In the dark corners of our nation’s capitol lurks the lingering presence of an extra-dimensional dark lord.
Yes, that Dark Lord. Cthulhu.
And the only thing standing between him and his goals is a blonde-haired southern belle in cut-off jean shorts. In the upcoming Image one-shot Lorna, Relic Wrangler, Lorna is out to uncover the secret occult architecture of Washington, D.C. and find an artifact to stop Cthulhu from coming to our reality. But what this beauty, whose base is a trailer park, doesn’t know is that she’s been sized up as a sacrificial offering to the very same evil, courtesy of her high school rival who’s now a full-time villainess!
Lorna, Relic Wrangler is coming from the mind of writer Micah S. Harris and artist Loston Wallace. Harris is best known in comics circles for his 2004 series Heaven’s War with Michael Gaydos, and Wallace brings his classic linework fresh from a series of books based on DC’s Batman: The Animated Series and the Superman counterpart. This 32-page full color one-shot is set for release on March 23rd, and we talked with the pair about Lorna, who Wallace described as Mary Ann & Ginger from Gilligan’s Island mixed with Lara Croft.
Newsarama: Lorna, Relic Wrangler seems to revolves around the idea that Washington, DC’s layout has some sinister secrets. What’s going on here?
Micah S. Harris: Well, loose lips sink ships so I have to be careful here. [laughs] But D.C. having occult architecture is a well-known conspiracy theory, which is supported somewhat by the founding fathers being Masons. It’s been explored elsewhere, most notably in the movie National Treasure. But I’m proud to say this is a unique take on all that lore with a back-story you haven’t read before.
Nrama: Leading the exploration of this is the titular character Lorna. What’s she like, and how does a southern belle like Lorna end up fighting the occult in our nation’s capital?
Harris: Lorna is sort of a bottom drawer southern belle. Vernon Demurge saw her potential. Because of her low self-esteem as a young girl, he was able to mold her into his agent for his large-scale plans, which he unfolds from his inner sanctum – the Mystic Fez Lodge! Imagine if the Shriners were controlling the world when they weren’t riding their motorbikes in parades!
Nrama: Let’s ask you this one, Loston: when it came time to figure out what Lorna would look like, what were you thinking about her design?
Loston Wallace: Originally there was another artist slated to draw the book. He had been working in a style that was a cross between the stylings of the Batman: The Animated Series mixed with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. When that artist was called away to do another project, I had no trouble adapting my work in those directions. My female figures in Lorna, Relic Wrangler owe a debt of gratitude to the late, great Dan DeCarlo and to Bruce Timm. It was my privilege to draw DC’s licensed Batman: TAS and Superman: TAS kids books, so I was already versed in this style.
When Micah asked me to draw Lorna, Relic Wrangler, I expressed an interest towards redesigning the character's look. She already had the “Daisy Duke” cut-off jeans shorts and cowgirl boots, but I wasn't fond of the original hairstyle Lorna sported, and I thought she needed to look a little more iconic. I actually got together with some of my art friends and asked them to give input on a new hair design. With their help, about 30 hairstyle approaches were sketched up, and I got feedback on all of them from Micah. In the end, I combined two hairstyles to create Lorna's final “do”. Another thing that I did was give Lorna an emblem that appears on her shirt. The cat emblem and the hairstyle change helped make Lorna a little more unique from a visual standpoint.
Nrama: Micah, you mentioned Vernon earlier and he pops up in the preview pages you gave us – tell us more about him.
Harris: Verne is sort of a cross between Lex Luthor and Ted Turner. He’s Lorna’s mentor. When she came under his auspices, she had a teenage crush on him. But somewhere, things went sour. Still, she continues to perform the tasks for which she was trained, so he retains some kind of hold on her. But that leash chafes her, so she spites Verne by doing things her way.
Nrama: Enough on Lorna’s allies – who is she up against to prevent her from getting to the truth about D.C.?
Harris: Unspeakable Lovecraftian horror. High School grudges.
Nrama: Besides being a fun comic, it also looks like a defacto tour of Washington, D.C. How’d you get down the city and its sights correctly?
Wallace: Lorna, Relic Wrangler has to be one of the toughest sequential projects I've ever had to tackle. The story I was drawing is set smack in the middle of Washington D.C., so there was an enormous amount of research to do to make the story credible. I mean--you can't just make up Washington D.C.! It has to be convincing. It has to be credible. In this story I had to draw specific streets and specific buildings and monuments. The work involved to get the details right was no picnic. Micah gave me a very, very tall order to fill, and I did my best to live up to it. I remember that one single panel in this story took me seven and a half hours to draw! That's a long time to spend on a single panel. But it was worth it. I worked hard to make this story worth the cover price. My colorist, Steve Downer, also labored to make our story something special! Lorna, Relic Wrangler is a quality book from cover to cover. Michael Youngblood and Olli Hihnala also provide art for two stories in this book.
Nrama: Speaking of additional artists, you’ve got two art heavyweights doing covers – Darwyn Cooke and Dean Yeagle. How’d you rope them into the project?
Harris: No roping required! Darwyn and Dean are both gracious guys who were kind enough to support us by contributing the most important page in the book – the covers!
Wallace: From the get-go Micah and I talked about artists we'd like to get to draw covers for Lorna, Relic Wrangler. Darwyn Cooke and Dean Yeagle immediately came to mind, and were on our short list of creators to contact about doing cover art for us. Both of these artists also worked in animated styles that seemed perfectly suited for the book. We contacted each of them about the project via emails, and asked them if they'd be interested in doing covers. I remember sending Darwyn Cooke some pages and the official Lorna model sheet to look at. To our great delight, both of these talented artists agreed to do covers! It was like Christmas! Micah and I were over the Moon. The book had previously been green lighted by Image Comics, and we had two amazing artists doing our covers! And both covers are fantastic! What else would you expect from the likes of greats like Darwyn Cooke and Dean Yeagle?
Nrama: Where does an idea for something like this come from?
Harris: Lorna began as the girlfriend in a novel I wrote 25 years ago. There are a couple of other prose tales with Lorna in which she was a central character, and in one of those, she was breaking into ancient temples and stealing idols and icons Mission: Impossible style. When a friend suggested I develop her for comics, that was the aspect of her character, which seemed best to delve into.
Nrama: This is hitting shelves in March as a one-shot – but if sales go well, will there be more?
Harris: Absolutely. I already have the first draft of two other scripts written (one of which Loston has already begun drawing). And I have ideas for five or six other stories beyond those.
Wallace: Lorna, Relic Wrangler is the kind of comic that offers amazing story possibilities. Horror, humor, adventure, action, you name it! I hope comic fans will order our comic, and support Lorna because it was a blast to draw! Fans will be getting their money's worth and then some.