Smart: Babes, Guns, and Nanenes
it. After Comic-Con, we got swamped by the pressures of real
life. Five days of feeling like we belonged, and we're still
paying for it almost four months later.
many of the people we talked to in San Diego graciously followed
up with us, and let Fanboy Planet take a look at their projects.
In the case of creator Parker Smart, we should call it his
has devoted the last few years to launching his own comic
book, pouring all his spare time, energy and cash into seeing
it come to life. For Fanboys, he may be doing the unthinkable
to keep it alive: selling his action figure collection.
far, however, it looks like it may be worth it, as Parker
Smart's CiCi sees its third issue getting a release on Wednesday,
contacted us shortly after San Diego, and after I read the
first couple of issues of CiCi, I felt like I understood enough
to conduct an interview with this guy with a dream.
Let's get your plugging out of the way: Tell the readers
of Fanboy Planet why they should be reading your book.
is a much longer version of the synopsis on the website,
but I'll give the 30,000 foot view right here:
a clone. She was duplicated from the original, Cynthia Christiansen,
who was scanned using nanotechnology called nanenes (Nano
+ Gene). This scanning process stores every cell position
and her entire body structure into a VERY large database.
CiCi is created using a reverse process, using a new batch
of nanenes that construct her atom by atom. She is an exact
duplicate with all the memories of the original Cynthia.
that created CiCi was mistakenly left inside her and she was
deemed a failure by her creators, Mile High Technologies.
comes from a very religious background and when CiCi finds
out that she is indeed a clone and how she was created, this
is what sets her off and makes her think about life and her
existence. If she was created by these tiny machines, how
could she possibly have a soul? Or does she share a soul with
Cynthia and all the other Cynthias in stasis? If she feels
that she has no soul then how could there possibly be a God?
So CiCi's beliefs crumble as she finds out more and more.
goals for the comic book are to entertain as well as educate
and make people think. I see so many comics talk about nanotechnology
and it's very brief. The text might mention a nano-virus and
then keep going.
true spirit of science fiction there is some science behind
this work of fiction. Plus I'd like for the readers to think
about this type of human cloning and not just growing people
from embryos. I've tried to keep my text brief so I wouldn't
cover up all of the gorgeous artwork. If you want your hand
held through a comic or a series then this book isn't for
like to continue writing and publishing, so go out and buy
was your background before creating CiCi?
back do you want to go? I was born January 27, 1967
Oh wait. Not THAT far back, eh?
been drawing things since as far back as I can remember, but
I'm a product of the computer age. I grew up in Hawaii so
I was exposed to all kinds of video games either from the
"mainland" or from Japan. I forget what game I saw
first, but it didn't matter. I was hooked. I wanted to know
how that stuff worked and read all I could about this magic
coming from this big clunky box sitting in a dark game room.
programming in high school on an Apple II or TRS 80. This
was so much fun because I could create my own games and animation.
I continued to enhance my skills in college at the Colorado
School of Mines which is a prestigious engineering school
that sits about six blocks away from Coors in Golden, Colorado.
Mines gave you so much work that thinking of beer wasn't even
an option if you wanted to do well.
After graduating Mines in 1989 I headed to Huntsville, AL
to a company called Intergraph. The work I did there was amazing.
I had my own UNIX workstation and helped create a Windows
like environment for these workstations. I got to learn about
so many other platforms as well since Intergraph wanted to
move their software to the XWindows environment. Not only
did I have access to the Intergraph systems, but also HP's,
Sun SPARCstations, and Silicon Graphics workstations as well.
It was a lot of fun because there was always some little side
gaming project that somebody needed help with. Of course the
games truly tested the extents of the hardware and the network.
worked with graphics on PC's as well. When I moved back to
Colorado I ended up writing financial software. This package
graphically showed clients how well (or poorly) their investments
were doing. And that was a pretty good gig while it lasted,
but as for many companies that don't actually sell their software
to create a revenue stream you have to make big dollar cuts
in order to make your bottom line look better. You really
need to have those sales in order to be successful. In the
trust banking business it's hard to convince people that they
need to change. Since the trust people weren't budging then
the layoffs occurred in January.
inspired you to turn to writing a comic?
dreamed of being published. But of course in hindsight I thought
it was going to be a Math or Computer Science textbook. I
took a creative writing course at Mines and I actually got
one of the few A+'s in the class. Maybe I was the only one.
I wrote some pretty good stories in the class and they were
all science fiction and dealt with computers. The other students
in the class liked my stuff and I thought they were pretty
to write even while at Intergraph and many of the stories
were inspired by those botched Star Trek "transporter"
events. My first stories were about the clones that were created,
and what went through their minds when they found out that
they were the clones and not their "original" selves.
used those "The Fly" pods to create the clones.
Both the clone and the original could see what happens when
you walk out and look over at the other. There's that instant
sense of self anxiety knowing that you're not the original.
In some the cases the original might have remorse for the
other, but that's really not his problem and he is able to
continue a normal life. The clone undergoes a deep depression
when in a lab setting, but in CiCi's case there is so much
going on that she has only brief moments where she can contemplate
about her existence. I also wrote a few stories about somebody
that was religious and this made things more interesting.
reading more about genetics and nanotechnology and wrote more
stories that integrated the nanotech.
get inspired to write a comic book until I became a fan myself.
(That's a whole 'nother question isn't it?) I fell in love
with the medium and thought that I'd like to turn my stories
into a comic series. I loved the fact that you can drive a
point home with a single picture and an expression, but you
can also write about something supportive or something completely
mentioned that CiCi was a long gestation period. And, in an
earlier conversation with me, you mentioned that you had been
criticized for the artwork looking so "old-style Image."
Are you still hearing that, and what's your response to such
really respond to them that much. Most of the reviewers don't
allow for a rebuttal. I would have to agree them though. The
artwork in some places was inconsistent. All in all it flows
well, but when I put on my editor hat I don't see a consistent
style in some of the panels. Some of this comes from three
different artists, but in the later series you see changes
in the primary artist's style.
hoped that a single inker would smooth everything out and
it would flow together more coherently. But of course I ended
up having three different inkers. The same thing with the
colors too. It was hard to keep people because they had other
projects to work on and different agendas.
you see CiCi as a limited series, or do you have ongoing plans?
How far do you intend to take this?
love to continue to create an ongoing series. Right now it
depends on sales. I'm definitely not made of money, so there
are finite funds to put in to the project. I've got twelve
years of stories and ideas that I'd love to see published.
be submitting to Platinum Studios after issue #3 is published.
They discovered Men In Black and a few other comics
so maybe there is room for one more. They are looking for
good ideas to pitch to movie studios. The comic doesn't have
to have spectacular artwork like Michael Turner or phenomenal
writing by Garth Ennis. They are looking for a good concept
that can be expanded into a movie.
started listing much of my personal collection on my site.
I may go the eBay route in selling over 35,000 comics. So
this may generate some income as well as some advertising
in my eBay listings.
you characterize this as a science fiction book, or would
you be willing to call CiCi a superhero? Why or why not?
like CiCi to be known as a science fiction book. I plan on
introducing more of the technology. On the other hand CiCi
will feel the need to help others with her new found powers,
but she also has to discover her new powers as well. And she
has superhuman abilities as a result of this symbiosis with
the nanenes. She can't solve all of the problems in the world,
but as the new villains are introduced she will definitely
have a role in bringing them to justice.
done quite a bit of research for the project and I feel that
the next series will be more true to my vision. I wanted to
let the artists have fun with it and not be bogged down in
what I had to say.
sequences really should be a lot different. The majority of
the nanenes live inside her, not just in her cross. So they
should produce the costume through the skin and not just wrap
I'm sure since Witchblade came out they used that transformation
as inspiration and it seemed to work because that's what people
are used to. But it really should look more viral, like a
fast spreading disease that spreads exponentially rather than
a shell that wraps around her. I will probably have to provide
better reference the next time around.
the critics for a moment. How has your fan response been?
What about other professionals?
People that would actually pull the book off the shelf are
sending in GREAT reviews. They like the artwork and they are
surprised that the story is as good as it is. I guess there
is some stigma about the way a comic looks (being independent)
and the way it reads.
was in San Diego two guys came by and they were completely
nuts about the book. Asking great questions and one guy said
that he felt that the Garbage Collector scene in issue #1
was all happening inside the computer in a virtual world.
It was indeed happening in the physical world, but that was
cool that it could be interpreted either way. They asked so
many great questions that I shared a few of my characters
that I'd like to introduce later. They promised not to tell
anybody and hoped that they would see them soon.
San Diego I got more and more artists coming by the booth
that wanted to draw CiCi. Of course I had to tell them that
I was looking for pinups for the site, but no ongoing stuff
until the series was successful.
gotten good responses from other artists. Again, they are
surprised by the story as well. I get people that submit their
body of work and I take a look at it. Most haven't read the
book because it's hard to find in stores. So that's their
homework. They go out and find the book and give it a read.
ask for honest feedback from people. I've had enough of the
critics review CiCi that I just don't take it personally anymore.
Well, I guess a little. When I ask for honest feedback I think
people are more relieved and they are willing to read the
comic for content.
books are you reading?
not reading anything right now. I just don't have the time.
With my nonexistent budget for comics I still collect all
of the Gotham titles, all the Superman titles, Wolverine,
Spawn, and Witchblade. I'm sure there are some others but
I can't think of them at the moment. I did finally read Aphrodite
IX a few nights ago because somebody said that CiCi was like
this robot. Although CiCi is flesh and blood, but I guess
Aphrodite is as well.
you hoping to turn Spilled Milk into a full-blown imprint,
handling a multitude of titles, or is CiCi enough for you?
(If there are other ideas swimming around in your head, well,
c'mon, man, spill
love to see CiCi just take off, but at the moment I'm not
seeing that. For the shops that did take a chance and ordered
a few books they've seen them go off their shelves. I didn't
really see my numbers increase so I don't think that retailers
are that confident of the title.
market it all has to come from the fans. So if the fans don't
know about the comic, then they're not going to ask for it.
that it's just that people really don't know CiCi is out there.
Wizard will be helping me out in that department. They are
taking a look at it for their Wizard Edge (in January). I'd
hope that there is enough interest to have a little blurb
in the mainstream Wizard magazine. My initial hope with bringing
the big artists on the covers would generate some "news"
and I'd get some "free" marketing from bringing
these guys on the project. We'll see what Wizard thinks.
plenty of room for reorders though, and if there is enough
interest I'd like to be able to print a trade paperback. People
tell me that's where you make your money back.
now I'd like to stay with the one title. I think there will
be enough variety and more characters introduced in the book
that I will stay focused. Once there are enough characters
they might deserve their own book, but that's down the road
I'll spill some of it
Another character that CiCi will
stumble across will be somebody that has been frozen. CiCi
saves her by introducing some of her nanenes into her bloodstream.
They eventually will talk about their situation and more about
souls and where they go (if they exist) when somebody is frozen.
I'm not saying I've got all the answers, but I'd hope it would
allow people to think about this a little.
there are quite a few other characters and villains but I
can't really spill them right now. It might be a while before
they are in print so I'd hate to "spill it" and
then it might be a year before you see them.
call Comic-Con a feeding frenzy for Hollywood. How have the
bites been for you, and if CiCi were picked up, what would
your hopes be for it in another medium?
medium would be great! The more people see CiCi outside of
the comic should create more interest to the comic. I'd like
to see her in a full blown feature length film with all the
special effects that she (and the nanenes) deserves.
bites at the moment. I'm hopeful that Platinum will like the
idea and really go with it. I feel that I've had to deal with
so much crap in creating this comic that Karma might be on
my side here and some good has got to come my way SOME time.
cast it for me.
a movie format rather than TV, but isn't that always the case?
It would be great to see Moore Action Collectibles do a CiCi
Moore instead of McFarlane only because I've seen better female
characters come out of Moore in the past. I haven't really
compared any of the recent stuff so it's really up for grabs.
of DreamCast, how about videogames?
games would work for me. Since I've been playing them for
almost 30 years I think I would have some valuable input.
Plus, with my programming background I think I could also
lend a hand in the code as well.
to see more of an adventure type game like Zelda. You know,
those 3rd person games like Ray Man with power-ups and stuff
to find and monsters to wail on. I also like RPG's like Final
Fantasy and Skies of Arcadia (if you're a DreamCast snob).
into the fighting genre. I'm just not very good at those.
Too many combos to remember. Maybe with the new controllers
I'd be better at it. I remember the old Street Fighter days
on the Super NES I got blisters on my thumbs from playing
it too hard. It's definitely not a relaxing game. Not any
did approach me, but they wanted me to invest some money and
I wasn't comfortable about that.
last thoughts for Fanboys everywhere?
buy the book. That's pretty much implied, right? If you need
more convincing you should look at the artwork and some previews
out on the website,
www.SpilledMilk.com, and see for yourself. Your retailer should
have a copy of issue #2 that I gave them for you to look at.
Yeah you. You'd think they'd keep it behind the counter for
you when you come in. Well
maybe they've sold it already.
already read the book, I'd like to hear from you. Good or
bad, I'd like to know. That will be one of the major decision
factors on whether or not I can continue. If the interest
level isn't there, then it doesn't make sense to continue.
I look forward to hearing from you.
for making all the way to the bottom of the interview. If
you like more of this kind of stuff you can find it archived
on the site.
all means, check out www.spilledmilk.com, and if you like
what you see, either ask your retailer or order from Parker.
Or maybe buy one of his toys.