City Enduring, a metropolis at the edge of the universe, hasn’t had a violent crime in 500 years. But that’s all about to change, and it’s up to rookie Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein to keep the civilization from tearing itself apart.
DC Nation caught up with multiple Hugo Award-winning novelist N.K. Jemisin and Naomi co-creator Jamal Campbell to discuss Young Animal’s brand-new sci-fi murder mystery series Far Sector.
Let’s start with the main character, Sojourner “Jo” Mullein. What do you love about her, and exploring the world of Far Sector through her?
N.K. Jemisin: Mostly I just love that I created her. I like that she's a stranger in a strange land—operating outside of the normal jurisdiction of Green Lanterns, without anyone to call on for help, in a city full of people who in many cases resemble humans, but who can be deeply, frighteningly alien. In science fiction, settings like this are a perfect way to mirror and explore the human condition and do a deep dive into a single character.
World-building is clearly a major part of this. How did you develop the book’s location and culture?
Jemisin: I got contacted by Gerard Way, who had an idea for a Green Lantern book in which the protagonist would be alone, in a distant sector of space, embedded in a futuristic society. The idea was so intriguing that details pretty much sprung into my head, and I started putting together the City Enduring. I've always been interested in Dyson Spheres/Swarms, and also in multi-species societies, so I put together a history, some profiles of the three species that inhabit the City, and basic concepts (for example, the fact that people in the City don't normally experience emotion).
Jamal Campbell: In exploring the City Enduring, there were a number of touchstones that I wanted to hit. First off, the City being this gargantuan megalopolis built around a star, is such a cool and intriguing concept just on its own. Secondly, it’s a city that never ends. It’s sprawling and vast, yet so dense and claustrophobic that wherever you look, you have to feel tiny and a bit lost. Lastly, there are the inhabitants of the city, how the peoples interact and live amongst one another, and how they developed as a society. My goal is to build the City Enduring into a compelling character that’s distinct within the DC Universe.
You’ve hinted that there’s something unique with Jo’s power ring—what will surprise Green Lantern fans about her powers?
Jemisin: Well, among other things, her ring doesn't have to be charged with a GL power battery. Because of that, however, it's got some significant limitations relative to other GLs. You'll have to read the comic for more on that.
Jamal, between Naomi and Far Sector, how has it felt bringing multiple new starring characters to DC in the past year?
Campbell: Creating a new hero and a new world, in the DCU, starring in their own book, is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’ve somehow been put in the position to do it twice, back-to-back, with such a large amount of freedom, and with amazing and passionate collaborators. It’s wild and a bit overwhelming. I’m just happy to be in this moment of pure creation where I can put out my best work, and I hope people enjoy it in turn.
How has your background in technical drawing helped in crafting the world of this series?
Campbell: My background in technical illustration 100 percent informs how I approach and think about the world of Far Sector. On a practical level, it’s made me more comfortable in drawing the cityscapes, architecture, machinery, and technology featured heavily in Far Sector. That allows me to better execute on Nora’s and my own vision for the world.
On a conceptual level, it’s trained me to consider how things are used and function in the world. Things like how various technologies work, to the physical layout of the City, the lives of its citizens, why they wear certain pieces of clothing, etc. Even if the nitty-gritty details aren’t featured prominently in the story itself, they all inform how I go about designing the world and making it conceptually consistent and more tangible feeling.
What’s the collaboration like on the book?
Jemisin: Strange and wonderful. Normally I only "see" my worlds in my head and depict them by painting with words. To suddenly see my words literally painted is fascinating and amazing.
And Jamal's art is so good. It's amazing to see Jo become a living, breathing, fighting person, and to see the City Enduring made real.
Campbell: Working with Nora has been great. Surprise to absolutely no one, she is an amazing writer and it’s exciting to see that translate into comics. When I signed onto the project, I was presented with a number of her writings that went deep into the history City Enduring and various races and characters that instantly had me hooked and chomping at the bit to be a part of. Not to mention how compelling the narrative that she’s crafted is. Then, actually getting into the work, Nora is completely open and receptive to my input and contributions to the world and characters. She’s even gone so far to rewrite and tailor the scripts to better fit me and my style.
All-in-all, it’s been a blast and has inspired me to do the best I can to do her writing justice.
What can you share about the other characters we’ll meet in Far Sector?
Jemisin: Well, as a lone Green Lantern, Jo has to work with the City's version of the police, so she spends a lot of time with Syzn of the Cliffs, chief of the peacekeeping force for the largest and most urban of the City's ten platforms—think New York times Tokyo times Lagos. She's advised by the Trilogy Council, representatives of each of the City's species. The Councilors are the ultimate politicians, sometimes literally cutthroat—she can't trust any of them, which is awkward, because the Councilor of the most humanlike species, Marth of the Sea, is something of a homme fatale…and Jo is interested.
Meanwhile, Jo's Girl Friday is a perky artificial intelligence called @ICanHazEarthStuff, who absolutely loves cat memes. There are others, but that's the main crew.