Sloane Leong’s PRISM STALKER is setting itself up to be quite the wild ride. Set in a world unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It’s a cosmic, psychedelic book that addresses themes we can all relate to and understand. It’s exciting, intriguing, and truly remarkable. The characters and setting pop off the page with a delightfully unorthodox color scheme and alien creatures that are, let’s just say, not exactly E.T.

Inspired in part by her own culture, the book has been an entity in Leong’s life for some time. That effort seems to have been worth it because the passion this project shows.

Leong took the time to chat with ComicsVerse about her upcoming story, PRISM STALKER.

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ComicsVerse (CV): Where did the concept for PRISM STALKER come from? How long have you been working on it?

Sloane Leong (SL): PRISM STALKER is a distillation of all my favorite things about sci-fi and many things that don’t yet exist as staples in the genre. Part of my ancestry is native Hawaiian and the history and culture of Hawaii, a place and people that have barely been explored in science fiction. That goes from many native peoples in many genres and mediums. Being able to share the struggles of being a small native culture, like losing your language, your history, your homeland, and other rights, without it being told from the viewpoint of a colonist, is quite rare in the genre. I’ve been wanting to share a story that grappled with all those conflicts in this medium and genre for a long time.

The project itself has been around for awhile in a few different forms. It originally manifested as a novel with a tamer environment back in 2011, then evolved into a Twine game in 2013 (you can actually play the first Twine game set in the PS universe here) that I ended up never finishing because it got too complicated. Around late 2013 I had a messy but complete story outline down and in December of 2015, I finally felt ready to start drawing it.

CV: I’m sure every project is its own entity, but what sets this one apart from your previous work?

SL: I’ve done many short comics throughout the years, in different genres, as well as worked on another Image series called FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAINS but PRISM STALKER will be my first solo ongoing, long-form comic. PRISM STALKER, planned to be 25 issues, is going to be my most involved project in regards to world-building and plot but I’m also experimenting with multiple styles that will pop up throughout the series, something that I think will make it stand apart from most other comics out there right now.

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CV: The world you have created is pretty unique. Did you use any source material to inspire this world?

SL: I’m a pretty obsessive reader so I feel like I’m constantly getting inspiration for PS but Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS  embraces the more organic side of alien life and architecture, Moebius, Enki Bilal, Anne McCaffrey, NATURE OF NATURE’S ART by Zachary Braun, BLAME! by Tsutomo Niehi, BATTLE ANGEL ALITA by Yukito Kishiro, Linda Nagata, and PROPHET by Brandon Graham and co. to name a few of my favorites.

Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Can you walk me through your coloring process, and talk about the choices you made for this book? It looks truly stunning.

SL: I usually start by figuring out the palette I want for the scene, which depends on the mood and environment. Once I choose that, I like to drop a gradient behind my linework to get a wash of color to work over. Then I start building up, careful to stay within range of the main palette I want to stick to! Sometimes when I feel like my color choices are boring I’ll try and choose things I find ugly (puke green + orange) and try to make them work. Taking chances on weird colors makes things visually exciting for me to work on.

CV: This is a totally new society for readers to jump into, and gender roles often play a part in societal culture and hierarchy. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. But are all of the people working for the Sverans women? And do the Sverans have a gender?

SL: Gender is complicated in the world of PRISM STALKER. There are many alien cultures that are co-existing that the galactic society is bombarded with thousands of identities. Because of this wide variety, gender is often not as important as other hierarchical roles, some based on phenotypic traits, social class, caste, many of which will get explored through the characters. In the language of the Chorus, the current governance, ‘she/her’ is a neutral pronoun and most commonly used.

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SL: The less involved, cheeky answer is: When I started writing PS, at the outset I felt like there are so many comics that are just teams of dudes, super-powered or otherwise, that seem to exist in a world where women barely show up or are secondary and that’s seen as normal. I wanted to present to the reader a cast mainly of women in a world that seemed to be made up of mostly women-esque beings, and have them be the mentors, villains, and supporting characters.

Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: There seem to be pretty poignant themes present in this book surrounding refugees and labor. Is there a message you’re trying to send, and why do you feel it’s important?

SL: What I’m attempting to do is get at the heart of my experiences and ideas, at the truth of them, and then explore them as thoroughly as possible. Being able to share the perfect synthesis of truth, dreams and emotional experience through a medium is what all art is about.

CV: I adore the fact that there will be music to go along with each issue. And it sounds incredible. Tell me about the decision to include the music, and tell me a bit about the artist if you can.

SL: The musician scoring each issue is Neotenomie! I wanted to have a musical element because the world of PS, especially the enclosed hives and cities Vep finds herself in, are pulsating, echoing, wet chambers. There’s constant noise, constant echoes, constant breathing. Riley is an incredible composer and I can’t say enough how beautiful the music is that’s she made for PRISM STALKER. Her songs are mapped to each page and scene and heighten during fights, resound during melancholic realizations and more. It’s a fantastic experience to be able to read the comic again at the speed of the music and adds a whole new level of life to it.

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CV: Is there anything you can/want to tease for the book going forward?

SL: Well, the first arc got an animated trailer, and I’m going to try to keep that up for the upcoming arcs as well!

The story of Vep is just starting, but it’s extremely gripping and new. Check out the music that will come out with each issue on the PRISM STALKER website. PRISM STALKER #1, which you’ll probably find yourself reading more than once, comes out March 7, 2018. Prepare to dive in face-first.

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