By Matt O’Keefe
The first series out of Dynamite Entertainment’s Creators Unleashed program, The Devilers is a comic book about an apocalypse inspired by a number of different faiths. Joshua Hale Fialkov writes and Matt Triano illustrates a group of holy men going into battle against an enemy that’s a culmination of all their beliefs. I spoke with Fialkov to learn what part of himself he tapped into to write his multi-religious armageddon.
How developed was The Devilers when you came aboard as the writer? How did it grow after you did?
JHF: I think the broad idea was there, and they had a sense of the tone they wanted, but, a lot of it was left up to me to do what I (theoretically) do well. For me, part of the fun is taking the religions not as dogma, and not as hard fast rules, but as a place to build story. The trick is doing it without being, y’know, horrifically offensive, which I think we manage to do pretty well. If you take their religions and the methodology behind their powers as, well, just that, as superpowers, it becomes a lot of fun to play with .
The Devilers features a Catholic Priest, a Jewish Rabbi, an Islamic Mullah, a Hindu Brahmin, and a Buddhist Monk. With such diverse viewpoints, where can they find common ground?
JHF: There’s also our non-believer who’s a bit of our POV character through out. Again, part of the fun is that ALL of them are right. Each of their religions sort of rub up against each other in the evil department, although, obviously, there’s some stretching. Ultimately, the fact that they don’t see the world the same way as each other contributes to the tension and drama of the story. So, stay tuned.
Each Deviler has a different view of the afterlife. How do you compile those into a single Hell?
JHF: We actually play with that a bit in the issues. It’s a hell, that I think, is fairly pan-religious, and, our villains are not quite the typical renditions of the evil below, so to speak.
How will the characters’ religions be put to the test in the series?
JHF: I think being constantly confronted by the truth and fallacy of your beliefs forces those beliefs to become a bit more practical. Again, even our atheist character is put in a place where suddenly he has no choice BUT to believe.
Where do God, angels, and Heaven fit into The Devilers? Do they at all?
JHF: Oh they do, but not the way we’re used to seeing them. God himself shows up around the end of Issue 3.
The demons’ looks are far removed from the stereotypical red with horns. What inspired their appearances?
JHF: It’s a mash-up of the various hells. The idea of it being a true place of eternal suffering, and something that every creature sentenced to live there is in abject misery and pain creates some visually wonderful stuff, especially in Matt Triano’s immensely talented hands.
I love the way sound effects are used for subtle actions like a gulp or look of confusion. Was there a specific intent to focus on those kind of uses instead of the standard “Bif! Bam! Pow!”?
JHF: Jeez, completely unintentional. I think that’s just how I do sound effects, and with Simon on lettering, there’s very cool stuff afoot.
The solicitations say seven issues, but it looks like the story could easily grow bigger than that. Have you considered future Devilers stories?
JHF: Of course. I have a feeling there’ll be Devilers stories for years to come.
Religion is such a divisive topic. What kind of questions do you hope this series raises about it?
JHF: I don’t know that I’m looking for profundity on the religious front. For me, it’s about a bunch of people who believe things that aren’t quite the same in practice as they are in concept. Each of them is going to be challenged with their understanding of the universe and their roles in it. So, I guess the message is don’t be so damn sure all the time.
You’ve written creator-owned comics for a lot of different publishers. What’s different about the Creators Unleashed program from Dynamite?
JHF: Nick and the crew are throwing their backs behind these books in a way that you usually don’t see from independent publishers. I’ve been given a completely free hand to tell the kind of story that interests me in the way that interests me, which, again, is not quite as easy to come by.
The Devilers is on sale July 16.