You better buckle up because The Ride is racing back to shelves on June 12.
Taking the driver's seat once again is creator Doug Wagner, but this time with Plastic co-pilot Daniel Hillyard on art, former Gaijin Studios-mates Laura Martin on colors, and Adam Hughes on covers (as well as backup features).
The five-issue The Ride: Burning Desire reunites these Gaijin Studios mates and puts them on the roads of the Dirty South - where Gaijin Studios was based. In this story, a disgraced police officer named Samantha Vega is now making a living as a security guard for an exotic club - but finds herself in a heap of serious trouble and on the move once again, leading her to lash out and try to settle old scores once and for all.
Newsarama caught up with Wagner, Hillyard, and Hughes about The Ride: Burning Desire, discussing how Wagner thinks he’s improved as a writer since the initial launch, what "fetish noir" actually entails, and what fans might need to know going into this sequel.
Newsarama: Doug, Daniel, you guys teamed up for Plastic and actually brought over The Ride from 12-Gauge to Image, what made this a really good fit for you?
Daniel Hillyard: Part of what is really cool about The Ride as a series is that it allows for loads of creative leeway. We had the freedom to go in almost any direction, so long as the story featured the titular Camaro. But basically, when Doug started describing one of the characters as a Fat Hispanic dude in a Sailor Moon costume, I was there! I'm in Spain, so I felt like I had to represent.
Doug Wagner: Did you just insinuate you’re a Hispanic dude that wears a Sailor Moon costume?
Hillyard: Ne’er, I live in Spain, but I'm an Englishman...I only wear the costume on weekends.
Wagner: For me, this is actually a return home. I wrote the first story arc of The Ride and it just seemed right that I write the 15th anniversary as well. When I was talking to Keven Gardner (President of 12-Gauge Comics) about it, I said I was in as long as I could do something weird and Daniel could come along. Daniel and I had just come off Plastic together and that seemed to work out well, so why not transfer some of that energy over to The Ride.
To be fair to Keven, I’m not sure he knew we were going to toss in an exotic fetish dance club with heroin angels and bunny grenades.
Adam Hughes: This doesn’t really apply to me so I’d like to use this space to say I’m not thrilled at how Cap ended up in Avengers: Endgame.
Nrama: Welcome, Adam! You're doing covers as well as backups for this. You and Doug were both part of Gaijin Studios, and you even have Laura Martin on colors who is another Gaijin alumni, so I take it you didn't need much coaxing to get on board?
Hillyard: This one isn't aimed at me, so I'd like to take the opportunity to voice my thoughts on how Cap ended up in Endgame. I didn't mind it.
Hughes: I don’t really remember, to be honest. I was on some weapons-grade prescription hemorrhoid medicine over the holidays, and when I came down there was a Post-It note on my desk saying I was doing this. So, what are you gonna do?
Wagner: Weapons-grade?! Nope, not gonna touch that one.
Adam and I have known each other for a couple of decades now. He also did the covers for the original The Ride story, so when I called him up, it was a fairly straightforward conversation. “Hey, we’re doing the 15th anniversary of The Ride. Wanna join in? Oh, before you answer, we want you to do a six-page backup story about a dancer that wears a unicorn onesie.” He hesitated for a second, and then quipped, “Sure.” No coaxing, no blackmail material, no unseen cosplay pics, just two friends agreeing to work together. Yeah, that’s what happened.
Nrama: So Burning Desire is the 15th anniversary of The Ride series, but it's also important because your protagonist, Samantha Vega, just got released from prison after 15 years. That's a lot of time for any independent series. How do you feel you have changed as a writer in that time?
Hughes: I’m a much better spellist.
Wagner: Jeez, I just hope I’m better. I’m a bit obsessive about the craft, so I carve out time every day to focus on becoming better at it. That might mean reading work by others, reading a book on writing, or reading over some of my older work and figuring out how I could have made it better. I pray I’ve learned something over the past 15 years.
Nrama: Atlanta, and especially the South as a whole, doesn't really have a lot of comic books set in it. Why do you think that is?
Hughes: It’s the traffic. You really can’t have a crackerjack action sequence while stuck in traffic on Spaghetti Junction.
Hillyard: Quick, shamelessly plug our books, Doug!
Wagner: Daniel and I have actually based most of our collaborative works in the South. ICE: Bayou Blackout was set in Louisiana, Plastic was set in Louisiana, and now The Ride in Atlanta.
Why don’t more comics take place in the South? My guess would be familiarity. I think it’s challenging to write a story based in a location you don’t know the “flavor” of.
For instance, I would have a difficult time writing a story based in Iceland because I’ve never been there. Sure, I can look up stuff on the Googles, but it just isn’t the same as living there or visiting for a few weeks. That’s my best guess anyway.
Nrama: Let's talk about Samantha because she's this disgraced cop, what's her goal now that she's out of jail and having to be security for this exotic club?
Hillyard: To avoid going back to jail is pretty much her default, but trouble just seems to follow her around. There's this cool conflict in her. On one hand, she wants to help the people around her, but on the other, she has to avoid the types of situations that these little favors put her in.
Hughes: I’m just an artist but I’m going to Blue Sky it and guess it’s “to not end up on stage”.
Wagner: You’re both right. At the beginning of the story, she’s completely lost. All she ever wanted out of life was to be a police detective. That’s impossible now.
I wanted to incorporate that feeling I think everyone has when you’ve had a career for a few years and you think what would you do if that came to an end. For a lot of folks, they’ve worked their entire life to become this one thing. What do you do if that’s taken from you?
Nrama: Adam, there is a lot going on for this first cover. Did you get a lot of notes for each one or was it carte blanche for the most part?
Hughes: No one tells Baby what to draw!
Wagner: Adam was fantastic to work with. I’m sure he doesn’t want you to know his secrets, but he’s wonderful to work with. He actually ran his machinations by me before putting pencil to paper. I mean, he didn’t have to, because you know, he’s Adam Hughes, but it meant a lot to me to know he valued my opinion. That said, I couldn’t come up with a single note. And I tried really hard.
Nrama: You've described this as "fetish noir". So what does that term mean to you?
Hillyard: A sexual desire linked in an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc with a side of fatalism, and moral ambiguity.
Just imagine ordering that at a restaurant.
Hughes: A bucket of dildos. Nothing says “fetish noir” like a bucket of dildos.
Wagner: Yeah…I got nothing to add to all of that.
Nrama: Will readers who have never read the earlier The Ride series be lost going into Burning Desire?
Hillyard: Nope. Everything you need to know is right here in this first issue. But there are some throw-backs as well for those who have picked up The Ride before.
Hughes: I’ve never read a comic in my life and I could totes follow the story.
Wagner: I hope this story stands on its own. If it didn’t, I failed everyone!