Don't think the streets are the only ones with shadows -- the people who patrol them have a dark side, too.
Described as noir meets Lovecraft, writer David Hine is taking readers to new depths of despair with Ryder on the Storm. With a P.I. in an alternate world with a conspiracy as deep as his thirst for violence, what happens when our hero can be just as frightening as the foes he faces? We spoke with Hine to learn more about his flawed protagonist, the daemons he is up against, and just what this parallel-world-once-removed has in store for readers.Newsarama: David, just to start off with, how'd you get involved to do Ryder on the Storm?
David Hine: This is a concept that was brought to me in a very basic form by Radical Publishing. It was presented to me as "Chinatown meets HP Lovecraft". Essentially hardboiled noir thriller with Daemons. I like writing noir and Chinatown is one of my all-time favorite movies. Lovecraft is also an author who has had a big influence on me. One of my very earliest attempts to draw a comic strip was an adaptation of the Lovecraft story "Cool Air". Since I began working on Ryder I have also been commissioned to adapt the Lovecraft story "The Colour Out Of Space". That's synchronicity I guess.
Nrama: For those who haven't heard about your book, what can you tell us about the premise of this story?Hine: Ryder is a private investigator, working out of an unnamed city in a world that is one step parallel to our own world. There's quite a tradition of these retro-future worlds, particularly in movies like Dark City. That's the kind of atmosphere we're aiming for. It's the near future but it has lots of elements of the 1940's. In this world, Private Investigators have a greater legitimacy. They are partway between private detective and solicitor. Ryder is hired on behalf of a young woman called Katrina Petruska, whose boyfriend has apparently committed suicide, though the suicide is the most suspicious-looking death you could imagine and the cops clearly think Katrina did the deed. At first there seems to be little motive for either murder or suicide, until Ryder reads the dead man's journal and finds that he was obsessed with the existence of an ancient race of Daemons, who once ruled the world and look like they may be still exerting a huge influence on the affairs of mankind behind the scenes. Nrama: What can you tell us about Ryder as a character? How'd you come up with him?
Hine: Ryder has some of the standard elements of the hardboiled detective. He's a very tough cookie and he's a damned good detective, but he has a seriously dark side to his character that involves an addiction to violence. He's both repelled by acts of violence and drawn to commit them - like a junkie who wants nothing more than to go straight, but can't get rid of the monkey on his back. As the story progresses we also discover a lot of skeletons in his closet. It's really impossible to know if he's the hero or the villain of this story. That's true of most of the characters. This was a story where I really let the characters off the leash and some of the things they do came as a shock even to me.Nrama: Based on the solicits, there seems to be this Lovecraftian vibe you have going with this story -- particularly the instance of the daemons. What are these daemons, and what can they do?
Hine: These Daemons are a little more down to Earth than Lovecraft's. Lovecraft's demons are mostly unseen, lurking beneath the surface - both literally and metaphorically. Often they are no more than an evil presence that is never actually seen. Our Daemons are also hidden at first but they do take on a very real form. There is a secondary form of Daemon that is closer to the Cthulhu mythology of Lovecraft. That is a real horror that remains mostly unseen until the climax in the third issue.
Nrama: Now, Ryder will be teaming up with Charles Monk, who is described as "the last daemon hunter." Any word as to what this guy is like? What's the appeal of the character?Hine: Charles Monk has been around for a very long time. He's old now, but he still knows how to kick Daemon ass. He is the last of a cultish group of Daemon hunters who have existed since the Middle Ages. They were a little like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Their Holy Grail is a container full of Daemon blood that is contaminated with a virus that almost wiped out the Daemons. It's the one thing that is sure to kill Daemons. Monk carries a weapon that fires bullets loaded with this Daemon blood. But the supply is strictly limited and when the last bullet is fired that's it. So he tends to make every shot count.
Monk's a guy who has placed the destruction of Daemons above all other factors in his life. He appears as an ally to Ryder and Katrina, but he'll kill them in an instant if they stand in the way of his goal. We see just how brutal he can be very early in the story. Physically I wanted him to be the coolest guy you can imagine so I suggested the older Miles Davis as a model for Wayne Nichols to draw. As we all know, Miles was the coolest human being of all time. The name is a mash-up of Charles Mingus (or Charlie Parker) and Thelonious Monk. You should hear cool jazz music in your head whenever he appears on the page.Nrama: How about Wayne Nichols? What's the back-and-forth been between you two, and what sorts of strengths does he bring to the table here?
Hine: Wayne came on board for the second half of the FVZA series when Roy Martinez couldn't finish the art for that book, so we've worked together before. He's great to work with. Excellent storytelling skills and has gotten the characters to a T. He's put a lot into the creation of the bleak world that forms the backdrop to our story. It was essential to make that world convincing and he's pulled it off very well. The city is as much a character as the humans and Daemons that roam the streets and waterways. I don't have a lot of direct contact with Wayne. He lives on the other side of the world in Australia. There's a lot of feedback though, through our editor Rob Levin. We put a lot of work into getting the pages as perfect as possible. That process is completed by the guys from Kinsun Loh's studio, who do the digital painting. Kinsun's studio handled the digital colors on FVZA too. They are magic! Definitely the best digital color I've seen.Nrama: Finally, for those who still aren't sure about Ryder on the Storm, are there any moments you're excited to see hit the page? Anything you can tease to get readers on board?
Hine: Lots. There are some real shockers, and at least one moment that should come as a total surprise to everyone. Again that was one of those reveals that I didn't see coming myself until I wrote the scene. Visually I think the scenes in the sewers, where we get to see what lurks beneath the surface of the city, will be the most stunning. And there's a scene in an S & M club involving trapeze artists and giant razor-sharp blades that works very well.