Godshaper: Interview with Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface
Reach Out and Touch Faith
In 1958, the laws of physics stopped working. Ignition, electricity, combustion—anything that made life easy suddenly ceased to exist. Instead, everyone woke to find themselves accompanied by their own personal god. Everyone except the Godshapers, that is.
Where did the idea for Godshaper come from?
Si: Like most stories, a confluence of things. A morbidly cynical fascination with religion, a hopeless affection for outcasts, that sort of stuff. First and foremost it’s a story about two pals. Two vagrants, rejected by society, having heroic, sexy, and sinister adventures while travelling across a unique world.
Speaking of which: I like my alternate realities to feel functional. Often the key to that is creating a new but totally viable economy. That sounds kinda dull, I know, but it’s critical if you want your tale to feel solid as well as novel.
With Godshaper the key idea was this: a world where worship equals wealth. Everyone has a personal god of their own, which basically functions as a bank account. Bigger is richer, smaller is poorer. Well, from that one starting point endless cool opportunities arise. What if that god served other functions too? Part status-symbol, part bodyguard, part super-powered slave. The bigger your deity, the richer you are, and the more cool stuff it can do. Hence, the more powerful its believer becomes in society. You get right down to it, it’s just a super-visual form of our existing capitalist system, based on metaphysics instead of physics.
So far so WTF, right? But then the big question: what would an outcast look like in a society like this? How about a person without a god? Or, I guess, the opposite…
Tell us about Ennay and Bud.
Si: Ennay sees himself primarily as a poet and musician. He’s active in the counterculture music scene called “Cantik.” Problem is, wherever he goes all people notice is his godlessness. Having no deity of his own makes him a “shaper,” a sort of servant underclass. He’s unable to own any money (worship equals wealth, remember?), but like all shapers he has the ability to remold and reconfigure rich people’s gods.
The upshot of that is, everyone hates him but everyone wants his help. It’s a pretty crappy deal. All he wants is to get to San Francisco to play his music, but wherever he goes he gets sucked into other people’s crazy lives. Society’s never given him anything but grief, but keeps on asking him to play the hero all the same.
Jonas: All the odds are stacked against them. Money’s out of the picture. Home was never an option. Friends are hard to come by, or just as likely to sell them out. Ennay and Bud have nothing left but their wits, fists, and charm by means of navigating through this messed-up country. The ultimate underdogs.
Si: Teaming up with Bud gives Ennay a measure of anonymity. Traveling with the mischievous little god makes him look like a regular Joe, more or less.
Bud’s a mystery, frankly. Gods aren’t supposed to exist without worshippers. It shouldn’t be possible. But the rascally little guy seems happy enough, and has zero interest in trying to unravel his own mystery. The world, alas, has other ideas.
How did you go about designing the world of Godshaper?
Jonas: I’ve been drawing off a lot of my own experiences for the scenery. I’ve hitched, trainhopped, roadtripped, and motorcycled all over this rusty rat trap country—it’s fueling this rockabilly-60’s-folk-punk-hobo-apocalyptic-ish vibe I’ve been throwing down. It’s a crazy hybrid of all these conflicting aesthetics and ideas that collide so beautifully into each other.
What would your personal gods look like?
Si: I have a frighteningly clear vision of a pale and undernourished sloth.
Jonas: My god would be this orange owl-sphinx that acts like a space heater. I’d name her Rosandria and she’d have these gnarly hands that could give good back rubs and she’d be my tag team buddy for when I get into bar fights or whatever.