“I wanted to create a world where it’s very normal to pass a troll by on the way to work” Rich Douek on building the world of Gutter Magic
IDW and Comic Experience’s Gutter Magic is a steampunk, urban fantasy set in a world where World War 2 was won by magic, trolls walk the street and the rougueish Cinder is looking to find out why he isn’t gifted with the same magical powers as the rest of his family. We catch up with writer Rich Douek to out why reallism is so important for world-building in the world of Gutter Magic
So tell us about Gutter Magic – why should we be checking it out?
Rich Douek: Gutter Magic is a fast paced, action packed urban fantasy tale. It’s about a guy named Cinder Byrnes who grew up in a family full of powerful wizards that were instrumental in winning WWII, but can’t cast a spell to save his life. He’s spent his whole life chasing and stealing parts of a spell that once assembled, should cure his condition – his only problem is figuring out how to cast it before the wizards he stole it from hunt him down.
What were your inspirations for the series?
RD: I was inspired by a wide range of fantasy fiction and comics. Some huge influences are the works of Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, and JRR Tolkein, as well as more modern authors like JK Rowling and Joe Abercrombie. Add to that the visual aesthetics of ’80’s Heavy Metal magazine, Judge Dredd’s Mega City One, and steampunk in general, and you’ll get a pretty solid idea of what my inspirations were.
How did you and artist Brett Barkley come to work together? Have you worked together before and what’s the working relationship like?
RD: I met Brett online initially, through a mutual friend who pointed his work out to me. We talked for a while about the story, and where I saw it going, and agreed to do five pages to sort of test our working relationship out. It turned out that we really worked well together, and we decided to finish the first issue, and eventually the series. Brett and I have a great working relationship, mainly because we always try to keep the lines of communication open, and do our best to be open and receptive to each other’s ideas.
You’ve mixed classic fantasy tropes with elements of steam punk, but also a more contemporary city location, is this you playing with readers expectations of the fantasy genre or hints of a wider universe or a different timeline?
RD: I think it’s both. Most contemporary urban fantasy books have this whole magical or supernatural world operating behind the scenes of the mundane one – even when things bleed out into the open, there’s an imperative to keep it all very hush-hush. With Gutter Magic, I wanted to turn that notion on it’s head, and have everything happening out in the open – a world where it’s a very normal thing to pass a troll by on the way to work, or see a dragon flying around the harbor at sunset. But also, I tried to construct a world with a deep history that is just a few shades off from our own – a world where magic definitely had an impact on how our history played out, and lead to a very different kind of modern day.
Where can we get Gutter Magic from and how long is it running for?
RD: You can find Gutter Magic at your local comic shop, or digitally at comixology.com. The miniseries will run for 4 issues, released between now and Aprill, with a collected edition to follow this Spring.