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Relentlessness of 'The Black Ghost': An interview with Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher

Comic Books

Relentlessness of ‘The Black Ghost’: An interview with Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher

For fans of superheroes and gritty drama alike.

The Black Ghost is a ComiXology Originals series recently released in the physical format, and regardless of how you actually read, it deserves your attention. Created by Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher, it’s a story about a reporter obsessed with her local city’s superhero, the titular Black Ghost. Toss in a little local corruption, and the search for justice, and it becomes a gripping bit of superhero-centric noir (with a modern sheen, of course).

Segura and Gallagher were gracious enough to answer a few questions about the title, wherein we discussed the series as a whole, their approach to a digital-first project, and whether more stories within the universe could be on the way, among several other topics.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

If you’re hungry for even more, check out a live discussion from Segura and Gallagher today (May 27) at 6:30 PM/PST via Skylight Books.

Relentlessness of 'The Black Ghost': An interview with Alex Segura and Monica GallagherAIPT: Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions! This series originally launched in 2019 and now thanks to Dark Horse, it got new life on May 4 as a trade paperback. How as the rollercoaster of the book getting released…and released again been?

Monica Gallagher: Thanks, David! It’s just such a dream to have a book both out on ComiXology Originals and then be given life in print, as well. As convenient as it is to have people be able to read The Black Ghost digitally, I know we’ll still get people who are into comics in book format!

Alex Segura: It’s been fun, honestly. It was such a thrill to see our story debut in a serialized way on ComiXology, and it’s been really cool to see the entire first season come out in print as one book, to be experienced as a complete story in print for the comic shop and bookstore market. It’s almost like it’s coming out for the first time.

AIPT: Since it was intended for digital-only, did you approach this work differently than if it was meant for print?

MG: Yes and no. I think Alex and I are both huge fans of all formats of comics, so wanted to make sure it’d be flexible enough to look good in a variety of mediums. A lot of the credit for that goes to our artist George and editor Greg, for keeping us honest with page layouts!

AS: Yeah, I agree with what Monica said — I think we just set out to tell a good story, one that works on many levels – we wanted cliffhangers for people reading it in issue-by-issue format, but also to work as a complete story as a trade/graphic novel. Greg was our fearless leader throughout this process, and is really the unsung hero of the series. I also think we were all hoping it’d eventually see light as a print comic, too, so we kept that in the back of our minds as we created it. When the Dark Horse deal came together, it was a great bit of news. They’ve been fantastic partners.

The Black Ghost interview Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher

Courtesy of ComiXology.

AIPT: It’s in the title, but your use of “black” itself is intriguing. It’s used in a stark and contrasting sort of way, even with color, was that something you purposefully attempted to bring with the book?

MG: Alex and I definitely wanted a noir feel, and George brought such a fun intensity with his stark shadows and blacks, it fit perfectly. Even though there are moments of lightness and humor, that darkness is always creeping back into the frame and into Lara’s life in particular.

AS: I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to noir and how we use the term – for me, it’s about stories that put the protagonist in a corner, that really drag them down and force them to make tough decisions. So it was apt that our hero has it in their name, too. We wanted to honor the tropes of the superhero genre but also weave in things from other kinds of stories we love, like private eye novels, mysteries, and more. I think the big thing for us was hoping to keep the reader off-balance, so they didn’t feel like it was predictable while still striving for the familiarity that is part of the comfort of superhero stories. I hope we pulled it off!

The Black Ghost interview Alex Segura and Monica Gallagher

Courtesy of ComiXology.

AIPT: When it comes to world-building, where did you start with this series?

MG: We wanted a city that was trying to get back on its feet, and was full of people who had pride in their city and cared about it – but a place that was also victim to a lot of criminal elements trying to take advantage of it. So naturally, Baltimore was one of our influences for Creighton! I’m from Baltimore and I love that city, and I can totally imagine a vigilante hero rising from the streets there to help out.

AS: We wanted to tip our hat to the idea of fictional cities like Gotham or Metropolis, but we wanted Creighton to feel rooted in the real world. Monica is from Baltimore, so we used that as a template, and Lara, like me, is from Miami. So we tried to keep it grounded and familiar while still giving ourselves a blank slate to start from, which made for a lot of fun storytelling opportunities.

AIPT: Black Ghost feels very much like a pulp crime drama I want to see on TV, speaking of which, is a second season potentially on the way?

MG: I hope so! We could always use a little more pulpy drama in our lives, right?

AS: We definitely have more stories to tell, so fingers crossed!

AIPT: Were there any works of fiction or non-fiction that inspired your work in Black Ghost?

MG: I like to say I came to Lara by way of Jessica Jones, Misty Knight, and Ana Lucia from Lost. Grit, determination, all the sass, and a pile of issues.

AS: Jessica Jones, for sure. I also feel like Lara and my series private eye, Pete Fernandez, could be cousins. Is it weird to say you inspired yourself? I hope not. It was a tricky balancing act to try and evoke the wonder of superhero comics with the gritty, grounded vibe of noir, but that was our ideal goal. I think we pulled a lot from modern crime fiction, and superhero comics like Denny O’Neil’s The Question and Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye runs.

The Black Ghost

Courtesy of ComiXology.

AIPT: I was particularly taken by the lettering by Taylor Esposito, how involved are you when it comes to word balloon placement and other lettering choices?

MG: Oh, Taylor is a master at what he does! We had some ideas, but then just stepped aside when we saw what he came up with, haha. Especially when considering how incredibly wordy Alex and I can get, when put together!

AS: Taylor’s a super-pro, and just understood what we were going for. He’s so in demand for his work, it was the highest compliment when he said he’d make time for us because he liked the story! We’re lucky to have him, George, Ellie, and Greg on the team.

AIPT: If you were to describe Black Ghost in just one word, what would it be and why?

MG: I don’t think Lara knows when to stop, even when it’s in direct danger to herself, so… “relentless”.

AS: Relentless is great. I don’t think I can top that.

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