The Rocky Road to Publication: An Interview with the Creators of ‘Pray For Death’

August 4th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I first met Nicholas Doan, the writer of Pray for Death, from Zuda, DC’s webcomic division at Wonder-Con.  When I ran into him in San Diego, with the comic’s artist Daniele Serra, they very kindly agreed to tell me about how their journey to publication.

Detective Abigail Jenkins is the inverse of the typical pop-culture cop; the one who is labelled a ‘loose canon’ by the press while the guys at the station indignantly talk about how he ‘gets things done’.  She’s lauded by the press after an early success, but condemned by her peers.  When she starts to investigate a serial killer with a religion fascination who thrills at the thought of getting caught, it seems everyone around her is setting her up to fail.

I ask Doan what inspired him.

“I think serial killers are society’s most complex, interesting and disturbed monsters,” he says.  The idea flowed from there.

How did he come to work with Serra?

At first, Doan was in contact with Septagon Studios about Pray for Death.  They put him in touch with Serra.

“I thank them every day for introducing us,” Doan tells me.  “I came up with the concept and he made it look pretty.”

‘Pretty’ isn’t the word I would use, either for the concept or the art.  The people in this comic aren’t glamourous.  They have weathered faces and preoccupied expressions.  The background is hazy.  The pages themselves look muddy and grim, with dark splatters of pigment splashed over them in places.  This style amplifies the noir tone of the book, as well as our sense of forboding as we look through it.  There is a feeling that the killer could very well jump from the shadowy panels.  And there’s the blood.

“The blood,” Doan says, “is perfectly used.”

He tells me that Serra used coffee to get the right pigment and texture.  When I ask Serra where he go the idea, he shrugs and says, “My breakfast.”

Septagon asked them for five pages and two covers, which they supplied.  Then they waited, for days, weeks, and finally months.  Two months in total, which as any creator can tell you, is grueling.

Finally, they went to Zuda.  I ask how their experience was there.

“They took care of us.  It was a good opportunity to be placed in a big company.”

And so, outside of Pray for Death, at least, there is a happy ending.  Inside?

Check it out.

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Beaten to a…

July 14th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Bloody Pulp is the latest offering from Jeff McComsey and Jorge Vega. McComsey is one of the brains behind American Terrorist, which is available now on G1 and soon on iPhone. Its subtitle says it all: “Confession of a Human Smart Bomb.” Jorge Vega is the guy behind Gunplay, a book on vengeance in the Old West that I thoroughly enjoyed last year. Together, they have created Bloody Pulp.

Bloody Pulp has a few of my favorite things. It’s got crime and fisticuffs, for one. The lead is John “Pulp” Polopowski, who is brilliantly described in the synopsis on the Zuda site as “a nightmare for hire.” That’s an inspired description, and from what I’ve seen of Bloody Pulp, it’s true. When you need someone to be thoroughly beaten and disposed of, Pulp is your man.

The twist, of course, is that he isn’t entirely on the level. He’s been secreting people away to a safe house, rather than killing them. It’s kind of like witness protection through a funhouse mirror, only someone might beat you to death for disobeying the rules.

The hook is the arrival of Eustace, “a Negro bandleader”. The synopsis promises that sparks are going to fly due to his presence, and I’ve got the good word from Jorge that says he’s going to dig into the race and class issues of the ’30s. I’m definitely interested.

We’ve got eight pages to look at on ZudaComics.com. Check it out and, if you like it, vote for it on the site. As things currently stand, Jeff and Jorge are ranked #1. If they maintain that position, they get a slot on the Zuda site. The eight pages were just enough to get me interested, and Jorge and Jeff’s prior work were pretty solid. I’m going to be taking a look at a couple of their books, specifically American Terrorist and 9 Months, very soon.

In the meantime, though, you need to vote for Bloody Pulp and tell your friends.


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