First Comics News: How did “Genu” the idea for it come to exist?
Alex Franquelli: We can say we never realized we were writing a brand-new story until it was too late to stop and we wanted to know how it ended.
Back around Christmas 2018, Tommaso was reading a sci-fi novel most of you are guilty of not reading: Philip Farmer’s “Jesus on Mars”. He then asked Giulio and I if we wanted to turn it into a graphic novel. We contacted Philip Farmer’s estate to ask for permission, but while we waited, we started adding bits and pieces to the story, until we came up with something which had absolutely nothing to do with “Jesus on Mars”, which remains a great novel.
1st: In “Genu” how has the human race changed in this future story?
Alex: I guess it depends on which one of us answers this question. I, for instance, believe that we can’t expect anything good in the long term. Humans will continue to exploit each other and this planet’s natural resources until it will be too late to reverse the trend.
GENU is about all this and that part of the world’s population we have repressed and forgotten. Humans on Mercury are today’s “key workers”: people who are paid a minimum wage to make our society function. In GENU they shall, almost against their will, find their redemption on Earth one way or another. So, yes, we are doomed, but some people are more doomed than others.
Rich: Why will readers love “Genu”?
Alex: Because despite our best efforts to ruin it, GENU has come out a good kid. As I mentioned earlier, we wrote it without realizing what we were doing, so it’s absolutely spontaneous and, we think, pretty entertaining. If you’re a human being like us, you’ll love it.
1st: What is Data Earth?
Alex: Data Earth is an advanced and hyper-real global network which has practically overcome and substituted each and every form of human physical and spiritual experience. In order to maintain DE, our planet requires an immense and continuous flow of power that relies solely on solar energy. For this reason, humans have established a colony on Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun, where they work around the clock to harvest energy for the benefit of an ever-starving Earth. I mean, what can go wrong?
1st: There is an alien in the first issue of “Genu” what is its purpose?
Alex: Giulio and Tommaso would kick me out if I told you, therefore I am afraid I can’t tell you that this character is probably not as alien as it seems to be at first. And that it will learn love through hate. But this is all I can say right now.
1st: Which character in “Genu” are you most like?
Alex: Absolutely none of them. I would not find a graphic novel with me as a character even vaguely interesting, but there are bits and pieces of me here and there, of course. I think my mum would find Axel to have rather familiar traits.
Rich: How would you describe Aleksandra Fastovets art style?
Alex: I am glad you have chosen me to answer this question because, as someone who has never worked on a graphic novel before, I have no idea. Therefore, my opinion is based on the little experience I have, but I can say that her style is very minimalistic and detailed at the same time. We love the way our characters are portrayed, how Aleksandra can translate a very specific feeling into a facial expression. Let’s put it this way: if I’ll ever work on a graphic novel, I’d like to have Miss Fastovets as my artist. Hey, hold on…
1st: What about the story in “Genu” will really stand out for the reader?
Alex: We have only published the first of five volumes, so it’s still early stages, but I think that readers will appreciate a couple of twists that occur towards the 4th and 5th volume. Ask me this question again in a few months’ time and you will know what I mean.
1st: Is “Genu” an action-filled comic or more drama?
Alex: Probably neither. We have gone the extra mile to make sure we did not adhere to any specific genre. We have attempted to take a less beaten path: a good graphic novel with a nice plot and solid science behind it. Have we succeeded? Our parents say it’s the best graphic novel ever, and I trust their judgment.
1st: Which character in “Genu” is your personal favorite?
Alex: No doubt about it: MD, the “mini-drone”. Have you ever seen a pufferfish in mid-air try to instill some common sense into a teenager who won’t listen? Well, that is my favorite character!
Rich: What type of music do you work with?
Alex: This is probably the type of question I fear the most. I tend to like convolute stuff, but I seem to remember that, for example, I listened to lots of Nurse With Wound, Daniel Avery, industrial, and minimal-techno while I was working on GENU. More in general, I tend to write while listening to Norwegian black metal, Asian traditional music, and contemporary classical music (Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Morton Feldman, etc.). I am sure my neighbors think I have some issues and they are probably right.
1st: Why did you decide to write a book about Mongolia?
Alex: Mongolia is one of the most isolated places on Earth. A landlocked country sandwiched between two great powers with a glorious past and an uncertain future. It is also a country that is too big for 3 million people, of which half of them live in the capital Ulaanbaatar, and the rest is scattered all over a territory as big as Western Europe. Who would build a road and infrastructures between the capital and a small town of just a few hundred people on the other side of Mongolia? This country will have to find its own path, and I have no doubt it will eventually succeed.
1st: Have you visited Mongolia if so, what was it like?
Alex: Yes, a few years ago. We traveled on an old Soviet van with a driver and no roads. I have had the absolute privilege of eating with the nomads and to play soccer with a bunch of kids on a pitch that stretched from horizon to horizon. No goals, no lines, no boundaries: fun in its purest form.
1st: Any last words for all your readers?
Alex: Not at all, also because I would never listen to what a person like me has to say, but I can certainly thank them for their time and I cannot wait to know what they think of GENU. Because I simply have no idea what I should expect.