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By day, Jay Faerber was a writer working on The CW’s Supergirl, dreaming up adventures for Superman’s cousin, Kara. By night, he was dreaming up a different sort of tale, one involving a rookie cop, a thief and extra-terrestrials. Those dreams are now a reality in a new graphic novel, which arrives Tuesday via Oni Press.
Area 510 centers on an Oakland police officer and a suspect he has just arrested … when an alien invasion hits the city. Handcuffed together, they attempt to cross the city to the police station, where the officer intends to book her despite the possible pending apocalypse.
In January 2020, Faerber teamed with artist Justin Greenwood, known for work such as Stumptown. They’d never met, but had long wanted to collaborate, and Greenwood quickly took to the pitch: What if the film 16 Blocks happened during Independence Day?
The two got to work, exchanging ideas. Then life began imitating art, with a globe-changing event occurring in the form of the coronavirus pandemic. Amid the uncertainty, the two found comfort in having this project keep them busy.
“It’s kind of liberating where we had no deadline at all. It’s just between the two of us,” Greenwood tells The Hollywood Reporter.
At the time they had no publisher attached, and Faerber fronted the fees for his collaborators, including colorist Lee Loughridge and letterer Thomas Mauer. (When the book sold to Oni Press, it matched almost to the dollar what Faeber had put into it.)
Faerber sent the roughly 80-page script over a period of months, 20 pages at a time. And the duo developed ideas together, including setting the story in Greenwood’s native Oakland. The artist infused the book with details only Oakland natives would notice, and the setting helped inspire Faerber as well.
“We were batting around, ‘Should it be a generic city? Should it be New York? L.A?’” says Faerber of settling on Oakland. “That’s when it really came together. Now there is a specificity to it.”
The graphic novel has film influences (Faerber references Kurt Russell’s Executive Decision in the opening). And the duo, who both have experience with Hollywood adaptations, acknowledge they do see movie potential here and will gauge interest now that the book is out. Still, that wasn’t the end goal.
“This wasn’t something that’s an audition. It wasn’t a movie pitch,” says Faerber. “This was something fun to do. The fact that we got to publish it is a bonus.”
A few years after starting the project, Greenwood, who lives in Northern California, and Faerber, who lives in the southern part of the state, still haven’t met. They hope to remedy that soon — and maybe even continue the story of Area 510.
Check out a few pages from the graphic novel below.
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