Craig Sawyer: How 80s Buddy Cops Influenced MARS CITY VICE

Craig Sawyer is an indie creator who’s not letting quarantine or Diamond’s crumbling empire stop his comic. Mars City Vice is a comic at the time of this post halfway through its funding goal. Monkeys Fighting Robots recently got into contact with Sawyer for some behind the scenes insight.

But before we do let’s give credit to the entire creative team of Craig Sawyer and Chris Webb as writers, penciler Deivid Deon, inker Sandro Rebeiro, colorist James Brown, and letterer Ed Dukeshire.

Craig Sawyer’s Mars City Vice

Straight from the Indiegogo campaign:

Mars circa 2089, humans live and play alongside various extraterrestrial races. Several planets in our solar system have been colonized for many years. The Moon has sprawling slums, while Mars has become a popular and exclusive theme park based on a super stylized version of 80’s Miami. Two unlikely police detectives, a human Maxwell ‘Moony’ Boone, and his new alien partner Tykar ‘Ty’ Baths try and overcome their differences, as they work undercover in a fake 1980’s Miami investigating a mysterious kingpin that is threatening to corrupt the solar system with a new drug made from a rare alien blood.

Time For The Testimony

Monkeys Fighting Robots: From the look of the images, there are a lot of homages to 80s buddy cops like Lethal Weapon and Miami Vice. What do you find so appealing about this genre and how will you try to make it different?

Craig Sawyer: I was in prime impressionable age when I saw the first Lethal Weapon, I was twelve. That film came out in 1987. The third season of Miami Vice had also debuted. Buddy cops and mega explosions were in full swing. Lethal Weapon‘s writer Shane Black infused LW with dark humor and helped birth the modern genre we know. The story is constantly dancing on the edge between cartoonish absurdity and the dark serious. It has emotional gravitas with Rigg’s suicidal tendencies, but also lots of dumb fun entertainment, plus the cast was great.

Miami Vice had a cultural aesthetic that had never been seen on TV, and my young self just thought it was damn cool. I mean, fast cars, shootouts, and hot women. Action cop shows become the new western in the 80s, but the line between the good guys and the bad guys had started to blur. The 80s saw the birth of the anti-hero.

Although Mars City Vice is strongly influenced by those action films and shows, we are trying to build in some deeper philosophical ideas into our story. The main theme being – nothing is as it seems, and what is reality?

MFR: Following up that, what is it about Miami that you wanted to include this replica as the setting? For that matter, aside from the presence of aliens what kind of culture encompasses this city?

Sawyer: The 80s seemed very sci-fi to me, plus it was a golden age for rad movies, TV shows. music, cartoons, toys and tech. The computer age was born in the 80’s. And what better place than Miami to be inspired by. , The TV Show Miami Vice was a big part of that time period’s look, using no earth tones in its color palette. The same colors we use to bring this world to life, and it makes for a great looking comic book. The 80’s MTV look, with Armani jackets and Ferragamo shoes, but with an outer space sci-fi twist. I thought it was a mash-up that was begging to be brought to life, and here it is in Mars City Vice the graphic novel.
MFR: The images and suggest something of a noir-like story with action; not unlike the video game Hotline Miami. Can fans and backers expect the over-the-top action from those influences?
Sawyer: Oh, there is real crime in bogus 80’s Miami Mars City, and tons of over the top violence. This book is for mature audiences. I’m a big fan of movies like Scarface and the humor of Deadpool. Hotline Miami looks like a very cool game, but I haven’t played it yet, I’ve been too busy writing! Our main protagonists, Boone and Baths, are a homage to Crockett and Tubbs from the old 80s TV show, but they are very different characters in our world. For example, Baths is a chameleon cat man from a race called Maldakiens, who’s blood has become a valuable commodity in the drug trade. Boone was excommunicated from his old job in Lunar P.D., and put out to pasture in this 80’s theme park, which he can’t stand. These two guys start out at odds until they realize they have similar agendas. The humor comes in from these guys living in 2089 having to go to a place where only 80’s tech is allowed.

MFR: Aside from the influences of the above titles, what exactly are the themes surrounding Mars City Vice?

Sawyer: Mars City Vice will have all the big explosions and car chases, but Chris Webb (my writing partner) and myself started with the series with an underlying deeper philosophical theme in the back of our minds. We wanted to explore the big existential question of what is real and what is not. This world we have built has many different levels of reality. What is reality? I mean, our lead characters are real cops, who play fake cops in a replica of 80s Miami, but who also pretend to be undercover cops that end fighting real criminals. The author Phillip K. Dick asked this very question with sci-fi novels like “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (became the film Blade Runner) and “A Scanner Darkly.” His fiction often explored alternate realities, simulacra, etc.

MFR: Which of your characters do you have the strongest affinity towards?

Sawyer: I gotta say, the more broken and on the fringe they are, the more I like them. The bigger the outcast, the better. Boone and Baths are both pretty broken and seeking redemption in their own ways. Family plays a big part in who these guys are too. It’s the one thing that keeps them being heroes. There has always been a thin line between those who break the law and those who uphold it. I love the quote from the TV series True Detective (the first season) where the character Rust Cohle says “The worlds needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.” Props to writer Nic Pizzolatto for putting those words in that characters mouth. I think about that quote a lot while writing.

MFR: How would you consider the process of this series involving your creative team?

Sawyer: This has been a fun and challenging book. Some of my art team lived the 80’s and some didn’t. There have been a lot photo descriptions sent. I couldn’t ask for a more professional team. I have been really lucky to find these guys and work with them. A lot of these artists have worked for the big publishers Marvel and DC. It’s been good being able to keep artists working through this Covid craziness. That’s one of the main reasons for doing a Indiegogo fund raiser. The money raised to keeping artists working, we aren’t just burning this money.

MFR: Finally how many parts of this series will backers and fans be expecting?

Sawyer: This will be a five-issue arc that we are planning to release in a part one and two. If this first Indiegogo goes well, we will try and finish it all. I am also going back toe Kickstarter in late May with my other passion, my board game Secret Unknown Stuff: Escape from Dulce. I am also co-owner in Sentient Cow Games. Also (I’ve been busy in Quarantine – lol) look for a Hitchcockian short film ‘The Check’ I wrote and directed to be released on Youtube in the next week on my Craig Sawyer Channel (Not to be confused with Craig “Sawman” Sawyer’s channel).

Thanks again to Craig Sawyer for taking the time to interview with us. To join in on the Indiegogo campaign, click this link (or the above one) to help fund this series.

Jake Palermo
Jake Palermo
Greeting panel readers, My name is Jake but I never replace anyone or anything; I merely follow and fill in the gaps. I write stories and articles that help people piece together anything that helps them understand subjects like culture, the people who write their favorite stories, and how it affects other people.