“There’s a lot of things I want, but none worth getting chased by hellhounds!” The Bargain’s Kara Barrett discusses digital comics and deals with the devil

The Bargain cover20 years ago Jackson Connolly signed away his soul. With 3 days left to break the bargain, will he succeed or face the hellhounds? This is the simple but intriguing premise for Kara Barrett’s The Bargain, a Kickstarter funded digital comic set in the depths of 1950s Louisiana. As New Years Eve approaches and Connolly attempts to resolve his predicament he saves a young woman from a road side attack and their journey through the Deep South underground sees them visit all kinds of curious supernatural souls. With a ComiXology collection now available we caught up with Kara to find out more about digital comics and making deals with the devil.

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“I was intrigued by the crossroads mythology and the idea that someone could sell their soul. I imagined a deal like that was inevitably going to go terribly wrong.”

Tell us a bit about the inspiration for The Bargain and how the characters developed and formed. Did you start with the idea of negotiating out of a deal with the devil and work backwards or was it the idea of a midnight deadline which was your start point? (Any kind of immovable deadline is always a great narrative hook!)

KB: The inception for the story began a few years ago. I had a story idea about a supernatural traveling salesman. I had been doing an indie comic series at the time and decided I needed to change direction. I started brainstorming and The Bargain story idea was the result. As far as influences go, I was definitely intrigued by the crossroads mythology and the idea that someone could sell their soul. I imagined a deal like that was inevitably going to go terribly wrong.

The character of Jackson Connolly was actually inspired by actor Ray Stevenson. He’s sort of a magical Indy Jones with a lot of likability and charm.

The story is set in the mysterious back streets of Louisiana and New Orleans which is a very potent place to set your stories with lots of supernatural (and non-supernatural) elements already in peoples heads. Was that always a conscious choice to embrace that pre-existing mythology and locales? And have you included characters from that area deliberately?

KB: Yes, definitely. I took a road trip to Louisiana around the time I was developing the story and I just fell in love with it. It makes a great supernatural backdrop and I’d have to say the character of Auntie was definitely inspired by my trip to a haunted plantation.

The story is set in the 1950s, what made you choose to go for a period book rather than a modern day story? Was it a nostalgia thing or does it help the story in some respects?

KB: Part nostalgia and part pragmatism. Jackson goes around carrying a briefcase filled with his magical arsenal and I remember that sparked an image of a 1950s salesman. I’m also a big Mad Men fan, so I thought, yeah, let’s set this story in that era. It also played an important part in influencing other aspects of the story. If I had placed the story in the present, I think it would have a taken a much different direction. That doesn’t mean that future volumes will take place in the 1950s though. My plans for the next installment will take us forward into the future quite a bit. I’m really excited about some of the ideas I have for the next chapter.

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“Jackson goes around carrying a briefcase filled with his magical arsenal and I remember that sparked an image of a 1950s salesman.”

The crossroads myth is a well established one, did you research into any classic stories to help get the tone and style of your story correct?

KB: I did research some mythology including the Robert Johnson story. I also did some hoodoo research. Those were all influencers on some level.

If you were to make a deal on the crossroads, what would you ask for?

KB: Jensen Ackles? Ha! I really don’t know. There are a lot of things I want, but none worth eternal damnation or getting chased by hellhounds. I guess I’ll have to try to get what I want the old fashioned way and work for it 😉

How did you get involved with artist JC Grande? Is he a co-creator or a pencil for hire and what does he bring to the creative process and the characters in general?

KB: I found JC online and we had already worked on a few pitches and issue #3 of my indie series when I was ready to do The Bargain. I hired him for the artwork and he did a great job. It’s the artist who really brings the story to life and sets the tone. JC is a good artist. He’s flexible and professional.

You’ve funded the book via Kickstarter, how did you find that process and what made you decide to go down that route? It seems like a very good way for people to support (and then continue to support) fledgling ventures like comics as there is a real support and reward structure involved, would you agree? And would you use crowd sourcing again?

KB: Kickstarter and the backers helped make this book happen and I can’t say enough good things about that. It’s a terrific platform that helps indie creators realize their creative visions. But it’s also a lot of stress and hard work. My advice would be to do your research and get the business end figured out first. Will I go back? I’m not sure. We’ll have to see what the future holds.

You can purchase The Bargain Volume 1 from ComiXology for £2.99/$3.99 or download a digital copy of The Bargain through Kara’s online store for $5.99. Be sure and check out the official blog for more information and updates at www.thebargaingraphicnovel.com

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.