BRIAN AZZARELLO Confronts 'Taboo' Subjects in FAITHLESS

Credit: Fabio Moon (BOOM! Studios)
Credit: Paul Pope (BOOM! Studios)

What does it take to open up? Not just to another person, but to a belief? That’s a question central to BOOM! Studios’ Faithless, an all-new erotic thriller from the minds of artist Maria Llovet and Batman: Damned writer Brian Azzarello.

Faithless follows the aptly named Faith, a young woman whose curiosity leads her toward not just a sexual awakening, but a mystical one. Magic is a real thing in Faith’s world, though accessing it is incredibly difficult. To open herself up to its power, Faith will have to go to places that are not only unfamiliar, but quite possibly deadly.

With the series debuting this week, Newsarama spoke with Azzarello and BOOM!'s Executive Editor Sierra Hahn about Faithless, Faith’s story, the people in her life, and the influence of magic in both our world and hers.

Credit: Maria Llovet (BOOM! Studios)

Newsarama: Brian, Sierra, when we meet Faith in #1, she’s got this longing for a world that’s not her own - a world where magic really exists. What is she hoping to get from that magic world?

Sierra Hahn: This is someone who is bored, whose life is maybe a little stagnant. She believes there's magic in the world, but she can’t articulate in a straightforward manner what that looks like. Or what it manifests as. I think that search is her journey as well as the readers, and that unfolds throughout the issue in very subtle, visual ways.

And in a very significant way by the end of #1. [The end] isn't necessarily about her magic, but about the magic that surrounds her and the magic that's drawn to her.

Brian Azzarello: Faith is looking for something to define herself. The question of this story is, is it necessarily a good thing to meet someone who wants to define you?

Credit: Maria Llovet (BOOM! Studios)

Nrama: I assume you’re talking about Poppy, the character that Faith meets who opens a door to her sexually and perhaps even mystically. Can you tell us more about who this mysterious stranger is that walks into Faith’s life?

Hahn: #1 is more about who Faith is in the moment that she meets Poppy. She’s someone who is looking for something deeper than herself.

Sometimes all it takes to find that is a chance meeting with a person and being open to that. Being open to the unknown, that can redirect a course in your life. And that can change days and weeks and years. But right now, all we have is a few moments with Poppy.

Credit: Maria Llovet (BOOM! Studios)

Poppy is a catalyst for something that Faith doesn't know that she's craving. You can describe her as this cool girl who is part of this classic art scene who has access and opulence at her fingertips. How fun and exciting that is to someone like Faith? But I think she's a far worse and deeper character than what we see in this issue.

You have Faith who's asking, “Who am I?” And you have Poppy who's saying, “I know who I am.” And when you put those two people together, they form a really interesting dynamic. Faith is someone who's looking to be filled up with something. Poppy is like a force of nature who can pour into that. And that's going to evolve and change.

Credit: Maria Llovet (BOOM! Studios)

Nrama: And it does change. In fact, by the end of #1, the comic book has a completely different tone. How do you get a story to do that?

Azzarello: The pages leading up to that ending put you in a certain mood. And the way Maria depicted that is so erotic and compelling. That last page is so jarring, and a lot of that has to do with what came before that.

Nrama: Well since you mention her, let’s talk about Maria Llovet, who draws Faithless. Brian, what would you say is Maria’s specialty, either in her work in general or from this book in particular?

Azzarello: She’s just perfectly suited to this story. I mean, you saw it.

Credit: Maria Llovet (BOOM! Studios)

When Sierra showed me Maria’s previous book, I was like "Yes, that's he." And that was pretty important, because if I was getting anything wrong, or being ham-fisted with anything, it's important that my collaborator be able to “finesse” it. And she's done more than finesse it. She's been great with the work that's come back. I really enjoy working with her.

Hahn: Her characters are so expressive. She creates worlds without obsessing over them. There's this natural fluidity about what she composes, with how she creates an environment.

Credit: Lee Bermejo (BOOM! Studios)

She does all of her own colors as well. She brings fashion and color and youthful energy that I’m just really excited about. It feels like a higher-end, glossy magazine. That's really complementary to the language of these characters and how they interact, but also to Maria’s overall sensibility.

Nrama: Stepping away from the specifics of the story for a moment, let me ask a broader question, Brian. What is your interest in the occult or magic?

Azzarello: For me, I’m looking at more than just the occult and sexuality. I'm looking at what's taboo. And that seems to be redefining itself almost on a daily basis now. What’s acceptable and not acceptable. So the question is; How far do we go to redefine ourselves before push pack and say “No, I can do this.” And it doesn’t affect you when I do it, so lay off.

Credit: Paul Pope (BOOM! Studios)

Nrama: Is that why you’re telling this story now?

Azzarello: We just finally got around to being able to do it.

Nrama: You mean culturally? Like, our society is ready for it?

Azzarello: No, like, all of our schedules matched up. [Laughs]

Nrama: And Sierra, what’s your interest in the occult?

Credit: Fabio Moon (BOOM! Studios)

Hahn: For me, I was a young girl who was interested in the other. In the things that I couldn't see but I felt that were around me. And maybe I found them a little taboo or a little edgy, but I think having an opportunity as an adult to work with collaborators who I really admire, to explore on a personal side some of these things that have fascinated and enthralled me from a very young age well into adulthood I think is just fun and exciting.

That's true for me when it comes to the occult and magic. And when it comes to art and the art world, which is something that’s important for Faith. And it certainly is true of sexuality, and exploration.

Nrama: So, wrapping up... Faithless #1 comes out this week and some people reading this might've already read it. So thinking ahead, what will be going on in Faith's head by the time #2 comes around?

Azzarello: It's still on her shoulders, but who knows for how long?

Hahn: I was going to say that she just had the best night of her life, but that’s a pretty good answer too.

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