Tom Morello, who gained fame as the guitarist in Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, and now his solo project The Nightwatchman, is currently writing Orchid – a twelve issue miniseries for Dark Horse Comics whose first issue is due out in October.
Each issue comes with a free downloadable song to accompany the story. Written by Morello, Orchid features artwork by Scott Hepburn, who has previously worked on Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Nights of the Republic.
Recently speaking to David Malitz of the Washington Post, Morello hoped that Orchid exposes a young audience to a radical worldview, just like Rage Against The Machine did. He says:
"It’s set in a dystopian future where humans are no longer at the top of the food chain. And the gulf between rich and poor is unbridgeable. And there’s a lot of cool monsters."
Recently in Spinner, Morello described his work on Orchid:
It’s the story of a 16-year-old street prostitute in a dystopian future who becomes the Spartacus of whores. It’s a real passion project. I love it. I’ve spent thousands of hours working on this thing and it’s a story I want to tell. I wasn’t going to be another Hollywood jackass with a screenplay and I didn’t have time in my busy rock life to write the great American 600-page novel. I was a comic book collector as a kid but I put them down when I picked up the electric guitar. Comics have matured a lot since I was away. Now you can really tell any story via the graphic novel medium of any emotional and political depth. That’s the goal.
It took a year to find the right illustrator for the book, and some very big names in illustration threw their hats in the ring. There were times where it felt like ‘oh, I’m getting in a band where the chemistry is not so good.’ I realized that’s an important part. It’s a team that has to work together, in the way we’re all pulling in the same direction. With Scott Hepburn, we had a conversation on the phone, I sent him the 25-page outline of the entire story, and the first thing he did was send me back character sketches, and they were awesome. It was like, ‘he gets it.’ He wants to make this world come to life. Sometimes, illustrators may be frustrated writers, and they want to go ‘well, here’s a neophyte, let’s tear it apart and put it back together the way I see it.’ Scott got the big picture of it and was immediately trying to flesh out the details, and he’s a great storytelling artist, so that helps guide me issue by issue. Left to my own devices, each issue might be 70 pages long.
Morello tells Jeff Boucher of the LA Times, that he wanted to tell an epic tale:
It was a few years ago that I decided I had a story to tell. I was searching for a medium to tell it effectively. I wanted to tell an epic fantasy tale like “Lord of the Rings” like a “Star Wars” but with a class consciousness. The template was “Star Wars” meets the “Battle of Algiers,” something that had the street politics of terror mixed with an exciting, huge, over-arching story with monsters and escapes and amazing settings. But I did not want to be another jackass with a screenplay and I did not have time to write a 600-page book. So I started researching graphic novels and I found that, as I suspected, they had come a long way since I put them down as a 17-year-old.
The Nightwatchman released their latest album, World Wide Rebel Songs, on August 30th, 2011.
Orchid #1 by Dark Horse Comics arrives in comics shops on October 12, 2011 and features a low introductory cover price of just $1.00! You get a 32 page comic book and a free downloadable song for just a buck.
There’s no reason not to give it a try!
– The Comic Book Critic