Top Shelf Productions has long had a reputation as a publisher of deeply personal, multi-faceted, intelligent comics and graphic novels that might be broadly classified as “comics-lit.” I for one find that term a tad pejorative, but that’s neither here nor now. Blessed with an expansive stable of creators whose numbers include Alan Moore (From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Jeff Lemire (Essex County), and Craig Thompson (Blankets), it’s easy to understand why one might be tempted to shelve (pun intended) them away as the “smart comics company.”
To me, that would not be a terrible moniker to bear (although inaccurate), as each of the above titles is exquisitely beautiful, poignant in the truths it reveals, and destined to return to your thoughts and raise new questions for weeks after you’ve read it. Many of my most emotional comics experiences center around Top Shelf titles. ‘Nuff said. However, to pigeonhole Top Shelf’s offerings is to neglect their broad line of child-oriented titles, or their mind-bending detective tale, Surrogates.
Granted, the above summary is equally true of Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s gripping dystopian (as all Utopias must be) crime thriller, Surrogates. However, Surrogates is not only a beautiful and intelligent tale, it’s one hell of a fun ride as well. In the year 2054, the fusing of virtual reality and cybernetics has introduced personal surrogates–android substitutes that let users interact with the world without ever leaving their homes. Reality has become entirely subjective in nature, and the populace at large is quite content with this status quo.
However, someone is decidedly unhappy and bent on tearing this entire world down by any means necessary, including murder, and it is up to Detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford to stop this plan before it is put into action–by any means possible. With a gripping storyline, strikingly genuine characters, and a setting reminiscent of Blade Runner (though by no means derivative), this book grabs you and doesn’t let go until the final page is turned.
“Yes, yes. We know. After all, this book was released nearly three years ago,” some of you may be thinking. “Why are you getting around to talking about it now?”
Two reasons. One, the Surrogates TPB Vol.2: Flesh and Bone is going to be released at the end of July. Check out the preview here. It is actually a prequel to the events told in Surrogates, and having been lucky enough to see a sneak peek, I can tell you it’s amazing. Fans of the original tale and newcomers alike can jump right in, and it is available either by itself or packaged with the Surrogates Vol. 1 TPB in the Surrogates Special Hardcover Edition (pictured above).
Two, Surrogates is coming to the big screen in September, helmed by Jonathan Mostow with a cast lead by Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames. I for one am stoked to see this movie, and I’m further stoked to share a cool piece of guerilla marketing that’s out there right now.
Virtual Self Industries (in the graphic novel, this is the company that created surrogates) is pleased to announce its new corporate website. Not only can you take a tour of VSI’s facilities, but now you can create and preview your very own surrogate online. By either choosing from a pre-generated base model or uploading your own image, you can tailor several factors to preview this exciting technology. I had a blast playing around with this, and one of the cool things about it is that once you’re done, you can post and share images of your “virtual you” with your friends on MySpace. Remember, at VSI, “Anything you dream, you can achieve.”
Check it out and let us know what you think (about the site or the graphic novel, if you’ve read it). And if you make a particularly cool surrogate at VSI and post it, drop a link to your profile here so we can see it too!