What happens when you gamble with The Devil and actually win everything you've ever desired? What you get is an entertaining moral tale from writer Ross May (TMNT Adventures) and artist Brett Wood (The Silver Bullet). I got a chance to sit and chat with "Devil Dealers" writer Ross May to discuss about his latest graphic novel.
Alex: "Devil Dealers" invokes quite a moral dilemma regarding greed and whether we humans actually enjoy the things we want or just lust after the chase of a dream. Was that the mindset when writing this group of characters and how did the story come about?
Ross May: It was one of the things I had in mind. In the story Greg Gagné is this great gambler, and in a game with the Devil wins half of all the world's money. So cash is just appearing for him everywhere now, like in accidents made by his bank that give him $666 thousand dollars. For Greg in particular, this is great for around a day, but then he realizes his ability as a gambler is now useless. He wins every match by luck, when before he was really skillful at it. I don't think we touch too much on humanity in general, but for Greg the chase was better than the ultimate win.
About the group of characters, I like folk tales where people outwit the Devil. I don't think anyone has put together a super group like that before, but it seemed right to me. They don't really have super powers, but you have this great gambler, a chess master, and a fiddler, and somehow these abilities are going to help them beat Satan. My favorite is the woman who asked to be faster than anybody else, which Satan agrees to, but now every time the Devil tries to claim her soul she is faster than him and can run off. It reminds me of the Road Runner and Wil-E-Coyote.
There was definitely a diverse dynamic between the characters and The Devil. Each gambler interacted with The Devil differently and it was fun to see those interactions play out. Is this incarnation of the Devil based on anything in particular?
Personality-wise, the Devil here is based more on folk tales than anything out of the bible. Stories people have told where the Devil appears in a puff of smoke one night and tries to trick you or proposes a contest. Religion comes into the story a few times, but a lot of that's playing around with extra little rules, like the idea that holy water could be effective in stopping Satan. It's about as religious as knowing how to stop vampires.
In many fiction stories, The Devil usually takes the form of a suit wearing mustache growing swindler. The Devil in "Devil Dealers" however, takes on the form of beautiful women more prominently so than male. Do the human disguises also attribute to the folk tales you mentioned?
The Devil taking human form in general goes back to folk tales, certainly. I just figured Satan could transform into anything, which is not an original idea. There's a Twilight Zone episode where Julie Newmar plays the Devil, making the obvious connection that the Devil could be physically seductive as well as persuasive with what she/he is offering.
You worked on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series during its Mirage days. What was it like working on such a well known brand?
Writing for Ninja Turtles was great! On top of being famous characters, I grew up during the original turtle-craze, so they hold a special place in my heart. The 1990 movie might be the first thing I saw in theatres. And I got to work a little bit with their co-creator Peter Laird, and Steve Murphy and Chris Allan. They were all people whose work I had read growing up. Steve Murphy, who actually wrote 90% of the Archie "TMNT Adventures" line of comics under the pen name Dean Clarrain, told me I was the first person to work on the Ninja Turtles who had grown up watching the cartoon and reading the comics. I'm the first of this second generation working on them, which is cool to me.
Was there a huge transition between writing an already established property and creating your own original content?
Not a huge transition. For Devil Dealers I had the freedom to do what I liked, but when I write for big properties I know what's acceptable and what's not very early on. I'm very rarely ever told "no" when working on someone else's characters.
Did you have an idea already for how the characters and The Devil should look like? How was the collaborative process like with artist Brett Wood?
Brett and I hashed out what characters should look like early on. I think whatever disagreements we came to, we got them out of the way at the start of working together! It just took us a short while before he understood exactly what I meant at times, and I knew what he was going to put down. I remember I described the Devil as being skinny, and Brett ended up drawing him huge, sort of like a sumo wrestler. And Brett was definitely right on the money for that one, because our Devil is this guy who's living off vices and if he were human, would exhibit all these signs of excesses like greed and lust and gluttony. So making him big and almost naked was perfect!
I can't say it enough, but I hit the jackpot in working with Brett. He's a terrific artist, and taking on around 120 pages of a comic was a huge commitment that not many other artists would be willing to do. So I'm a lucky writer to have partnered with him.
Are there any plans for additional stories with these characters? The ending of the story seemed to leave the door open for the group. If not, do you have any other other projects in the works to follow up "Devil Dealers?"
We would like to do a sequel. If you read Devil Dealers, you'll notice there's this macguffin of a book written by Faust that the Devil and all the characters are after. You don't really find out what's inside it, though everyone treats it as this important thing. There's a sequel planned out that would explore what that book contains, and it should be quite exciting.
"Devil Dealers" is now available for digital purchase at https://m.comixology.com/Devil-Dealers/digital-comic/49141
and in print at http://www.quickcomics.com/comic/devil-dealers
Official"Devil Dealers" website: http://www.devildealers.com/