Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your ComiXology Originals graphic novel, Tremor Dose! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the graphic novel’s premise?
Michael Conrad: Tremor Dose is a story about a young woman who discovers that she has been dreaming of a man that has appeared in the dreams of others. In response to this revelation, she reaches out to a group that is doing research on the man in hopes of finding answers. Rather than finding answers, she discovers that there is a lot more going on, and the nature of dreams themselves are called into question.
BD: What inspired you to tell this story, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences, especially in light of the comic’s dreamlike and creepier elements?
MC: I was initially inspired by internet legends of a similar stripe about a dream man, but this was just a means of entry to be able to talk about the deeper themes of the nature of reality and what separates dreams and reality. Once we were able to establish a platform to talk about dreams, it was natural for me to default to some of my anxieties. One of my greatest fears in life is to lose the ability to distinguish between reality and things I have imagined. Ginn is a complex character who has a lot of baggage (as we all do), and her dreams reflect these unresolved issues. She in many ways is an expression of my fear and represents how I’d like to deal with my fear.
Stylistically, our influences are worn on our sleeves. From Hollywood/pop culture, elements of David Lynch, Fritz Lang, David Cronenberg, and The Twilight Zone are all over the book. In literature and philosophy, we draw heavily from Carl Jung, Albert Camus, and Guy Debord.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Noah Bailey in bringing the story to life?
MC: Noah and I were in constant contact during the creation of Tremor Dose; for the later half of the book, we even lived in the same city: Austin, Texas. Initially I was enamored with Noah’s style and just knew that he would be a killer comic book artist with the right kind of story. I was able to con Noah into agreeing to work on something with me, promising that I would provide a story that was unlike anything else on the market. Ego’s aside, I think we managed to make something that is unlike other stuff, a complete marriage of our creative sensibilities. I wanted something deeply cerebral with a visual engagement that tied in stuff that I love from not only the United States but in Europe and Japan. I think Junji Ito was an influence in my art direction, but Noah drew from sources that remain mysterious even to me. We worked closely, but I can’t pretend to understand what exactly makes that young man tick, but I love it.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from Tremor Dose?
MC: My hope is that after reading Tremor Dose, folks feel like they had a full meal without being spoon fed. I want people to dig deep and figure out what the book means to them. Hopefully, feeling it necessary to return to the book seeking more clues to connect the pieces. What the reader does with it is entirely up to them; I’m happy to share the experience without dictating exactly what the desired outcome should be.
BD: What makes ComiXology Originals the perfect home for your graphic novel?
MC: We loved the freedom afforded to us through comiXology Originals. Once our pitch went through, we were trusted to create the book we envisioned without interference or any trouble from the folks in the office. We maintained 100% control of the project throughout the process and were never asked to dumb anything down, to change anything to be more “mainstream” or marketable. This book required a lot of trust from the publisher, because it does do its own thing and doesn’t feel like other stuff on the shelves (digital or otherwise), so for them to invest in this was a real testament to what comiXology can bring to the table.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MC: Noah and I are already working on a new long-form story. The piece we are working on is kind of in response to the marketing of Tremor Dose, which leaned in the “horror” direction. I never saw Tremor Dose as a horror book, so I called Noah and said, “Do you wanna do a HORROR book?” So, this next one is mean spirited, and brutal - hopefully mind bending in the same way Tremor Dose is, but this one is scary by design. Outside of this, Noah continues to work in print media, and I have a number of projects that will be announced in the first quarter of 2020.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Tremor Dose?
MC: If you want to learn more about Tremor Dose, I suggest you start keeping a journal at bedside. You will be presented a dream that will provide a psychological key. When you discover the key, you have to find the doorway and decide if you want to go through it.