Interview with Michael Malkin of Complex

Complex  is, in a word, just as it is named – complex.  However, not in the way that one would think.  Complex is a detailed, enthralling story that winds the reader in it’s web and draws him or her in for more, page by page.  Yet despite the many angles and layers there are in the story, this comic is not a difficult read, and with a mixture of intriguing plot and dramatic black and white art, Complex is definitely worth a spot in any readers’ collection.

“It’s kind of like American Beauty meets Lost,” explains Michael Malkin, creator and author of Complex.  “If you enjoy kind of a story set in a small town about – at least at first glance appears to be – just normal people and then there’s layers and layers underneath that, I think this is something you’re really going to enjoy.”

Dramatic foreshadowing wakes Zach from his sleep.
Dramatic foreshadowing wakes Zach from his sleep.

Complex follows the story Zach King, a man who lives a normal life in a quiet town with his normal wife and a quiet job.  But as these stories often go, things are far from normal or quiet.  Zach is one of several characters with super human abilities that are being closely monitored in the complex known as “Town” for reasons unknown.  Zach becomes aware that he is being watched, and despite dangers and confrontations, begins searching for the truth; who is behind all of this and why?  As the story unfolds, the reader gets to know Zach, see how “Town” operates, and slowly unravel the strands that lead to most of the answers Zach is seeking.  Malkin classifies the comic as scifi/mystery, but says that there’s something in the comic for everyone.

The original story for Complex came from a love of the genre and an amalgamation of Malkin’s own interests, such as shows like the X-Files and The Prisoner.  “I’ve always been a fan of, I call them, mystery/adventure series,”  Malkin said.  “It comes from just a lot of things that I’m interested in.”

According to Malkin, Complex started out as several brief, 8 page mini comics before he was able to compile them into full-sized issues.  Money and time restraints made it difficult for him and artist Boris Kay (who prefers to go simply by Kay) to create standard 24 page issues, and rather than give up, they decided that they would use the shorter format to their advantage.  “Kind of my hope is that people read it and the first few issues, because they’re short, because they’re kind of quick – to me it’s almost like the pre-credit sequence on a TV show, it’s like that first 2 or 3 minutes – here’s something that’s totally different and maybe will get you through the rest of it,” Malkin said.

Zach starts to unravel the truth behind his "normal" life.
Zach starts to unravel the truth behind his “normal” life.

Malkin met Kay on a forum website called Digital Webbing, which is designed to connect comic writers, artists, and all level of creators together.  Malkin set up a thread calling for artists, and many responded, including Kay.  Immediately upon seeing Kay’s art, Malkin was sure this was the perfect style to capture Complex‘s story.  In fact, Malkin credited Kay’s striking art style as inspiration to keep going with the comic.  “Once I saw that first inked page issue, I was like “oh my gosh this looks incredible,” he did better than I was hoping it was going to turn out – that kind of inspired me,” explained Malkin.  “I have to write more cool stuff that he can draw because just seeing something you created on paper is pretty awesome.”

To date, 8 issues of Complex are available to read, but the 9th issue (due for release in either the spring or summer of this year) is the dramatic conclusion of this season and should not be missed.  “The way that I’ve kind of constructed the book is that I think of it like the seasons of a TV show,”  Malkin said.  “The next issue that’s coming out, number 9 which we’re working on right now, is going to wrap up almost everything we’ve introduced in this first 8 issues of Complex… much like a season finale might wrap up a TV show.”  According to Malkin, questions will be answered, but the series will be kept open ended in hopes of a second season.

Malkin also dropped major hints about the comic possibly being optioned to create a TV show, but as of yet that is still in very early stages and nothing is sure.  Malkin thinks that – should this happen – it would be a major step forward for both Complex and his publisher, Alterna Comics.

The first, jumbo sized issue of Complex is available for free download on Comixology, and the entire series can be purchased digitally there.  It is also available both physically and digitally on Amazon.  Malkin himself is available to be reached on Twitter @impulsiveideas

This article is also available to be read here, on ComiConverse.

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