ComicBuzz Chats With Luke Arnold and Doc Wyatt

With the release of the Kickstarter for the Essentials graphic novel from The Lab Press, we are delighted to be joined by Luke Arnold and Chris “Doc” Wyatt. Luke is a novelist and actor, while Chris is an Emmy-nominated writer. The graphic novel features a whole host of all-star artists, including DaNi, Glenn Fabry, Jason Howard, Vince Locke, Brendan McCarthy, Andrea Mutti, M.K. Perker and a cover by Bill Sienkiewicz.


CB: Hi, Luke and Chris; it’s so wonderful to have you both here with us. Could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?

LUKE: I’m Luke Arnold, and I’m a kind of a jack-of-all-trades creatively. I’ve been acting in film and television for the last couple of years, on shows like Black Sails, Glitch and Scrublands, but I’m also an author. My books follow Fetch Phillips, a gumshoe in a dystopian fantasy world, and I’m just polishing up the fourth book in the series. And most importantly, I’m a co-writer of Essentials.

DOC:  I’m Chris “Doc” Wyatt (everyone calls me Doc), and I started my career as an indie film producer on movies like the cult comedy “Napoleon Dynamite” and the multi-festival winning immigrant drama “Coyote.” I’m now a TV animation writer and producer. I’ve written on scripts for shows like “Legends of Vox Machina” (Amazon Prime), “Star Wars Resistance” (Disney/LucasFilm), and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” (Disney+). Currently, I’m head writer and executive producer with my partner Kevin Burke on “Lego Ninjago Dragons Rising” (Netflix).


Can you tell us about the origins of the Essentials graphic novel?

LUKE: For a while, Essentials was a screenplay for a low-budget film. It followed a scientist in a bunker – perhaps the last living person on earth – being confronted by a trio of talking toys who claimed to be beings from another dimension. You will still see some of these elements in the second chapter of the book, but when we decided to turn it into a graphic novel, the scope of the story just exploded. Now, we have our scientist – Harris Pax – teaming up with one of these toys and leaving the bunker on a quest to save humanity, and we’ve really challenged ourselves to tell this story in a way that only the pages of a comic could handle.

DOC: It’s expanded to be a reality-hopping adventure that lets us play with different genres and mess with bizarre ideas and big themes.


How would you describe the Essentials graphic novel?

LUKE: At its heart, Essentials is an exploration of what makes life worth living. In this story, reality has become untethered. Now, everyone’s subjective reality is manifesting around them. Their ideas, beliefs and fears are becoming real. Harris and Buttons must travel into these subjective realities to convince the people inside they should relinquish their manifestation and come back to the real world. Not only does this put them up against all kinds of unexpected antagonists, but we soon discover that for most of us – no matter how painful, dangerous, or dark our reality is – we won’t let go of our projections without a fight.

DOC: As complicated as it can sound, the story is actually pretty simple. A cosmic catastrophe has killed most human life, with the few survivors unknowingly stuck in their own bubbles of subjective reality. It’s the job of our heroes to pull them out of these private realities before they’re killed by them.


What can you tell us about The Lab Press?

LUKE: The Lab are a bunch of creatives who love comics, so it makes for the most inspiring relationship you can have with a publisher. Being a smaller press (for now), they’re only interested in making things that excite them, and that means they push you to make a story that’s as original, exciting, and meaningful as it can be.

DOC: Visiting The Lab Press offices in Los Angeles is very cool because it has an amazing buzz and energy to it. A very creative vibe. Art of works-in-progress pinned up on all the walls. A section of the office has been converted into a photo stage. I’ve seen stuff from their upcoming, unannounced projects, and they’re all going to be awesome! It’s a great slate of books.


How did you select the artists for the Essentials graphic novel?

LUKE:  It’s the most fun part of the job. Each section of the story needed to be unique, evoking the emotional state of the person in each subjective reality. From the very beginning, The Lab told us to think big, so we really didn’t hold back. We both went away and searched through our comic collections and came back with two lists of our dream artists. Then we merged those two lists into one ultimate dream list and took it to The Lab, and they added their dream artists to this wildly ambitious list and started reaching out. For a new book at a new press, we really assembled an unbelievable team.

DOC: Ultimately I think we got the right artist for each reality. I can’t imagine them any other way now!


If our readers would like to get their hands on the Essentials graphic novel, how can they do that?

LUKE: Kickstarter! Essentials is all done and dusted and Kickstarter are the perfect partners to get this book out into the world. Kickstarter has launched so many great comics already, and it’s allowed us to efficiently create a number of beautiful, varied editions to choose from.


Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

LUKE: There’s an audacity to what The Lab is doing and I feel very lucky to benefit from their passion. Essentials is such an ambitious first book for a new press to release. It’s a reality-hopping deep-dive into life’s big questions, using some of the industry’s best artists to celebrate what comics do best.

DOC: Thanks so much, ComicBuzz readers, for taking the time to check out our book!

Feel free to check out the Essentials on Kickstarter.

We would like to say thank you to Luke and Doc for chatting with us and wish them the best of luck with their Kickstarter.

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