Jeremy Haun is writing a new series called 40 Seconds, which is an exciting sci-fi series recently announced as part of comiXology Originals.

The first issue of 40 Seconds came out last week. Joining Haun on the book are artist Christopher Mitten, colorist Brett Weldele, and letterer Thomas Mauer. The series stars a team of science explorers who are traveling through alien gateways, attemping to answer a far-off distress call. While moving through stunning and odd landscapes, the team finds itself being hunted by an alien horde.

It’s an interesting concept, to say the least, and today The Beat is fortunate to have a conversation with Haun about the book…enjoy!

ZACK QUAINTANCE: Can I start by asking you to talk about the balance of realistic sci-fi and science fantasy in this book?

JEREMY HAUN: You know — when I sat down to create this book I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about how much of this was going to be hard sci-fi and how much was going to be sci-fi/fantasy. I’m a fan of both. Always have been. I don’t have any interest in picking between Star Trek and Star Wars. I don’t have to. Both are brilliant. 

As the story developed, I realized this wanted — needed to be more of a sci-fi fantasy story. I’m still obsessed with hard sci-fi elements and really try and work them in when I can. 40 Seconds needed the freedom to go pretty big and fantastical at times. 

As with most of my stories, you’re going to get hints of more than one genre in there. Let’s call this sci-fi/fantasy/horror/adventure. That just about covers it.

ZACK: What inspired 40 Seconds, was it research, other comics, movies? My impression was that it could have been any of the above…

JEREMY: Definitely all of the above. It’s hard not to be inspired by the wealth of what’s come before. 

So much of modern storytelling is a mash-up of all the things that influenced us. It’s made for a hell of a lot of great, fun stories. 

Occasionally I’ll read a review of a movie or book and they’ll say “It’s not any new premise…”. While there certainly can be completely new things out there, I feel like most stories, to one degree or another have been told. It’s up to us to take those stories, break them apart and do our own whole new thing with them. 

ZACK: This is maybe a bit of cookie-cutter question, but I’m a big fan of his work so I still have to ask…what was it like working on this book with Christopher Mitten?

JEREMY: Oh, fantastic! Chris is just brilliant. What’s that Hunter S. Thompson line from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

Yep. That’s Chris. 

I’ve wanted to work with Chris forever. Schedules in comics are a mess though. If you want to work with someone you have to check in with them pretty much constantly. Also it helps to bump off other writers that might be hoping to snag them out from under you. 

40 Seconds shines because of the amazing crew I’m working with on it. 

The look and feel of this thing came together when Chris agreed to do the book. It only got better when Brett Weldele agreed to come on and do colors. We knew we wanted something different here– something beautiful and painterly. Brett really brought that. He’s an illustrator that gets the whole process. And every issue Chris and Brett just get better and better together. 

It’s also important to mention our designer and letter, Thomas Mauer. I just don’t want to make comics without Thomas. He worked with me on THE BEAUTY and THE REALM and added so much to the feel of the project. I’ve never seen someone figure out a take and make it shine the way Thomas does. I don’t want to spoil, but he does something with universal translators in this comic that’s so incredibly cool. 

ZAKC: It strikes me that a key part of this comic is the sci-fi landscapes. How did you and the team work to craft these?

JEREMY: Our main goal was to have fun. Part of the point of this story is to tell adventures set in all these different, epic landscapes.  I knew what setpieces I needed along the way. There has to be a scene set on a vast icy world. They need to show up on this other world over here. But from there, it really came down to me and Chris sitting on the phone chatting about what he would like to draw. He wanted a jungle– he got a jungle. 

As amazing as Chris’ work on these landscapes is, they really came to life with Brett’s colors. He puts so much care into creating worlds that feel vastly different, color palette wise. There is a jump in issue three that’s just gorgeous– everything I could’ve asked for and more. 

ZACK: Finally, how did your process writing for a digital-first comic change, if at all?

JEREMY: I don’t know that it really did at all. ComiXology has been incredible to work with. 

There were little things that they asked for — that they needed for the platform, but it wasn’t anything major at all. We can’t do double splash pages since they don’t really work on tablets. That’s okay, though — I don’t really like giving up that much story real estate to a double splash.

One of the really nice things about the platform is that there aren’t really set page counts. Most companies now produce twenty page comics. It’s not a huge issue at all, but sometimes an issue wants to be longer than that. I asked about page count and they said “Go with what works!”, so I did. I like that model. It’s pretty freeing. 

I love making comics. I’ve enjoyed telling stories with so many different publishers. I’m incredibly excited about 40 Seconds and working with ComiXology. We’ve got some big, cool things planned.

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