Polaxis an Interview with Sutu

Posted July 16, 2014 by Oscar Russell in Comic Books

Oscar recently had the chance to interview Sutu about his upcoming Kickstarter project Polaxis.

You can check out the Kickstarter project here, and let me tell you know this is one you are going to want to look out for!

We The Nerdy: So what can you tell us about Modern Polaxis?

Sutu: He’s a paranoid time traveller.  Well, he might be a time traveller, but there’s also a chance that he’s simply insane. Polaxis has lots of theories about time travelling and he’s writing them down in his private journal. He writes down his really secretive theories in a hidden journal. The story will be printed as a comic book and the reader can access Polaxis’s hidden journal with an iPhone or an iPad.

WTN: You describe yourself as an Interactive comic artist? How does that differ from a non interactive one?

passageSutu: I do non interactive ones too. But I love the interactive realm because it’s unchartered and I get to invent a lot of new approaches. Because it’s digital and involves a screen, you’re not limited to the static confines of the printed page.  The screen presents an infinite canvas of possibilities. But having said that I enjoy playing around with traditional comic conventions like panel structure, but then with a tap or some other interactive gesture you can bust that panel apart. That’s just the beginning.  I start with static images and combine them with text, minimal animation, sound and interactivity. The interactivity can effect any of those elements. In Polaxis, the primary interaction will be positioning your iPhone or iPad over the printed comic to expose a hidden layer of narrative that has sound and animation. I’m also playing around with touch functionality on screen to trigger further events and open new dimensions.

The thing about the traditional book format is you still read it at your own pace. I like the idea of bringing a static image to life with other media is it hones the sensors in on that one image and forces you to contemplate it more.  With animation you have little time for contemplation as the stories always moving.  With traditional comics you don’t have the luxury to invite the other sensors.

WTN: The concept seems very meta, where did you draw inspiration for the book from?

Sutu: This is important to me.  I always fear the technology will be seen as a gimmick so I like the challenge of interweaving the technology in to the narrative .  In terms of the Polaxis story line, the technology represents a commentary on what it means to add new layers of information to our lives and where and how that blurs our reality.

theoriesWTN: Do you think there is a future in this style of story telling, this is not your typical comic?

Sutu: I’ve been living off interactive story telling for the last 5 years, which means there is an audience out there already seeking this kind of content.  This doesn’t surprise me at all considering how we consume content digitally on a daily basis and how all our sensors are geared towards navigating multiple threads of information in varying mediums to piece together a narrative.  Like, if we wanna find out a news story there is a tendency to open multiple streams of media and jump back and forth between them to verify and get the ‘full’ story.

In terms of being a ‘typical comic’ it’s not. It’s it own thing and it probably sits somewhere between comics and videogames but just hasn’t yet earned a good title.  I like DIS (Digital Interactive Story) but also like subtle undertone, ‘disrespect’ because when I started my Nawlz interactive comic in 2008, I was surprised how many comic purists were getting offended about the new format, like it was threat on their established industry.

At the moment I’m using an iPhone or an iPad as the lens to see Polaxis’s hidden world. Soon, very soon, we’ll be using things like google glass and light weight versions of Oculus Rift to experience comics like Polaxis, but that will have to be another campaign, lets get this one over the line first J

WTN: How has the reaction been so far to it?dr

Sutu: The reaction from the Kickstarter has been great! We reached over 50% of our funding goal in the first week. In terms of what people are saying, the reaction to the tech is generally ‘Wow, what? I don’t understand. How?’ I had one friend say it was like ‘discovering a secret place’ which is always a good feeling. I can’t wait for people to  experience the story and have these reactions tied to the narrative . I hope they’re compelled to turn the page and discover more.

Meanwhile Scott McCloud tweeted the Polaxis Kickstarter link and said ‘Another mind bending creation by Sutu the creator of Nawlz.’ Scott’s a bit of a hero of mine, so that was pretty cool!

WTN: Who have been your main influences as far as comic creating goes?

Sutu: Well I never read comics growing up. (I’m from Tasmania, kinda off the map) so instead I read websites, which is most likely the reason why I gravitated toward interactive story telling. These days I love a lot the Japanese heavy weights like Katsuhiro Otomo, Masamune Shirow and then the French artist Moebius.  I like the paranoid fiction of Phillip K Dick and William S Burroughs, so those influences will probably come through in the writing.

flux_bugWTN: How have your previous projects influenced this one?

Sutu: In terms of narrative, my previous project Nawlz, is set in a future city where AR is performed via chips surgically implanted on to people’s brains.  So AR has been a theme for me for a while.  The key difference between that project and this project is Polaxis is set in our reality and our time, whereas Nawlz is a fictional city in the future.  Polaxis is also based on real events which I’ve augmented. I really like how we recount stories of events that have happened to us and how tempting it is to add drama or augment the facts a little to give the story more kick.

In tech terms, the Polaxis project is an evolution of my previous projects.  Polaxis is being created with my Boomcore Framework, which is the same framework I’ve used for the last five interactive stories I’ve been involved in.

WTN: Why did you choose Kickstarter for this project?

Sutu: I like to experiment. And with ‘new’ things it’s always hard to establish a market place. At least with Kickstarter people go in to it understanding that everything here is new and we can democratically make the ‘new’ happen.

WTN: Any plans on making this available on Android or just for iOS?AR_01

Sutu: I’d love to. But for the moment  and for this Kickstarter I want to focus on getting one version working sweet.  It’s only two of us working on the project and my main programmer, Lukasz Karluk specialises in iOS. Having said that tho’, it is built on the back of C++ so it could be done and Lukasz has shared the toolkit with some Android devs.  We’ll see what happens.

WTN: Any thing to say to upcoming creators?

Sutu: Ha! Wisdom time. Geez… um, ideas are like catching fish, if you get a bite, go for it, once you start reeling it in, it becomes clearer. I think that was actually a David Lynch proverb, but whatever, it seems appropriate to the Kickstarter world.  Everyone can help me reel in this fish, don’t worry its not a whale, but I think it’s gonna taste good.  🙂

WTN: And any last words………

Sutu: “We are in fact living in a fifth dimensional hologram projected from another plane in the universe” – Polaxis, 2014

You can check out Sutu and keep up to date with all his work on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter in what looks like to be the future of comics!



About the Author

Oscar Russell

Comics Editor for WTN, and co-host of the All New Comics Dash Podcast. I like comics and tabletop gaming!