The purpose of You Should Be Reading… is to shine a spotlight on self-published creators who release their work in print and or digital and creators who work for publishers that don’t rank in the top 10.
We’re in a golden age of comics right now and in an age of geek none of us could have ever imagined, but with the good comes the bad. As our geek news sites become more corporate they tend to focus less on comics and in some cases less on independent creators. Which is why this series exists. My goal is to never shy away from giving a soapbox to those starting out and trying to carve a niche for themselves.
Today I am interviewing R. Thomas Favino the letterer, writer, and creator of the spooky and very cool supernatural comic Voodoo Detective.
VOODOO DETECTIVE is a pulp-fueled horror comic that follows Jackson Delmond, New Orleans’ resident occult investigator, as he navigates the dark and unforgiving world of the swamp-filled supernatural South.
The first collected book, “Old Wounds and Other Tales”, features 48-pages of eerie, occult awesomeness and is slated to hit Kickstarter in Mid-July!
To me there is nothing better than pulp comics and novels. Anything that starts off with pulp-fueled is right up my alley. R. Thomas was kind enough beforehand to send me a digital copy of the book to read and it is fantastic! I will be repeating this at the end but if you’d like to follow them via social media and be notified of when the Kickstarter launches then you can do so at their Facebook page and Tumblr site.
Now let’s get on with the interview.
Marco: So, I’m going to start us off with a little getting to know you. What made you fall in love with comics? And to follow-up on that. How did Voodoo Detective come together?
R. Thomas: Ya know, I’m not sure that it was any one thing that made me fall in love, more like a collection of things all happening at once. But it was definitely love at first sight. I was 6 years old, playing around in my grandparent’s garage when I stumbled across this box of musty, old comics. Almost all of it was quintessential DC and Marvel superhero stuff from the 60’s and 70’s and my small mind was just blown wide open. Between the artwork, the larger-than-life characters, the bold colors, and the drama and adventure; I was completely mesmerized. I sat in that garage for hours and just poured over every page. Add to all of that, the fact that, afterward, no one else that I knew really seemed to care about them like I did, kind of made comics this thing that was all my own. And that made them feel that much more special to me.
Voodoo Detective came about after spending the last five years actively trying to produce a OGN that I had written, but not being able to do so. I came to the realization that it was too big a project to be my first thing, so I shelved it, shifted gears, and started focusing on writing 5-8 page shorts for anthology submissions. One of those ended up being for last year’s Out of the Blue Anthology series, from ‘Stache Publishing. The theme was Twisted Pulp, which was right up my street. I knew I wanted to do something over the top, with a strong, supernatural hook, and I felt like, whatever I did, it had to have a name that told you everything you needed to know. “Voodoo Detective” popped into my head, and that was it. I wrote a story called “Midnight Offering”, got it approved, and then went about finding a team to help me make it. I was fortunate enough to find Dominic Black and Laura Lee to collaborate with and, I’m happy to say, it ended up making it into that volume.
Marco: Now is Voodoo Detective your first written comic? Or have you written anything else?
R. Thomas: To kind of build off that last answer, it’s not the first thing written, but it came from that first story being produced. I’m a research guy. And once I started looking for story ideas, I realized that the religion and culture of voodoo, in both Haiti and Louisiana, is just ripe with storytelling possibilities. I very quickly compiled a thick dossier. So, I kind of already knew that I wasn’t gonna be done with this character. I really enjoy telling short stories, and wanted to keep that going, so I worked up a few more, that I thought would make for a nice collection, and reached out to Dom and Laura to see if they were interested. Luckily, they both said “yes”, so we went for it. And that’s how Voodoo Detective: Old Wounds and Other Tales came to be.
Marco: Time to talk Voodoo Detective. What I love about this book is that Jackson Delmond is the type of character you see in Papa Midnite in Constantine or Brother Voodoo at Marvel but instead of being a supporting character he’s the star. Were any of those or other characters in genre fiction an inspiration for the creation of Jackson? And how important was it to you that in this world and culture he be an African-American?
Also, when this book is a success will you continue with the same format of (collected) short comic stories? Or do you see a possible series of miniseries in the future for Delmond?
R. Thomas: Oh, man. I’m really glad that you picked up on that. I LOVE Brother Voodoo! He is one of my all-time favorite characters and, I think, a seriously underrated hero. He was definitely a huge inspiration for how I wanted to approach Jackson and his world. Funny enough, I realized, afterward, that they actually share the same initials. It wasn’t intentional, but I think it speaks to the level of influence that the character had on me, going into this.
Like I said, the name came first. And with it, came a very clear image, in my mind, of who this character was going to be. It was never even a question of what his heritage was, or where he came from. Those things were set from Day One. What was important to me, though, was the level of respect I gave that heritage and origin. Because it is incredibly important to who Jackson is, and why he is that way. Historically, in both comics and the world at large, the religion and culture of voodoo has been severely stigmatized, to the point of villainy. It’s really nothing at all like what we think of when it comes to mind, and that’s unfortunate. I tried to do my best, through research and educating myself, to approach this world with that in mind. Now, this is comics, though, so the story comes first. I’ll admit that a few liberties were taken, in the name of entertainment but, yeah. Respect was really important to me. With that said, I do want to clarify that Jackson isn’t African American. He’s Haitian. How and why he resides in America, and Louisiana, specifically, are all part of his back story and something I hope to be able to explore.
As far as the future success of this project goes, I really appreciate your confidence! As a team, we believe in this 100%, and we hope that others will, as well, once they see it. If it is successful enough, there are definitely more stories planned. Aside from being “Research Guy”, I’m also a self-professed World Builder. So, I’ve definitely laid the groundwork for something big, and I really do hope that we’re able to gain a strong enough audience to take it there.
When it comes to the format, it’s going to stay the same for the foreseeable future; for a number of reasons. One, like I said, I really enjoy telling these short stories. They force me to be merciless and cut away anything that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. I think that makes for tighter, more interesting, stories when done right. Plus, it’s the kind of style of storytelling that really lends itself to the pulp genre. Another reason is, that it’s a lot to ask, for readers to jump on board with a new ongoing series from a relatively untested creative team. I wanted to take that burden off the shoulders of our readers, and just give them something that they could consume, in full, while leaving enough unanswered questions that it piques their interest and, hopefully, makes them want more.
Marco: Let’s talk about your team. You got Dominic Black on art and Laura Lee on colors. And I got to say they’re a great combo. Sometimes in comics, you read a book and think this needed a different art style. A reality I don’t think some creators or publishers consider. Because not every art style is a fit for every story out there. Another thing is color sets the mood and Laura Lee brings it. You feel the pulp noir off the page.
When you went looking for your team did you specifically look for individuals that you knew could fit the mood and style that the story required? Or was this more of a happy accident? At any point did you ever consider a different tone or look for the book?
R. Thomas: I couldn’t agree more with everything you just said. This book is the incredible thing that it is because of Dom and Laura, and I couldn’t imagine doing this with anyone else. They take my ideas and make them absolutely shine. To say that I’m lucky to be working with them is such an understatement.
As far as how it all came together, it was actually both planning and happy accident. I had found Dominic through him posting his work on Facebook, months before the idea of Voodoo Detective had even been conceived, and I immediately fell in love with his style and line work. It was just so unique, interesting and fresh to me. At the time, I reached out and messaged him to tell him how much I liked his stuff and looked forward to seeing more. All of this was in an effort to sow the seeds that would allow me to reach out to him later if an opportunity ever presented itself. Cut to “Midnight Offering” getting the green light, and he was the first, and only, person I asked. Though, originally, he was gonna do both the art and the colors. But the deadline began to loom and he was in the middle of closing on a new home, so, we agreed the best thing to do was to find someone to take on the coloring duties.
I’m super fortunate to have a friend in indie creator Corey Fryia, who offered to put me in touch with Laura. She had worked with him on one of his Doctor Crowe stories and I was absolutely floored by her skills. Again, I reached out and she was more than happy to jump in.
Laura is such a pleasure to work with. Not only is she an awesome talent, but she is so incredibly fast, too.
After she agreed to come back, we spent a few days talking about color, and how important it was going to be for this series. We went back and forth on how best to approach the grittiness of the pulp aspects and, more importantly, how we wanted to handle the magic. We really wanted to do something special that was sure to grab the reader’s attentions when it showed up, and I think she absolutely nailed it.
I honestly feel that this book looks like nothing else being produced right now, and that is all because of Dom and Laura. Again, lucky is such an understatement.
Marco: Besides Voodoo Detective is there anything else you’re currently working on (in comics) that you could maybe tell us a bit about?
R. Thomas: This upcoming Kickstarter is taking about 90% of my free time, at the moment. We’re really hoping to make this a no-brainer for potential backers, so we are pulling out all the stops. The other 10% has me noodling around with a few new ideas. One, in particular, I got from revisiting my childhood love of wrestling. It has nothing to do with the sport itself but was inspired by one of the athlete’s personal journeys. I’m really interested to see what I can do with it.
I did, however, just get the go ahead to talk about my inclusion in this year’s IF Anthology, from Alterna Comics, with the very talented Ross Radke. I’m not sure when, or how, it’s going to be solicited, but I’m really excited for people to see what we came up with. The theme was “Crime”, and we took an angle on it that, I think, will both surprise and delight.
Marco: As you know all good things must end. But before you leave us I’m going to give you some space to PIMP YOUR STUFF! This is the moment where you get to explain to the audience why they should check out the upcoming Kickstarter and any other work you have coming down the pipeline.
R. Thomas: Alright, here we go: If you like fast-paced, dialogue-driven, pulp-fueled, occult/horror stories, featuring an awesome and enigmatic protagonist who has to rely on his strange gifts to survive the dark, dangerous and unforgiving world of the swamp-filled, supernatural South, then please take a minute to check out VOODOO DETECTIVE!
We’ve got some really wonderful rewards lined up for every kind of backer imaginable, that’s sure to enhance your experience at any level. From print and digital copies of the book, to a wide range of full-color prints from some of the most talented indie creators working today, to super dope t-shirts that you’ll be proud to wear, to full-color commissions from the incredible Dominic Black, and, finally, a bunch of jaw-dropping original art that’s available to own, and cherish, forever.
We’ve done all the heavy lifting here. We put in the work ahead of time and created something unique, engaging and entertaining, that we are beyond proud to have our names on. All that’s left is for you to come along with us, and make our dream of putting this book into people’s hands, a reality!
And that’s the end of that. I want to thank R. Thomas for letting me interview him and I hope you all enjoyed this edition of You Should Be Reading. Check out Voodoo Detective when the Kickstarter launches mid-July and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Tumblr.