In Image's New Comic Burnouts, Teens Get High to Save the World

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Think They Live, except instead of sunglasses that allows people to see the aliens among us, it’s recreational drug use.

This is Burnouts, written by Dennis Culver and with art from Geoffo and Lauren Perry, which follows a group of delinquent teenagers who, after taking part in an anti-drugs campaign at school, decide to do the very teen thing of ignoring any and all advice from an authority figure and smoking some pot. Instead of the trip they expected, however, they find themselves confronted by ethereal aliens—aliens that are real, hiding on Earth, and only visible in the after-effects of a high. How do you fight something you can’t see? With, err, marijuana, apparently.


We caught up with Culver and Geoffo to learn more.

io9: How did you both come aboard Burnouts as a project in the first place?

Dennis Culver: I started developing the idea for Burnouts a couple years ago and was looking for an artist. I had worked previously with Geoffo when he was the layout artist on the May installment of A Year of Marvels, starring the all new Wolverine and She-hulk in a story called “Mother’s Monsters.”


Geoffo: I really liked the script Dennis wrote and while I enjoyed my layout work for Marvel I was looking to do comics as a lead artist. So I got in touch with Dennis, sent him my portfolio, and something just clicked!

What’s the process been like working together on a series like this?

Culver: I had a fairly developed outline and had also written the first script when I sent it to Geoffo but like all comics it only really came to life once the art component was added. Geoffo brings life to the characters and storytelling that inspires me to push the story in ways I had not previously considered.


Geoffo: Dennis did the heavy lifting with the backstory of the characters and everything, he had a few ideas about the character designs, but was also very open-minded about bringing my vision into it.

We talk a lot about the storytelling, bouncing idea back and forth, showing layouts, and so on.


Dennis, can you tell us about how you came to drug use as a gateway to the kids seeing aliens?


Culver: I think every high school has that group of kids we call “Burnouts,” one day I was staring at the ceiling thinking about story ideas and I had this notion of their drunk and high antics having a purpose. What if they were actually fighting something only they could see. From there the idea took off.

Geoffo, is there anything that was a challenge for you artistically when it came to depicting the secret world of the aliens the kids see when they’re high?


Geoffo: Dennis had a very specific idea about how the aliens should look and I think it’s awesome. They are floating a bit like a balloon with the tentacles waving randomly and with their neutral faces. They look inoffensive. But, you don’t want to go near them! The challenge is to make them both threatening and beautiful. A bit like a jellyfish. Beautiful, but from far away.

That’s why I love to draw them and their tentacles waving, it’s almost a zen thing to draw. Before they possess you, I mean.


How did you want to convey what was real and what wasn’t during those sequences?

Culver: For this first issue, we worked to keep the point of view centered on the protagonists so we only experience the hidden reality when they get in an altered state.


Geoffo: Everything is real! Only the Burnouts can see the aliens though and they have to get high to do it.

The aliens are not ghosts, so they can’t phase through objects. The fun part is to make everybody act normal, and having the aliens “swimming” between them. That’s the spooky thin, they surround us but move like thin air. I have to draw the daily life of people and make it feel real to the reader, so when they see an alien lurking it looks very disturbing.


Burnouts #1 is set to hit shelves this September.