Charlie Wormwood's life is falling apart. He seems to be losing more than just his son as he and his wife struggle with Junior's illness. But will help come from an unexpected "friend"? And can Charlie face the demons that come along with the decisions that he is making? That is the synopsis for issue 2 of the Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, a Thrillbent webcomic now being available in print by Dynamite Entertainment. Byron Brewer talked with one of the series writers/creators Christina Blanch about the series and where it is headed.
CHRISTINA BLANCH: It's all thanks to Nick Barrucci of Dynamite. We were chatting at a con and we started talking about the book and he asked when it was coming out in print. I told him we were printing one issue of it just so we would have something to sign at conventions and he was surprised that we hadn't taken it somewhere. He and I then talked the next week, and then after talking about it with the whole team, it all just happened. It was amazing. And Dynamite has been wonderful to work with – we couldn't ask for anything better. Hannah is our editor there and she is amazing.
BB: We are just into issue #2. For the uninitiated, tell us the concept behind the book.
CB: Charlie Wormwood is a teacher in the correctional education system aka prison. He isn't thrilled about it but finding a job in the field of education isn't. He also happens to have a son who has been in and out of hospitals and they really can't figure out what is wrong with him. With bills piling up, Charlie is offered help from an unexpected source. This is the story of how far someone will go to help their child and how that journey changes that person. I don't want to give too much away. People have said it has a Breaking Bad vibe which I have to take their word on because I have intentionally stayed away from that show so I don't subconsciously put in a similar storyline. When the book is done and there is a hole in my heart, it will be nice to have Breaking Bad to watch as a treat. I've heard it's very uplifting.
BB: This mag is very dark. How do you keep the emphasis on what sacrifices Charlie is making for his sick son?
CB: I've heard the book is dark. Sometimes I see it, other times I don't. Some of our readers send me notes asking why I hate Charlie. I don't hate him. He does have some bad luck and I have to admit that sometimes he isn't the nicest of guys, but I feel for him. However, the book is called the Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, not the happy-go-lucky life of Charlie Wormwood. Everything Charlie does is for his son, at least in his mind. In real life, we all make decisions and think we are doing things for valid reasons. For Charlie, every decision he makes is valid to him. Sometimes it seems his reasons are stretching it.
BB: This isn't a hero vs. villain comic in the traditional sense. How would you term the "big-bad" in this mini-series?
CB: I never really thought about that before. Well, I guess the big-bad would be the continuous wrenches that life keeps throwing into our best laid plans. Sometimes you can't dodge all those wrenches. Charlie just wants a normal life but he gets handed some pretty big lemons. While some people know how to make lemonade, others don't. Charlie is trying to figure it all out.
BB: Life has become tough enough, but how can Charlie face it and his wife after taking the help – if indeed he does – of a "friend" in #2?
CB: Well, I'm not sure he is going to explain everything to his wife. You know when you make certain decisions that you think are good or right and know that they will solve some of your problems but you are embarrassed about making that decision? That's kind of where Charlie is on this. He's breaking the law and doing something he never thought he would do. BUT, he thinks it's for a good reason. Yet, he's not confident enough in that reasoning to share his decision with his wife.
BB: Books like this allow for a great chance at exploration of the human condition. Do you enjoy subtext like this in comic books?
CB: I LOVE it. This book is about so much more than a teacher in the prison system. It's about the circumstances of life. We get letters in about the book and some of them are really touching – about how certain parts of the story mirrored something in their life or made them sit back and think about what they have. (Also, you can send your letters into firstname.lastname@example.org – make sure to include "okay to print")
BB: Chee Yang Ong is doing the art for the book, and has been. What does he bring to the table?
CB: This book would not be this book without Chee and I am thankful for him every day. He takes our scripts and makes magic. Chee is integral to the book. This is really a collaborative process and when I see the pages that Chee draws from the script, I am just amazed. He is one of the most talented artists and storytellers out there. I feel so lucky to have him on this book. He's simply amazing.
BB: Christina, would you like to see Damnation of Charlie Wormwood continue as an ongoing Dynamite title should the mini prove successful?
CB: I would love it! We have more stories to tell and this is just the first chapter. The book began as a webcomic on thrillbent.com and so we have written a lot more of the story and I would love to see the whole story of Charlie Wormwood in print from Dynamite. I hope that enough people will like the story, but seriously, the art is worth the price alone. Like I said earlier, Chee brings SO much to this book. His art makes me weep – but in a good way! But really, we would love to see this book continue. So, tell all your friends to buy it and spread the good word! Please. :)
For more on the Damnation Of Charlie Wormwood #2, click here.