Welcome to another installment of Creator’s Commentary, where we talk with comic creators about their work, digging into their books, sometimes page-by-page to learn more about their process—think of it as director’s commentary, but you know, for books.
This Wednesday sees the release of issue # 2 of Nathan Edmondson’s series, Who Is Jake Ellis?. Last month, Edmondson talked to MTV Geek about the creation of the book and this month he was kind enough to join us for a bit of commentary on the second issue. So if you picked up a copy at your shop this week, read along and gain some extra insights into the story and teases for the future. And don't forget to read some exclusive preview pages from Who Is Jake Ellis #2 to whet your appetite!
****WARNING: CLASSIFIED INFORMATION WILL BE SPOILED BELOW!****
MTV Geek: [Pages 2-3] “Are you listening?” Who’s that intended for? Or is that something we shouldn’t quite know at this point?
NE: “Are you listening” is a tagline for the reader; we’ve used since before the book was published. “Are you listening” puts you in Jon’s shoes. “Are you listening?” is Jake is speaking.
Geek: [Page 5] How did you get interested in remote viewing?
NE: Remote viewing was an interesting, albeit minor part of the U.S. Army’s ARTICHOKE and MKULTRA programs, but of course it is far more explored in fiction than it ever was in reality. I’ve always found those programs interesting, mostly because they represent a kind of unbridled imagination for the military. To what extent that plays a part in this book, you’ll have to just wait and see. I would caution the reader not to read too much into everything he reads in this book, though.
Geek: [Page 7] Even after four years in his head, Jake still doesn’t have Jon’s trust. You would think that after getting him out of so many scrapes he’d have Jon’s confidence by now.
NE: Selfishness can overpower reason. That’s part of what’s going on. And Jon‘s gotten a bit full of himself. But also, Jon is now seeing things in Jake he’s never seen in his “ability” before, and that’s making him uneasy. You get the full impact of that in the final scene of issue 2.
Geek: [Page 10] The facility: what do you think is the appeal of custom-built super killers and spies in fiction? From Treadstone in the Bourne series, to Weapon X, to the John Cassavetes villain in De Palma’s The Fury—it’s a motif that we keep returning to in fiction.
NE: It may be that they appeal to us because they bring the idea of superheroes closer to home. Here are superheroes, but the sort that might exist and might be in your backyard. Jake Ellis doesn’t have any of those types. Jon himself is clearly no Jason Bourne and even Jake with his know-how and ability doesn’t seem “super,” or shouldn’t anyway, at least no more than a pro football coach might to a high school player.
Geek: [Page 14] He’s been willing to kill to survive. Is Jon at a point where he’s willing to torture to get answers?
NE: You’ll have to read and see exactly what Jon’s willing to do. This will come up in issue 3, but it’s ultimately the real theme of the book. You’ll discover as well that Jon’s not as okay with everything as his cool exterior might lead you to believe. Part of what Jon enjoys and values in his life with Jake is the “comfort” and “cool” factors. He has an ability. He can do nearly anything—he thinks. He’s a badass and he likes it, and he doesn’t want to give that up.
Geek: [Page 16] In spite of what Jake says a couple of pages later, that’s a lot of gunplay by Jon/Jake’s pursuers. Is he necessarily wanted back alive?
NE: They do, yes. If you pay careful attention you’ll see that his pursuers have been loading rubber bullets (some of them have) and no one has taken a lethal shot at him. Anyone else, however, is collateral damage. And the “bad guys” don’t want the authorities in their way.
Geek: [Page 21] This exercise in cleaning the gun: can we infer then that Jon’s previous experience didn’t involve much field work?
NE: You can, yes, which should further bridge the gap between Jon and Jake. In other words, it begs the question even more as to how Jake can just be part of Jon’s head.
Geek: [Page 22] If that’s the case, will we get to see the impact that killing has on him? It has to take its toll, I imagine.
NE: Yes, as I mentioned earlier, Jon is less and less comfortable with what he’s done, but it will take more than just discomfort to scare him away from his life and his ability.
Geek: [Pages 25-26] I just noticed: Jake doesn’t joke—or at least not that I’ve caught. His tone seems dry and pragmatic. Is there something behind that choice that you can elaborate on?
NE: Not right now, unfortunately. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, of course. I will say, though, that to have a sense of humor, one would probably have to have memory and personality and, well, be a person fully and actually. The reader doesn’t know too much yet--and he may think he knows more than he knows--but he should know that in a few important ways (i.e., having a body) Jake doesn’t exist as a person.
Geek: Building on the same question, is there an element of the superego principle to Jake?
NE: Whether ultimately that’s true or not, it’s very much apparently true at this point and I think worth talking about or at least thinking about: to what extent does Jake represent Jon’s higher will, desires, and even maybe fears?
Don't forget to pick up your copy of "Who Is Jake Ellis?" #2 this week!
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