We’ve always known there was something weird and magical about our historical capital city.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Valletta has now become a backdrop for an alien world in a cool and critically acclaimed comic co-created by an artist who worked on Hollywood blockbusters Interstellar and Inception.
Having visited the island to participate in the 2014 edition of Malta Comic Con, comic book creator power couple Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko were instantly captivated by Valletta’s architecture, and decided to incorporate it into their critically acclaimed comic book series, Invisible Republic – described as “Breaking Bad meets Blade Runner”.
“The Maltese capital city of Valletta was a huge inspiration for Avalon in Invisible Republic, particularly for the portions that take place in the past. I took many photos, and tons of details made their way into the book,” Hardman writes in the back pages of the comic’s 7th issue.
While Avalon may be an alien world, Hardman, who worked as a storyboard artist on various Hollywood movies apart from Interstellar and Inception, explains that he was keen to make it feel as ‘lived-in’ as possible.
Hardman also loved the venue for the Malta Comic Con, which took place at St James Cavalier that year.
“The convention is held in a medieval fortress. Seriously. The main staircase steps are worn because knights rode their horses up them. It beats the Javits Center any day of the week,” Hardman quipped.
More of a political thriller than a sci-fi adventure, Invisible Republic is set in a far future where humans have mastered interstellar travel and colonized various planets. But the comic isn’t about ray guns and strangely shaped aliens.
Rather, it focuses on a disgraced journalist Croger Babb’s quest to uncover the truth behind a now deceased revolutionary-turned-dictator figure Arthur McBride.
Thinking that a memoir belonging to McBride’s cousin and collaborator Maia may be his ticket to professional redemption, Babb soon discovers that it may actually be putting his life in danger. Because telling McBride’s story turns out to be a life-or-death matter for some.
Invisible Republic tells a layered and mature story that’s not too distant in tone to hit shows like (in fact) Breaking Bad, and coupled with its great approach to atmosphere and setting – partly thanks to our beloved Valletta, of course – it makes for a compelling read.
The comic has just completed its first 10-issue run, and will resume in September. You can order hard copies of the comic from your favourite online retailer, or get it in various digital formats from its publisher, Image Comics.
Meanwhile, here’s hoping that more international guests are inspired by Malta during this year’s edition of Malta Comic Con!