Artist Shane Davis Talks ‘TRON Meets Inception’ Comic Series Axcend

Shane Davis on the new comic series Axcend

Comparatively speaking, video games are becoming a medium totally unlike what the world once knew them to be. What was once just blinking lights on a small television have become fully immersive and interactive worlds. Coupled with the likes of Oculus Rift or Disney Infinity, the real world and video games are intersecting more than ever, which is where the premise of Shane Davis’ new comic series comes in. Titled Axcend, the first issue of which debuts in stores tomorrow, the title follows the life of a teenage twin named Eric who escapes into a video game… only to discover that the game is now real, with apocalyptic consequences. 

Superman: Earth One artist Shane Davis, along with his wife and fellow artist Michelle Delecki, wrote and drew the project, and took the time to speak with us about his inspirations and their collaboration process.

“It’s funny, I knew I wanted to do a story about three teens put in the real world with these god-like abilities,” Davis said of using video games as the backbone for the series. “When I grew up I was always a fan of anime and mangas like ‘Devilman.’ I always like that Japanese attitude of taking these young kids and giving them these weird ultra-violent, god-like powers, and really just playing with that. I guess that was my backbone for it. I knew what I wanted to do, but what was going to be my catapult into it?’

“I wrote it back in 2007, so I’ve had this rolling around in my head since then and it never went away. I’ve had other comic ideas and comic pitches and did some writing at DC on Legends of ‘The Dark Knight,’ and this story just always stuck with me. It was odd because this is a story I’ll never be able to do at Marvel or DC, it’s not something that can fit into a comic universe because the world-bending nature of it and where I’m going to be at with issue 5 and the global nuclear apocalypse thing that will happen, you can’t really do that in a Marvel or DC book… It really is a story about consequences and power, not power and responsibility. Mainly because of the age group of the kids I want to play with irresponsible people given absolute power.”

The topic of reality and video games actually intersecting also came up, and provided an interesting look into the world of Axcend‘s video game reality.

“It’s weird, the more I thought about video games, and especially with some games like ‘Destiny’ or ‘Titanfall,’ and they use cloud-based technology for the game. I don’t know how to go to deep into tech stuff and science, but they’re almost like different dimensions? To a technical degree? There’s a lot of information and people in another world communicating to one another in real time and around the globe. I guess you could argue that with this conference call, but with the game all the actions and reactions between people, it really got me thinking about other worlds. I like that concept of “What if something follows you back?” You go to this adventurous new dimension and it’s all fun and you come back, but part of it came back with you.”

Speaking about their collaboration process, Delecki revealed that like any good co-operative partner, they’ve kept each others work in check.

“Our art process is Shane designs all of the characters and what they look like. I’ve basically seen everything from the beginning to the end as far as that goes,” Delecki says. “He would be passing ideas along to my end and I would be looking at it and say, “I really like this, it’s really awesome, you should roll with it,” or if I saw something that I thought didn’t fit I’d say, “I don’t think that’s the strongest thing, or the best idea.” It was all honest, I would tell the truth because I really wanted this project to look really awesome and I’m not going to lie to him if something isn’t up to snuff. He’s the same way with me… We’ve done a lot of covers together over the past couple of years so we kind of are in-sync with how we do our artwork together.

“She’s been really good with helping me if something doesn’t look up to snuff. Honestly, it’s amazing to have someone to bounce stuff off of,” Davis added.

Finally, Davis spoke about the designs for the character’s video game counterparts, which are all varied and unique to say the least.

Davis: “American comics don’t do all these character with all these abilities, they never really grow. Which is weird. I guess a lot of anime or Japanese cultured characters, whether it’s something like ‘Dragon Ball Z’ or ‘Bleach,’ they tend to upgrade or modify and have different classes of action that they can step into. I always found that really interesting but never really been able to do that with any comic superheros I worked on at Marvel or DC. So that was one of the things I wanted to do, so what you see now with the character designs will change down the road with the series.”

Axcend #1 will debut in stores from Image Comics on Wednesday, October 7.