If you have never heard of Sage Escape before, you will probably want to jump over to my other article reviewing the previous books so you do not feel completely lost. Go ahead… Take your time… I can wait.
Okay, are you back now? So, at the end of the Mars Gambit, we find out heroine, Sage, floating in space. For those of you who skipped my previous article, even though I gave you plenty of time, Sage is a teenager who escaped the massacre of her people in Natura by the not so friendly Friendly Corp. She then infiltrated Friendly Corp and got herself upgraded with their military tech to be the next-gen assassin. Even though it swiss cheesed her memory, she is still trying to carry out her mission. She defeated the evil Elvis Cray, but did not save his daughter Imogen, who was only guilty of loving the a woman that her father could capture and use to torture her.
Now, it has been 9 years floating in suspended animation and Sage wakes up to a whole new game. Imogen is now the head of Friendly Corp, but they are still at war with the human resistance. Right away we meet some one we have seen before, Grim, but now it seems the he works with a whole team of aliens onboard the Thantos, which is not involved in the war, merely observing.
This first issue of the three-issue mini-series is off to a great start. Will Sage realize that she may be siding with the wrong group? And what role does Grim and his alien compatriots have to play in this space drama? Will justice be served? Stay tuned to Sage Escape: Equinox to find out more.
Interview with the Creator – Damian Simankowicz
Aaron Clutter: I would like to welcome the creator of Sage Escape, Damian Simankowicz. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. Sage Escape is an epic sci-fi adventure with some very interesting characters. Not sure who my favorite is yet, Sage or Grim, but it is pretty close between the two.
Tell us a little about the world of Sage Escape and how you came up with it. What were your major influences?
Damian Simankowicz: Sage Escape is set in a time where humanity has somewhat evolved. We have territories across the universe and now freely interact with alien cultures. But for all our technological and social advancements, there’s still an undercurrent of warfare and political corruption. And though there’s a Multi-Dimensional Council keeping an eye on human affairs, there are loopholes that a company called Friendly Corp exploits. That is until a massacre survivor (Sage) infiltrates Friendly Corp and is upgraded with experimental military cybernetics. And luckily for Sage, there are a few alien allies that want her to succeed.
In terms of major influences, the story just evolved. But I did grow up in a family that was big into Sci-Fi. So there’s probably a huge melting pot of stories influencing me like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Transformers, Robotech, Alien, Mad Max, Nemesis, Trancers, Terminator, RoboCop, 2001, etc.
AC: Can you tell us about the art style of Sage Escape?
DS: The first Sage Escape release (Escape From Earth) was a tad Manga-ish, with clean lines and basic colour. Mars Gambit took a step more towards realism. Equinox is downright gritty, with an emphasis on lighting and visual depth.
While the artwork has become more detailed, the process is the same: as I’m writing the script I sketch rough scene breakdowns in a notebook. I then redraw each location, costume and weapon in more detail, and add these pages to the Sage Escape design folder. Referencing the breakdowns and designs, I draw the line art in pencil and scan each board into my iMac. I then use a Wacom pen and tablet for drawing inks and flatting colors. I have a number of inking brushes set to different widths and levels of smoothness. Plus dozens of Photoshop texture brushes that I use to hand paint in detail for every single element. It takes me months to complete a single issue. That’s why there’s such a big gap between each mini-series.
AC: Now that Sage is awake after this long sleep, what other things have changed in her world? We know that there were some real surprises at the end of this issue, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
DS: The biggest change is the uprising of the Level 7 Salesman Assassins, led by Imogen. They look like us. They think like us. But they have no loyalty to the human race. Sage is safe (for the time being) purely for the fact that she’s the prototype for all Level 7s. They think she’s one of them.
In Mars Gambit, Sage fought fire with fire by assassinating Elvis Cray. But that has backfired in a major way. As a result, she’s turned her enemy’s daughter (Imogen Cray) into an even greater threat.
The long sleep has also placed us deeper in the war. And with humanity getting slaughtered, this brings characters like Grim and his alien allies to the forefront. It’s a last ditch effort to save the human race.
AC: Are there plans for more Sage Escape stories after this one?
DS: Yes. Right now we’re establishing the major characters. There’s a large cast in Sage Escape. Each main character has their own distinct plot, which weaves through the plotlines of other characters. For example Imogen Cray features briefly in every issue of Mars Gambit, but we don’t realise she’s a time-bomb until we see what she’s capable of in Equinox.
Equinox defines the battle lines for future stories.
AC: Any thoughts about further tales within the Sage Escape universe that may delve into other characters or anything like that?
DS: Further tales include going to the Perian homeworld and learning about Sage’s alien allies. They’ve been dealing with Friendly Corp long before Sage entered the picture and have much to teach her.
Each mini-series takes a different perspective on the war. For example, in Mars Gambit, Grim intervenes in a battle to save Sage. This keeps a timeline intact. In the Equinox mini-series, we’ll learn why he did that. In further tales, we discover his connection to Friendly Corp.
AC: Thanks again for your time. Any last words for our readers?
DS: Keep an eye on Grim. He’s not what he seems!
A big thank you to Damian Simankowicz for taking time out of his busy schedule working on issue #2 to talk with us. If you want more information on Sage Escape, you can check out their website or just click over to Comixology and pick up the newest issue.