With the launch of my own post-apocalyptic parody novel about the IRS surviving World War III, A Happy Bureaucracy, I was itching to talk to one of my biggest heroes in the genre. It is no exaggeration when I say that Romantically Apocalyptic opened my eyes to the possibilities of storytelling in mixed media. I only needed to see a single comic strip to be hooked to the often idiosyncratic, deeply intelligent, and belligerent whimsy of Zee Captain’s adventures.
Romantically Apocalyptic’s creator, Mr. Vitaly S Alexius (which is the coolest name ever) is a madman, magician, and futurist. His comic has been read and loved by many and in a sea of mediocre webcomics, his shines like a hurricane lamp through the fog.
Vitaly S Alexius makes the wasteland fun. Its desolation something to be admired like a sunset rather than a bleak landscape to be loathed. I had to pick this man’s mind.
My Interview with Vitaly S Alexius
Fitz: The strips in Romantically Apocalyptic are beautiful. You often combine sunsets with ash and snow-covered ruins and death. It is honestly apocalyptic scenery porn, and these scenes can be greatly enjoyed on their own, even before the other elements of the comic, like dialog or plot, come into being. How long on average does it take to create these strips, and what draws you to depicting destruction so lovingly?
Vitaly: Each episode can take anywhere from a week to a few months, depending on the
On average an episode can take about two
RA hires many freelance artists from all around the world from Siberia to
Fitz: That makes a lot of sense. Romantically Apocalyptic contains just about every form of conceivable media. Photographs, illustration, cosplay, prose, audio-logs, music, and even animation can all be on the same page. When I first found it years ago my first thought was that it was the exact kind of thing that Scott McCloud proselytized about the possibilities of webcomics. Is “webcomics” even the right word for it at this point? How do you classify Romantically Apocalyptic and are there any kinds of media left that you want to play with?
Vitaly: It’s a multimedia graphic novel with light novel elements interjected into it.
I’m currently experimenting with fractal mathematics – integration of 3d fractals into scenery and also lots of cinematograph animations, planning to expand more into Adobe After effects when I find the time (Taking care of a one-year-old daughter can be very time-consuming).
Fitz: The comic is not just singular in its eclectic use of media, it is also genuinely jovial and absurdly whimsical, two things that are rarely found in post-apocalyptic storytelling. What has informed your sense of humor?
Vitaly: The humor in Romantically Apocalyptic is inspired by my childhood in Soviet Union stemming from books such as 12 Chairs.
Fitz: I’ll add that to my reading list, honestly after reading a bunch of Dostoevsky seeing a lighter side of Russia would be nice (any side of Russia beyond Dostoevsky is light compared, however). What ultimately attracts you to the wasteland?
Vitaly: The atmosphere of my comic is inspired by me growing up in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union Empire: Soviets left plenty of abandoned “Brutalism style” monuments, nuclear missile silos, factories, planes, ships, tanks, entire mining and industry towns all over Siberia and Eastern Europe. The collapse of USSR created fantastic, gigantic, derelict structures covered in moss and waterfalls that I’ve seen with my own eyes when I lived there and when I traveled across Siberia around 2004 (to take photos of various abandoned places).
Fitz: You are honestly the first creator I have interviewed with firsthand experience in that kind of desolation! You are also singular in that Romantically Apocalyptic is the only post-apocalyptic story I know of that takes the time to show the apocalypse through the eyes of the stuff that mankind has left behind. In it, we see the plight of a birthday cake candle fight off entropy, the unrequited love between a homeless man and a sentient bench, and the earnest anxieties of a refrigerator watching its food spoil. Is this just all played for laughs or is there something more to be said about our garbage inheriting the earth?
Vitaly: It goes far deeper than that.
The Native Americans have a belief called Animism. A religious belief that objects, places
Animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork
In the Universe of Romantically Apocalyptic ANNET (the global network AI system) made Animism real by imbuing, propagating every atom in the Universe with microscopic supercomputers, giving every concept in the Universe sentience, intelligence
Every object, every concept is an app and can be
The machine life in RA are echoes of human dreams, human wishes, human desires and dreams that spread, evolve and multiply, eventually eclipsing, bending the rules of the Universe itself, altering space, time, etc.
It creates a good exploration of a post-singularity world ruled by absurd, purpose-focused machine intelligence.
Fitz: Frankly that is the sort of mesmerizing ideas that mainstream media fears to take on. What is your favorite thing about being an indie creator and what has been your biggest challenge?
Vitality: Favorite: Meeting my fans around the world at
Challenge: Continually self-publishing (printing) my own books in Canada, particularly during downturns of Canadian economy.
Fitz: Speaking of which, please tell me that there is a physical book that I can force my friends and family to read!
Vitaly: There is! Four of them in fact, as a bundle deal with lovely prints and free shipping worldwide.
You can get it at https://shop.rom.ac/
…And don’t forget to check out M.P. Fitzgerald’s own post-apocalyptic parody, A Happy Bureaucracy!
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