Michael Moreci: The Origin Story of Wasted Space
And here is writer Michael Moreci to talk about his newest comic, Wasted Space — out today from Vault Comics. Go grab from your LCS.
As a writer, when you’re on the book promotion road, you find yourself repeating things you’ve already said a lot. I mean, there’s only so many questions interviewers can ask, and there’s only so many ways you can answer them. It’s just the way it goes. And one of the questions writers most commonly gets asked is “Where did this story come from?” For Wasted Space, the story is actually kind of a funny one, and though I’ve told it a few times, I’m going to tell it again. Because I like to, but also because there’s more I want to say about this origin story that I haven’t said before. So, here goes:
Wasted Space—my new sci-fi comic that’s a pinch of Preacher, a dash of Star Wars, and a smidge of Philip K. Dick—was born on Christmas day, 2016. I’ll never forget this day, because it’s hard to shove out of your mind being so unbelievably miserable. I was sick. Sick as a dog. Sick as a dog who’d eaten something out of a dumpster that he knew he shouldn’t have eaten but, being a dog, he couldn’t help himself and now he’s so sick and all he has to show for it is being part of a dumb human’s simile.
Anyway. I was really sick.
It sucked, because it was Christmas day, and I’m a dad of two, which means Christmas is a pretty special time around the Moreci household. Any parent knows that we don’t get sick days. There’s no PTO plans. We wake up already on stage, mic in hand, and the crowd is just waiting. And your only choice is to put on your best Liza Minnelli face because, sick or not, this show is going on. Especially on Christmas, which is, like, the Liza Minnelli Broadway spectacular blowout. It’s a day you not only have to be on, but you especially want to be on. But I couldn’t get there—I was that sick.
I did manage to pull myself together enough to see my kids open my gifts. Then I crawled to Walgreens, bought enough cold medicine to tranquilize a horse, loaded up, and slept until it was time to visit my in-laws.
None of that helped.
So there I was, driving out to the in-laws, hopped up on cold medicine, and generally miserable about the state of the world. This was December 2016, and I hardly need to remind you what happened just a month beforehand. Things took a turn for the catastrophic, and I was still angry/befuddled/outraged/despondent over the lunatic who was about to become the leader of the free world in just a few weeks.
And that’s when Wasted Space was born. In the car, sick as hell, my head swimming in cold meds, still reeling from our national tragedy. The entire story came to me in like forty minutes.
But Wasted Space is more than that. Yes, it is very much meant to be a book for our unbelievably chaotic and troubling times. I don’t talk politics much online, for my own reasons, but I sure as hell wear them on my sleeve in this story. I wanted to make something that grabbed people by the lapels and gave them a good shake, like Preacher, like American Flagg, like Transmetropolitan, like so many other comics that I adore, and I hope I hit the mark. But buried beneath that story is something more personal, and certainly more intimate, that’s a little difficult for me to talk about.
Let’s rewind to a few years before Wasted Space, back to another sci-fi comic I wrote — Roche Limit, which came out in 2015 from Image Comics. I guess you can say it’s my breakout book; it was awarded numerous ‘best of’ lists, it was a commercial success, and it’s currently being made into a pilot for SyFy.
And I hardly remember writing a word of it.
Maybe that’s an exaggeration, I don’t know. But I was drinking a lot during that time, alone, mainly while writing. It was a tradition for me to drink—bourbon being my drink of choice—while I wrote, and I wrote nearly every night. It’s weird, because there’s no episode of drunkenness that stands out in my mind, where I did something outrageous that showed I needed some help. It was just this steady stream of drinking—too much, too frequently—and an overall sense of unhappiness.
I won’t dive into personal details, but suffice to say, eventually, I found my way out; I left my day job and went full-time freelance, I’ve spent more time with my kids than ever, and I hardly drink at all anymore. And though I feel better and happier, I do look back on that time of my life with a lot of regret. I know I wasn’t present in my world, not totally. I wasn’t my best, not anywhere close to it, and I mourn that. I mean, this was a time when I was writing a book that was finally breaking me out as a writer, and I hardly remember its creation. It’s just a haze in my mind, as much of that time is.
That’s where Wasted Space’s main character, Billy Bane, comes from. He’s a man rotting away, drowning in booze and drugs, who is forced to ask himself the question I had to ask of myself—“Am I better than this? Can I be better?” Granted, Billy’s story is a lot more dramatic than my own—a lot. But the kernel is the same, this struggle of being awakened from your own crappy misery and forced to make a choice—to do better, to be better, or to just aimlessly wallow.
Of course, I took that kernel and surrounded it with a blue, beefcake Fuq bot (it’s pronounced exactly as you think!), the apocalypse, and giant red entity known as Legion who likes to smash people’s faces. So, there’s that stuff as well.
Like my recent novel Black Star Renegades (also Star Wars inspired, though to the extreeeeme in this case), Wasted Space is a crazy, fun romp. These two books taught me how to enjoy what I love, how to be joyful in my writing, and I’ve never been more happy with the products of my work. My hope is that everyone who reads these books sees the fun in there as well—because as much as we need the outrage over every second of every day, we can use some good times as well.
Wasted Space: Vault Comics