Forty-Five (or 45) is an ambitious project--a deconstruction of the superhero genre that is part anthology, part jam comic. The graphic novel is written by Andi Ewington and illustrated by 45 separate artists, each providing a single page for the collection--based only on Ewington's script, with no additional instruction or communication with the other contributors. Forty-Five features the artistic talents of Liam Sharp, John Higgins, Sean Phillips, Charlie Adlard, Jock, Lee Garbett, Admira Wijaya, Carlo Pagulayan, Rodin Esquejo, Matt Timson, Neil Edwards, Trevor Hairsine, Francisco Kobasic, Andie Tong, Rufus Dayglo, Dom Reardon, Sally Hurst, Andrew Wildman, Stephen Thompson, Jeff Anderson, Frazer Irving, Ben Oliver, Eduardo Francisco, Dan Brereton, Barry Spiers, Robert Atkins, Fiona Staples, Bob Wiacek, Boo Cook, Gary Erksine, Ross Dearsley, Lee Carter, Sean O’Connor, Kevin, Dave Ryan, Randy Green, Tim Vigil, Simon Coleby, Calum Alexander Watt, Steve Sampson, Kit Wallis, Anthony Castrillo, Seb Antoniou, Dan Boultwood, Dan Fraga, Kenneth Rocafort; and colors by Kat Nicholson, Jason Cardy, Teodoro Gonzalez, Alex Owens, Matthew Wilson, Frank D’Armata, Bob Pedroza, Tom Smith.
The story comprises a series of interconnected interviews documented by the fictional James Stanley, a soon-to-be father who wants to find out what lies in store for his family if his unborn child turns out to carry "the Super-S gene," which would grant the child superpowers. Stanley encounters a range of characters from single mothers struggling to raise gifted children, to rebellious super-teenagers, to suicidal risks unable to cope in a "super" world. But this isn't just some sappy voyage of personal discovery, as Stanley's series of inquiries lead him down an ominous path when he stumbles upon an organization known as XoDOS.
As a comic fan and new(ish) father, I find this concept very compelling. And with my own creative work centered on jam comics (see the origins of Division 18) and anthologies (see the ongoing Doctor Dremo's Taphouse series), I'm curious to see how Ewington and the 45 team mesh those concepts in this book.
Several of the artists, as well as writer/creator Ewington, have come together again to give their personal takes on James Stanley's quest, by answering one (not so simple) question:
If your own child were born with the Super-S gene, what power would you want them to have (and why)?
Andi Ewington: The power of invulnerability. It would mean one less thing I'd have to worry about for him/her.
Trevor Hairsine: The power to sleep peacefully through the night! You really don't need to ask why.
Lee Carter: I would be careful wishing superpowers upon my kids…Giving the trouble they cause now, man imagine the chaos of having a super child…No more fun fights with my boy as he would probably pummel me to dust. My daughter already has a fast metabolism so her food consumption would escalate to the point of not going shopping but to just actually eating the supermarket, bricks n all.
If I had the choice of powers for them…super intelligence would be nice…no more school runs. And a teleportation power would be a handy skill to avoid airport hassles.
Jordan Raskin: Super-speed. So he can do his chores in the blink of an eye. :)
Fiona Staples: The power to feed, clean, and basically take care of themselves practically from birth. Kind of like a cat. No, I'm not a mother.
Eduardo Francisco: Super ability to reason and understand; cleverness, brilliance; knowledge, information. Because it’s a long time living in an ordinary world. But my children are already special…really.
Sally Hurst: The gift of 'multi-prospicience', or at least the ability to choose to see more than one possible outcome of a particular action, in order to determine the most favourable. I only have hindsight, and that's not so useful! xxx
John Higgins: The first finger on its left hand can change any inanimate object into "GOLD."
The second finger on its left hand can change any inanimate object into "CHOCOLATE."
The third finger on its left hand can change any inanimate object into "CURRY."
The fourth finger on its left hand can change any inanimate object into "GUINNESS."
And its thumb when stuck up the arse of a politician, makes them tell the truth!
Dan Brereton: I have two sons, and to be honest, I feel like they are already more super than me... but for the purposes of this question, I'm going to ask them...
Kenneth Rocafort: For me the coolest power for my kid will be to stop time.
And to now that you can move freely without any concern about time is great.
Cause the time we have is to valuable... and he will be without worries. But I wish
my son or dauther have this gift (power) after been a teenager... hehehe!
I would definitely love that power... but I have to be satisfied with the power that I have... DESSAPEARING when everyone closes their eyes... lol!
Boo Cook: the super-s gene power i would like my child to have is the power to violently explode. the explosion would be of a self determined magnitude that fitted the requirements of the scenario. the child's molecules would simultaneously reassemble at a destination in the universe of it's own choosing. i would probably name the child 'Little boy' , unless of course it was a girl...
Charlie Adlard: "The power of super hearing.. Well actually the power to listen to ANYTHING I say, which would be a start..."
Stephen Thompson: Elasticity, for my girlfriends sake.
Seb Antoniou: Flight- this is mainly due to the fact that there are so many powers I wouldn't want my child to have. For example- if they had super strength or mind control, they could do pretty much whatever they wanted and would be impossible to control. With flight, they can travel the world and have a great time without getting into too much trouble
Dan Boultwood: The power to go away and leave me alone. Mainly because we probably won't get on.
Matt Timson: Hmmm... it's a toughie. I'd want them to have a power that was useful to them, but not threatening to me or dangerous for them. I wouldn't want to be insanely jealous of them either- so off the top of my head, flying, super strength, invulnerability, telepathy, telekinesis and pyrokinesis, are all out.
Probably some kind of linguistic skill, like Cypher out of the New Mutants. I used to think he had the lamest power ever- but in today's world, he'd be pretty useful.
I definitely wouldn't want an exploding baby.
Sean O'Connor: How about the ability to absorb knowledge instantly - would help with toilet training, right? Or even the ability to spend long periods of time sleeping quietly...
Steve Sampson: Time Travel has always appealed to me! For my child to be able to visit great moments in history or the future and be able to take me along for the ride.
Tim Vigil: have him be able to read future events to bet money on them and get lots of cash.
Sean Phillips: Super-silence!
Randy Green: A daughter, aka "Melancholy". She could transfer her or someone else's consciousness backwards or forwards through time to any previous spot in her or their lifetime. Sure it would be great to have some power that could save the world, but we have God for that. Her power would be more to grant the wish that everyone has in their life to at some point be able to go back and re-act certain situations. Either to simply enjoy moments of deep love or triumph, or to undo past mistakes or amend wrongs.
Carlo Pagulayan: Flight and strength and speed… so I get free air travel hehehe
Dave Ryan: The ability to remain quiet with no need of sustenance which in turn eliminates diaper duty, I'm just sayin'...it might be a good power.....
Rufus Dayglo: I'd like my super child to be able to answer silly questions for me... so I can keep drawing even sillier pictures. :-)
Dan Fraga: Time travel. They can take me to see old stuff.
Barry Spiers: The power of teleportation but with the added ability to take people along for the ride. That way he/she could give me ‘lifts’ to the shop or better... Do you wanna take Daddy to the South of France for an hour or two? Yeees you do wanna take Daddy to France don’t you. Marvellous!
Frazer Irving: Super intelligence, so I wouldn't have to spend 15 years teaching them the basic stupid stuff. Plus they'd be able to fix my mac if it got busted, and invent eco friendly fuels that we could patent and make ourselves super rich.
Kit Wallis: I think the ability to fly would be cool then they could fly you home from the pub! That would be helpfull!
Gary Erskine: I would probably wish for my child to have the power of flight. That whole Superman thing of flying around the world would be a childhood comic book dream and it would save me a fortune in air fares! (even with budget carriers!) ;)
Ross Dearsley: I think the power I'd like them to have most is to be able to influence people's mood -- it's a relatively unobtrusive ability, but it could be used to diffuse volatile situations, or to gently tip an opportunity in your favour! It's a nice alternative to mind-control, where you're still allowing the subject to make their own decisions but under more favourable mood conditions. [of course, you could also use it negatively, to create agression etc.]
Jock actually replied just to say he was too bogged down with projects to reply, so, on his behalf, and for the other creators who couldn't respond in time for this post, let's hope their fictional super kids have some form of time management/super-scheduling powers. Or maybe parental cloning? :)
Thanks to everyone who contributed an answer. (Now let's keep the responses coming in the comments--it's 45 the home game!) Forty-Five is available for pre-order now and will be in stores at the end of the year. Check the Com.X series' official site for more info.