Interview: Deniz Camp Talks ‘Maxwell’s Demons’ Inspiration And Its Inception

Vittorio AstoneVault Comics

The critically acclaimed Maxwell’s Demons, created by Deniz Camp, Vittorio Astone, and Aditya Bidikar, is a sci-fi tale concerning a young boy named Maxwell, who travels to other worlds to save them from destruction.

Featured image credit: Vittorio AstoneVault Comics

The Inquisitr recently interviewed the creator of the series to dig deeper into what happens behind-the-scenes of the comic production.

Tell me a little about your journey to Vault Comics?

It’s pretty straightforward, really. Vittorio and I had put together the first issue of Maxwell’s Demons — or a version of it — and were looking for a publisher. I saw Vault’s big announcement of existence, and their first slate of books, on Twitter, through fellow Millarworld winner Ricardo Mo, who had a book (Colossi) in their opening series of stories. I was impressed with their sense of design and the breadth and quality of their books, and sent them over the short pitch and the completed issue. Adrian and Damian got back to me immediately, and were really positive about the project. Most important to me, they were utterly fearless about some of the riskier and more challenging aspects of the book. I knew, then, that I had found a partner in them, and we quickly signed a contract and got to work. It’s been an incredible experience, and extremely rewarding.

What made you take a thought experiment like Maxwell’s Demons to use as a metaphor for your protagonist’s internal and external struggles?

My background is in the hard sciences, so drawing metaphors between emotional struggles and physical properties comes very naturally to me. As a reader, I’m most impressed when stories make me both feel and think, give me something new to chew on while giving me something true to connect with.

Understanding the Maxwell’s Demons thought experiment (one that concerns how one might thwart entropy without expending energy) is not necessary, but it seemed a powerful metaphor for a character who was constantly trying to think his way out of a life that has kind of fallen apart around him. When we open with Max, he’s got an abusive father and a troubled home life. His means of escape is all these wondrous things he builds; doors to another world, robotic best friends, semi-sentient fictions. He can’t really impose an order on the world he’s been given, the world of his home life, so he tries to create a space for himself that does adhere to an order that makes sense to him.

It’s something we all tend to do when things get hard, retreat into fantasy worlds. Certainly, I did, with books and television. With Max it’s just a bit more material, and therefore a bit more dangerous.

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I’ve read in other interviews that this comic will span over the course of Maxwell’s life? How will this affect his exploration of his “home world” and those foreign ones he explores?

I think you’ll see a journey there, as his home life, and his perception of it, change over time.

That’s really the key to the structure, the thing it allows us to do that one rarely gets to in stories outside of multi-decade epics. With each issue jumping around to different points in the main character’s life, we get to see how Max has changed, how his perception of the world and his purpose in it has changed, and how the world’s perception of him has changed. We see not just the immediate, but the downstream impacts of his actions. And we get to see the origins, sometimes contradictory, of certain impulses or actions he takes in the future. I think that is, at least potentially, powerful.

A life is just a collection of moments, and it’s rarely got one specific turning point. It can only be understood as it’s lived, a mosaic, or as it’s remembered, in piecemeal snatches arranged according to the mind’s metaphor-poetry, not in rigorous timelines like some straight path.

While conceptually this is book could be viewed as a fantasy book, the sci-fi and family drama elements ground the escapism in a rather dark way. Why choose to use these seemingly dissonant genres?

There is no conscious decision making on my part, I don’t think. I had a certain kind of character I wanted to follow and a certain set of themes I wanted to explore and those things kind of determined what the story was going to be.

Maxwell’s Demons is a book that is as much biography and autobiography as it is anything else. I’ve tossed myself into this book’s raging fire, I’ve tossed the lives of people I’ve known, of men and women I’ve only read about, of the art, literature, and experience that has defined me or interested me. It’s all in there, and one of the joys of the done-in-one approach we’re taking (each issue exists as a stand alone, as well as part of a bigger whole) is that we get to create a bunch of characters and build a bunch of worlds and try a bunch of genres. We get to reinvent the world and the book every issue. We get to surprise the readership all the time.

And given how inured to stories, and genres, we tend to be these days, I think that’s important, one of the of the highlights of the book. You won’t know what to expect. You won’t know where we’re going.

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How much of the first issue or series was affected when you started your collaboration with Vittorio Astone and Aditya Bidikar, if at all?

A lot! I wrote the first issue without knowing Vittorio would draw it, but once his work started coming in, I saw clearly that he could handle any scale beautifully, that he could tell a story in very delicate and not obvious ways through his control of not just line but color. The first issue is relatively straightforward, formally, but as we go forward he explore all sorts of strange storytelling techniques, playing with narrative voice, temporal progression, symmetry, unique layouts, juxtaposition, and image repetition.

Aditya is a guy who comes at lettering as a storyteller first and foremost; not only has he helped everything pop with his distinctive balloon design, but he’s able to diagnose and troubleshoot storytelling problems that both Vittorio and I might miss. His experience as a storyteller has been invaluable.

Astone’s art is incredible. Specifically, his coloring casts a wide shadow over the entire book. It’s a gloomy experience reading throughout, why choose to use this type of atmosphere?

That was really his decision, and I think he nailed it. He just understands how color choice effects the reader, and he goes accordingly. He perfectly distilled the tone of the various sections of the book with the directions he chose. I couldn’t believe it.

Why choose to use both an omniscient narrator and have your protagonist also speaking? What was the story choice or overall process for Bidikar and you for the colors chosen to differentiate the two narrators?

Because why not? Why limit yourself to any one narrative voice? The medium of comics allows for any and all of that. Captions, thought smoke, third person, first person, second person, diegetic and nondiegetic information. They can all be employed to get different ideas across, in a way that keeps readers interested and keeps things fresh.

In the case of issue one, I wanted a certain sense of the fairytale, and I thought that kind of voice, right at the beginning, would recreate that to a certain degree.

I didn’t consider, too deeply, how to make it work on this first issue, which speaks to my relative inexperience in comics. Luckily Aditya knew right away how to best distinguish the voices to make the difference clear, with a bit of input from our editor, Adrian.

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Finally, what is something you’d like readers to know about this book? Why was this story so important for you to tell right now? Personal or otherwise.

The world is a difficult place at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. We all do what we can to survive it, sometimes retreating, sometimes engaging. This is a story of amazing people who struggle with those same problems, thrown up on a larger than life sci-fi canvas. We could all be great, but can we be good?

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Maxwell’s Demons is available now at any comic book retailer.