepts and technologies actually exist.
Like the Video phones in Bladerunner. Now we have phones and stuff so you can date the classics slightly. It’s not a bad thing but it definitely identifies the film as being from the 80s.
I’m interested to see if the new Bladerunner movie goes retro with the tech or have they let modern day concepts seep in.
Jeremy: There’s definitely people who think Cyberpunk is just an aesthetic visual style: rain, neon and scuzzy cities – but I think it’s having it’s time again because the themes are so relevant to our modern times. It’s not so much that Cyberpunk is having a resurgence as it encapsulates so much of the internet age and the political concerns of now that it’s just relevant.
The most cyberpunk story around for me at the moment is Mr. Robot.
AC: In 2017 it seems like we are on the cusp of the real Cyborg / Cyberpunk era with technology integrated into every aspect of our lives and implants becoming a reality. Is that why you think the Cyberpunk style remains relevant today?
Jeremy: Pretty much, yeah. We’re facing the reality of cheaper and cheaper implants and augmentations and everything that means.
AC: Is that why we are coming back to some of the cinematic cornerstones of the genre like Bladerunner and Ghost in the Shell or the long rumoured live action remake of AKIRA?
Jeremy: They’re definitely timely. If the Ghost in the Shell remake is anything to go by, I would be surprised if AKIRA gets much further in development, unless Bladerunner pulls it out of the bag, though. I’m more excited by the rumoured AKIRA TV series with Otomo at the helm…
AC: There always seems to be a certain sense of nihilism or pessimism about the future in Cyberpunk art, why do you think that is?
Jeremy: It’s partly the noir influence, and partly the idea of high tech low-life – the idea of there even being a low life (in relation to a high life) in the face of technology which could potentially supply everyone’s needs, and still having an artificial power imbalance that divides society into haves and have-nots is a pretty pessimistic one.
AC: At it’s heart Cyberpunk as a genre or movement is about our fears about rapidly advancing technology and our relationship with it, how does that play out in your stories?
Jeremy: Our stories are a little more rooted in fantasy, but the main theme is like the “ship of Theseus” myth – consciousness, identity and the body – whether consciousness is emergent from organised information, how the biological make up of the body affects consciousness, where the boundaries of identity are, and what identity even means in a world when there is nothing solid (such as memory, or the body) to hang onto – and if that is a freeing, or a restricting concept.
AC: To date you’ve used Kickstarter to fund most of the work to date as well as kindle sales of Volumes 1 and 2. Is that how you plan to continue releasing books in the future?
Jeremy: For the foreseeable future we’ll be pursuing these options, but there are always talks going on the background! Watch this space!
AC: Is Metal Made Flesh a finite story with a planned end or do you see this going on indefinitely?
Simeon: Ye were definitely gonna wrap things up with these characters at some point, but there’s plenty of room to explore in the world of Tuaoni. Who knows what the future will bring!