The comic book platform can reach so many audiences and so many tastes, which is the first thought that comes to mind when exploring the upcoming comics series Gray Cells. A supernatural neo-noir thriller set in a fictional crime-ridden city, it features a supernatural villain that seeks to twist its victim’s mind and see the world how it sees it. I had a chance to check out this soon-to-be-announced comic book, which is currently taking pre-Kickstarter reservations.
Written by Lawrence Goodman with art by Kay, Gray Cells is set in a city that is filled with corruption and inequality. It centers on a journalist who begins to uncover something lurking in the shadows that twists the minds of its victims. By using her skills as a journalist, she begins to piece together people’s versions of events and discover the horrible truth behind their experiences.
Goodman grew up in the UK loving Chris Claremont’s X-Men — in fact, this series is being dubbed “David Fincher’s Se7en meets X-Men’s Shadow King” — and eventually discovered comics when visiting an aunt in Los Angeles. “I came away with some great books, toys, and a copy of How to Make Comics the Marvel Way. That was it then. Every spare minute I had was creating worlds, characters, and stories.”
Similar to the bleakness of Gray Cells, Goodman leaned towards stories like Days of Future Past. “I didn’t want them to go back in time to fix it, I wanted them to live in that bleakness. I like stories where the odds are really against the heroes and they are alone in a dangerous world.”
Though set in a fictional city filled with corruption, the pencils and inking are by the talented Kay who drew inspiration from nearby Detroit for this decaying metropolis. With colors by Corey Ranson, the art draws the reader into a gritty world of urban decay and the trippy, otherworldly danger of the story’s villain.
“As a kid, I fell in love with the visual language of comics. It’s intuitive and easy to learn, right? But also powerful and different than any other medium,” Kay said. Kay was drawn to the artistry of comics because it’s a storytelling method that allows the artist to control the pace and flow of the story. “As an artist, you use this unique syntax to tell a story. And Lawrence’s was right up my alley.”
Kay and Goodman ended up having similar sensibilities in storytelling as well. “God Loves, Man Kills was important to me in my formative years. Morrison’s X-Men are my favorite though,” Kay said, “I can see a bit of X-Men in Gray Cells. There’s this sense of wonder but also darkness underneath.”
Lawrence approached Gray Cells with a love of David Fincher films, particularly Se7en, which he thinks of as Gotham City without a Batman. The heroes are out of their depth and outmatched. “When I sat down to create Gray Cells, I wanted something that frightened me. I thought hard about all the stuff that I liked growing up and as an adult, and the stuff that truly terrified me. Someone taking over your mind, losing control, turning friends against you. That would always send me into a panic.”
Steeped in the gritty realism of today, Gray Cells is also a story that needs to be told today. In a world where facts are a matter of opinion, and people’s personal realities can be questioned, Gray Cells tackles that and more. “You’ve got competing realities, people trying to convince you of their truths, and shady characters trying to influence you into crafting the world how they see it. In Gray Cells, it’s not just the villain, but the whole world around the heroes that is a danger.”
To find out more about Gray Cells and reserve a limited edition copy of the book, visit inked-dreams.com.