They were startled to receive a distress signal from a supposedly decimated planet, but it was getting shot down by something on the surface of Dispater that really rattled the eclectic crew in the first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny. Taking place 75 years after the events of the five-issue Roche Limit series, this sequel storyline features new characters and fresh situations, but still retains the fantastic storytelling and gorgeous artwork of its predecessor. With Roche Limit: Clandestiny hitting comic shop shelves early next month, we caught up with writer Michael Moreci and artist Kyle Charles to discuss creating scares in space, returning to Dispater, the presence of androids, the possibility of a sixth issue in the Clandestiny story arc, and much more.

Your new comic book series, Roche Limit: Clandestiny, features a mind-bending mystery taking place 75 years after the events of the first Roche Limit story arc that wrapped up in February. How did you come up with the idea to set the second arc 75 years into the future?

MICHAEL MORECI: I sat down and thought “how can I make this most difficult for myself?” and, viola, here we are! Kidding (sort of…).

I think the spirit of Roche Limit is about taking chances, exploring, and seeing what you find. It’s what drives the book and it exists within it as well. From the onset, I wanted to do something bold, something that would be an experience. I hate the middle of the road, and I never, as an artist, want to exist in that space. So, with Roche Limit, I wanted to push myself as much as I could and see what I could accomplish going for broke.

Plus, on a story level, I have something very specific in mind with this existential tale, and it is bigger than the characters or even one specific story. Roche Limit, in so many ways, is about the human experience—who we are, where we’re going, what makes life worth living. Containing that to one narrative didn’t make sense to me.

The first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny has a visual style and storytelling approach that’s independent from the first five issues of the overall series. How determined were you to make this second arc its own animal while still fitting it snugly into the Roche Limit universe?

MICHAEL MORECI: Very, and it isn’t easy. Not at all. I feel we accomplish this goal, though, without question. Readers will know, through and through, that this is a Roche Limit book. But, at the same time, Clandestiny is very much its own thing. And I think that speaks to what I mentioned before, about the ideas behind Roche Limit being bigger than any other part of the book.

Kyle, what has your experience been coming onto the series as an artist for volume two? Were you a fan of the series prior to joining the creative team?

KYLE CHARLES: I broke into the industry with '68: Hallowed Ground in 2013. It was the best way to enter comics. I had just graduated digital arts college and was able to annoy Nat Jones (Co-creator/Artist on '68) enough that he agreed to mentor me. After about a year of working on getting my skills to the level they needed to be at, the '68 crew gave me a shot at a pinup. They liked it, so they offered me the one-shot. The team loved Hallowed Ground, so I was able to do a limited series, '68:Homefront.

I was absolutely a fan of Roche Limit. Vic [Malhotra, co-creator of Roche Limit] and I live in the same city, so he would show me stuff every now and then, but being able to soak in the entire first volume was a fantastic experience. That team created something inspiring, so we did our best to carve out our own identity with Clandestiny.

What was it like returning to the planet Dispater after 75 years have passed on the paneled page?

KYLE CHARLES: The time jump is great. Not only does it clearly and definitively separate the two stories of volumes one and two, it also gave Matt Battaglia and I a chance to put our spin on Dispater's look, which I believe we've successfully accomplished. Clandestiny unfolds so differently than the first volume, that I think it was important to make sure readers, new and old, had a fresh approach to the planet and its atmosphere. It serves the ability for new readers to just jump in without the necessity of going back to the first volume.

This second arc features a new set of characters that come from different backgrounds and make for an interesting, eclectic mix. What influenced you while creating this investable cast and how much can we expect to learn about their backstories moving forward?

MICHAEL MORECI: A big part was just wanting to move away from the cast of volume one. Nothing against those characters—I loved writing them and miss them all—but I didn’t want to replicate things, at all. Plus, these characters definitely fit into the fabric of Clandestiny in very specific ways. They work for the story. When you have the foundation of what the thing is about—as Roche Limit does, thankfully—creating good characters is all the easier.

The news article about “Hello Danny” at the end of the first issue reveals a lot about the coming story and sets a new tone as well. What can we expect to see from androids this time around?

MICHAEL MORECI: I think it’s an interesting dynamic, when talking about existence and humanity, to infuse the story with something that is almost human, but not quite. It’s like being able to look outside yourself and watch your own behavior. That’s the role androids play, the role of the other, so to speak, which has always been important in sci-fi, whether it be through primitives on a faraway planet or alien life forms. The idea, with androids (I’m thinking David from Prometheus), is to have someone acutely aware of what they’re supposed to be yet not—humans. And with that understanding, with that lacking, they see humans better than we can see ourselves. It makes for a good relationship to play with.

While it’s safe to assume the two characters at the end of the first issue are robotic, is there a possibility that the group has an android in their midst and may not even know it?

MICHAEL MORECI: They do not. Buuuuuut, something happens with one of their crew members that makes them, let’s say, something else. And that’s all I can say!

Kyle, your distinct style really make the living dead pop off the page in the ’68 series. Though they take place in vastly different worlds, did your work on ’68 influence you while illustrating the space saga of Roche Limit: Clandestiny?

KYLE CHARLES: Thanks! I grew up loving zombies. I remember a friend showing me the original Dawn of the Dead when I was 8 and it completely warped me. So when I was able to jump onto a series like '68, I was adamant on showing the genre a distinct level of respect. I do the same for Clandestiny. Stylistically, the two books are very, very different. Side by side, I'd even say you wouldn't be able to tell it's the same artist. Some of that is I have grown as a comic artist and some is that '68 should have a specific, splatter-punk kind of art. So there's little influence from my work on '68. I see it as different directors making different films. '68 was more like a Rob Zombie flick and Roche Limit: Clandestiny would be Stanley Kubrick. Those two directors have completely different approaches to making their stories, so I look at each one through a specific prism.

There’s a great sense of mystery in issue #1 that's bolstered by a gradually intensifying sense of dread. As a writer and artist, respectively, how did you approach creating fear in this story arc?

KYLE CHARLES: Pacing has a lot to do with the architecture of building suspense or fear. So I did my best to really make each page have its own rhythm and focused on how each character interacted with one another and their environments. I also use a variety of techniques—some pages are more hard-edged with random line work and carry a lot of momentum and readers should be flying through the action. Other, quieter, moments have density and specific framing to let the eye linger so the reader isn't whipping through these dramatic moments. I have to credit the Every Frame a Painting YouTube series for a lot of narrative techniques used in Clandestiny. If you know of the series and have a sharp eye, you'll be able to deconstruct pages that use specific approaches to each scene.

MICHAEL MORECI: My approach is always tied to the knowledge that everyone, every single person, is always one side-step away from calamity. Our lives can change on a dime at any moment, in any number of ways. We should technically be filled with dread every day (thankfully we’re not!). What’s really frightening, always, is touching the unknown. The reason we’re not filled with dread is because we’re locked in our routines and comforts. We aren’t mindful to the potential dangers around us. But when you break that routine, especially as hard as our characters do in Clandestiny, you realize how tenuous everything is—being in a situation where anything can happen and nothing is safe is terrifying. We live our lives trying to avoid just that. That, to me, is what makes this volume scary—these characters are stripped of everything and thrown into the unknown. The abyss is gazing at them, and they have no choice but to gaze back.

Kyle, what was your favorite scene to draw in the first issue of Roche Limit: Clandestiny? And can you tease a favorite scene you brought to life from the upcoming issues?

KYLE CHARLES: That's a tough one. I'll have to cop out and give you two. One involves an aircraft being shot down, I really tried to communicate the momentum and weight of the crash and aftermath. The other is a very quiet, simple shot. It's a pull-back on a group of characters that spans six panels, I believe, but the layout I used enhanced the feeling of starting in a medium close-up and slowly pulling back until we reveal the anomaly looming over them.

I can't really describe my favourite scenes from issue two without giving things away, unfortunately. What I can say is things get... messy. To give you an idea, though, the biggest influences for visual narrative are David Fincher and the master, Stanley Kubrick. So there's a lot to pay attention to, little hidden symbolisms and narrative reinforcements. Even if nobody else cares or notices, it's important to me, so I put that kind of stuff into the pages.

How many issues of Roche Limit: Clandestiny can we expect to see and do you have plans for the upcoming third story arc in the series?

MICHAEL MORECI:  We’re wrestling with this right now, actually. It was supposed to be five issues, but we might go six. Maybe. And I definitely know what happens in volume three. Know how it ends and everything. I’ve had this down for a while, because I’m a compulsive nutcase.

As always, we’d love to hear about what’s on deck for you both. Michael, can we expect to see more Hoax Hunters or possibly another miniseries in the future? Kyle, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the world of ’68, as well as other works?

KYLE CHARLES:  I recently did a cover with Nat [Jones] for '68: Bad Sign. It was fun, we sat down and illustrated the cover at the same time— literally, two brushes throwing inks around on one page. Other than that, I won't be coming back to do any more '68. I loved working on the five books I did, but I think I did what I wanted with the zombie genre in those three stories. Mike and I have some ideas we're kicking around for after Roche, but I can say with a nearly 100-percent certainty, that whatever I draw next will be written by Moreci.

MICHAEL MORECI:  This is just one of many reasons I love Kyle. We’re going to be working with each other for a long while, I venture to guess. As for my docket, I’ve got Hoax Hunters running with Heavy Metal right now as well as Burning Fields with BOOM!, and Transference, my Black Mask book, rolls out in June. Then another full slate in 2016!


Roche Limit: Clandestiny #1

Story By: Michael Moreci

Art By: Kyle Charles

Cover By: Kyle Charles

Colors: Matthew Battaglia

Cover Price: $3.50

Release Date: May 6th

Synopsis: "THE BREAKOUT HIT OF 2014 RETURNS WITH VOLUME TWO OF THE GROUNDBREAKING SCI-FI TRILOGY! It’s 75 years after the events that left the Roche Limit colony in flames. When a crew of military and science personnel are sent to the forgotten and desolate planet on a mysterious expedition, they quickly learn its dark secrets—and that their mission is not what they thought it to be. With danger lurking all around, the crew members fight to find a way off the planet and resist the mysterious presence that haunts them all."

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.