Small towns have big secrets. And for the paranormal detective Drum Hellar, he’s about to find out just how big.
In the upcoming Image series Drumhellar, artist Riley Rossmo and writer Alex Link come together to uncover the demons, werewolves, bog-men, ghost cats and ex-girlfriends that can come out to haunt you. And beware: one of them stole Hellar’s psychedelic drug stash. Originally titled Strangeways, Drumhellar was changed due to a conflict with another comic’s title but Rossmo and Link are moving forward now and aiming for a November launch.
Rossmo and Link are following Drumhellar’s paranormal problem-solver after the success they had together with last year’s Rebel Blood. But whereas that series “just” had zombies, this series is bursting at the seams with all manner of supernatural variety.
Newsarama: From Strangeways to Drumhellar and into the actual meat of the book with demon detectives and monsters – a lot to talk about. Alex, Riley – what can you say about this new book?
Alex Link: At heart, Drumhellar is a story about a small group of people--and since that includes werewolves, demons, and a floaty pink cat-thing, we're using "people" pretty loosely here--figuring stuff out while at the same time exploring paranormal phenomena in small-town America.
Riley Rossmo: Werewolves, ghost cats and demons are people too. Just saying.
Nrama: The centerpiece of this series is a paranormal detective from which the new title tales its name, Drum Hellar. What’s he all about?
Link: Drum Hellar can be a little remote, so who he is is something of a mystery to everyone around him, and himself too. He seems to coast through life, which Padma, one of his exes, finds maddening. In the meantime, he pursues mysteries by finding different ways to invoke ecstatic visions that provide him with clues.
Rossmo: To me Drum’s more of a paranormal problem solver than detective. He experiences strange stuff and deals with it in as pragmatic a way as possible. Drum is also a plant enthusiast, pacifist, mini golf champion, and a fisherman. He enjoys diners.
Nrama: This is all set in a small South Dakota town. Can you tell us about this town and why you choice this part of the world?
Link: Well, we went with South Dakota for its badlands, rural settings, and natural history. The whole series won't be set there, though. Drumhellar's more about the freaky underside of American small towns in general--paranormal freaky and a more everyday freakiness too. It's an alternative to conventional big-city noir.
Rossmo: I wanted Drumhellar’s geographic environment to feel as grounded as possible, to contrast with the psychedelic realms we’d be portraying. Plus, I’m from the prairies which gives me a wealth of imagery to draw from so I don’t have to invent so much. Drumhellar give us an opportunity to show people with more urban experiences what goes on in small towns. We want to show everything from prairie oysters and pie eating contests to meth labs and rec room dungeons.
Nrama: In the solicits it mentions not only one ex-girlfriend, but a second ex-girlfriend that’s an ex to both him and the first ex-girlfriend. How’s that work?
Link: Are you asking us how a three-way works?
Rossmo: Drum seems to attract non-traditional experiences in all aspects of his life. Romantic relationships are another challenge for him to navigate.
Nrama: Speaking of confusion, this series was originally announced last month with the title of Strangeways – that’s the way it appears in Previews. But soon after Image announced a title change to Drumhellar; what does that mean, and what brought about the change?
Link: We were aware of a pre-existing title called Strangeways which we thought was defunct. The creator told us it was becoming active again, and even though you can't copyright the word, since it's also a place-name, he asked us to change it. It seemed like the right thing to do. So we did.
Nrama: Last question guys. This is a follow-up for you two after doing Rebel Blood together last summer. How’d you go from zombies there to full-scale supernatural here with Drumhellar?
Link: I think the main difference is one of scale: from one character and one narrative thread to several characters and threads.
Rossmo: I see Rebel Blood as kind of test run for Drumhellar. Making it was such a good experience for me. When you find a creative team you can work with, why stop at Zombies? I think the natural progression is to do stories about pink ghost cats, psychedelics, and angry spirits.