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Mall's Michael Moreci on the danger of brand identification in a post-apocalyptic world
Writer Michael Moreci is providing the kind of creative energy that's putting Vault Comics at the vanguard in the industry when it comes to original works. His and Hayden Sherman's space odyssey Wasted Space is the kind of story you wished Star Wars was brave enough to tackle. Moreci is also co-writing The Plot, the first horror title that Vault is publishing through its Halloween Nightfall line. And the Mall is a new mini-series, with lofty goals of becoming a sprawling anthology in which the unlikely setting of the mall is essential in surviving the apocalypse. SYFY WIRE spoke to the prolific writer about Mall.
There have been a lot of interesting fictional stories taking place in a mall; Stranger Things even went there. What drove you to set this apocalyptic story there?
Michael Moreci: The impulse for Gary and me, when we were developing the story, was Dawn of the Dead and The Warriors, and the one thing they had in common, in addition to being done around the same time, was a nihilistic bent, a real acerbic tone, a subversive and a very dangerous quality to them. The original concept from Gary was the apocalypse is happening and everybody goes to the mall. What's going on there? What does the mall mean? Our take was looking at capitalism and how our society is formed around shopping and buying ... s***. [Laughs] Whether it's bad food, sweatshop labor clothes, and all sorts of garbage ... it's not to say it's all bad, but a lot of it is. We were looking at the mall as this capitalistic haven, and realizing that's not a good thing.
Did the mall give you the opportunity to look at all of those desires and needs in one place?
Moreci: Yeah, absolutely. We're however many generations removed from society we know since the apocalypse has happened, and still we are aligning ourselves with clans and these gangs that are associated with brands. These things don't matter — heck, they don't matter now, it's total nonsense, the idea of a brand, a culture, and all of those things that they sell themselves as. "We're not just making a product, we're making a lifestyle?" That's just stupid and ridiculous. It's pointless now, it was pointless then when malls were big, and in this story we're still falling victim to this idea that we're part of some specific lifestyle that gives us identity. It's not real. None of it is real.
Are you trying to look at why, in a moment of survival, there is still this continued connection or gravitation towards these brands?
Moreci: Yeah, that's a big part of the story, and it's looking at how those allegiances are used against you. If you create allegiance to one thing, you're not creating allegiance to another. "I am X. So therefore, Y is not me. They're my enemy." When you're pre-conditioned to thinking that everyone is your enemy or could potentially be your enemy, those conditions are easily manipulated against one another. So it is something specific and it courses through the story.
Talk about Andre, your main character, and what's going to drive him through the series.
Moreci: Andre is cursed with being a moral person living in an immoral world. He's also double-cursed because he's in a position where he's the heir to one of the ruling classes in the Mall. So he can do something about identifying these wrongs and problems. He has the power to change the world, and is dangerous as a result, so he's motivated to do right and do better. When we start, he's framed for murder and on the run. He knows it must be for a reason, so who is behind not wanting this place to be better?
How is this being viewed, as a mini-series or an ongoing?
Moreci: It's a mini, but depending on its success, we have more to tell, different Mall stories where we can go in the future or past. So it's open-ended for an anthology within this single location.
Are we exploring what is happening outside the Mall?
Moreci: One thing that we agree on, with so many post-apocalyptic stories being EVERYWHERE the past couple years, is that the most interesting thing to do in these types of stories is to not talk about the post-apocalypse. Specifically, we are not interested in exploring the reasons it happened. Maybe, at some point, if we get deep enough in the anthology, we'll look at that generation one story, where the Mall doors were first closed, and these were the first people in the Mall. But my approach is to not ask questions for which you're not prepared to give the answer, so we're not going to introduce it.
Be sure to check out our entire gallery of Mall, and be on the lookout for Mall #2 hitting comic shops on September 25, while Volume 3 of Moreci's Wasted Space will resume with Issue #11 in October. Finally, Moreci's The Plot, the inagural series in Vault's horror Nightfall line, is scheduled to be on sale September 25.