Richard Davis has created one of the most vile and repulsive characters in comics and we were lucky enough to hear all about it in our latest Creator Spotlight.
Ben Hastie: Richard thanks for doing this interview. Can you tell us a bit about your new comic Vile and how you came up with the idea?
Richard Davis: It’s part simple and partly complicated. I’d had this concept of this nearly supernatural, marauding gunslinger for some time. That old west cliche. This force of will and evil and pure darkness. I imagined that he was so bad-ass that the devil would quake in his boots. Then I came up with Hard Pants. This incredible woman with a will that was stronger, who was willing to do anything for her family or what she feels is the greatest good.
BH: What type of research did you do and did that research change any of your preconceived notions of the west or Native American culture?
RD: Well, a lot of it has been passed down from native relatives and friends, and from finding out about my own lineage and native American background. I did start to read other resources like Native American folklore, (the book) Stories and legends of the Pawnee, and of course Black Elk Speaks. That book is essentially my bible. The visuals and stories there are amazing. The plains people shared a similar mythos or belief system and I found so much amazing inspiration there.
BH: Who are the members of your creative team and what do they each bring to the table?
RD: Great questions. Colorist Eleonora Dalla Rosa lives in London and brings this pragmatic elegance to her work. She’s so open and creative. She also went with little direction from me and really gave the book its defining flavor, in my opinion.
Dyan Johnson was willing to experiment and try new things, and we became so close in the process. While Antonio Brandao really has a grit and eye for panels that’s old school, which I love! I think his inspirations are artists I loved coming up.
BH: The main character is an utter bastard. Do you think that a character like that can be appealing or does an element of redemption need to be included in such an arc?
RD: Nah, and I didn’t want or need that. The story didn’t need that rather. To be frank, fuck him. I don’t want to know about what made him the way he is, and I hope the reader doesn’t either.
He’s an analogue or metaphor for what’s wrong with colonization and the western Europeans and their pillaging of so many native peoples. I don’t want sympathy for the devil. We don’t need to know what the meteor is composed of that is racing towards earth-we need to stop it.
BH: Reading the book I was reminded a bit of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with regard to the bounty hunters. What are your literary and filmic influences on this piece?
RD: Yeah, I loved Heart of Darkness as well. The bounty hunter’s slant came late, as I’d had both of those characters in the universe already. I wanted people to think that these 2 bounty hunters were going to come in and save the day, that the great white hope was coming in as the cavalry, but that isn’t this story…
BH: How can we get a copy of Vile?
RD: Well, Comixology has the very first issue digitally. You can get the first issue in digital format here, and IndyPlanet will print off that issue on demand here. Don’t have anything concrete for release now unfortunately.
BH: Do you have any advice for an aspiring comic writer or creator?
RD: Pay attention and don’t be naive and learn every aspect of the industry. Inks, pencils, storyboarding, and writing. Artists practice their craft but have no clue about a good story sometimes and vice versa with writers.
Don’t think also that there is a dream opportunity or that you’ll get discovered and someone will throw money at you to make your book. If you make your own book, you can do it on your terms and have a better chance of being discovered.
This is a business and not a hug factory. Companies want to make money and you want to make stories, hopefully. Gotta find a way to make that work.