Robert Venditti, in the Flesh, Talks "Surrogates"
When I had the opportunity to speak with comic book creator Robert Venditti at a recent comic convention, our conversation spanned several areas, such as internet addiction, graduate school, sociology, and Bruce Willis. All of these categories had a common denominator however, Venditti's insightful series The Surrogates. The series, produced by Top Shelf Productions, has been adapted into a film, due out September 25th and starring the aforementioned Mr. Willis along with Ving Rhames as citizens of a futuristic society where humans have advanced technologically in ways that many may find disturbing.
"[The story is] set fifty years from now where everyone uses an android called a surrogate, a representation of that person that is sent out into the world to interact, go to work, etc for that person while they control it virtually. You can have a surrogate because you want to look differently than what you are, it could be a fireman if that's what your job is while you stay home and avoid getting hurt, or for any variety of reasons. In this society, most people stay home and interact through these artificial versions of themselves," said Venditti, who admitted to being very interested in the thought processes and inner workings of people who deal with issues such as internet addiction and in finding such a degree of escape into virtual worlds and interactions.
After reading The Cybergypsies as a graduate student, Venditti thought of the possibilities. The book, which looks squarely at people who appear more comfortable in interacting with the virtual world rather than the real one, gave Venditti an idea. "It struck me at the lengths people would go to to maintain these online lives, even at the expense of jobs, marriages, relationships; the idea occurred to me, what if someone could create a persona for themselves but it wasn't bound to the computer? You could lose yourself in that and never have to surrender that virtual persona; it could take the kids to school, run errands, and you would never have to change," Venditti said, offering up other thoughts on how his idea might relate to our modern world, especially with the rampant advent of sites such as Facebook.
"Sociologically it all seems like a possible scenario, especially considering how much of our lives are spent in front of email, social networks, games, and then you consider the lengths some people will go to with plastic surgery. They want a nip here, a tuck there. I think there seems to be a basic human desire to be something other than what we are, which I think Surrogates addresses," he said. In looking ahead to the film adaptation of this comic book series, Venditti had nothing but positive things to say about Bruce Willis, who will star as an FBI agent investigating a murder in a world that is now virtually crime-free. "From visiting the set and seeing early clips, it looks great. I didn't get too involved, I kind of got out of the way and let them make the film. Bruce is one of those few actors who can do tough scenes likes ones in this movie where he's doing a lot of action shots as a police officer who leaves that and then come home to his wife, who is uncomfortable getting old and uses her surrogate for everything, and be convincing as a man in a marriage strained by technology."
Just in time for the film premier in September, Venditti's latest work, a prequel to the main Surrogates' storyline titled The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone, has been released. Set fifteen years prior to the story in Surrogates, Flesh and Bone will show the early days of the buildup to the use of these androids. Venditti also has other works in store, such as a sci-fi/medical thriller due out next August. For an early look at Surrogates the film, check out the trailer below! Also, be sure to pick up copies of Surrogates (available in trade paperback) and Surrogates: Flesh and Bone before September 25th!