Retro-Serialization: A Preview and Brief Interview With Strange Attractors’ Charles Soule

Strange Attractors #1 cover by Scott Newman

Out this week was the first issue of Strange Attractors, a five-issue miniseries from Boom! Studios written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Greg Scott. It’s the story of a chaos mathematician trying to prevent the destruction of New York City.

The interesting thing, I thought, about this project was that the entire story was previously published as a graphic novel three years ago. I was curious as to why a previously complete project would be broken down into serialized chunks. So thanks to Boom!, I sent a few questions over to Soule, who was kind enough to answer them.

Strange Attractors #1 cover by Scott Newman

Strange Attractors #1 cover by Scott Newman

Who made the decision to serialize the series, you or the publisher?

CHARLES SOULE: The decision was made jointly. Boom! came up with the idea to do a re-release in a different format as part of an effort to introduce Strange Attractors to a new audience, and I thought that was a fantastic idea. I’m fortunate that my profile has grown pretty significantly since the book was originally released in 2012, and the hope is that it will translate into more eyes on the story.

Are any changes being made and/or extras added?

SOULE: The biggest change is that I’ve written a new story that will run in parallel with the original tale, which is being drawn by another NYC resident, Soo Lee. It’s called “Antithesis”, and it’s designed to deepen the original narrative in a way that will make readers of the first version of Strange Attractors look at it differently. I mean, it’s been something like five or six years since I wrote the original story, and my sense of New York City has evolved in that time. “Antithesis” is designed to bring that new point of view into the book.

For those who haven’t read it yet, Strange Attractors is about two geniuses, one young and one old, who use complexity theory to turn the entire city into a giant socio-industrial “machine”, or engine, in an effort to save it from an oncoming catastrophe. “Antithesis”, in a nutshell, asks if that was such a great idea — or, rather, looks at the cost of doing such a thing.

Strange Attractors #1 Variant Cover by Ryan Stegman

Strange Attractors #1 Variant Cover by Ryan Stegman

Is the original hardcover out of print? Was that a factor?

SOULE: Yes, and I can tell you that it’s always a weird feeling when one of your books goes out of print. You feel like it’s lived its life, gone as far as it’s going to go. So, getting this new edition is pretty wonderful — the story has a new lease on life.

Will this be collected again, afterwards, and if so, in paper or hardcover?

SOULE: It will definitely be collected, and I believe the idea is to do a very nice “special edition” trade paperback that will include the original story, some backmatter, and of course. the new “Antithesis” story.

Strange Attractors #1 preview pagesStrangeAttractors_001_Preview_2StrangeAttractors_001_Preview_3StrangeAttractors_001_Preview_4StrangeAttractors_001_Preview_5StrangeAttractors_001_Preview_6StrangeAttractors_001_Preview_7

What are your feelings about this re-release?

SOULE: The entire team on Strange Attractors worked incredibly hard on it. That included me on the script, Greg Scott on pencils/inks, Matthew Petz and Art Lyon on colors, Thomas Mauer on letters, Rebecca Taylor on editing duties, and of course, the phenomenal artist Robert Saywitz, who designed and created all the “complexity maps” that are such a huge part of the story. The book came out four years ago, it had the readers it had, and now we have a chance to let some new people see the thing we created. How could I not be happy about that? I’m very happy we’re doing it, and I hope people will take the time to check it out.

Boom! isn’t the only company experimenting with this sales approach. IDW is re-releasing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in similar fashion, although they are also converting color to black and white for the individual issues. I sent similar questions to them, but I didn’t receive a response.

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