No. 1 With a Bullet will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the more important books of 2017. With the recent resurgence of social horror, this will join the pantheon of ‘woke’ art that touches on important issues that have ventured into a hybrid relationship of normalcy and terror that has become the status quo for the world today. Check out the teaser trailer below.
A science-fiction technology based thriller set in a near future, No. 1 With a Bullet follows a thread that seems to be the inevitable continuation of our current society. The story centers on Nash Huang, a fledgling social media star on the edge of celebrity, has her world turned upside down via the hacking of the newest technology and the unauthorized release of a sex tape. As she tries to build a life back up her number one fan comes out of the woodwork and that’s when the bodies start piling up and the terror begins.
“In the ever-expanding world of social media people are now able to put in contact and play video augment reality and the new future is recording video. That’s kind of funny because Sony themselves are actually doing this very thing and they put out a patent for recordable video contact lenses which is crazy,” said writer Jacob Semahn. “In this future, a social media darling who is very famous on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and all that kind of stuff her life comes under attack after sex video surfaces, taken with those contact lenses and now the world around her is crumbling.”
With a strong focus on the pitfalls of technology and social media, Semahn and Corona have crafted a taut story that leans into the fears that are ever present in the modern age. Beginning with a Wes Craven style prelude that highlights the terror that can befall a public figure, the team behind No. 1 With a Bullet shows the wherewithal to set the scene prior to the first issue hitting the shelves. Through a feast of visually stunning panels, we are introduced not to the main story but to an extraneous character that sees the same fate as Nash. Nash’s commentary on the situation further shows her view and understanding of the surrounding situation that will eventually seep into cross over into her life.
Fresh off their team-up on the acclaimed Goners, writer Jacob Semahn and artist Jorge Corona have crafted a masterfully tense tale full of espionage and thrills and housed in an extremely personal story. As they examine the lines between public and private lives, Semahn and Corona have developed a fully realized world that is a great analogy for the current pressures we see in the media and politics. By analyzing the vulnerability that goes hand in hand with social media, No. 1 With A Bullet creates a sense of honest dread as it forces the reader to reflect on their own use of the internet and the information and judgment that goes along with being a public figure.
Along with colorist Jen Hickman, renowned artist, Jorge Corona does an excellent job of combining the eerie, fantastical work of Salvador Dali with the compartmentalized horror of director Sam Raimi. “The way that we’re doing this is a little bit different,” said Corona, “We have the experience with Goners and working together so we know where we’re going with the story and we talk a lot while we’re working on it. The way that Jake is riding the script is more open for me to interpret the panels and the pages and the layout of the whole issue. So in that way we know I get from him exactly where he wants the story to go and I can play around and since it’s a book that’s very set in real life and at the same time we wanted to play with the fragility of the mind and how crisis and chaos in your life can slowly crumble the way you perceive reality.”
“It’s the constant fear and its making that something visual or tangible for the main character. That was one of the things we wanted to do and we had to look at how to visually represent all that. Jen Hickman is doing the coloring, I also had the pleasure of working with her on Feathers, which was my own book before this. We wanted to do something completely different for this one because the story on this one was completely different so it was a lot of back and forth in the beginning to find the visual mediums and language to deal with it. We wanted something very simple and abstract on the same wave and that could be more relatable to the reader as the emotions go through the story. So, it wasn’t very much about a good-looking book, we wanted a book that every visual element helps the reader feel where the main character does.”
“It’s definitely interesting,” added Semahn. “When I saw it I remembered it was so stylized and we wanted to do something in the beginning with augmented reality and contacts. I was like ‘it’s so stylized I can’t tell what’s augmented and what’s not’ and then we went back and forth on it forever. Eventually, when I saw what was happening with the rest of the book I saw that this was amazing. This is so brilliant I’m glad that they fought me on this one because I was like it needs to be more realistic and then I was like no this is great heightening the stress and danger. It’s shown in the colors; it’s like Suspiria.”
No. 1 With a Bullet follows the path of critically acclaimed and socially relevant thrillers such as Get Out and Stepford Wives, not only providing top notch tension but also showing the forethought of touching on the fears that have become so prevalent. Throughout the first two issues, the reader is constantly made aware of the public opinion towards Nash’s plight via panels showing the outpour of internet messages and news pieces that continuously condemn the victim. This wherewithal in regard to our over-reliance on technology is combined with the growing sense of social anxiety and tension.
“We were talking about that reliance on technology that we have right now. Everything is directly linked to your phone and your computer and tablet and everything, so if someone wants to hurt you that way it’s fairly easy to do that and you’ve already collected the evidence for them.”
Jacob and Jorge were kind enough to sit down with me at Rose City Comic Con to discuss No. 1 With a Bullet, so be sure to check out the full transcript of the interview here. You can catch them this week at New York City Comic Con and pick up No. 1 With a Bullet from Image Comics when it hits shelves on November 1st.