Blue Delliquanti Brings ‘O Human Star’ Volume Two To Life [Back Pages]
This has been a tremendously exciting year for cartoonist Blue Delliquanti, whose webcomic O Human Star has gone from strength to strength. It's the story of brilliant inventor and roboticist Alastair Sterling, whose untimely death meant he never got to see how his innovations in the field changed the world... until the moment he woke up in a robotic body, and stepped out into a world populated by robots who are advancing and progressing in ways expected and thoroughly unexpected.
Following a success Kickstarter to bring a first volume of the webcomic to print, Delliquanti has now returned to crowdfunding in order to deliver the second collected volume of the ongoing story. As the Kickstarter whirrs towards the target goal, Back Pages spoke to her about the series, how it has changed and surprised her over the years, and what to expect should her newest campaign prove a success.
ComicsAlliance: When and how did you first begin making O Human Star? What was it about this story which made you want to tell it?
Blue Delliquanti: I began developing OHS in 2010 --- I actually got the most basic elements of the story from a dream I had that year --- and spent the next couple years working out a full story from the original, intriguing premise. I started posting pages online in February 2012.
CA: What’s the basic premise of the series?
BD: O Human Star is about Alastair Sterling, a robotics developer who dies unexpectedly and wakes up in a robot body, only to find that 16 years have passed since his death and that his innovations have completely changed the world around him in his absence. Al sets off to seek the reason for his resurrection, and finds Brendan --- the former partner with whom he had a secret relationship --- and Sulla --- the young female android whose mind originated as a copy of Al's. Together these three people unite as an unlikely family unit, but revelations from their shared past threaten to tear them apart.
CA: As the series has developed, so we've seen the characters develop and start to understand more about themselves. What do you see at the central themes of the story?
BD: At its core, O Human Star is about identity and examining the limits of what makes you... you. Are you defined by your physical characteristics, your memories, or your actions? What is it about you that people truly love?
CA: It must be a highly personal story for you --- as you told Jon Erik Christianson, your time researching and learning queer issues played a role in your own coming out. How valuable has it been for you to now have a chance to tell queer stories for a growing audience, yourself, and have that continuing, progressing relationship with readers?
BD: I feel really fortunate that my personal self-realization and my interest in exploring it through comics is coinciding with an era in the comics industry where similarly-minded young artists are openly sharing their own experiences. The queer comics community is more vocal than it's ever been, and I've found folks that support each other, encourage a variety of perspectives, and understand the impact they have on their readers, especially younger ones. It's been a truly invaluable experience.
CA: With the start and ending known from conception, you've had the chance to work "chapter by chapter" on the series. Have you found that this has led to turning down some unexpected paths, and spotlighting characters or stories you hadn't predicted at the start?
BD: Yes, absolutely. The secondary cast members have become much more prominent in the events of the main story, especially Lucille. I originally wrote her as a foil for Al and Brendan, one who specializes in physical prosthetics over artificial intelligence, but over time I realized that I wanted her to have her own complete arc and her own perspective on the question of a technologically-augmented identity. I definitely couldn't imagine the story now without her expanded role.
CA: How important is the setting to your story? The comic is based in your hometown of Minneapolis, albeit set in the near future.
BD: Yes, it is! I'm personally very fond of Minneapolis and think that in terms of size and aesthetic it works really well for the kind of near-future story I set out to tell. It's a substantial city, but one that has the capacity to be influenced by a few hometown heroes like Al and Brendan --- think of how profoundly Prince defined our entire music scene. It's got a lot of wonderful visual landmarks, like the Foshay Tower and the Mill Ruins, and its weather is an effective visual indicator of the passage of time for narrative purposes. Not to mention living here makes reference gathering a breeze.
CA: What do you most enjoy about working on the comic? What keeps it fresh for you, and enables you to keep moving forward with the narrative?
BD: There are certain scenes that I first drafted nearly six years ago that I could not wait to render as finished pages. Finally getting to those sequences, like the climax of the current chapter (Chapter 5), gives me a chance to recapture the enthusiasm of that first draft while reflecting on how I've grown as an artist and storyteller in the ensuing years.
CA: Why take this to Kickstarter?
BD: O Human Star is a long-form science fiction comic with a diverse LGBTQ cast. There are a lot of readers out there who want to read sci-fi they can see themselves in (I should know, being one such reader and having met countless others at conventions over the past few years), but these kinds of books can be difficult to publish through traditional channels. Crowdfunding, through limited Kickstarter campaigns and ongoing reader support via Patreon, has proven to be an ideal platform to make funding my work in its online form a reality while expanding into the more traditional world of print.
CA: Should you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final comic?
BD: The plan is to have both Volume 2 and the reprinted Volume 1 ready by March 2017. I can begin fulfilling Kickstarter pledges at that time and make Volume 2's official debut at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle shortly afterward.
O Human Star Vol 2 will run on Kickstarter until 3 November 2016, seeking a funding target of $27,000. To find out more, you can find the Kickstarter page right here!