Etrigan the Demon and his rhyming dialogue return November 22 with a new six-issue miniseries that has a "Vertigo-esque" tone.
Written by Andrew Constant with art by Brad Walker, the title is set in Death Valley, where Jason Blood and the Demon have to deal with Hell literally making its way to Earth.
Newsarama talked with the duo, who said their affinity for all things Vertigo gave this project a unique feel as the two set Etrigan and his world in its own "little corner of the universe."
Newsarama: Andrew, did you know this character before you started this series? Longtime fan?
Andrew Constant: I've always loved Etrigan and Blood. The Garth Ennis run was the one I grew up reading. I went gaga for it.
So when the opportunity to do the book came up, I had both hands up, going "Yes! Give me!"
Brad Walker: I'm a big Jack Kirby guy. Visually, I think it's a wonderful aesthetic corner of the DCU. So it was always something I would have loved to do, and also something I don't know that I would have expected to have been offered.
But it's been interesting that since it was announced that I was working on it, so many artists have messaged me and told me how jealous they are. I think Etrigan is a character where - and I think a lot of the '70s Kirby characters are that way too - I think a lot of artists want to work on Etrigan and Kamandi and all the Fourth World characters. It's just one of those things that feels like unmined territory in a way. You can just go wild.
Constant: There's no other character like it.
Nrama: Let's talk about your story. I know you're exploring the attachment between Jason Blood and Etrigan, and Jason not being particularly happy with that arrangement. Can you set up the story a little?
Constant: By the time our story starts, Etrigan and Blood have been bonded for a very long period of time. Blood has decided not to let Etrigan out for a very long period of time.
The undercurrents of our book are about this tumultuous, fractious relationship.
They've become accustomed to hating each other, so there's almost an air of politeness now, which was really quite fun to write.
Nrama: The setting as you kick off the story is Death Valley - this very sparse background, although what's happening in the book gets pretty wild very fast. What was it like to put Etrigan against that background?
Brad Walker: I didn't have to use my ruler as much, which was really nice.
I love landscape stuff. I think I have a tortured landscape painter in me somewhere, but I never really worked on my painting and wanted to also draw characters over them.
I really like the setting in the sense that it feels very unique to these characters and this world and their little corner of the universe.
Between the elements that take place in Death Valley, and the elements that take place in Hell, and the aesthetic similarities between the two, it kind of feels like this can be Etrigan's Gotham City.
I think it really lends to the voice of the book and the book's unique identity. And it's one of the things I responded to most in the script, I think.
Constant: The reason I think I was drawn to it is being from Australia, where I'm surrounded by arid vastness and the occasional smattering of water around the vastness. So, you know, it was like, "Oh! Death Valley! That makes sense!"
But no, I concur with what Brad said as well. It does seem like a natural fit for Etrigan and also what we have in store.
Nrama: Are readers going to see the rhyming?
Constant: Oh, yeah! I would actually say it's more of a positive thing in the way it develops in issue #1 as well, because you work out why, at the initial point, he's not rhyming at the start of the issue, but by the end, he is rhyming as well.
It's very much a central piece of the book - the whole aspect of the rhyming.
Nrama: I assume it's got to be kind of hard to come up with it sometimes.
Constant: The rhyming's actually incredibly fun to do. The rhyming escalates throughout the issue there, and then you see it more and more in every passing issue as well.
Walker: Andrew was a rapper all through the early '90s. People don't realize that.
Constant: Brad, we don't talk about my weird Australian career, what I used to do in the '90s era, my bad - let's not talk about Australian rap. We're only joking. I would never rap. Just too awkward.
Nrama: I'm looking at the book now. This is a Vertigo book?
Walker: Is it?
Constant: I haven't heard that. Is that the case?
Walker: If it is, that's great, because that was sort of a vibe I got off of it when I first read it. It was like my internal impressions of '80s, 90s Vertigo.
Nrama: No, no, I just looked and it's not. It's a DC book. Man, reading it felt like maybe it was Vertigo. But Jason Blood's part of the DCU now, so that was a dumb question.
Constant: No, I'm with you and Brad on this one. It does feel like a Vertigo book. I grew up reading Vertigo, and Vertigo was the home for most of the books I read. I read DC and Vertigo, but I was a DC kid who grew up into Vertigo.
Walker: It's interesting that you drew that assumption, because both Andrew and I were looking at it as "Vertigo-esque," even if they didn't slap the name on there.
Some of the pacing and the storytelling is a little bit different on a more, sort of bombastic superhero script, although I wanted to give that kind of power and punch to the scenes where that's applicable.
But I felt the same way.
Constant: The fact that you and I have such a strong love of the Vertigo years - you know, we grew up on all that stuff - I think it really becomes apparent looking at this book.
Nrama: Well, I'm glad my mistake comes across as a compliment.
Constant: I will take that badge happily. Vertigo should always be a compliment. Yes! I will take that with both hands. Thank you very much. I will run as far as I can with that.
Nrama: To finish up, then, is there anything else you two want to tell potential readers about The Demon: Hell Is Earth?
Walker: One of the things that I'm enjoying most about it, and that I would stress to readers, is that it feels very much like its own corner of the DCU, which is kind of the way my personal tastes in comics skew. And so I was happy to lean into that.
I feel like big Demon fans and fans of a more Vertigo-ish take on classic characters will really enjoy it. And I also feel like it's contained enough within its own corner that if somebody's just flipping through it at the comics store and thinks that the art and characters look cool, I think they can easily pick it up and run with it, and there wouldn't be any sort of confusion or any sort of necessity to go back and study anything to understand it.
It's a nicely, self-contained, moody action comic, which - what could be better?
Constant: When I was writing it, I was explaining to a friend of mine - and Brad actually touched on it a bit there - and they said, "What do you think when you write it?" I said, I think of the best heavy metal song I can think of.
And it does have that sort of energy with a book like The Demon, and it has to carry forth like a really good song that gets you going no matter what the genre is.
And if you think the book starts explosively, it only escalates throughout. And by the time we get to the end, there are. a lot of surprises there. I know that's a cliche, but I did try to load it with interesting reveals. We make sure that throughout, there's always something exciting around the corner.