Richard Dent is the writer and creator of Myopia. It is a comic with an unusual origin. Richard is a poet and an educator. He never started out with the intention of creating Myopia as a comic. He stopped by First Comics News to tell our readers all about Myopia and its journey from concept to publication for Dynamite this December.
Richard Dent: I came up with the idea somewhere between graduate school and before I started teaching. The idea that I turned a screenplay into a comic book series tends to be of great interest to my students in the National University MFA program, where I primarily help published novelists translate their novels into screenplays. The work of translating from one genre to another is riffed with challenges, and I like to think my students are emboldened by my success!
1st: You’re a poet, how did you migrate to genre sci-fi?
Richard: This wasn’t a logical leap. Frankly I needed a break from poetry and wanted to write something “fun” in a genre that I enjoy. I had a year-long screenwriting workshop in graduate school with novelist Buzz Poverman, who was a Chesterfield Screenwriting Fellow. This is where I picked up my screenwriting chops.
1st: What made you decide that Myopia should be a screenplay and not a novel?
Richard: Myopia could have worked as a novel, in fact there is quite a bit of prose in the comic book, but I just wasn’t looking to write fiction at the time.
1st: What happened when you submitted your Myopia screenplay to the Francis Ford Coppola Screenwriting Competition?
Richard: I submitted then went about my business. When I was notified that I was a finalist, I reached out to a few producers but found that screenplay contest winners didn’t carry the kind of cachet fiction writers do when they win awards. The whole experience started me thinking about translating the story into a genre where I had more control.
1st: You also submitted Myopia to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition, what happened there?
Richard: I found out about the Austin Film Festival after I was already in the processes of turning Myopia into a comic book series (around six months after the Francis Ford Coppola award). Part of the prize was to meet with producers in Austin. There I pitched the concept of Myopia to producers, but basically was told either submit it as a screenplay for sale or a book as IP. I chose to stick with the comic book. I figure if it’s never made, at least the story is complete and out there for the world to read, which is all I ever really wanted.
1st: You have submitted Myopia as a screenplay, you have a literary agent and Myopia is sold to a publisher as a graphic novel. Why did you need a Kickstarter?
1st: How did you get together with Patrick Berkenkotter?
Richard: I needed an illustrator with the ability to draw characters and scenes in great detail in order to strike the right tone. Patrick fit the bill. He’s worked on a lot of Dynamite and Marvel properties (Teen Titans, Avengers), and I’m regularly told his style is similar to Alex Ross. Patrick actually worked on a special edition of Marvel’s Torch with Alex Ross, which I believe was published by Dynamite.
1st: When does Myopia take place?
1st: What is the world like in Myopia?
Richard: Steampunk, magnetic, everyone wears special lenses called the Formula Media Lens.
1st: What are the lenses in their eyes and how do they work?
Richard: The Formula Media lenses could be compared to our smartphones, but they have a psychic component allowing thoughts to enter the Central Lens Network.
Richard: That’s coming up in issue 2 and 3, but for now, it’s where the psychic ids of the lenses are stored. Kind of like if the Internet had a heart.
1st: What is the Magnetic Energy Agreement?
Richard: We start off this story in a post global energy crisis. Magnetic energy has been discovered as an effective new fuel source, but its drawbacks are not fully understood. To ensure another crisis is avoided, a law was passed making sure that the global energy grid is linked to other sources other than magnetic energy.
Richard: Bill Glen is a scientist who created some of the most popular programs for the Formula Media Lens.
Richard: James Chase studied with Bill Glen and now works at Formula Media. He is our main character.
1st: Why is there a Falcon in the story?
Richard: After the unspecified environmental disaster that promoted the Magnetic Energy Agreement, many animals went extinct. Hudson Brown is a symbol of that tragedy, the last surviving falcon.
Richard: Ledge Carver is the CEO of Formula Media. He has worked for other companies including the government.
1st: Who is Molly Glen?
Richard: She is married to Bill Glen for a time…
Richard: Ledge and Bill were best friends. After the incident with Bill, Ledge was there for Molly and they fell in love. Yeah, he’s one of those guys.
Richard: Let’s just say he found a very special pair of lenses. There are only two sets of them in the world.
1st: What makes Myopia so cool that no true comic fan should miss the first issue?
Richard: Myopia has all the excitement and pacing of a Marvel or D.C. story, but it’s speculative fiction, a world that could happen, and this draws the reader in, making one wonder if this is a world that could actually happen.