Comics and Graphic Novels

IF YOU WANT TO THINK… THINK TWICE.

Mindex will be released next Saturday! It is a good dystopic story with a creepy set - what if our memories could be accessed? Not only be seen, but modified?

What is Mindex

Mindex is a speculative sci-fi graphic novel from Kingpin Books. It was written by Fernando Dordio (idea, concept, and script – 1st and last versions), Mário Freitas (a rework of the script during the edition stage) and art by Pedro Cruz.

The story is told like a hard-boiled thriller, set in the dystopian future of 2045. Mindex starts with the tragedy of Thomas Morrison, right in the heart of the DigIT Corporation, the Company responsible for Mindex, the “Google of Thoughts”.

Genesis

Mindex was 20 years in the making. Ok… To be more accurate the graphic novel was written in 2011, illustrated in 2015/6 and it will be released on February 15th, 2020.

In 1999 I’ve created a sci-fi concept named Pangea: somehow with the continental drift, after millions (or maybe billions) of years, there’s only one continent (again) and it’s ruled by a Company/State named DigIT Corporation.

So the concept of Mindex surfaced from the need of creating a dictatorial Company, who ruled the world.

In English, Agents of CHAOS New Order, a book also by Fernando Dordio

In 2010 after being inebriated by the release of “Agents of CHAOS New Order” I pursued the old idea of Pangea, with a smaller scope and with a new idea in mind:

– when the Chrome Browser was released, Google sent the application with a conditional agreement on which all content did in the browser was Google property. There was a huge backlash on the Internet, the disclaimer was published everywhere – Google moto’s “Don’t be evil” was destroyed once and for all – but just in 2018 it was abandoned once and for all.

Then, I had a simple question: “Google is honest just because they say so? Because they have a motto?”. It seems that was valid for almost 20 years.

Google indexes information (pages, images, and articles).

So if by a reductio ad absurdum, the information is created with our thoughts and the behavior of the society is exactly the same. What would happen? Isn’t that what is happening right now?

The development road (to hell)

If you are someone with ideas for graphic novels in Portugal, you are in big, big trouble. And if you are trying to do a completely different project you need to be very confident in what you have in mind.

Sci-fi isn’t a common theme of comics in Portugal. This theme isn’t in the preference of the Portuguese authors but it was the story I had to tell.

With Mindex I wanted to make a thought-provoking book. I wanted to make the reader uncomfortable. I wanted to make you think about our world – not in 2045 – but right now. 

Like all graphic novels, this was a labor of love. For the last five years I, Mário (the Writer/Editor) and Pedro Cruz (the artist) spent our energy, time, patience, and money to bring this project to paper in Portuguese and English versions. 

And this is a book crafted thinking in all the details to create an experience.

Influences, style, and themes

Something original is hard to find nowadays. But is Mindex original? I don’t know, but one thing I know, it is the kind of book I wanted to find in a bookstore. Then I give it a shot, read it once, and then I’ll give it a second read to connect all the dots – it’s possible to do that? There’s an answer or unique explanation for what happens in this book? These are the kind of Sci-fi books I love.

First of all, I found a story template and then it was filled it with sci-fi ideas, concepts that I have in my mind (and in Mário and Pedro’s minds too) – from comic books to movies like Hard Boiled, Blade Runner, Alien, Lethal Weapon, Starship Troopers, Brave New World and crime noir stories.

In the past, I wrote 3 graphic novels: Agents of CHAOS Ivanov Conspiracy, Agents of CHAOS: New Order and The Elixir of Eternal Youth. In all 3, the time is linear. As an example, if there is a flashback, it will happen at the beginning of the book. Then the story follows the passage of time almost in sequential time. This strategy is good to create an emergency feeling and with this structure, I’m always fair with the reader. All the twists and turns are set in the future, so I can’t fool you.

Cover for The Elixir of Eternal Youth

Mindex’s first draft (from 2011) started with this structure. But in 2015, when I found the artist that would develop the script, the structure changed to match the style of Pedro Cruz.

After Pedro completed all pages, Mário suggested adding pages to increase some character motivations and to give all characters a complete story arc. In doing this, a moral ambiguity was created, perfect for this kind of story.

DigIT and Mindex, like all other corporations in the real world, needed a logo – something modern that would complement the product.

In the end, some tropes from Alan Moore and Jonathan Hickman were an inspiration to create some additional texts to expand the world of our story.

References and technology research

First of all, this story is centered on the Team responsible for the creation of Mindex. So, my degree in Computer Science was very useful in the creation of a parallel between real technology (like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc) and fantasy technology (Mindex). All the technical knowledge is explained in the book and sets the context of the story. But there’s one more thing I may need to explain: why Mindex?

Google catalogs all the information saved by its crawlers (programs used to follow links and collect data). To speed up the search response time, the catalog is indexed with the help of an algorithm that gives a score to the searched keywords.

So now it is easy to understand – your MIND is the catalog, DIGIT Corporation provides the INDEX. And like any good World IT Corporation, we needed a powerful branding and that was accomplished perfectly by Mário.

The collaborative process

First Stage – the lone writer

In 2011, I started to write this book. Mário was always involved in the process, once he was always supposed to be the editor. Otherwise, he would be included the same way as I don’t believe in artistic work without good feedback. And good feedback is one that can hurt your feelings. After all, I’m doing this for peanuts, and someone is pointing me errors.

So, in the beginning, the story was more direct and less subtle. Mário said to me: “I don’t like this. It is boring and very predictable. You need to shake the story a bit, and it needs to be different. Then, I reworked the synopsis and started the full script with no artist in mind.

We can accept or reject critics, but it is important to have a more real feeling about what you have in your hands – and I knew the material had great potential. Then, with a synopsis, I wrote the portrait of the main characters, and the script was done for the course of a year. Pages had a variable number of panels, set to match the pacing of the story.

Second Stage – find an artist

In 2015 I found a book called Mighty Enlil, published by El Pep. I became immediately in love with it. The artwork was minimalist, it had a good sense of humor, and the city landscapes were amazing. You can read this book as a webcomic in http://themightyenlil.blogspot.com

But why is Pedro’s art a perfect match for Mindex?

  1. It’s line art at its best. I always imagined Mindex with line art. Don’t ask me why…        
  2. It’s minimalist. For some, Pedro’s art could be simple, without detail, for others, like me, it is minimalist.

After reading comics for so long, I’m getting tired of ultra-realistic art full of detail or noise – detail without narrative propose – the style over substance.

It’s tough to express what you want without noise, and that’s the nature of Pedro’s art. If he wants to draw a character emotional moment, he uses a face with the least amount of detail needed to express that emotion.

1. It’s minimalist but it’s pop art!

Pedro’s use of color is completely connected with the art – the color fleshes out everything – the scenario, the characters, the emotions. His colors capture the mood of the scenes perfectly, and the balance of the color is perfect.

2. A realistic artwork would increase the violence – we wanted a stylized violence

Panel 2 and 3 – there are more violent scenes in the book but this one avoids heavy spoilers

Third Stage – Adapting the script to the artist

As you can see in Mighty Enlil, Pedro uses a grid of six panels per page. He asked me to use this grid as a layout because he was comfortable with it. 

Then, when I had to rework the script, I realized that I needed an element to elevate the scope of the story – the notion of space. My suggestion was to use sometimes just horizontal panels for establishing shots, or scenes with more characters and drama – Panel 4 is a perfect example.

Panel 4 – The grid is simple, but see the body language and the camera angle – it sets everything in motion.

The Characters

I’ve created the characters early on, but when Pedro came aboard, he provided an idea that changed the book completely.

Let’s see the design of the characters:

From left to right:
– Conrad Kane;
– Eva Windra;
– Jonas Prince;
– Thomas Morrison.

My first idea for the Eva character was Adam and the surname, an anagram of Darwin. But Pedro suggested this character to be a woman, with a governess look – the idea was perfect. A serious governess is the most trustworthy person in the World – she is for our first thought what DigIT Corporation is for all World.

Final Thoughts

Being this book is the result of a decade of work, we had to put everything on it. For us, we aren’t just creating a book for you – we are trying to create the best possible experience an experience.

I wrote a script, then Mário did some more adjusts and Pedro draw ten more pages. Everything was done to give the reader the best storytelling possible, with a beautiful book available in Portuguese and English.

What to expect from this graphic novel?
– Will Mindex change thoughts?
– In which situations will DigIT Corporation be allowed to change a person’s memory?
– Can I buy a memory in the store?
– Can I live again a hot sex night?
– What do I need to be a citizen in this society?
– Can a person be transformed into another, by changing all the memories?

Where to buy the English edition?

The book is available in Kingpin books (both portuguese and english version). The english version will be also available in the Previews Catalog during 2020.

Bye! See you in the Mindex!

By Fernando Dordio

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