Everyone’s been through a really bad breakup before, but what if yours happened right before the apocalypse? This is the scenario of The Rapture, a new miniseries for Dark Horse Comics by Michael Oeming (Powers, Mice Templar) and Taki Soma (You’ll Never Die), due out May 27. The story is simple: boy (Gil) meets girl (Evelyn), boy loses girl, super-powered beings called Champions destroy civilization, girl gets super powers and tries to reunite with boy. While fending off cannibals.
Written by both Michael and Taki, with layouts by Taki and finished artwork by Michael, The Rapture is truly a labor of love, as well as a kickass read. I recently had the chance to chat with this creative team (who are also a married couple) about breaking up, cannibals, and arm wrestling. Read on!
TFAW.com: How did you two come up with the concept for The Rapture? Was this something you’ve been thinking about for awhile, or did sudden inspiration strike?
Taki: Mike took all the elements of storytelling I love and clumped it into one, and then we weeded it out together, which bore The Rapture.
Mike: Yea, I really wrote this for Taki, hoping she would draw it. I was very nervous about asking her to work with me on something.
TFAW.com: How many issues will there be?
Taki: Six issues, plus a short story in MySpace Dark Horse Presents.
TFAW.com: Michael, you’ve worked with a variety of comic book publishers over the years. What’s unique about working with Dark Horse?
Mike: It’s my first time working with a company on a creator-owned book that’s not Image. I had a working relationship with Dark Horse for a long time, but never on anything creator owned. They are a very different company than Image, where it is closer to self publishing than working at Dark Horse. Both companies have their advantages, and I continue to work with Image on Mice Templar.
TFAW.com: There are some clear biblical references in The Rapture, starting with the title. The “Champions” are seen as gods, and Evelyn is a “savior” appointed by a higher power. Will this series follow the same vein?
Taki: You nailed it straight. The biblical part serves an interesting analogy to the story, but it is certainly not the focus.
Mike: Those biblical themes are really powerful to play on, but we are also being respectful of those roots. Themes about love, power, super powers, faith, and God can all tie together quite nice.
TFAW.com: How did the Champions get so out of control? Will we find out what happened to them during this series?
Taki: The Champions lost themselves in their mission, I believe. And, as they used [to say] to advertise the book Dianetics, “Read the book!”
Mike: Hah! Yea, read the book! But to be fair, we think of this as a sort of War of the Worlds scenario. We see it from the POV of the characters, we only know what they know.
TFAW.com: This is, at heart, a story of a breakup. Do you two want to talk about that a little more and what this means to the series?
Taki: I unfortunately have a very mundane answer: I always gravitate towards disaster/apocalyptic and doomed romance stories. But we laughed so hard when this was announced, because it was around the same time [our] engagement went public–“Hey everyone, we’re engaged and have a comic coming out about breaking up!”
Mike: The start of the series actually was inspired by something from our early dating days. The Rapture opens with Gil and Evelyn at an airport; they are doing a slow-motion break up. Taki and I dated long distance and airports became a really tough place for us. We had a lot of painful goodbyes there–non-breakup related–but it was easy to bring that into our story. Gil watches Evelyn disappear though the security lines, fading past the crowds into the plane. Those were tough and still pretty fresh-feeling when we wrote and drew that scene. So this breakup story is not about us, but we brought a lot of our experiences into it.
TFAW.com: The cannibals in The Rapture reminded me of the novel The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Are you aiming for a similarly grim outlook on the end of the world (is it the end of the world?)? What is the cannibals’ role in the story?
Taki: I’ve never read The Road, but yes, the cannibals are a direct representation of how grim the world has gotten since the champions left the earth. They are a religious group who believes in partaking of the flesh to be closer to their higher-being. But really, some of them probably are just hungry and needed a reason to harvest humans.
Mike: Funny you said this, as our friend and writer of Mice Templar, Bryan Glass, was staying with us for a week. He is reading The Road and told us about it. My idea for cannibals was originally zombies (one of Taki’s favorites!) but she talked me out of using zombies and we went with cannibals instead. That really works because I remember the spooky Bible stories of Revelations, where it is predicted that the cities would fall into ruins and people would be eating other people to survive. ?David Mack used some of those Bible passages on his cover for The Rapture.
TFAW.com: As many of your fans already know, you two are a married couple as well as a creative team. How does your workflow/creative process compare to past collaborations?
Taki: Since we are in the same room when we work, it’s quite fluid. Actually, it’s very ideal; our strengths and weaknesses are opposite from each other, so we both grew as storytellers and artists together doing this. Doing the layouts for Mike was new and scary at first, but it’s been great seeing the process from it to the final work–and to rework or have him rework our pages has been a delightful discovery of a writing process different than [my] own.
Mike: I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of my friends on books, but working with my girlfriend/fiancé/now-wife was scary at first. One of our big dreams about our lives together would be having our own separate careers, but also being able to work with each other when we wanted. What if we found that didn’t work? What if we drove each other crazy? From early on, it was apparent that that was not going to be a problem, and it’s been the best working experience of my life. Taki is also doing layouts for me, pushing me harder and harder to do more exciting layouts. My style before this was very straightforward and basic, but at times, too simple and not powerful enough. Now I’m carrying over this new approach into my other works, including Volume 3 of Powers.
TFAW.com: Most of the action takes place in the Pacific Northwest–mainly, Seattle and Portland. Is this because you both live in Seattle, or is there something about the area that lends itself to this story?
Taki: They always say, write what you know, right?
TFAW.com: Taki, you’ve been publishing You’ll Never Die, a weekly comic, online for more than two years. Are there any plans to collect it in a graphic novel format?
Taki: I haven’t touched YND since 2007; I wanted to continue the story, but moving across the country (twice) and losing my father has been quite difficult to deal with. I’ve learned what I wanted to from doing it and believe that pacing and the story can be told better in a comic form rather than a page-at-a-time weekly webcomic; so I am considering pitching it around to finish it up.
Mike: I’m really excited about Taki taking this on as a full-on comic book. I can’t wait to see her get back to something that means so much to her as YND. She’s going to kick ass.
TFAW.com: Michael, I read that you arm wrestle for charity for the Hero Initiative, which raises money for comic book creators in need. Could you tell me the story behind that?
Mike: I’ve always been a big supporter of the Hero Initiative, and the idea for arm wrestling just came out of my goofiness. I think it started in Baltimore about 2006. My last big hurrah, though, was in Emerald City 2007. I arm wrestled like 40 people, I think I won about 95% of the time. The idea was they donated ten bucks, and if they beat me, they won a page of Powers. I’ve stopped doing it now because I figured I should stop before I get hurt, not after. Plus people have started training for this, I kid you not!
TFAW.com: Do either of you have upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Mike: I’ll be launching a new website, www.michaeloeming.com, and we’ll have some exciting announcements for Mice Templar and Powers soon.
Taki: Keep an eye out on my website, www.takisoma.com, for updates!
I want to thank Taki and Michael for taking the time to answer my many questions, and for passing along some layouts and finished artwork from future issues of The Rapture. Check it out below!
So are you looking forward to The Rapture? What’s your stance on cannibalism? Post your comments below!