Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery, writers of Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini #2, talks with Christina Blanch about The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #2, both on sale Nov. 12
ANTHONY DEL COL & CONOR McCREERY: The trope of the financially put-upon hero making a bad choice because of money needs is a classic one, but Damnation gives it a twist in that Charlie is, or should be, solidly middle class. Yet he sees his insurance pulled away from him because of budget cuts. How much of North America's recent economic history inspired Charlie's plight?
CHRISTINA BLANCH: This actually happened to Chris and me. We got our insurance and then to save money, they took it from us the next year. It was frustrating and so we decided to put it in the book as a main theme. The problem is that even with insurance, people still have money issues. I recently pulled a "Sideshow Bob" and stepped on a garden tool, smashing my eye. That little trip to the emergency room was crazy expensive even with my (albeit pitiful) insurance. So, with Charlie's sick kid, those bills add up fast!
DC & M: In issue #2 we see Stokes watching Charlie and Barnum negotiate. It seems like Stokes is waiting to see if Charlie is going to fall out of Barnum's protection, but is there perhaps more to the Stokes/Barnum relationship than we're seeing right now?
CB: Stokes and Barnum are power struggling. They both want to be the big cheese. Stokes is a huge man that can intimidate; Barnum is a 'normal' sized man who can intimidate in other ways. I guess we will see who is mightier in the end. Stokes isn't going away any time soon. He'll keep lurking around.
DC & M: Damnation has an interesting chapter structure unlike most comics. What inspired that?
CB: It's modified from a web comic so we needed something to help break it up. I'm not sure if we are continuing that in the rest of the comics, but we'll see. Every month it's an experiment to try and figure out how we are going to convert this comic made for web viewing to print. It's seriously a cut and paste project – we cut out the panel and paste (well, tape) them together to form the page. It's just how I have to do things right now in this learning process.
DC & M: Cervantes, Dumas … there are a lot of references to classic literature. But both of the heroes of these books are highly active characters while Charlie, at least so far, is having trouble setting his own course. Was this an intentional contrast?
CB: No. But cool. The classic literature portion is where I go to Chris and say, hey, let's use this great prison story — what class lit goes along with it? Then he uses his brilliance to come up with a story with parallel lines. The Count of Monte Cristo was an exception to that. We knew we wanted to use that and had to come up with a "prison story" to fit that. We both just felt that Charlie and Dumas needed to be used together.
DC & M: Damnation feels like a Film Noir — there are hints of infidelity, betrayals and a morally challenged hero. Is Damnation meant to be part of the genre, and were you inspired by any particular stories within it?
CB: Not really anything intentional. It just kind of turned out that way. I think the black and white adds to that too. That said, and I can't speak for Chris, but I love Film Noir. I love characters that don't have it all together and have questions about morals because we all do that every day. I can relate to those characters. I think it's more inspired by Columbo. I love Columbo. I love that most of the "villains" are just people who did something they normally wouldn't do. Charlie isn't really a villain, he's just someone thrown into a terrible situation. (I'm not even sure I answered the question — now I just want to go watch more Columbo.)
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