Sage Escape is an interesting sci-fi epic that spans space and time. The tale of Sage, a young girl, the last survivor of a massacre, that became the first of a new line of cyborg assassins, has changed as the series has continued. Now, it is years later, and Sage has joined up with the forces of Imogen Cray, the owner of Friendly Corp, the company that killed her family and destroyed her home. Now, as the battle for Earth is reaching its peak, Sage is beginning to reconsider her choice of sides, but humanity may not have any time left…
We had an opportunity to talk with Damian Simankowicz, the creator of Sage Escape. We asked the hard hitting questions and he answered unflinchingly.
Comic Booked: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about Sage Escape. This new book, Equinox #2 looks pretty great and really makes me excited for the finale. Can you tell us about your inspiration for this series?
Damian Simankowicz: I always loved Sci-Fi and comic books. I grew up as part of the Transformers and Robotech generation. And I always wanted to tell a Science Fiction story. The first outline I did for Sage Escape was many years ago, and concerned the characters Grim and Nihil. Nihil was a human male who had been converted into a super soldier (Salesman Assassin). Part of his brain had been replaced with a cybernetic section that could be swapped out to load different programs. From there the story stared to grow as I fleshed out the military provider Friendly Corp and the different types of Salesman Assassins they created.
By the time I got to the Sage character, I understood the Sage Escape universe in great detail and had a huge amount of material to draw from. So when I wrote the first story (Escape From Earth), I decided to begin it with Sage waking up after her conversion into a Salesman Assassin and that way, we could learn about this universe through her eyes and experiences.
Comic Booked: Which character has been your favorite to write?
Damian Simankowicz: One of my favorite characters is Imogen Cray: a headstrong heiress to a great fortune, who was betrayed by her father and turned into a Salesman Assassin. She’s one of the most popular characters with the team behind Sage Escape too. It’s been that way since I showed them Imogen’s concept sketches and discussed her plotline back in 2012. We were all pumped to finally get Equinox made, as it’s the story where we see what Imogen is capable of. She’s a character that one moment will be bantering with her bridge crew, then the next she’ll be mercilessly killing on a battlefield. Imogen’s an interesting combination of elements: she’s charismatic, proactive and methodical. She’s a true believer who doesn’t know the meaning of going too far. And even though she’s technically a villain, Imogen is thoroughly enjoyable to write.
Comic Booked: What is next for the Sage Escape universe? Without spoiling, obviously.
Damian Simankowicz: The big focus is the new Salesman Assassins, like Cat and the alien cultures that assist Sage. We’ve seen Cat as a child survivor in Mars Gambit and now surviving as an adult in Equinox. But she’s joined her enemies to do so. And that doesn’t sit right with Sage. So the upcoming stories are relationship driven. Sage sees Cat as a sister, and will do anything to get her back.
There’s also history between the alien members of Sage’s team and the current war. They’ve been trying to protect humanity from itself from behind the scenes, but to halt the Salesman Assassin army they’ll have to cross a line.
And there are some great revelations about Grim ahead.
Comic Booked: How did you get interested in comics? What was your first comic book that you read or started collecting?
Damian Simankowicz: My father was a huge DC fan. So we always had the latest Superman, Batman and spin-offs lying around. I still have some of those issues in my collection. I’m a huge Transformers fan, so I collected the British and American comics, which led into Ghost Rider, Morbius, Death’s Head. And I loved Dark Horse’s Aliens: Book One, The Thing and various Terminator titles. Later on I enjoyed the early Walking Dead stories. But what really turned my head back towards comic books as an adult was Simon Furman’s Transformers: War Within stories. The plots were so beautifully structured, and the artwork looked better than anything I’d seen in the format. The line art was clean and precise. And the color work deep and vivid. It changed my mind as to what was possible with comic books, and it was after that series that I started collecting manuals about digital inking and coloring. I would say it’s probably because of War Within that I started using a Wacom tablet and pen.
Comic Booked: What has been one of the greatest challenges of this project? What has been your biggest success so far?
Damian Simankowicz: The greatest challenge hands down is the massive production pipeline. There’s a tonne of visual design to each mini series. And each time around, the pencils, inks and color art gets more detailed. While I’m working on one mini series, I’ll also be compiling sketches for the next one. Each story introduces at least one new major environment. And all the new characters, costumes, ships, weapons and surroundings have to reflect their societal and technological origins. Which means a great deal of planning before pencil work can begin. It’s a labor of love. I am looking forward to the day when I can bring on more artists and increase the amount of issues released per year.
The biggest success is having so much of the Sage Escape story out there now that we can start to pull the plot threads together. For example, the transdimensional character called The Final Word: he’s been in the background, observing Sage since the original ashcan issue. And finally in Equinox 2 Sage discovers what The Final Word’s role is in the war.
Sage and Grim have an interesting bond, and Equinox is the story that sets it up. Equinox is also pivotal to the direction of the entire series as it defines what’s at stake. It’s a great feeling looking back and knowing that 3 years ago Sage Escape this was just a concept with some artwork. Now we’re in the throws of the plot. The biggest success so far is getting Equinox made and released.
Comic Booked: Thanks so much for talking with us. The next issue of Sage Escape Equinox comes out July 1, 2015.