This November, Image Comics are reuniting the bestselling creative team behind 2014’s GONERS, as Jacob Semahn and Russ Manning Award-winning artist Jorge Corona will team up on new thriller series NO. 1 WITH A BULLET.
Providing a grim warning about the increasingly intrusive nature of social media and technology, the series grabbed our attention from the moment we heard about it, so we were thrilled to be able to sit down and have a chat with both Jacob and Jorge about what we should expect when it goes on sale next month
BIG COMIC PAGE: Firstly, for our readers who might not be aware, could you give us the quick ‘elevator pitch’ for the series?
JACOB SEMAHN: No. 1 With a Bullet follows social media darling, Nash Huang, as the world around her comes under fire. In this near future, contact lenses can do many things… including record footage. Social media and the public at large weigh in with opinions and troll-like comments when a sex tape, taken without her knowledge, is leaked to the Internet. And as if life isn’t hard enough, bodies begin to pile up around her… as Nash’s No. 1 Fan is revealed.
BCP: Tell us a little bit about Nash. What’s her story, and how is her life going when we meet her in the first issue?
JACOB: Nash Huang is a self-assured twenty-something with a healthy social media presence and solid private life. As the personal assistant of variety show host, Jad Davies, Nash is roped into doing the occasional on-air segment. Being celebrity-adjacent, she lives that lifestyle of the finer things while also being able to walk down the street relatively incognito. We’re catching Nash at that time in her life when everything clicks into place… the job, taking the next big step with her girlfriend, and confident that the future is bright. ‘Course, that all goes to shit in twenty-two pages.
BCP: NO. 1 WITH A BULLET asks some interesting questions above privacy and the invasive nature of social medial. Should we all be looking at this series as a “cautionary tale” of sorts?
JACOB: I think we’re already living the cautionary tale. We’ve plotted a course and this is now the path we’ve made for ourselves. Unfortunately, No. 1 isn’t cautionary as much as it is reactionary. It’s sad to say, but people can’t imagine their lives without it. We no longer listen to facts, but feelings. We no longer read articles, but memes. Our ads and searches are tailored to how we think and feel. It has become a bubble—a prison—of our own making.
BCP: The core concept of the series also feels incredibly relevant given the growing culture of online abuse – particularly among the comic community – and the increasingly invasive level of technology we’re all dealing with every day. Was the story born out of these recent events, or was it an idea you had been carrying with you for a while now and decided to release when it would have the most impact?
JACOB: I’ve had a stalker story in my head for a while now, but it was nothing illuminating. Jorge and I decided to make this a priority after seeing how social media has affected all of our lives in the past year and a half. At its heart, we’ve weaponized technology and information– everyday that passes, only seems to prove worse than the day before. We’ve allowed our baser instincts free as we view others on a screen as “entertainment,” not people. I couldn’t land on one thing that I latched onto in particular, as it seems that it’s become an overwhelmingly negative place. Once I heard Sony patented recordable contact technology, I shivered… and then we got to work.
BCP: Jorge, this feels like a noticeable departure from some of your other work, with a lot more of an edge to it. Was that a conscious decision on your part, or just a side-effect from the story itself?
JORGE CORONA: It was definitely a mix of the two. I wanted to give the book a different visual aesthetic since the story itself was very different from any other book I’ve worked on. It was also a result of the theme itself. The story had a huge realistic feel to it and I didn’t want to augment that by relying on a realistic style. I guess I saw it as a balance. A way for the reader to be compelled by the characters without saturating them.
BCP: The opening sequence of the first issue is absolutely fantastic, I have to say. Is that the kind of twisted visual style and storytelling tone we should be expecting from the series as it unfolds?
JORGE: Yup… if not weirder.
BCP: One of the most striking things about the first issue, for me, was the colours of Jen Hickman. What does Jen bring to the book, and how involved were the pair of you in helping to shape the distinctive aesthetic she has helped create?
JORGE: Jen and I have been working together on and off for a while now, and we also have a friendship that goes back six years. At the start of the project we both came together to shape a very specific style for the book. We wanted to improve the storytelling with the color palette and convey mood and emotions through it, it was a way to shortcut the point of view of characters and the reader as the story progresses.
BCP: Now this isn’t the first time the pair of you have worked together, having previously collaborated a few years ago on GONERS, also with Image Comics. How do you think you’ve each grown since your work on that series, and what was it that brought you back together now?
JACOB: The long and short of it: pacing. Goners was a learning curve for me. I come from television where you can do a lot in a short amount of time. However, in comics? In a single issue? You can do like five scenes really well. More than that and it starts to get unwieldy.
JORGE: Even though it has been a few years since Goners, Jake and I were looking for an opportunity to work together almost immediately after wrapping up the first arc of that book. The fact that we both were pulled into other projects allowed us to refine our storytelling and craftsmanship in comics. Goners was one of my first incursions in the medium and, considering the nature of this new book, I feel the experience I’ve obtained from these years has allowed me to approach the story in a more compelling way.
BCP: If you could have readers take one thing away with them after reading NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, what would it be?
JACOB: Delete your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Haha…………………. But seriously…
JORGE: As an artist, I’m not as extreme. Social media is a visual driven medium. However, it’s all about knowing what to post and realizing that some things are okay to keep to yourself.
BCP: And finally, what would you each say to someone who was on the fence about picking this one up to help convince them to give it a look?
JORGE: No. 1 is a very contemporary story. It touches on aspects of our every day life that we tend to overlook. It is not meant to be a comfortable read but one that will definitely pull you in and go through the journey of Nash taking her life back.
JACOB: No. 1 With a Bullet is a socio-political horror-thriller in the vein of Get Out and Black Mirror, about how the everyday person gives a piece of themselves… 140 characters at a time. If that doesn’t seem relatable to the every (wo)man, you’re probably living in space… or a retirement home.
NO. 1 WITH A BULLET #1 goes on sale in print and digital on November 1st, and if the above isn’t enough to convince you to give it a look, maybe this preview will;