A number of long-time fans of 2000AD have banded together to launch Fractal Friction, an online collaborative storytelling venture, a story that starts when a man turns up for a job interview only for it to lead to something altogether stranger.
Co-ordinated by the mysteriously-monikered Emperor, there are some great artists involved, all regular contributors to many UK indie press titles, including Matt Soffe , James Corcoran, Kevin Levell, Conor Boyle, and Chris Askham, the project given a more uniform feel with lettering by Jim Campbell.
"The common thread is that we all read 2000AD and have been known to frequent the official forum," explains the Emperor of the project, "where a lot of the artistically inclined take part in the competitions (and generally help each other out in the creators forum). A number of us also contribute to the small press: Chris has a long history of work on FutureQuake Press titles and he, Kev and I are all in the latest Zarjaz and Kev, Matt and... me again are in the current Dogbreath.
"Jim is the old, seasoned, pro keeping us all in line, having written the Warhammer 40k story Daemonifuge and the Dredd-world tale The Inspectre... and with his lettering cropping up all over the place. He isn't a shabby artist either, so he could really be doing this as a one-man show if I hadn't wedged a spoon into his cerebellum."
The Emperor says he is "operating in a scripting support role, ready to give as much or as little as is required."
A number of the contributors had been thining about doing a collaborative comic for some time, inspired by the success of such things as Huzzah. "We'd thrown out such an idea on the 2000AD forum," the Emperor continues, "So I was obviously up for the challenge but how to start?
"Matt suggested I dust off an old story idea but that didn't narrow it down as I've got a tonne of them sitting around (even if a reasonable proportion are fit only for the budgie cage). I did have a nose through them though, and found one idea I'd come back to a couple of times but it had never got beyond the introduction. The basic premise was: a young lad turns up for a job interview and ends up being catapulted right off the map. The first iteration of this idea, gave us the name "Fractal Friction," although the story and reason for the name will remain a mystery for now, as there is a possibility we will delve into that further down the line.
"The second shot at the story is pretty much what you see, just with a little back and forth first helping firm up the characters and the larger backstory. So once this was given a provisional thumbs up, I hammered out the 40 panels-worth of introduction (as it was pretty clear in my head by now) which, the way it has been divided up, runs to the first nine pages."
And then beyond that... what?
"Well, that's all up in the air and is where the fun really starts!" says the Emperor. "I'm happy to step back and let the artists take it from there, seeing where the story takes them... Beyond page 9 it is all up to the artists and whatever approach they prefer: I can leave them to it and cheer them on from the sidelines or I can offer advice when required or do some heavy to light plotting Marvel Method-style or I am up for just adding the words to the pictures or I might be called upon to provide more script.
"We'll have to play it by ear, but I'm up for any challenge and it'll be fun seeing where it goes.
• Read Fractal Friction from the start
• If you're a writer or artist interested in getting involved in later developments for the project, email the Fractal Friction team (or drop them a note on the 2000AD forum).
• Art featured above is © respective creators
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