Chimera Review, plus a Q&A with the creators

by Benjamin Williams
9th October, 2022
8 minutes

With CCTVYLLE coming to an end soon, the latest project from Gianluca Bonomo gives us an excellent little glimpse into what's to come. Chimera is something different, though. Instead of a comic, we have a bestiary - a collection of beasts from the future.

CCTVYLLE is in the past. Chimera is an extension of the disturbing dystopian world that Gianluca created. Society has been pushed to the brink of collapse, and the world has been saved by an advanced AI called BPHmt-696, otherwise known as Satyr. Unfortunately for everyone, the price of survival was high as the presence of the machine/animal hybrids, the Chimeras, offers a terrifying life for those humans unlucky enough to survive encountering some of them.

Chimera cover

As a bestiary, I wasn't sure what to expect going in other than seeing some seriously cool designs alongside a bit about each animal. I knew from Gianluca's previous work that he could think up some nightmarish creations. Bringing in Matt Hardy to pen the story added some extra excitement, given that we're big fans of his previous work. I expected fabulous descriptions, which we get, but surprisingly there's also a story buried in there. That was something I was not expecting.

Chimera starts with an introduction. Here you learn a bit about how Satyr came about following the Avian Monitoring Crash of the early 2030s - the link to CCTVYLLE I was hoping for! It's a good introduction to how Satyr came into being and how we reached the point where a bestiary could be made of all the hybrids it created. This is followed by an introduction by Satyr itself, as it welcomes you to view the hybrids it has created for a better and more efficient future.

The first few pages of the bestiary are the kind of pages you could find at a zoo, detailing the biology, deviations, size, status and threat level. It's all narrated by Satyr. About halfway through, things change from interesting information into realising there's more to this than I initially thought. The animals change from monitoring creatures to highly aggressive tactical hybrids. As the hybrids' threat level rises, so do Satyr's emotions. You see cracks appearing. The resistance is mentioned, and its inability to understand humans is stated as it wonders why humanity would fight back when the hybrids have been created to protect them. Although that is questionable, considering how many of the hybrids are a threat to humans and our freedoms.

It's a story aspect I wasn't expecting, and my interest increased a lot in the second half. It was no longer just incredible digital art of some messed up creations with descriptions that leave you wondering how the creators came up with these ideas. Now, we're getting glimpses into how things really are in this future world.

Chimera preview
Chimera preview - with a glimpse of my favourite, the Ratcupine

You also get a brief glimpse of the resistance as one of the hybrids is set after a member whilst telling us what this particular hybrid is for and looks like. It's horrific, by the way. Not just in how it looks, but what it can do. If this leads into a new comic series, then it's a brilliant way to introduce the world as it stands, and it also offers another nod to CCTVYLLE.

As for the art, Gianluca Bonomo, along with contributions from artists Alessio Schibuola and Vittorio Garofoli, has created a digital marvel. Each creature is digitally painted and they look incredible. They are beautifully presented. Some look like absolute nightmares. Others can look kind of cute until you read about them and realise that they are also terrifying in their own ways.

Every art page leaves you staring at it for a good minute, taking in the details or noticing how seamlessly some of these creations are put together.

Chimera preview

There's a good mix of hybrid types too. Some look like they could be real animals with modifications that enhance what they can do. Others are less subtle and are clearly two animals mashed together to create a new superior Chimera.

The variety of Chimera shows how much thought has gone into these creatures. It'd be all too easy just to create a collection of hybrids where two or more animals are combined to take advantage of their best parts. Some are just enhanced versions of an existing animal, like a Fennec Fox gaining some enhancements without introducing another animal into the mix. It showcases a great range of animals and how much thought has gone into each one to make them either better or new.

Chimera is potentially a stunning way to start a new series. And if this is not spawning a new series, then it's still a brilliant way to show what becomes of the world in the not-too-distant future of CCTVYLLE. But whatever the case, that link has me excited! If the last two pages are anything to go by, this won't be the last we've heard or seen of Chimera.

The underlying story raises questions about the developing nature of AI, technological surveillance and animal body augmentation - and I'd like to think that everyone is firmly against the last one. AI and technological surveillance, though, is likely to be a massive part of our future, and it certainly won't be the paradise that some people would lead you to believe. Chimera is a horrifying view of where life could go, especially with an AI that doesn't have the morals of humans. And the lack of understanding of why the resistance would fight back, where Satyr appears to start cracking whilst reading out their bestiary, was a highlight that took over all the incredible artwork. It's the defining point in the book as you descend from useful hybrids to downright terrifying creations.

Rating: 5/5

If you want to buy yourself, or someone else, a copy, then head over to the Chimera website, where you can pick up Chimera for £18. As good as the insides look, the paper used is top quality and worth every penny.

Q&A with the Gianluca Bonomo and Matt Hardy

With a book like this, it's only fair to have a few questions. So we put some to Gianluca Bonomo and Matt Hardy to see what they have to say.

How did Chimera come about with you two?

Matt: So I've known Luca for a while and from memory we were talking at MCM London. This would have been October 2021 I think. Luca had started developing CHIMERA and was looking for a writer to help bring it to life. I had just quit my day job to go freelance with writing, I was a fan of CCTVYLLE and loved the concept of CHIMERA - so Luca took a risk on me. Seems to have worked out.

Gianluca: Yeah, I remember that we talked about Chimera 11 months ago. It feels just great that we completed the book within 6-7 months. Matt and I started working more intensively on the project at the beginning of 2022 and didn't slow down until the book was sent to the printers.

How was the experience of working together on this project?

Matt: Seamless I'd say. Luca had a very clear idea of exactly what he wanted for the text for each CHIMERA - it made my job so straightforward. I'd get the latest hybrid image with Luca's notes on how he envisioned the creature, and then I'd get to tell my little story within that framework. It allowed me to fit CHIMERA in with my other books time wise and gave me some great writing prompts for each creature. 

Gianluca: Pretty smooth indeed, it's not always easy working with someone new, but I had the strong feeling that Matt would enjoy working on Chimera and bring an excellent result. I was right!

With CCTVYLLE mentioned early on, is a new comic series set further in the future with Satyr something we can look forward to? What does the future of Chimera look like?

Matt: Luca is the best person to answer that, but we've had some high-level discussions about either a bridging story between the near future time period of CCTVYLLE and the far future of CHIMERA. As well as a graphic novel continuing the dystopian story of Satyr's future world. It will come down to the success of the book, and the time needed to create a new chapter…

Gianluca: I'm thinking about it and I'm indeed pondering the idea of developing a graphic novel of epic feel. I just need to take a breather first and see how the book is received at MCM London, which has selected us for the October event. Hope to meet many of your readers on the 28th, 29th and 30th of October at the London EXCEL.

What is your favourite hybrid in the bestiary?

Matt: So that's a hard question to answer. As each Hybrid image came in, and I did the scientific research to bring it to life, that little story I crafted would make it my favourite. But looking back I'd say maybe the scary SpiderCrow (as it was the first Chimera Luca showed me and hooked me on the concept) or Batmole - as I still adore the huge metallic claws on a mole. Genius. 

Gianluca: It's got to be "Primus" (the amphibian primate). I'm not going to spoil it by saying why but what it does is quite impressive.

Note from Ben: my favourite is the Ratcupine. You can probably guess what two animals make that, but it's pretty cool, and the art for it is definitely my favourite too.

What do you want readers to take away from this bestiary?

Matt: So clearly we want them to be entertained, maybe even in awe of some of the imaginative creations in the book, but as well as a bestiary, CHIMERA also functions as a guide to a dystopian future, a roadmap to the potential dangers of a society that has given control over to an omnipresent Artificial Intelligence, and the measures that AI will go to ensure if maintains that control. Like many great works of fiction CHIMERA is a parable of sorts - a warning of the path that society could go down…

Gianluca: Especially if we blindly trust unscrupulous organisations and individuals whose primary interest becomes quite simply total control of everything and everyone. Stephen Hawking warned us about AI before leaving us. I do believe that in the right & wise hands it'll be a wonderful tool for our progress, however, the times we live in seem to suggest that we're running a little low on wisdom... We'll see what the future has in store for us all…For now I wish to say that Chimera was quite simply an enjoyable journey through which we had a great chance to unleash our imagination, an unconstrained and uncompromising vision to share with all those who will read the book. Whether the reader is a sci-fi/horror fun, a comic book reader, video game player, card/board gamer, RPG geek or simply an avid reader of fantasy and dystopian books, I think they'll all enjoy the journey.

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