DeConnick & Rios Get Dirty With PRETTY DEADLY

Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Credit: Image Comics

After making a name for themselves with books like Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel and Osborn, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios are taking a ride on a pale white horse into the wildest Wild West you’ve ever seen with the upcoming creator-owned series Pretty Deadly.

Set to debut on October 23, Pretty Deadly promises a mix of magic of Sandman with the brutality of Preacher. It’s star is the is literally Death’s daughter, a grim woman named Ginny whose face bears the tattoo of a skull and rides on a horse made out of smoke and ash. Newsarama spoke with Rios about the upcoming ongoing series, from the dirty deeds death’s daughter is contemplating to how she and DeConnick dreamt up this world of westerns and warlocks.

Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Credit: Image Comics

Newsarama: Pretty Deadly has been teased and hyped for going on a year now, Emma. What can you tell us about the book?

Emma Rios: It’s not a regular western. I define it as a “dark fantasy tale in the Old West.” There are some classic elements common in the genre but feels more like a fairy tale.

I think the atmosphere, in general, is inspired by cinema the most, with Sergio Leone as our main muse. If you think for a bit about his movies, there is definitively a surreal and disturbing vibe, in the austerity of each frame. We are going for that, and even if “surrealism” is quite a big concept for me, more in the line of what Alejandro Jodorowsky does.

Its true that we are playing with some symbolic elements and building a world that makes its living half from the classic stuff, and half from some made up folklore that helps us gaining some mood... You know, spiritual stuff.

So yep, not a regular western, not regular horror, and it’s basically a tale about family.

Nrama: The star of this is Ginny, a Western gunslinger who happens to be Death’s daughter and a reaper of vengeance. Tell us about her.

Rios: Ginny is what we would called our “solitary hero of the west”, although she is not actually a hero.

I see her in conflict against the system of this weird world we are creating. I want her to look quite elevated and magnificent... even if she is our main character is the mysterious one. Those kind of characters are not transparent neither easy to explain, like the Pale Rider.

Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: Speaking of her looks, visually Ginny has a very striking design. Can you tell us how she developed, from her face tattoo to how she dresses and carries herself?

Rios: The skull face tattoo was Kelly Sue’s idea. At the beginning my first thought went immediately to Fever Ray´s Karin makeup, which is incredible, but finally I ended up simplifying it a lot transforming it into line tattoos. Ginny’s quite stoic, which means we have to use very subtle expressions to build her up. Kelly Sue and I really care about the acting and the psychology of the characters, so, the lined tattoo make things easier.

Nrama: She’s called a reaper of vengeance. What exactly does that entail?

Rios: That she is the person to call if you need some retribution.

Nrama: I hear promises in future issues of gunfighters with swords; what kind of opponents will Ginny cross in this series?

Rios: Family.

And yep, I like sword fighting, I actually practice fencing myself so, I’m glad to have some of that. I just couldn’t restrain to include a Confederate cavalry saber in Ginny’s equipment and making her use it quite a lot.

I’m definitively trying to depict the fights as nuanced action sequences, with reasonable choreographies. It is fun stuff to do. I don’t like how this kind of action is filmed nowadays, with all those close shots that doesn’t allow you to see how the actors are actually moving. My two favorite duels are in The Duelists and in Seppuku. The first one was choreographed by Bob Anderson, who was the fencer legend who did among others Star Wars and The Princess Bride, the second by a kendo professional champion and even more, they used real swords. Both examples are perfect because they feel difficult, dangerous and real – and that’s what I’m looking for.

Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Credit: Image Comics

Nrama: In passing in an interview with ComicsAlliance you mentioned that the dead bunny in the previews plays a big role in the series. What can you say about that character?

Rios: It’s a character pretty attached to Ginny, to her childhood, and she guides us through the story.

Nrama: At the beginning of our conversation we talked about how Pretty Deadly isn’t a plain western. I see some strands of supernatural as well as modem fashion creeping into this; the same way Sergio Leone made his own “western” as well as the movie Sukiyaki Western Django. What’s the world like here in Pretty Deadly?

Rios: It’s definitively closer to Leone than to Takeshi Miike. I actually have a love/hate relationship with Miike that it’s unrelated to this but, oh well...

My supernatural muses for building the weirdness of Pretty Deadly atmosphere are the movie Kaidan, directed by Masaki Kobayashi which depicts some tales of Lafcadio Hearn. And Daisuke Igarashi, who is a Japanese creator whose work is really magical and oneirical.

As I mentioned, the stuff feels more like a fairy tale than the regular extreme horror or zombie stuff.

Nrama: You’ve worked with Kelly Sue on two prior occasions, but what was it about this project that made you want to go out on a limb from work-for-hire to do creator-owned work?

Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Art from Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios
Credit: Image Comics

Rios: I come from a small press environment in Spain, and I think owning your work is important.

Working together on those previous books at Marvel, Kelly and I were able to develop a pretty special relationship from the beginning. We are pretty much into the same stuff, the same level of enthusiasm about work and we also understand and trust what each other do completely.

We started talking about doing some creator-owned stuff after the third issue of Osborn, our first project together. That was pretty soon, but when she asked me I didn’t’ hesitate because I already knew she was the perfect partner in crime. I feel so lucky, so lucky, to have her.

I think we are able to help each other to be steady among all this freedom we have now. She is damn good and I’m learning things nonstop. She inspires me and makes me try to bring my “A” game all the time.

Nrama: For Kelly Sue it’s her first creator-owned work, but for you I think it’s your second – after the European self-published book you did called APB in Spain years ago. Can you tell us what you’ve learned about doing your own work from that and now with this?

Rios: Well, that was ages ago and even if I learnt a lot self publishing I wouldn’t count that as real pro stuff.

I helped to build a self-publishing association here in Galicia called Polaqia that was active for ten years. When you publish yourself and help others do the same you get to know how difficult these things are, and how responsible you are about your own stuff. The process, the insecurities, the promo...

Right now I’m incredibly excited as if I’m reliving that, learning again, and trying to show all I got. I’m under the impression that some things are changing, and Image looks like a perfect platform to make that possible.

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