Review Fix chats with co-author Biju Parekkadan who discuss his new comic, “Legend of Sumeria,” detailing its creative process, ideal audience and goals for the future.
About Legend of Sumeria:
About The fascinating hard science of the human genome is interlaced with questions of humanity, spirituality, ethics and the bonds of love in this fast-paced, groundbreaking new graphic novel. Legend of Sumeria grapples with belief, science, and fiction in a beautifully-rendered future not so distant from a present where these very issues are debated daily.
The machinations of a powerful biotech company which launches SEQ, the first social network to integrate genetics into the fabric of society and e-commerce, begin our story and draw the reader into a complicated web of human drama and scientific intrigue. “It’s not just the next internet, it’s life by your own code,” reads one SEQ tagline.
An unethical experiment activates a “cancer” gene altering human evolution forever. It may be more than just human evolution that’s in danger when Tessa Jones, the first human-engineered with the ability to breathe without oxygen, shepherds a space expedition that encounters a fascinating tribe of extraterrestrial “silverbacks” that lead a nomadic, subsistent life contrary to human society.
Review Fix: Why did you decide to get into graphic novels?
Biju Parekkadan: It was a great medium to balance a cinematic visual storyline with deep writing and character arcs. We also like that is an art form that has captured history in a very creative way and offers entirely new audiences such as schools, libraries, and other educational venues to consider the story as a study text.
Review Fix: What did you read as a kid?
Parekkadan: I really enjoyed books about mythology, philosophy, religion, and science. And of course I was really into comic books. My father owned a building and rented it to a comic book store owner so I would get to read a lot of the classics while I worked next door at his convenience store. Collectively, I’d say that there was a good balance between understand the physics and metaphysics through these readings with a general enthusiasm to try to connect the two in my own view where I saw fit.
Review Fix: For people who haven’t read them, what are your stories about?
Parekkadan: We consider the graphic novel to fall into a “5 minutes into the future” calls of science fiction works that is further accentuated with viable science from our time. Both Jay and I are interested in telling stories that can help fuel education and discussions about how to hone human innovation with the surrounding world and social goods. Sumeria takes that took a deeper extreme, ie. what could go wrong if we don’t take the reigns on ethically developing new technologies.
Review Fix: What inspired this graphic novel?
Parekkadan: A national novel writing competition that led to the realization that there was a genuine response/curiosity to my blood experimentation in academic research studies. From there it evolved into a much richer story. I think at the heart of it, scientists are often a mysterious bunch to understand their daily lives and under the surface we wanted to show that they are all real people with their own yearnings for meaningful relationships and legacy.
Review Fix: How is it different from your previous work?
Parekkadan: Writing science fiction is a great extension from working in science on the academic level. In general, it pushed the limits of our creative thought and removed the barrier of “what if”. Our rule of thumb was: let’s create the world story and the scientific theories that underpin that world would follow. There were plenty of times when Jay would come up with a very creative angle to the story and it would be up to me to determine if there was real scientific credibility to that and how it might look at the theoretical level. Many of the science sketches in the book are derived from those discussions to give an advanced reader some insight into what current events could lead to an alternate reality such as ours. And in my real lab, many of my scientists often go away from a meeting with me that has a sketch in hand so it felt very natural to extend myself in a more creative way.
Review Fix: What makes this graphic novel special?
Parekkadan: Legend of Sumeria is crafted with real science sketches throught the book and proposes a deep biological connection between scales of the universe and a spiritual message. The interweaving of spiritual origins with viable genetic science makes Legend of Sumeria a unique inspirational, and educational experience different than other science fiction graphic novels.
Review Fix: What creators do you think have influenced you the most?
Parekkadan: Stan Lee (X-Men), Alan Moore (Watchmen), Frank Miller (Dark Knight)
Review Fix: How do you want it to be remembered?
Parekkadan: As a work that triggered a discourse and inflection point in the way that society thinks about genetics, disease, and our role in protecting the Earth.