The Kickstarter campaign for ANANKE has been underway and the genre of sci-fi is getting another entry with something new for the fans. We were fortunate enough to speak with series writer, Natalie Raffaele and get some more insight into ANANKE!
From the Kickstarter:
Man has finally done it. We have perfected Artificial Intelligence, an independent being that can think and emote entirely on its own. That can learn and create. That possesses, for the first time, a personal magnetism, just like a human being.
And they are called ConneXions…
Comic Attack: What will be different about ANANKE to make it stand out among other stories where man has created a sophisticated A.I. and what makes the application of crystals to the technology as such an integral part of the story?
Natalie Raffaele: ANANKE approaches A.I. differently than previous scifi interpretations because of crystal technology! Using piezoelectric crystals for the internal mechanism of A.I. was important for me because it introduces other disciplines like sacred geometry and cymatics to the reader. Cymatics reveal strange and beautiful symmetry in nature through the frequency of sound or vibrations. As different and unique as crystals are from each other, so too are the A.I. (ConneXions) that are comprised of them! There are carefully chosen and crafted crystals to fit the functions and personality of each A.I. Relating cymatics, to cyrstals, to A.I. is definitely something we don’t see in science fiction comics today, at least not to my knowledge.
Crystals, while we may love them for their natural beauty, play a pivotal role in old and new technologies. Crystals have been used in radio technologies, computers, LCD screens, solar panels, and that’s just a few of their applications. These technologies alone have changed and will continue to change our lives in the future. Now, imagine if we took it one step further and implemented crystals in A.I. technology?
CA: You’re dealing with several high concepts in ANANKE. Are there certain stories in particular that inspired this world you’ve created?
NR: ANANKE was really an amalgamation of all my childhood loves: science, ancient history, space, robots, manga and anime. They came to the surface in my twenties and I found myself getting lost in all those subjects I was fascinated with years ago. I wrote my first scene for ANANKE in 2011, and it wasn’t even for the Prologue! It was for what will now be in Volume I of the ANANKE Series. During these past five years, I became particularly fascinated with our ancient cultures, Eastern philosophies, and this really intriguing phenomenon on the rise, merging science and spiritualty. We’re at a time right now, where science is beginning to justify concepts in spirituality that were once leaps of faith, if you will. Every day, we’re being inundated with more and more scientific data that supports these claims. To give you a quick example, I define spirituality as a connectedness with something, if not everything. If we were to take the scientific route, there’s the concept of quantum entanglement, which explains that entangled particles remain connected despite the distance. So if one action is performed on one particle, it affects the other in the same manner. This is absolutely incredible, and yet it’s part of the science canon. When you go quantum, things start to get really weird and interesting. Imagine if the spirituality of the ancient past, recycled by the religions of today, actually do have some validity and can be explained by science? I believe something like that really changes you as a person, and I wanted to create a story that focuses on this idea as an undertone.
I’m fascinated by the mysteries shrouded in our ancient past, especially Ancient Egypt and its structures, like the Pyramids of Giza or the Sphinx. We have one group of Egyptologists with a plausible theory of how and when they were built, and then we have other anthropologists and geologists who infer even greater claims about the history of the Ancient Egyptians and the basis of their knowledge. If I were to go into the specifics of this, we’d be here for hours, but it plays a role in ANANKE, especially in the ensuing Volumes. There are distinct visual motifs in ANANKE inspired by the Art Deco period of the 1920s. Ancient Egyptian Art heavily influenced Art Deco because of the unearthing of Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb. In ANANKE, this unique nod to retro futurism is reborn by the connections our characters make with Ancient Egypt. The future meets the past in a perfect circle.
There are also creative works that have definitely influenced the visuals and tone of ANANKE. Blade Runner is my favorite film by far. But other film works include Alien, the works of David Lynch (like Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, & Twin Peaks), and more recently; Under The Skin. I also really liked The Neon Demon by Nicholas Refn. For comics, I have to say I lean more towards the Japanese interpretation with manga. My favorite manga is Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita from the 90s! The connecting theme with all of these mediums is a very dystopian present/future shrouded in mysteries for the audience to slowly unravel. This approach is what I take with me as I develop the ANANKE Graphic Novel Series.
CA: Will there be any more ties to Greek mythology in your sci-fi epic and if so how deep will these connections run?
NR: I chose to name my graphic novel series ANANKE because of the meaning behind this Greek Goddess. She is the primordial goddess of necessity and inevitability. This idea of fate and inevitability and how it relates to humans has always fascinated me. And imagine A.I. in the mix! What is their fate in all of this? Will technology be human’s demise or its savior? Regardless of the outcome, the inevitability of either conclusion is unavoidable. Technology has changed our world forever, and humans must make a choice…to adapt to this new reality, or to lag behind in this revolution. The choices my characters make in response to this inevitability will be grappled with in every volume of the series. Ananke, the goddess, will be a reminder of this theme.
CA: Had you thought about pitching ANANKE to one of the indie publishers or was going the Kickstarter route always a primary choice?
NR: For the first book, I always intended to take the Kickstarter route. I wanted the freedom to create a work in my own vision, with the help of my handpicked team who understands what I’m trying to accomplish. This is not to say that I won’t consider indie publishers in the future, but ANANKE is so personal to me, and I wanted to have the chance to self-publish this first book in its purest form.
CA: There’s been a steady increase of diversity in comics whether it be gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. Will ANANKE take steps in that direction and feature a diverse cast of characters?
NR: For ANANKE, especially in The Prologue, our cast of characters are not human, so the way they look and act are based off of their own personal choices. And they do look distinct from each other, as you will see in the book. I don’t want to give too much away, but in Volumes I, II, & III, when humans enter the storyline, we do explore alternative themes with gender and sexuality, especially the relationship between humans and A.I. You’ll have to stay tuned for the next three volumes to find out!
CA: How does the collaborative process between you and artist Aaron Parks play out when creating the visual look for ANANKE?
NR: When it comes to designs, I do have a very specific vision for everything involved, and I mean everything! But Aaron has this uncanny ability to interpret my script with the exact tone and feel I’m looking for, which is everything to me when story telling. His masterfulness of form, value, and color (three key elements in mood building) have made creating ANANKE a real joy, and I’m really honored to be working with him!
CA: What has been your favorite part about creating the world of ANANKE?
NR: I’d have to say working with Aaron Parks and my team. They are helping me bring the story and characters to life! A lot of the concepts I’m tackling with in ANANKE are difficult to convey visually, and when you work on this one image that took years to write and finally master it….I can’t tell you how amazing that feels. It’s the most gratifying part of sequential art making!
Well there you have it! A new universe is here to explore so to start your journey head to the ANANKE Kickstarter now!