Illuminating The Dark: Talking to Chris Lynch, Rick Lundeen, and Harry Markos About AAM Markosia’s Latest Graphic Novel


the-dark-trade-cov-lo The Dark is an upcoming graphic novel, published by AAM Markosia. Written by Chris Lynch, with artwork by Rick Lundeen, the book is a science-fiction story with a superhero slant, which tells the story of Daniel Abbot, a fringe scientist, and the creator creator of Memetech - a technology that encodes information and memories into a liquid form, allowing anyone to “drink” the information. Terrified that his invention will be used for military purposes he decides to destroy his research.

Two years on, and the Memetech genie is out of the bottle. Abbot, having perfected his own version of the technology, fights a one-man war against the spread of his own invention and the collapse of our information culture in the guise of “The Dark”. Aided by an artificial intelligence nicknamed Howard Hughes, Abbott creates “The Baffler” – a coat made of Memetech that gives his the edge over his enemies. Capable of injecting information directly into this brain and firing Memetech flechettes to hit others with bursts of pure information, The Baffler is both weapon and disguise in Daniel Abbot’s war against his own creation.

The Dark is currently available to order from the January 2010 issue of Previews magazine, and can be found under the AAM Markosia listing, with an order code of JAN100699. The Dark will be published as a 100-page original graphic novel, and all orders for the book must be filed with comic stores before January 25th, in order to meet Diamond Distribution’s order cutoff. For more information on the release, and to see an 18-page preview of the book, please visit

Hypergeek recently had the opportunity to interview Chris Lynch and Rick Lundeen, the creators of The Dark, as well as Harry Markos, the founder of AAM Markosia, who is publishing the title. Everything you need to know about the book is included in this interview, including the genesis of The Dark, the workings of Memetech and the Baffler, and much, much more!

For ease of reading, I have broken the interview up into three sections, each with a small introduction for the individual in question.

Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a writer and technologist living and working in Cardiff, UK. He is the writer of such things as: Monkeys with Machineguns, Hammer of Time, The Magpye, and The Dark for Markosia; Wrathbones for 2026 Books; as well as a number of comic strips for Accent UK, Something Wicked, The Sorrow, and Insomnia Publications. Chris blogs at

  • How would you describe The Dark to potential fans?

CL: Well, the official blurb is “Imagine a story that you can drink, a story that you can feel, a story you can live. Welcome to the city of Dante, and the world of Memetech. As a wave of drugs that create living stories sweeps his city, one man fights back as “The Dark”. A vigilante who wields fiction as a weapon, he is the last hope for a city where nothing is what it seems.”

So, it’s sci-fi with a superhero twist, its a trade so you get the complete story in one go, it’s about stories and ideas and lots more, and I honestly think it is the best thing I’ve written to date.

  • The protagonist of the story is a scientist named Daniel Abbot, who creates a new technology known as Memetech. What can you tell us about Memetech?

picture-7 CL: Memetech is a technology that allows you to encode information, including fiction, into a liquid form that can be absorbed by the body. Whatever is encoded in the memetech hits your brain direct. If its information, you act as if you’ve new skills and knowledge a lifetime. If it’s a story, it can seem as real to you as your everyday life. Whatever the memetech tells you bypasses your senses and your mind and body make it real, at least for you, whatever it is.

Daniel realises the risks inherent in his creation however. He realises that in the wrong hands it could be incredibly dangerous and he decides to destroy it … but before he can, he can’t resist taking one last trip. It’s his life’s work, after all! The results are disastrous, for Daniel and for his family, and this is where the story of The Dark really begins.

  • Aside from it’s scientific applications, Abbot has found another use for Memetech, and through the use of a special suit called ‘The Baffler’ he is able to use Memetech as a weapon. What can you tell us about ‘The Baffler’ and how it helps Abbot fight crime?

CL: Well, The Dark isn’t Batman - hasn’t has trained for a lifetime, he isn’t a fantastic physical specimen, and he knows it. The Baffler is what gives him the edge. Build using Memetech, it can feed him with any information that he needs and keeps him linked up to his assistant, an artificial intelligence called Howard Hughes. So, if The Dark needs to defuse a bomb, he can become a bomb disposal expert in an instant. Equally, if he needs some painkillers (which he frequently does!) The Baffler is ready to supply them.

Most importantly however, The Baffler also gives The Dark the ability to weaponise his memetech, firing memetech darts at his enemies. We see this for the first time in the opening pages of the story (it is in the preview edition as well) when The Dark faces off against a real monster of an opponent. His memetech induced martial arts are no use to him, so he take his enemy out using some very specific poetry. That’s one of the fun things about the memetech weaponry - its more than just a “phaser” or a “repulsor”. Whenever the memetech is used in this way, it always references real works of fiction and poetry. So, the technology might be fictional, but the ammunition never is.

  • What sorts of threats does Abbot face in his role as The Dark?

picture-8 CL: This story is all about The Dark’s war on his own creation - memetech. He discovers that, somehow, the technology has been stolen from him and turned into bombs and drugs. It is all of his worst fears of what memetech could become, all the reasons that he destroyed it, brought to life. In many ways, the biggest threat that The Dark faces is himself.

That doesn’t mean that we are low on villains though - there is a mysterious nemesis working behind the scenes, a corrupt and decadent drug lord called Byron, and some really incredible memetech creations in the closing chapters. If you want to see The Dark up against monsters, robots, and more, we’ve got you covered. Rick has created some amazing designs for these, there are more than a few that I think are really nightmarish. Waiting to see Rick’s designs has been one of the real joys of working on this book and, based on the feedback that we’ve had so far, I think people reading the story are enjoying those same creations.

  • In the first issue, we see that the Memetech formula has been stolen, and it is being dealt as a drug, and used to make bombs. What is the effect of Memetech in these applications?

CL: Well, let’s start with the drugs. Memetech drugs represent the ultimate in escapism, a way to complete walk away from reality into someone else’s life, into a story, anywhere that you want to go … and it will all feel completely real, for as long as it lasts. Not all stories are fun stories of course … as our drug lord Byron puts it “I drank the nightmares first … I’ve seen it all, done it all, had quite a bit of it done to me …”.

Pushing that to its limit, imagine that capability, or the capabilities of The Baffler, weaponised into a bomb that could rewire the minds of an entire city in a moment. What if everyone thought the same for a day … what could that thought be? These are the dangers that Daniel realised where inherent in memetech, the very reasons that he wanted to destroy it.

  • The story opens two years after the invention of Memetech, during which time Abbot’s wife and son have somehow become comatose. Is this a subplot that we’ll see explored as the story progresses?

CL: Absolutely. We find out early what has happened to Daniel’s family and how this has led to the creation of The Dark. Daniel’s family play a big part in the story as it progresses. It is quite difficult to talk about with giving away one of the twists in the story, but suffice it to say that the family are important. There are lots of mysteries to be solved and what has happened to Daniel’s wife and son is one of them.

  • The Dark is set in the town of Dante, presumably named after Dante Alighieri, who wrote The Divine Comedy? In addition, all the streets in the town are named after famous poets. Is this device just you indulging in metafiction, or does this have an important role in the plot?

picture-10 CL: The names are definitely important. In fact, everything is. One of things that I have enjoyed most about writing The Dark has been creating the world in which the story takes place. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is there by accident. Every name, every place, literally everything is there because it is in some way important to the story. This is one of the things that I love about writing comics - you can do things there that you cannot do in any other medium. You can hide things in the background, link images together, and build a story that you can read once, then read again, and see something different. Rick has let me hide lots of things in the artwork, and the ways that he has worked in some of the symbols and hidden messages that I’ve asked him for are brilliant … utter genius in my humble opinion.

  • What inspired you to create this story?

CL: I don’t think there is any one single thing that spurred the creation of The Dark. In some ways, the story itself is about stories, and idea, and inspiration, and where these things come from. If memetech were to exist tomorrow, and I am absolutely sure something like it eventually will, it would be a storyteller’s dream. I suppose I started there, imagining this

Something that was a bit weird was the amount of synchronicity that I started to find between real world things that I wanted to reference in the story and the story itself. Again, it is difficult say much without giving away some of the secrets, but there are certainly bits of the story that feel very much like they were floating around “out there” waiting for me to discover them.

The characters took on a bit of a life of their own once I started writing the scripts!

  • Does The Dark have a definite ending, or is there room for further stories in this world?

picture-2_3 CL: The graphic novel as it is published is just that - a graphic novel. This isn’t a trade edition collecting issues 890 - 895 of a comic that has been running forever and a day. It is self contained and complete in its own right. I think that is something really important, and something that we need more of in comics. I should be able to give someone a graphic novel to read without having to give them a twenty minute preparatory lecture on who the characters are, what their powers are, who the villain is, and what happened in issues 884-889 … just in case.

So, yes, it ends. Having said that, I would love to come back to some of the characters in this story and would love to work with Rick again. If the opportunity presented itself, I would definitely take it. Writing the last part of the story was the most difficult part - it really felt like some the characters didn’t want to lay down and … well … do as they were told. Perhaps they’ll give up waiting for me to write their sequel and take matters into their own hands …

  • As a writer, who would you say your greatest influences are?

CL: In terms of comic book writers, I would have to go for Grant Morrison and Alan Moore as my two favourites. Its almost a cliche to like those two I suppose, but there it is. I think both of these guys take comic books and push them towards their full potential, and that’s something that inspires me to push what I can do. I have lots of influences outside the medium itself however, I love stories no matter form I can get them in. Whenever I read something that makes me sit up and take notice, it makes me want to go and write something.

Rick has been a big influence as well - seeing what he can do with light and colour has inspired me to ask for bigger and more complex things in the story. He’s also indulged me with all the hidden things I’ve asked for, which has made me do more of that as well. It’s created a really deep world in which the story plays out and I’m sure its been a lot of work for him. He’s his own worst enemy really.

  • Are you working on anything else right now?

picture-13 CL: I have another project already signed to Markosia called “The Magpye”, which I am working on with Stuart Tipples. I also have two other projects in the works with Markosia at the moment, but both are very much in development and are under wraps at the moment. I’ve also got a project signed with Insomnia Publications and of course the studio that I have with the aforementions Stuart, “Monkeys with Machineguns”. We’ve put our regular horror anthology on hold whilst we’ve been working on other projects, but … watch this space.

Rick Lundeen

Rick Lundeen is a Chicago based artist, who has been drawing storyboards for advertising agencies for over 20 years. He’s also been reading comics for over 30 years and producing and publishing comics for more than 15. Examples of his work can be found at:,, and

  • How did you come to be involved with this project?

RL: Chris and I hooked up on ComicSpace and he asked if I wanted to illustrate “The Escape Artist”, a wonderful story he wrote that appeared in Murky Depths magazine. We seemed to work really well together and he mentioned that he had an idea (The Dark) and wondered if I wanted to collaborate on it. It was a very interesting idea so I said yes.

  • How much of the design of the characters and technology in the comic was down to Chris, and how much was your own invention?

picture-3_3 RL: Regarding the characters, he mentioned the particular type of coat that the Dark might wear and I think I just went with the rest based on small bits and pieces. He let me run with quite a bit of stuff visually. On some characters, he’d give me a brief comment or one little detail and that usually sent me on my way. Evidently I have a much sicker mind than I thought!

  • What was your favourite thing to draw?

RL: There are a few major scenes/confrontations that Chris had set up, sometimes very elaborate scenes that are among my favorites. Not sure how much I can give away but any giant panel where The Dark is fighting for his life against a nightmare come to life ranks up there.

  • What artists influence your style?

RL: More than any other, George Perez. All the way back from when I started reading comics when he was starting out, even all these years later, regardless of all the other artists whose stuff I love, when I’m at the top of my game, I feel like there are many similar elements of Georges’ stuff which seem to end up on the page. I have all the admiration in the world for George, his skill and his dedication. JLA/Avengers may be my most favorite comic ever.

  • How do you produce your artwork, are you working traditionally or digitally? And what programs/tools do you use?

RL: I do all my line-work conventionally, 11 x 17, on layout paper (all part of my process doing storyboards as well) and then scan it. I then do a lot of tones and solid blacks and then color digitally in Photoshop. Then letter in Illustrator and bring that in.

  • What other projects are you working on at the moment?

picture-1_2 RL: The majority of my time drawing is spent doing storyboards for ad agencies around the U.S., even more so now that the economy is getting back in shape (knock on wood) and I’m getting back to my regular hectic schedule—which is a good thing. Comics-wise, I’ve worked on several projects in various stages of production— which you can see bits and previews of on my comicspace page:

First up, I did “100 Covers”, a 100 page color OGN available at under my publishing imprint “Epoch”. It’s the story of The Battalion, a super team whose story is told ONLY through the first 100 comic covers of what would be considered the books “run”. It was a labor of love and something never before done in the history of comics and it got good critical acclaim as well. See some of it at my site. I’m currently planning a showing featuring the artwork at a local gallery (Crazee Kandee) here sometime in late 2010/early 2011.

After that, I decided to branch out into other genres. I drew “Wulfgirlz” with Bob Sodaro, a horror comic for Atlas, also drew an historical piece with Bob on Gustave Whitehead, the true father of aviation for theComic Artists Guild. “Perfect Strangers” an adults only OGN with Carmenica Diaz, a few Twilight Zone-esque stories as well. All stories that are now or have been hitting the stands and the net. Also currently, I’m working on the third part of an upcoming online story for (a Doctor Who website) called “The Time Leech”, merely because I love Doctor Who!

Harry Markos

Harry Markos is the founder of AAM Markosia. Launched in 2005 AAM Markosia has been a leader in the independent publishing field, with titles such as Starship Troopers, Kong: King of Skull Island, The Boy Who Made Silence, Midnight Kiss, Hope Falls, The Lexian Chronicles and many more. To find out more, head to

  • How did The Dark come to have a home at AAM Markosia?

picture-5_1 HM: I’ve been a fan of Chris’s writing for a while now and had already signed one of his titles. As I got to know him a little more I saw that he had a great future ahead of him and wanted to play a part in his development. We spoke about him pitching a number of new ideas and one that I was keen for him to include was a sci-fi based story. I’m a big sci-fi fan myself and I want the company to have more original sci-fi properties, so I was delighted when he came up with the idea for The Dark. Everything happened very quickly after that, I’m delighted to say!

  • Am I right in thinking that The Dark is the first Superhero book from AAM Markosia? If so, is the genre something you normally try to avoid as a publisher, or do you just not tend to get many superhero story submissions?

HM: See I wouldn’t actually call it a super-hero book, as such. I see it as a definite sci-fi book, incorporating science and technology that appears to give a mortal man extra powers. In any event we have published other super-hero books in the past, such as Project Eon, Of Bitter Souls, Smoke & Mirror and Mutation. I prefer to look at non-super-hero titles but don’t exclude them, and as it happens we have a fantastic new title coming this year that will surprise a lot of people, called Hero 9 to 5.

  • When it was originally announced, it was planned that The Dark would first be released as a series of digital comics through iTunes, before these issue were collected and sold as a graphic novel. What caused this plan to change?

picture-6 HM: Due to the rapid advancement of digital comics in the past year the software has changed so drastically that it held the launch of this and a number of other titles up, something that has actually turned out to be rather fortunate! As a result The Dark will now appear on a different platform in the next month or so, exclusively, just before the launch of the graphic novel. The Dark was actually originally penciled into our schedule and planning as a purely digital comic, but I was so happy with the way it turned out that I decided very early on that we would publish it.

  • I know that Diamond Distribution USA revised their minimum order numbers last year, which is a change which has affected a lot of international and small press publishers, because, even if a book appears in Previews, but the higher order requirements are not met, Diamond has a right to refuse to distribute. Is this something that you’ve encountered?

HM: Very much so! We actually suffered from this very early on and decided to change our business model as a result. Due to the increased benchmark we decided that it was no longer viable for us to publish monthly books, as low sales would lead to cancellation of the series and then the refusal by Diamond to solicit the trade paperback. We didn’t want to risk the collected trades being rejected as a result of low monthly sales so we thought, why bother with them at all? Nowadays, we solicit between 6 and 10 new graphic novels a year and will continue along this route until things improve. The digital arena is one that we will feature very heavily in over the next few years and we see that as the alternative to monthly books, only lower risk and higher reward!

  • What project is next in the pipeline for AAM Markosia?

HM: In April we have a new graphic novel called ‘Growing Up Enchanted’ which has caused a bit of a stir so far. It is an all ages black and white fantasy book and is amazing. In the summer we have another couple of exciting graphic novels due for release, namely ‘Haven’ and ‘The Young Sherlock Homes Adventures’, and we have another three or four titles slated for the fall. Were also due to publish ‘The Boy Who Made Silence’ as a trade paperback, something that many people have been asking for. It is going to be an exciting year for us and it is one that I am looking forward to. In the meantime, I’d like to thank you and your readers for giving us all a chance to boast about our books!

Thanks to Chris, Rick and Harry for doing this interview, and don’t forget to order a copy of the book from your retailer. The order code is JAN100699, and all orders must be filed by January 25th. Check back here soon for a full review of The Dark, but for now, please check out my review of the first chapter of the story, which can be found here (please bear in mind that I wrote this review a while ago, and it is a little rough around the edges).

Related posts:

  1. An Eight Page Preview of AAM Markosia’s New Project: The Dark
  2. Trailer for Markosia’s The Dark #1
  3. Small Press Spotlight: A Profile of AAM Markosia
  4. Comic Review: The Dark #1
  5. Chris Giarrusso Releases New Free Online G-man Video Game


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