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Edgy is interesting: A chat with 'Neon Spring' creator Ian Cinco

Comic Books

Edgy is interesting: A chat with ‘Neon Spring’ creator Ian Cinco

Support this twisted comics title through December 15.

A new twisted, totally deranged comics title is currently available to back via Kickstarter. Created by Ian Cinco, Neon Spring is like Aeon Flux with the vibe of Miami Vice — and it doesn’t ever shy away from nudity or intense violence. (And, yes, there’s a Trump-esque character involved because why not?)

Set in the future, it’s a story where super-intelligent A.I. exists within cars, and it’s hellbent on lobotomizing and extracting the brains of those who have it coming. Imagine the chaos of these hyper-smart, A.I.-driven cars that can then control the person after a little refit? It’s a mostly haunting prospect, but under the design of Cinco, it’s also a positively epic comics experience.

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It’s no surprise the Neon Spring, Issue #0: This Car Neutralizes Douchebags is already fully backed, but to gain a bit more insight, I spoke with Cinco about the project, including the development process, character design, and the power of a good title. If you’re inclined, the campaign is still available for backing through the morning of Wednesday, December 15.

Neon Spring Ian Cinco Kickstarter

AIPT: Ian, thanks for answering a few questions. I understand Neon Spring is five years in the making, was that a blessing or a curse?

Ian Cinco: Haha. Everyone close to me is always urging me to keep things positive, especially in these interviews, but I like being honest with my feelings. So, if I’m being honest, there have been many times where I felt cursed over the course of this project. Lots of crisis moments.

The blessing is that I was able to take the time to incubate and develop it. It really did take the pandemic to finally put all my attention into it. Right up until lockdown I was putting episodes of my show Everything and the Kitchen Cinco out and doing a lot of freelance. My video production company was still quite busy as well. Then overnight all the work went away. I think most people I know had a similar experience. Faced with all that free time, some non-essential worker people despaired, others baked bread, artists went to work.

The notion of it being a blessing or a curse is a sensation that comes and goes with the wind. Even now that issue zero is done and I’m looking towards the future of making more issues, depending on what mood I wake up in, I can still feel like it’s a blessing or a curse. With the exception of real traumatic events, I never let my mood or feelings stop me from working. I’m mostly really excited about this. That’s an understatement.

I’m psyched about Neon Spring and eager to push the story forward. It wasn’t just five years in the making, it’s a lifetime spent absorbing movies and comics and dreaming of making my own finally coming to fruition. Issue zero is really just a tiny peek into this bigger epic world.

Neon Spring Ian Cinco Kickstarter

Courtesy of Ian Cinco.

AIPT: I love all the character and vehicle designs in your work, it has this sci-fi punk edge that’s unique but reminds me of stuff like Akira and Blade Runner. What are some of the influences on your work? 

IC: Thank you for the compliment. Designing the characters and the environments is the hardest part. Akira and Blade Runner (Especially 2049) are huge influences. Akira is just unbelievable to me. The characters are so iconic. The backgrounds and set pieces are totally mind-blowing.

Everything by Katsuhiro Otomo is great. I love Masamune Shiro’s Ghost in the Shell. Anime and manga in general have captivated me since I was a kid. It’s undeniable how expressive and impressive all the mangaka are. It’s daunting thinking about how prolific they have to be.

I revere all manga and comic artists. It’s one of the toughest disciplines. I’m coming back to comics after spending nearly two decades entrenched in a deep love for cinema. I’m really drawn to stories that throw you into the heart of the action, without narration or exposition. Jeff Smith’s Bone is at the top of my list. Everything by Hayao Miyazaki, Blade of the Immortal, Aeon Flux, all the founders of image comics, Greg Capullo, Claire Wendling, Heinrich Kley, Goya, Van Gogh. Even though Dave Sim has said some very questionable things over the years and fallen out of favor in the comics community, I was blown away by Cerebus when I first read it. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Garth Ennis‘s Preacher. Preacher is going to end up having a major influence on this series. I think it’s obvious that I love Moebius too.

This is a list of my old influences. With social media there’s a laundry list of people from around the world doing amazing things. Kim Jung Gi is on a whole other level. It’s a wild and great time to be an artist.

Neon Spring Ian Cinco Kickstarter

Courtesy of Ian Cinco.

AIPT: What made now the right time to kick off the Kickstarter?

IC: I am in the middle of this Kickstarter right now and I’m very busy with freelance work at the same time. I often wake up and feel like it wasn’t the right time, but it’s important not to let the stress overwhelm. I think the timing is potentially perfect. By the time I fulfill all the Kickstarter rewards and release the comic in March it will be spring. So I’m releasing Neon Spring in spring. Also, I already pushed the launch back due to work and traumatic life events. My gut just told me I’d waited long enough.

AIPT: A title is incredibly important, what drew you to the title Neon Spring, and were there any runner-up titles?

IC: I agree. The title is everything. It’s really hard naming things in general, then on top of that, we live in a world where almost every good name has already been taken. There were a lot of runner-ups. For most of the time spent working on the project, it was called This Car Neutralizes Douchebags, or TCND for short. I didn’t want the focus of the series to be on the car though. I was calling it Mother for a month. Then I was sure it was going to be Neon Giant, but there were several potential trademark issues and I didn’t want to cause any problems.

So, I spent the weekend before launching the Kickstarter frantically searching for a new name. Neon Spring came up pretty early and I just kept coming back to it. It felt right on many levels. There’s a corporation in the story, a tech company, named Neon Spring. The name is kind of naively aspirational from a tech company perspective. I don’t want to give away too much, but the Neon Spring will ultimately grow to take on a much greater meaning than just being the name of this tech company. 

Neon Spring Ian Cinco Kickstarter

Courtesy of Ian Cinco.

AIPT: The #0 issue doesn’t shy from nudity or an edgier choice in familiar characters, do you pride yourself on being edgy, or maybe you don’t see it as being edgy at all?

IC: Thank you for implying that my work is edgy. I do think being edgy is important to my work and it is a conscious decision. It makes it interesting for me. It’s what I’m drawn to in other people’s work as well. I don’t view this issue as being as edgy as it could be. I hope to really push this story into some wild and unexpected places. As I get older and see all my friends and colleagues having kids, it makes me sad that I can’t show this to the little ones. There’s a part of me that wants to be Miyazaki, but I also know I’m onto something unique and all-my-own here. It’s been brewing in me for a long time. I have to stay true to whatever that is. 

AIPT: Are there any comics you’re reading now?

IC: I’m in the middle of Battle Angel Alita Last Order, Blame, The Manhattan Projects, Love and Rockets. I just finished Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger. I read a lot during the pandemic. It was the first time I was able to really catch up on reading in years. Since August I’ve become really busy with work again, so I haven’t had much time between freelance and finishing the comic and getting this Kickstarter going. Since I can’t read, I’ve been listening to Cartoonist Kayfabe while I work. It’s amazing what Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg are doing. 

One of the best things I read this year is Pluto by Takashi Nagasaki and drawn by the great Naoki Urasawa. I was literally crying while reading it. It definitely added a whole new dimension to what I plan to do. I am trying to blow your mind with some wild visuals and crazy ideas, but more important to me is making an emotional story with characters who you end up caring for.  

Edgy is interesting: A chat with 'Neon Spring' creator Ian Cinco

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