This week, a new graphic novel, The Trap, was announced via Kickstarter. In addition to featuring some of the hottest creators in comics today attached, there’s also a special co-creator involved: professional football player Lance Briggs (formerly of the Chicago Bears). The Trap is a sci-fi sports series about a future Earth where a system is put in place designed to keep the little guy from succeeding. Utilizing a sport called Surfriding, series writers Briggs and Kyle Higgins are exploring a story about marginalized communities and how race, gender, and socio-economic disparity all factor into a system that keeps the rich richer.
I had the opportunity of asking both Briggs and Higgins a few questions about the series, whose campaign you can back through much of October. We get into what the series is really about, talk about their co-writing relationship, and much more.
AIPT: It’s not often you see sports stars dive into graphic novels, what inspired you to bring this story to comics Mr. Briggs?
Lance Briggs: You know, the truth is that I’ve wanted to write and create stories for pretty much my entire life. Football is an amazing sport, but it doesn’t really lend itself to anything other than total focus and devotion. So, during my playing days, embarking on the journey of writing — formally — wasn’t something that I was able to take on. But now, with time and more life experience on my side, I’m able to dive in and hopefully find ways to share my imagination. The Trap is the first part of that. And so, I wanted to start with a project that was very close to my heart, about people and issues that are important to me. Sports is just one aspect of what Kyle and I are going to explore.
AIPT: The press release reads this is about “a system designed to keep you from succeeding” which instantly makes me think of capitalism and the disparity between rich and poor. Is that a theme in this work?
LB: Yes. But in this story, it’s applied to pretty much all beings that call Earth “home.” Earth in and of itself is now a marginalized community — all of us here are viewed as “lower tier” by the other planets in the Interstellar Alliance.
Kyle Higgins: The best science fiction is allegory. So, when Lance and I were talking about the issues we wanted to tackle, it was important to identity what those would be — race, gender, social and economic disparity — and to then create a scenario and build a world where those issues would relate to everyone.
When we come into our story, we quickly learn that Earth is both the red headed stepchild of the Interstellar Alliance, as well as a valuable resource in the underground, interstellar— and very illegal— drug market. So, that creates the potential for serious exploitation of our planet and its citizens. It’s a way for us to explore these very relatable, timely issues through a new lens. Where maybe you see yourself in the world, in a way that you might not have if these matters didn’t apply to the whole planet.
AIPT: I have to ask, are either of you guys surfers, and was that inspiration to Surfriding?
KH: I’m still coming back from ACL surgery — I’ve said goodbye to any possibility of learning how to surf (laughs).
LB: I’ve never surfed, though I did skateboard a little bit as a kid, until I realized how much dedication it would take to be as good as the kids in my neighborhood. The level of skill to ride skate and surfboards, but applied to navigating both land, water, and air, is what inspired Surfriding — the idea of taking these skills to another level. How cool would it be if these boards could scale skyscrapers, mountains, and cliffs, propel through water and shred through snow all at high speeds?
KH: Exactly. Also, it was important for us — logistically — that the main sport be something that could be competed in by every species. A board- based racing sport fit that bill quite well.
AIPT: Danilo Beyruth has done some exceptional work at Marvel, what has been your favorite page of his that has come in so far for The Trap?
KH: Danilo is someone I’ve had an eye for a while now. He, along with Tamra Bonvillain, are two of my favorite artists. So, the opportunity to build this series with them has been so exciting for me. Honestly, my favorite image so far is the cover — it sets a tone and tells a complete story in one image, and became even more striking when Tamra worked her magic with the colors, and Sasha integrated the logo. The whole piece has a European Sci-Fi look and definitely gives me some awesome Moebius vibes.
AIPT: Mr. Briggs has there been any surprises for you as you’ve developed the story, and Mr. Higgins, any surprises for you approaching a story like this?
LB: The biggest challenge for me is usually convincing Kyle of a character, or a group of characters, and what their relevance to the story is.
KH: (Laughs) That’s true. But that’s part of the fun in co-writing when both writers trust and respect one another. Lance and I come from very different worlds, and yet we communicate incredibly well — I’m able to say “I just don’t see it…”
LB: And I come back with, “But wouldn’t it be cool if…”
KH: And we talk it out and find a way to get to the core of what’s interesting about the character or the idea.
KH: Whenever you enter a co-writing situation, there’s a period of feeling each other out, learning how to communicate with one another and what types of ideas — plot, emotion, themes — resonate for you both. The awesome thing about The Trap is that Lance and I have have been on the same page about all the important aspects. We communicate really well, and honestly, if there weren’t a level of trust and respect amongst us both, this story would not be nearly as strong and resonant as we think it is.
LB: Our story starts with Jalen, but the narrative reach is far beyond just him. It’s worldwide.
AIPT: Kyle, you’ve just launched Ultraman, and now The Trap is on the way. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with sci-fi these days?
KH: I love it. Like I just said, when it’s done well, it’s a way to talk about issues of the day without preaching. It’s a way to explore the core of an idea, topic, or issue through a unique lens.
And, sci-fi always gives me a chance to work with amazing artists who world build, visually, in so many inspiring ways. It’s my favorite genre, by far.