We talk environmental apocalypses (and free comics) with DMZ author Brian WoodS

DMZ and Northlanders writer Brian Wood previously told io9 about the design process that went into his upcoming environmental meltdown comic The Massive, in which the Earth is rapidly ravaged by climate change. And today, Wood was on hand to discuss the narrative side of this tale, the first issue of which will be released for free this Sunday for Earth Day.

You've described The Massive as a comic about "an everything that can go wrong, does go wrong" kind of environmental collapse. Was there any particular scientific literature (or perhaps speculative fiction) that informed the writing of this comic?

I did a lot of reading, yeah, but I have a real tendency to go overboard with that so I made an effort to dial it back and use more of my imagination than source everything out of books. A few books I really enjoyed were [Alan Weisman's] The World Without Us, [Mark Hertsgaard's] Hot, [Christian Parenti's] Tropic Of Chaos, and [Heidi Cullen's] Weather Of The Future. I stay away from fiction though — I really don't want to absorb some other writer's ideas and use them by mistake. The initial idea, way back in early 2010, was the TV show Whale Wars, which informs a lot of the visuals you'll see in The Massive.

We talk environmental apocalypses (and free comics) with DMZ author Brian WoodS

In the prequel stories for The Massive in Dark Horse Presents, we've been seeing the events that lead up to this cataclysm. Where does the first issue of the new series leave us?

It dumps you in the deep end, to use a good water metaphor. The shorts in Dark Horse Presents are really designed to introduce the three main characters and give them some background and reason for doing what they do.

In #1 of the main series, we are in the middle of present day flip back and forth between that and the days of the "crash," which was really a year-long event.

We talk environmental apocalypses (and free comics) with DMZ author Brian WoodS

I admit it's a bit of a wild ride, that #1, because it is jarring at the start and really dense with story and information. But as that first story arc concludes, by #3, you should have a complete picture of the crash and the situation the cast is dealing with. Then we progress into more episodic stories.

How would you compare or contrast the societal collapse of The Massive to that of DMZ?

It's so much bigger and badder — literally the entire world, in The Massive, is the backdrop to the story and the cast will sail the world over the course of the series. Also, in DMZ, I resisted explaining too much of the history of the war, which may or may not have been smart, but in The Massive I'm explaining everything. DMZ is about politics and war and gray-area morality. The Massive is environmentalism and social issues and gray-area morality.

We talk environmental apocalypses (and free comics) with DMZ author Brian WoodS

How far ahead do you have this storyline planned?

The ending is locked. It's a really specific ending, a true secret we'll unveil. Between now and then it's much looser, but I know where I'm going, and you should see a pretty clean progression right to the end, which should be about 24-30 issues total. It's much shorter than DMZ, by design, because I already have a sequel planned I want to get to.

The Massive #0 will be released for free for 24 hours on Dark Horse Digital starting on Earth Day, Sunday April 22. The Massive #1 hits stores June 13. Cover art to The Massive #2 by Rafael Grampa. Interior art to The Massive #0 by Kristian Donaldson.