Plaid Klaus unveils gripping, gritty sci-fi noir comic

Acclaimed comic book creator Plaid Klaus takes on the role of writer and artist in the upcoming hive spirit. Following on from his previous work on the Image Comics miniseries Trip canceled along with Ryan O’Sullivan, Plaid launched a Kickstarter campaign for the original graphic novel. hive spirit follows a tough detective named Kip in the sci-fi world of Chronos, estranged from his family as he investigates grisly crimes as he tries to reconcile his own compromised memory in this dark, black world. After a sold-out limited print at New York Comic-Con 2021, Klaus is thrilled to bring hive spirit to even more readers through the live Kickstarter campaign.


In an exclusive interview with CBR, Plaid Klaus shared his inspirations for hive spirit. He also explained some of the story’s narrative themes and gave some insight into the beautiful artwork as Kip explores the seedy society he’s sworn to protect.

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CBR: Klaus, what are the origins of hive spirit and the buddy-cop dynamic between Kippy and his robotic sidekick Parker?

Plaid Klaus: I started this project before Trip canceledjust the early stage [of] come up with the concept. It may have been five years of development but it has changed a lot. This is my first project as a writer, so I learned a lot about where you think a story is going and where it takes you. [laughs]


Parker is the equivalent of a cell phone. It’s a standard issue. Each citizen of the Hive has a robot. Kippy takes it upon himself because he’s been isolated for so long. He became attached to Parker, much like Wilson of Castaway. He is loved [him] with more human qualities but he is essentially a sidekick to the machine.

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Where did the idea behind this mix of neo-noir and science fiction come from?

I love film noir and crime novels but I didn’t want to do a pure crime series because, to be honest, I wasn’t sure I had the clout for it. I’m also a big science fiction fan. I was trying to find a way to merge the two together. The story I was trying to tell is veiled as film noir but it’s actually much more science fiction in terms of the psychological depths of the narrative. He transformed and went his own way. At first, I just wanted to mix the two genres that interested me. There are captivating concepts that I wanted to explore.


I was reading this book called Human nature and social order by Charles Cooley published in 1902. He said that if you remove humans from society, they are no longer humans. You can’t have a society without humans. It’s this strange relationship where they coexist and [you] can’t get away from it. This book is about what happens if you strip a person from society, what happens to them and how vulnerable are they to influence? There’s a lot of other stuff layered on to how humans are manipulated in terms of the stories we tell ourselves, which are tied to society. If we remove them, what happens?


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AT hive spiritit’s Kip on this universal theme to reunite with his family as he investigates the dark side of this highly structured and calculated society.

He’s looking at cases he’s not supposed to look at, following cases involving these missing girls. The tone started to change with the Jeffrey Epstein stuff [that] come. It was shut down in a weird way. The story has become what if a detective scratches a story like this, especially if the mechanisms of society itself are designed to prevent him from obtaining more information. He also becomes influenced by that other force which [tries] to shape and manipulate it. This takes him in another direction. It’s about, with something so horrible, how do you deal with it? What happens if the information you receive is itself questioned?


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All along hive spiritthe theme of Kip’s memories and the possibility that they were altered plays a big part.

Yeah, and how it leads the hero through a journey. We live in a society and there are horrors in society that you learn about as you get older. If your daily motivations come from false narratives, can you consider yourself a good person if you support an evil structure? The Hive represents society and the Hive Mind represents the forces that drive society. Being a small piece of that, your skill is only so great. It is impossible to make these moral decisions when you are inside a structure over which you have no control.

This is Kip’s dilemma: do I trust an outside force that speaks to me about the society I live in that contradicts my whole moral structure or does that open me up to a different set of manipulation? Ultimately, if you’re a good person with good intentions, the thing that drives the story can corrupt you in the same way as the corrupt people you face. At the heart of it all is how a detective can save the world if he can’t see the full picture. how can he do the right things?

If the work with Trip canceled was a psychedelic neon dream, hive spirit looks like a more washed out, darker style where it almost feels like the story is going on perpetually at night.

I wanted to evoke the noir feeling and stay true to that style, but I wanted it to be more raw. More grain was needed. I was aiming for a much more exaggerated palette. Sometimes I can’t help it and I always have these neon mismatches because it’s a graphic novel and too toned down, something overdone seems a little dead. I wanted it to feel like a living universe, but I wanted to make sure it still evoked the insane truth of a film noir aesthetic.

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You also have creative panel layouts for this story.

I really wanted to expand the comic book medium and do something within it that you can’t necessarily do with other mediums. With the memory element, I wanted to use 16-panel pages as a narrative device. In each series of chapters – at the beginning and end of each act – there are these 16-panel pages that involve memory and puzzle pieces. Everything is superimposed at the beginning and at the end of these acts [and] continues to change history and what it means. It was intentional. There’s a lot of strategy involved in the outline that’s unique to the comic book medium. I wanted to use it to tell the story.



hive spirit had a limited run at New York Comic-Con 2021 which sold out. What excites you about bringing this edition to a wider audience via Kickstarter?

To make a franchise work, you have to keep nurturing it. It’s a way to put it in more hands. I’m curious to see the reviews on the book. I always like to hear what readers think of a story. I’m interested to see where I can pick up the book in the future!

Written and illustrated by Plaid Klaus, the Hive Mind Kickstarter campaign is currently live.

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