Graphic artist Plaid Klaus has just launched the Off Grid comic book series. The accomplished young illustrator and writer is focusing on life after a societal collapse and the resulting civil unrest in his new series. The Inquisitr recently sat down with Klaus to discuss his new comic book.
IQ: How did you get the idea for the Off Grid comic book series?
Klaus: My goal was simply to tap into the zeitgeist and manifest a science fictional scenario in which these fears were explored fictitiously in attempts to prevent our society from traveling too far down this road. Technology has exponentially advanced in the past 20 years. Many of the advancements come out of U.S. military-sponsored programs, specifically this really strange department known as DARPA – Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In fact, the groundwork for the Internet was developed by DARPA, along with many wireless communications and advanced machine technology – Terminator-looking stuff. I’ve started to become aware of the groundwork for some very disturbing military advancements.
Much like the invention of the atomic bomb, there are certain military measures we should be preventing the use of in the 21st century. DARPA is developing self-balancing machines—both the quadruped “Big Dog” and the Bipedal “Petman.” They’ve also recently funded a $2 billion project to create human thinking machines. On top of that, the NSA is building the world’s largest spy center in Utah to monitor and store all communications. Added to that are the unmanned aerial drones that can view the movement of people in a 5-mile radius.
IQ: Do the target audience for the Off Grid comic book solely adults, or will it appeal to teenagers as well?
Klaus: I definitely see it as something teenagers would enjoy reading, although there is some choice language. Considering a lot of the characters are ex-military, I didn’t want to use the words “darn” and “shoot,” it just didn’t seem realistic. I’m not looking to “sex up” or make the comic overly violent, so if a teen’s parents are ok with a few curse words, the comic is perfectly suited for teens as well as adults.
IQ: Who are the main characters in the new comic book series?
Klaus: The reader is introduced to the story through two young hippies, Kai and Starchild, who are venturing illegally into the off-grid areas. They are stopped by Jeep, a young ex-marine who has taken it upon himself to lead this small sect of the Resistance, whose goal is to destroy the mainframe of the machine force. They’re protected by secret black ops machine-human hybrid, Khaled, whom the group has captured from DARPA and reprogramed to defend the group. Mac is the hacker who controls Khaled and there are two other members of the group whom I don’t want to reveal too much about this early on.
The first major character arch involves Khaled, the human/machine hybrid, discovering what he is and having to decide whether he empathizes with humans or machines. For him, it’s a struggle for self-identity and trying to understand his creator, does he have a soul, that sort of thing. The important challenge for the group is to attempt to hack into the hive mind and tear it apart from the inside.
IQ: Will the Off Grid comic book characters delve deeply into what it is like to live off the grid while they struggle to stay alive outside of the “protected zone” during the coming editions?
Klaus: Humans have found themselves at the top of the food chain. We no longer really have to worry about predators in a most of modern civilization, so the robots become like a new form of predator. I want a large underlying aspect of the comic to be about survival. Essentially, the artificial intelligence has evolutionary advantages that make it a threat to our species. On top of attempting to survive being hunted down by robots, the characters still need to find food and shelter to survive. I want the group in the story to develop into a tribe surviving on the land.
IQ: Will current news headlines related to the possibility for civil unrest, economic collapse, the failure of the power grid, and similar political happenings be reflected in the Off Grid comic book series?
Klaus: I’m definitely going to tip my hat to events as they happen. Current evolving events are the basis for the novel. Simply watching the developing tech world and the growing military nation state has led me to write Off Grid. For instance, in Utah, the NSA is building the largest spy center ever constructed. It’s a 1.5 MILLION square foot “spy center” built for the US intelligence community’s efforts to further strengthen and protect the nation. I’m getting really tired of this loss of privacy in the name of protection. It’s like the old, Alan Moore quote, “Who watches the watchers?” Ultimately, my goal is to rub people’s faces in this rapid race to a global military police state in the name of security that’s getting really far reaching.
IQ: If the Off Grid comic book series reached the same success level as The Walking Dead graphic novels, would you consider turning your idea into a movie?
Klaus: Absolutely. The story lends itself to television, and it combines a lot of the elements that are currently trending in TV shows these days—survivalism, authority resistance, societal meltdown, and futurism.