Here’s the seventh installment of Seven Questions About: This time I interviewed Dave Kellett, the writer of the outstanding webcomic Drive, which I wrote about a couple of times on this blog, especially in the spoilerific post Drive: Pushing The Limits Of Space Opera.
Note that this time, the answers are mostly spoiler-free, but as always I strongly encourage you to start an archive binge of Drive immediately.
Here we go:
Q1: Who are you?
I’m Dave Kellett, the cartoonist behind DRIVE and SHELDON, and one of the directors of the documentary, STRIPPED.
Q2: What is Drive about?
DRIVE is a sci-fi comic opera, that takes place in humanity’s space age at the beginning of the 25th Century.
It tells the story of a second Spanish empire, a galactic empire, and its looming war with a race called “The Continuum of Makers”. Humanity has built their empire using technology stolen from the Makers — and these creatures want it back with an almost religious fervor.
In the brewing war, it’s clear that humanity will lose, and lose badly, unless they can find some advantage in battle. That hope arrives in the form of a tiny, mysterious creature who can drive a starship like no one’s ever seen. Now all humanity needs to do…is find 10,000 more pilots just like him. But no one knows where he’s from.
Q3: Why and how did Drive get started?
The story rumbled around in my head for a number of years before I started it. And at first, it was a tentative start. Not knowing how or where to bring the story into the world, it started as a “Saturday Sci-fi” feature on my other webcomic site, Sheldon.
Q4: What influences made Drive into what it is?
The two biggest influences are Frank Herbert and Douglas Adams. Herbert’s DUNE series and Adams HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE series are the mother and father of DRIVE. Serious story, fun characters.
Q5: To what degree did you plan out the entire outline beforehand, and how did your plan evolve either before or after you started publishing Drive?
The story arc is all planned out, although I intentionally leave myself wiggle room to insert fun side-adventures as I go. Originally, it was slated to be about a 7-year arc….but it might take me closer to a decade to finish.
Q6: What is the interaction between the peculiar features of your great alien races and the plot: Did you invent the aliens and look for stories to tell about them, or did you come up with plot ideas first and invented aliens to act them out?
Some were plot-driven, and some were feature-driven. The main bad-guys of the story, though — The Continuum of Makers and The Vinn — both of those existed almost before the story.
Q7: How much did you actually study historical events and structures as precedents for the Drive timeline (foundations and fate of global empires, dictators and their oppression mechanisms, military science and technology, initial contact with technologically superior societies and subsequent adaption, e.g. post-1853 Japan), and how did you develop these themes for Drive?
The Empire of DRIVE is absolutely based on the precedents of human history, and the empires and power structures that have come before. For example, the closest parallel to the Spanish “familia” who runs the human empire is probably the House of Saud, and it’s relation to global oil supplies. The Jinyiwei, who are the secret police of the story, are a direct descendant of the Ming Dynasty’s secret police. IndustriaGlobo, which is the massive manufacturer which owns/operates a huge chunk of humanity’s output, can trace its lineage to any one of a dozen huge corporations in human history.
Got any comments?
In my opinion, Dave‘s answers are short and poignant.
And if you think they are very short, I’d have to agree, but on the other hand, he send them to me in record time, so I’m inclined to grant him some slack. (David, if you are reading this, be assured that I spoke in jest; your answers were great.)
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!