One of the hottest fantasy comics currently being published is The Realm, published by Image Comics. Only five issues have been published but the first two issues have already went to 2nd printings. SYFY WIRE has the exclusive reveal of the super cool Dungeons & Dragons homage cover art for the upcoming hardcover (see below), and spoke with co-creators writer/artist Jeremy Haun and writer Seth M. Peck about upcoming stories and how much the music of Me Like Bees is tied to the story and will be a bonus extra in the hardcover release March 28.
The Realm is a story about survival in an unforgiving world, 15 years after it was overrun by hulking orcs, goblins, dragons and demonic forces. It’s as if a role-playing game consumed our world, sending us back to a vast, western-like wasteland, where electronics are useless. While advanced knowledge is valued, so are well-armed survivalists to ensure that knowledge can be spread. Travel guides such as Will Conrad are hired to protect those who need to safely travel across the country. The Realm is about his latest paying gig, gone awry.
“I don’t think a lot of doomsday preppers would fare as well in Armageddon as they might like to believe,” Peck told SYFY WIRE. “That said, there are plenty of violent people out there preying on the weak, and we’ll meet some of them as the book goes along. 'Level-headed' folks like Will are always going to find a way to persevere.”
“These are strong people,” Haun explained. “They’ve fought every single day. In that kind of world, sometimes the bigger trick is figuring out how to live together.”
At quick glance, this may seem like a story that’s very similar to The Walking Dead, but there’s a big difference here. Instead of the randomness of zombies serving as a main threat there are humans working with the creatures, there seem to be definite goals and purposes as to why characters are on the move or are hiding. The threats have brains and are strategizing against humans.
With the first story arc coming to a close, the hardcover collection will include a download code for a five-song EP by the band Me Like Bees, who created these songs in the vein of the comic book. Haun even directed the video for “The River Divides” which is an anthem that is embedded into the fiber of the series. It started out as a conversation Haun had with the Bees’ lead man Luke Sheafer about creating a theme song, but the one song quickly turned into five.
“It elevates the book,” Haun said about the EP. “The final song on the EP “If I Go” perfectly captures the ending of this first arc. Each song exists as a theme for the issue—kind of an overall feel. We wanted to make something that people could listen to with the issue and then still stand on their own as great songs.”
“The soundtrack really brought the whole project together for me. Both Seth and I tend to obsess over music. We build unofficial soundtracks for nearly every project we work on. Mostly they’re just something that I listen to while I draw. With The Realm, we wanted to take that to the next level.”
“Their songs have become ingrained in the fabric of the world we are building,” Peck added. “I’ve always got homemade playlists for the stuff I write, but to have music that was specifically created to go along with the story has added a dimension that is really too cool for words. As a creative person, to have anything you do inspire someone else is as high a compliment as I can imagine.”
“In a really basic way, the book and the music are both riffs on the same vibe, so hopefully it’s a seamless experience for fans.” And it’s been working. Fans of the band have been checking out the comics and vice versa. Now readers can carry the entire experience of The Realm with the hardcover.
As the series looks forward, Haun and Peck said that they’ll gave the reader a lot in the first arc, to put things in motion and introduce the cast but we will learn more and more about the dark forces as the series continues.
“We will be working on developing the characters and filling in some of the history of the world as we continue to move the overall story forward,” Peck shared. “We want to keep the overall pace of the book moving quickly, while still taking time to get to know the characters. It’s tricky, but we are gonna do our best to find the right balance between action and character. We will start to learn more about who Johnny and his army answer to, and what they want. We will also see more monsters and “unaligned” creatures, chaotic things that aren’t on anyone’s side but their own.”
“The second arc is going to let us get to know our adventurers a bit better,” Haun added. “Everyone is still reeling from the events of issue five. They’re trying to figure out what’s next. Issue #6 focuses on the orc slaying berserker Ben and Rook as they try and hunt down Red Jaw and Bunny. We know there is...tension between Eldritch and the shadow council. We’re about to find out a lot more about that conflict. While I feel like this is a series that works best if you’ve read what’s come before, it’s a nice jumping on point for new readers. Beyond the major players, I’m really excited to revisit the goblin sniper Longeye and his troll buddy Droz. They’re a lot of fun.”
There are also mysteries at play like the mysterious powers of Zack and David. What is in Doctor Burke’s thermos and why didn’t he tell Will what’s in it? Haun assures readers that they know the answers to them, and some answers are coming soon, while others they are taking their time time with. These are ultimately secondary threads that fill in the details, but spoke off of the larger ongoing plot of conflict.
“These people-- Will, Molly and the rest are just fighting to survive. That’s about to become a lot more difficult now that Eldritch and the dark forces are hunting for them.”
Here’s the information you’ll need to give your local comic shop if you want to preorder The Realm Vol. 1 Hardcover
THE REALM, VOL. 1 SPECIAL EDITION HC
-Diamond code: DEC178712
-Synopsis: Fifteen years ago, our world was overrun. Creatures of myth—orcs, dragons, and other nameless horrors—threw the entire planet into total chaos. Among the wreckage of society, the survivors scrape and struggle to survive. Now, a powerful sorcerer marshals his forces, and a group of warriors must embark on a journey to reclaim our world from the growing darkness.
-Details: Includes THE REALM issues #1-5, special cover art by series artist Jeremy Haun, download code for Me Like Bees companion EP "Songs from The Realm", and the chance to win one of only two special tickets that are redeemable for ultra-rare collectible extras.