(A conversation with Megan Hutchison-Cates and her husband)
Hello, friends! Faceless voice of the KLC Substack here, and oh boy, do we have some rad stuff for you! Today we'll be getting an inside look into the new creator owned book from Mr and Mrs Megan Hutchison-Cates!
It's called FLOOD! But...you knew that...but have you seen this EXCLUSIVE SUBSTACK FLOOD VARIANT?!!! BOOM! What’s up now???
See? Flood is rad. It's super fucked up and dark and underwater and....well, we'll let Megan and her writer take it away!
Donny: Well, okay...that's a...weird way to introduce me, but okay. So, how should we start, how about this? What is FLOOD? Well, FLOOD began life as a thought experiment for me. I wanted to write about the things I was afraid of. My thoughts immediately went to the intangible idea of being alone. Having no one in the entire world. And then....my very real and tangible fear of the ocean, and the chthonic nightmares that very surely live within its inky and unexplored nethers.
In a very literal answer to the question I just asked myself: Flood tells the story of the end of the world. Something has happened to the surface world. Something bad. And it's forced the surviving human race down underwater to live in a hostile and barren world. Imagine a kind of.... underwater Mad Max meets The Man With No Name. It's a post-apocalyptic, Lovecraftian western. And I haven't even mentioned the part with all the dead.... well....I should stop talking before I spoil everything.
Meg! Glad to have you here. I know coming to the studio was a long trek for you so I'm glad you could make it. Let me ask you: When did you first hear about FLOOD and what did you think? What attracted you to the project?
Megan: Well, I was initially intrigued by the writer. He’s very attractive and very talented.
D: Yeah, I get that. I’m also really into the artist on the book. She’s very—
M: Don't be weird. But then I was intrigued by the story. I grew up near the Pacific Ocean and myself and my family are big-time divers, so I love all that sea-life shit. I also know the other-worldliness of being deep underwater [I mean, the deepest I’ve been is 120 ft. but you get the idea]. Donny pitched it to me as Cormac McCarthy in the ocean and I was sold. I’m into all that moody, nihilistic shit too.
D: Right. It really was kismet that I was working on this outline when we met. Us being married or not, you really are the perfect artist for the book. Your background in diving, all of your researching into underwater engineering, and your undying love of things dark and dead have really combined into something special and perfect for the book. You’re also the ONLY person I’ve ever plotted a book with. That was really fun.
M: Yeah! We took a road trip and drove from Austin to Los Angeles and plotted the whole story from beginning to end, referencing western movies we like and putting together playlists (more on that later!) that represent the tone and theme. The story itself is really beautiful and compelling, but I don’t want to give anything away so you’re just going to have to read it.
D: Talk to me about these designs. Obviously, you and I have talked about these extensively and worked them out, story-wise. But functionally how did this all come about? Where did it start and how did it evolve?
M: Originally the lead character was a guy, but when we started talking about the project I asked if we could make the lead an older female. Making her a mother and a wife really opened up the story in a lot of interesting ways. Again, I don’t want to go into too many details because I don’t want to spoil the story but being a mother at the end of the world, faced with nothing but death and darkness is pretty powerful.
D: Absolutely. I think the first draft of this book was so mired in the stoic gunslinger model, that it ended up lacking a lot of personality and depth. Grounding our (nameless) main character more in the world with real stakes and things that she can lose makes this such a powerful, and if I’m being honest, very, emotional book for me to write. I don’t know that I’ve been as challenged by a narrative since God Country. The book is a total gut punch.
M: As for her actual design, we wanted the tech to be practical but also futuristic, so everything is based on real diver tech and just elevated to that sci-fi level. Since so much of the book takes place in the dark, I designed the light panels on her suit be a recognizable profile. We also wanted her to look like a gunslinger, so her suit design and equipment is based on old western heroes. She has a little floating robot named MAKO which is really based off of old sketches I used to do years ago when I was [and let's be honest, still am] obsessed with floating eyeballs.
D: I think every can kind of tell we have a lot to say about the book but we're both kind of biting our tongues. We don’t want to give away too much. BUT, here’s a sneak peek at our FLOOD soundtrack! We’ll be releasing a new track with every issue, but here’s something to set the tone:
D: Meg, thank you so much for coming by the studio and also let’s figure out what to do for dinner tonight. I love you.
M: Don’t make this weird.
(I love you too)
Kids Love Chains.