Review Fix chats with Parallel creator Jason Douglas, who discusses the inspiration behind the series and so much more.
Landon is experiencing a quarter-life crisis. The decision he made in his early 20’s to abandon his dreams of music have resulted in a life mired in stagnation, depression, self-doubt, and a loveless marriage. When the voices start and the visions appear, Landon fears for his sanity but is nevertheless tempted and awoken to a unique possibility. A PARALLEL version of himself is offering a chance to change it all. His fate was sealed, and now his destiny awaits! What price would you be willing to pay for a second chance? From newcomer Jason Douglas, and Adam Ferris (The Good Fight), comes this deep and dark sci-fi exploration of despair, mental health, parallel worlds, and the cost of following and not following your dreams.
Review Fix: How did you know a career in comics was for you?
Jason Douglas: Writing a comic and putting it out into the world has been a lifelong dream, but one I did not pursue, did not dig deep on, until recently. My career has been that of a public school teacher for the last 22 years!
Review Fix: Who inspires you creatively?
Douglas: I certainly have my list of favorite writers. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are at the top of my list (Neil, in particular ave me some amazing advice years ago that turned into one of the catalyst that finally lit the fire under me and got me to sit down and write PARALLEL), but I truly admire and am inspired by Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder, Mike Mignola, Garth Ennis, Matt Kindt, and my friend and mentor (Source Point Press super-star writer and the scribe of the foreword to my book) Kasey Pierce!
Review Fix: How are your comics different or special?
Douglas: Well, in general, I truly believe that comics are the most malleable medium for storytelling, and that indie comics are the place where the most freedom, the least constraints, and the most creative stories are being told. While comics can do what film does, and many things it can’t, and what prose does, and many things it can’t, it is in indie comics where you are not beholden to 80 years of infrastructure, editorial madaates, and a (in American at least) general allegiance to the superhero mythos. In PARALLEL, I was able to wrap my story in a sci-fi construct (because I am a comic nerd at heart and love the genre based stories that I grew up with) while at the same time being able to tell a personal, realistic story with deep themes that most of us can relate to.
Review Fix: What about this comic? Sell us. Sell us hard.
Douglas: PARALLEL is a 64 page one shot graphic novel. It is a dark, twisted sci-fi tale (in the vein of Black Mirror) that begs the question of you, the reader; What price would you pay for a second chance at the dreams you thought you left behind forever?!?
Review Fix: Who do you think will dig it the most?
Douglas: Short answer? Everyone. I wrote it for me (while dealing with my own existential dread of time passing), I wrote it for the people out there struggling with deferring their dreams between the ages of 20 and 30 (a huge part of this book was inspired by former students of mine going through this exact same thing), and yet the themes of this book (mental health, the passage of time, dreams deferred, mortality) are universal. This book is for everybody who feels isolated by the anxiety (or however it manifests for you) of life choices. The irony, of course, bing that as isolated as you feel, everyone around you is dealing with, or has dealt with, their own version.
Review Fix: How do you want your books to be remembered?
Douglas: There are two major things I hope people take away from reading PARALLEL. First, as a long time fan of stories with beginnings, middles, and ends that are readable immediately after you put them down, I was very conscious about creating a densely packed self contained story with enough ambiguity, mystery, and twists that will make you want to pick it up and read it again (possibly with a different take the second time through- especially considering how you personally interpret that final splash page!). I also hope that if the deeper themes of the story connect with you that you will reach out and talk to somebody (friends, family, mental health professionals). You are NOT alone in your struggles, and you certainly do not have to cope or bottle it up in isolation.
Review Fix: What are your long-term goals for your work?
Douglas: All of this is VERY new to me, being my very first comic and all (so long term goals are a bit nebulous and hazy at this point- though, without a doubt, I have caught the creator fever and would like to continue telling stories). In the immediate future I would like to be a first time writer, without a big name who sells out of his book (we are very close to achieving this- so if you want a copy get it now from sourcepointpress.com). We have already sold out of 2 of the 3 variant covers that were made for PARALLEL (and the third will be sold out by Baltimore Comic Con in October. Speaking of Baltimore, PARALLEL and I have been nominated for 2 Ringo Awards (Best Writer and BEst Single Issue or Story). This is a HUGE honor, and I plan to head to my first travel con and attend the awards ceremony!
Review Fix: Why should someone support your work?
Douglas: Supporting me, supporting PARALLEL, and supporting small press indie comics in general is a great way to show your love for this medium that so many of us love. Your dollar goes so far when you buy a py of PARALLEL or any Source Point PRess book. You are quite literally putting food on tables, clothes on backs, and supporting an industry that does not have 80 years of infrastructure (or a worldwide conglomerate as its parent company). People who write, draw, edit, color, letter, and produce small press books like PARALLEL, do it for the pure love of getting amazing content in the hands of fans. It is not a job, it is what they do, what they are compelled to do. Supporting that keeps those stories coming and keeps this medium we all love alive!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Douglas: I truly appreciate this opportunity to talk with you. I love nothing more than reaching out, making connections, and talking comics.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Douglas: I have two more projects in various stages of development, including a post WWII small town superhero drama with underlying themes of identity, gender, and race that is dedicated to (and inspired by) my late grandmother and all the young women who have moved through my classroom over the last two decades (who, even in the 21st century, still felt societal pressure to not fully express who they were or are).
Review Fix: Where can people find out more?
Douglas: First come and follow me on Instagram @jdouglaswrites
Drop me a line, ask a question or ten, we will chat!
You can get PARALLEL right now from sourcepointpress.com (paper and digital copies still available- though not for long). Asking for it at your LCS using the diamond order code: FEB20 1983 might still work as well.
Head on over to the Baltimore Comic Con official website and check out my bio as well. I am an official guest of the show in October!