Another comic book universe is coming at you from a new company: InterPop, which is launching a new universe called Emergents with some top creators attached. And the Beat has the very first look at their line, a variant cover to THE NINE #0 by Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn, Starfire, Power Girl) with colors by Alex Sinclair (Astro City, Batman: Hush).
But that’s just the beginning of the story. The comics themselves will be free to read but purchasable as “clean NFTs,” and it’s all part of a larger structure of interactive comics, gaming and collecting.
Although this is the first official peek at an Emergents comic, they will not be available to read until July 17th, when InterPop will host Block Party, a virtual comic con where fans can meet the creators and makers behind this new universe. Details are forthcoming, but everyone who attends will receive a free NFT copy of THE NINE #0, the debut comic.
After Block Party, the comic will be free to read to anyone via a new proprietary comics reading interface similar to other “guided view” models.
A second ongoing series, EMERGENTS PRESENTS, debuts in August, and THE NINE will begin coming out regularly in September. Although creative teams haven’t been announced, other InterPop promotional efforts mention people like Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Will Pfeifer, and Danielle Paige.
In addition to Conner and Sinclair, The Beat has an exclusive peek at some of the concept work for Emergents by Steve Ellis and Steve Buccellato. I’m told that even more A-list comics names will be announced soon.
InterPop itself is run by Brian David-Marshall, who has a long history in comics, gaming and technology. He’s probably best known as a fixture of the Magic the Gathering community. The comics line is being run by former DC editor Rachel Gluckstern.
InterPop is a division of TQ Tezos, a company using advancements in what they call clean NFT technology that’s behind the “tezos” currency. They hope to attract collectors and gamers with comics and a trading card game set in the Emergents superhero universe. “Clean” NFTs use a technology called “proof of stake” that the company says uses two million times LESS energy than “proof of work” NFTs.
For those concerned about any use of NFTs technology, believe me, I share your concerns. However, based on my inbox and my time spent on Clubhouse, I can assure you, the technology is not going to go away any time soon. If we’re going to have NFTs they should be the cleaner kind, used by responsible people who appreciate the fan and creative communities. And whatever you think of the technology, the people behind InterPop are no fly-by-nighters; they seem to be sincere in trying to do something new with technology.
Some details on the Emergent universe:
The superpowered beings who inhabit Culverton harbor secrets as dark as their powers are great. Enigmatic industrial disruptor Aloysius Zeroth — part superhero, part David Bowie — is brilliant and cold; unapproachable and beautiful. And his secrets, and powers, are more fearsome than most.
Culverton is as contemporary to today as can be while also a love letter to the superhero genre. There are social media superhero stars. There are corporate raiders who trade in superhero futures (like that whole Gamestop stock market story). There are superhero chasers who like to see how close they can get to a fight in action. There are cult leaders and crazy, colorful yet murderous clowns. There are robots and assassins and amazingly strong beauty queens who can dazzle you with looks and then punch you out. There is the EFL — the Emergent Fighting League headlined by the powerful Devasatrix — which is like pro wrestling but cast with superpowered beings who have decided to use their powers in this way instead of traditional crime-fighting. There is teen angst, and family struggles, and long-festering SECRETS, and broken hearts and body horror. All the best parts of superhero comics are here!
InterPop is also incorporating community governance into an original comic series set in the Emergents universe that empowers readers to help shape the narrative. That series is called THE NINE, which will be officially teased in the first issue, THE NINE #0.
For a peek at the world-building behind the line, here are the roughs designs for the Phaeton Project exterior and Professor Helios’ office by Buccellato; and turnarounds for the characters Moxie, Zeroth, and #ZoeMG by Ellis.
“We are dropping right into the middle of these characters’ lives and it becomes quickly apparent that the gutters of Culverton are awash with secrets. Who better than the city’s resident crime reporter/fighter Crime Blotter to lay those secrets bare as he unravels the mysteries of Emergents: The Nine,” explains David-Marshall.
For those who know David-Marshall from his gaming background, this marks a bit of a return to comics. “Since the first time I picked up a comic book, I have been thinking about comic books; collecting them, writing them, and dreaming about how to innovate and explore what comic books can be,” he tells The Beat.
“As soon as I learned about Clean NFTs on the Tezos blockchain I knew we could use this technology to scratch the collector’s itch for comics in a way that traditional digital comics could never satisfy,” he continued. “We are making our comics free to read because we want fans to become engaged in the lives of these characters and participate in their lives through NFT ownership. They can have a true hand in the characters’ collective fates.”
Gluckstern was also attracted to the project by the many possibilities offered by new technology.
“As a long-time editor in the comics world, I’ve observed the ongoing discussions around how to build a universe, how to compensate talent appropriately, and how to engage fan feedback in a positive way. When I left DC Comics in 2015, I really thought I was stepping out of the industry for good. But when Brian [David-Marshall] approached me with the plans for InterPop, I saw the opportunity to not only build a new and exciting world of characters, but also the tools to address those ongoing discussions.
“InterPop is giving us the ability to give fans the story control they crave and the compensation creative talent deserve,” she says. “And I’m looking forward to working with old friends and exciting new talent as we bring our heroes to life.”
You can read more about Tezos here. They have many plans to use technology to allow readers to engage and interact with the materials — and a new approach to digital comics.
With these comics, we’ll be following a “free-to-read” model in which the content itself will be available to read at no cost on the InterPop platform powered by Tezos, and ownership will be an NFT transaction. With this ownership comes abilities to engage with the content and have a hand in directing the story’s outcome. As President and Publisher Brian David-Marshall puts it, readers will have power over decisions that range “from the cosmetic to the cosmic ” through guided polls and voting. Which costume do you all like better? Does the hero stop to read this message? Who was more responsible for a character’s death? Which character do you like best from these choices? All these decisions will be reflected in later issues of the comics, giving the fans something they’ve truly always wanted: creative control.
Other NFTs will include variant covers, original art, signed copies, enhanced cover effects, collectible figures, and props from the comics themselves, and mini stories, like backstories and additional content prepared for the other path voters could have chosen. This line of comics will launch with the universe of the Emergents, following a set of heroes and villains who are all mysteriously based in the fictional city of Culverton.
It seems that we’ll be hearing a lot more from InterPop as they ramp up.
What do you think? Are you intrigued by Emergents? Sound off in the comments!