Romance has been a fixtue in comic books for decades, but Image Comics’s Plastic is a whole other kind of love story.
Creators Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard present a contemporary and slightly unique take on the crime spree couple tope with Victor (a.k.a. Edwyn), and his love doll, Virginia. Edwyn is quite protective of his love interest and would kill for her if need be, and when things get twisted for him, that might be the way things have to be.
Newsarama spoke with both Wagner and Hillyard about the upcoming series, out this week, about the violent odds and ends about this very interesting romance.
Newsarama: So Doug, Daniel, how would you describe what's going on in this first issue of the Plastic?
Doug Wagner: Well, as most first issues go, this is an introduction to the world of Plastic. You get to meet our main character, Edwyn Stoffgrupen. He’s the nicest, most courteous, thoughtful, sweetest person you’ve ever met…with a bloodcurdling dark side. A dark side that has a boiling point that is reached by one singular aspect of his life…the love he has for his blow-up sex doll Virginia. Touch her, insult her, look at her in the wrong way, and Edwyn will most likely sever your head from your body…or worse.
Daniel Hillyard: We also get a good look at some of the people that Edwyn will be butting heads with and by the end of the issue a gauntlet is laid down. For future reference people, if you see a strange lanky fellow driving around with a blow-up sex doll in the passenger’s seat, don’t poke fun.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about Edwyn, a.k.a. Victor, here and his fetish? Can you even call it that?
Wagner: Oh, you could definitely say Edwyn has a fetish. Yeah, I think by every definition it’s a fetish. Edwyn hasn’t always been as calm and collected as he is now. Little things could set him off - treat a waiter poorly, steal change from a kid, not coloring in the lines - you never knew what might set him off. That all changed when met and fell in love with Virginia. Somehow this quiet, loving sex doll has been the linchpin in keeping Edwyn’s rage and bloodlust in check.
Nrama: How did everything come together for Plastic with you two?
Hillyard: Doug and I have worked on a few stories together since my first leap into making comics and working with Doug is always awesome fun. He’s a massive talent and a great guy. We gelled instantly and became good friends and have been working together ever since. We finish one story, sit back, and then instantly want to start another. Thing with Doug is he’s always got something cooking, so after finishing the last I.C.E. mini-series, I ask what we’re doing next and he hits me up with a few ideas. Plastic just jumped out at me. I was like a kid in a candy story pointing at a giant bar of chocolate and screaming, "I want that one!"
Wagner: Yeah, Daniel and I have worked on several projects together over the past few years for 12 Gauge Comics. We worked on two I.C.E. mini-series and eight issues of the Average Joes comic book (a joint publication with 12-Gauge Comics and Average Joes Entertainment). He’s always been a pleasure to work with, a consummate professional, and you know, he can draw his ass off. So, when I had this idea for a retired serial killer that was in love with a sex doll, Daniel was the first person I thought of. I called him up, pitched the idea, and apparently, he’s just as sick in the head as I am.
Nrama: Was there any level of research involved about people like Edwyn?
Hillyard: I think if you didn’t know what either of us do, you’d be very alarmed at our Google search history. [Laughs.] I think Doug’s is likely worse than mine though. Yes, there was a little bit of research into psychopaths and how a head looks with a plastic bag over it, but I mostly stuck to looking at classic horror cinematography (to get me in the right frame of mind). I’m a horror geek, and so I feel like I always draw from that stuff subconsciously anyway. I dare say that I may have added a homage or two here and there... Freudian slip. [Laughs.]
Wagner: Daniel’s absolutely correct. My search history over the past several years is not only disturbing, but it even scares me sometimes. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to find out one or all of the intelligence agencies are monitoring me…or they’ve started a pool on when I’ll end up under psychiatric care. For Plastic, I spent quite a few days digging deep into psychopaths, sociopaths, sex addicts, decapitations, how to kill people with plastic, and a few really odd hours reading about sex dolls. In case you didn’t know, there’s a lot of sex dolls out there. Now, I know you’re going to ask if reading about all that stuff affect me at all, so let me stop you right there. You’ve read the book, right?
Nrama: Not yet. What was the inspiration at the core of Plastic?
Wagner: The inspiration came to me on one fateful night during the oddest and most wonderful road trip of my life. No, I’m not kidding. The entire idea for Plastic came to me on a road trip from Atlanta to Baltimore with two of the greatest road trip cohorts of all time - Eric Layton and Brian Stelfreeze. With those two in the car, it’s inevitable that there’s going to be fits of laughter, eating of the most disgusting of foods, the always hilarious emergency bathroom stop, and all manner of general silliness. Well, at one point on the trip when we were crossing the Virginia state line, I read the “Buckle up, Virginia” highway sign out loud in the most unsettling Southern accent you can imagine. It even creeped me out a bit. At that exact second, the muses slapped me across the face and somehow managed to jam Plastic into my tired, groggy, forever-to-be-disturbed-from-that-point-forward mind. Yep, the entire story…all at once. I turned and told the guys what had just happened, they loved the idea, and with their encouragement, I kept pursuing it until Daniel and I made it happen.
Nrama: You guys mentioned working together in the past, what was the collaboration process like this time around?
Hillyard: I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in crime than Doug. He and I have worked a few books before and have a very open and honest way of working. Doug always encourages me to be very critical of his scripts, and I ask him to do the same with my doodles. It’s really cool, there’s no hang-ups and no egos between us. We’re always trying drive each other forward and get better and make the best comics we can together. It gets very pedantic at times and we both love it! But that extends to everybody, Keven, Ed, and Laura are all amazing! I’m biased, but it’s pretty awesome team.
Wagner: It’s really exciting to see what a team of creators can do on a book when they put their egos aside and focus on creating something special. Like Daniel said, the entire team has functioned that way and have all been a pleasure to work with. I’m lucky to have every single one of them as a part of team Plastic.
Nrama: Do we learn how Edwyn and Virginia met?
Wagner: Ever so briefly. Why? I feel that sometimes, in entertainment, every detail is spelled out for the audience, at times to an irritating degree and not always for the best. Personally, I like a little mystery in characters, so giving every detail about every aspect of their life tends to ruin the story for me. With that in mind, I didn’t want to tell too much about Edywn and Virginia’s origin. We’re going to tell you how they met, but we’re going to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination as well.
Nrama: Would you call Plastic a crime story or a love story?
Wagner: I’ve always described this story as a romantic dark comedy horror love story. Yeah, I’m not sure if that makes any sense either, but at its heart, Plastic is a love story…with lots of gushing blood, decapitated bodies, naked army ladies, and doughnuts.
Hillyard: Things get gory... very, very gory; in the name of love.