Jeof Vita and Jeff Somers are the writing team behind Blood and Splendor, Acclaim Comics’ imagining of a “lost” Sliders episode. When approached by Earth Prime, the two were more than happy to talk about their comic collaboration, as well as their pitch to the television series — “Separation Anxiety.”
What are they up to now? “I put my ramblings aside and went all graphic design after Acclaim,” says Vita. “I eventually wound up at Marvel where I was Senior Designer and occasional Copywriter for the last 6 years. Currently I’m the Art Director for a publishing company WELL outside the realm of sci-fi and comics altogether.”
As for Somers, “he’s a big time sci-fi novelist now. His book The Electric Church is out now on Orbit Books and is part one of a trilogy.” He’s also the writer and owner of The Inner Swine, which has been around long enough to puzzle the hell out of “Blood and Splendor” readers when they find the term grafted onto Wade’s chest.
Blood and Splendor
“If I remember right, Tracy didn’t give us any plot notes, this was wholly our creation,” says Somers.
“Tracy had an idea for a story that involved the discovery of the New World and Columbus,” clarifies Vita. “He had knocked it about in the studio for a bit but never fleshed it out into anything concrete. It just kept rattling around. [Jeff] Somers and I had at the same time developed the idea for what eventually became ‘Blood and Splendor.’ When Jeff Gomez was soliciting scripts for the comics, he brought up Tracy’s idea about the New World. I told him Somers and I had something in that vein but it was more a focus on the Aztecs. Gomez submitted the pitch to Tracy who looked it over and gave some general notes which came back to us to fully flesh out.
“While the idea that became ‘Blood and Splendor’ was pretty much the story Somers and I had crafted in the first place, it was helped along by Tracy being so interested in pursuing that storyline so it was only fair that he be credited since the whole thing is his baby anyway. So Tracy did have an idea on what to do; Somers and I had a framework for how to get it done and Gomez found a way to make the two ideas come together and keep the spirit of all contributors intact.”
If the majority of the comic was written by Acclaim, what merits its “Lost Episode” status then? Vita parrots Jeff Gomez on this one.
“It was called a Lost Episode for marketing purposes,” he says. Also, “if Tracy had the means and the money, his New World storyline was one he was set on doing at sometime in the future. Since it all got wrapped up into ‘Blood and Splendor,’ it seemed to fit the bill.”
Who came up with the wormhole antivirus? Was that Tormé or Acclaim?
“The wormhole monsters were an idea from the studio, but I honestly don’t remember if it was a Tormé, Weiss, or Gomez thing. Either way, it had to get the blessing of the studio,” answers Vita.
Somers concurs. “I think [Tracy] gave us the wormhole monsters as a future element he was planning to bring into the canon.”
- Home of the Brave: the original pitch containing none of Tracy Tormé’s ideas or notes, followed by pages of hand-written notes about the issue, including alternate ideas on the teaser world;
- The treatment: a six page document outlining the pacing and plot of “Blood and Splendor”;
- The development draft: 16 pages of comic are sorted away, but the other 24 are still up in the air with plenty of hand-written ideas; and
- The rough draft: What artist Rags Morales might have worked from when he started putting together the issue’s artwork.
“Separation Anxiety” features Wade as well as Conrad Bennish, Jr., and contains a “strong (but economical) science fiction angle.” As the Sliders tumble through the quantum tunnel, a dimensional fission occurs, separating Wade from the rest of the group. While the men emerge on one alternate Earth ravaged by nuclear war, Wade emerges on a shadowy “offshoot-world” that is identical to its parent, but weaker—and, like a tuning fork, it’s slowly fading back into its origin. Wade, in possession of the Timer, must deal with the inevitability that this world is doomed to cease existence.
At the same time, both Wade and the men must contend with an artificially intelligent computer, designed by Bennish’s double, whose sole purpose is to ensure the survival of humanity even as it imprisons them against their will. With time ticking away, Wade must devise a way to save herself, her friends, and her new allies as the shadow world counts down to a second Armageddon.
“Separation Anxiety” was a direct result of our collaboration with Tracy,” says Vita. “The studio was actively looking for more scripts to put into the hopper and because Blood and Splendor worked on some level, we had the opportunity to provide a draft for a future show. But by then the show was going through some growing pains and it eventually got relegated to a “Story to Revisit at a Later Date” bin somewhere.”
- Click here to read the August 12, 1996 Second Draft of “Separation Anxiety”;
- Notes from Jeff outlining the rough path the story would take;
- A World of Difference: the original story break between Jeff and Joef;
- The Jeffs’ pitch to the television production office; and
- Their treatment leading to the script linked above.