Eric Palicki is a Seattle-based writer who has been in the comics industry for more than a decade. He’s worked for some of the best in the business, including Marvel, Dark Horse, and Black Mask Studios, just to name a few. Hot off the success of his series Atlantis Wasn’t Built for Tourists, Palicki rejoins long-time collaborator artist Wendell Cavalcanti for a new series, Black’s Myth.
The story follows an L.A.-based private investigator named Janie Mercardo — who just so happens to be a werewolf. After the “case of a lifetime falls into her lap,” Jones falls head first into a mystery supposedly involving silver bullets. It’s a fantastic blend of horror, crime, and some, um, furry situations.
Before issue #1 debuts on July 7, I was fortunate enough to chat with Eric Palicki about the story/series, werewolves in general, and his creative process, among many other topics.
AIPT: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.
Erick Palicki: Thank you!
AIPT: Your latest comic is about a werewolf private investigator. Why werewolves? And, why a private investigator?
EP: Years ago, in college, I came across a supposedly true account of a werewolf during a class on medieval Europe. The TL;DR version is that Theiss, this allegedly historical werewolf, saw himself as a village protector rather than a menace. I’ve wanted to do a capital-G Good werewolf story ever since. The P.I. aspect came about because, well, where would a wolf’s keen senses be the most useful?
AIPT: What’s Black’s Myth about?
EP: Black’s Myth is the story of Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercardo, a Los Angeles-based private investigator hired to find 30 stolen bullets that may or may not have been made from Judas’ silver. The case pulls Strummer into LA’s secret supernatural underground, a world she thought she’d abandoned years ago.
EP: What Strummer is really about is finding the people among whom you belong. When we meet her, Strummer is a woman who doesn’t know her place in the world. This bizarre case will help her come to terms with who she is and where she belongs.
AIPT: Where did the initial idea come from?
EP: I knew I wanted to do that “good” werewolf story, and the idea of turning Judas’ silver into supercharged monster-killing bullets was floating around in the back of my head, not quite a story on its own. Eventually, the two ideas slotted together like pieces of LEGO — and silver bullets and werewolves are a natural fit — and here we are.
AIPT: Are you a big fan of horror films? What are some of your favorites and did any of them have any influence on Black’s Myth ?
EP: So, full honesty, I don’t particularly enjoy horror for its own sake, and when I do, I find more grounded, plausible stories to be far more terrifying than supernatural horror. The Silence of the Lambs scares the s--t out of me.
EP: That said, I have great affection for supernatural stories, not just with the goal of being scared, but because I find the storytelling mechanisms fascinating. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Supernatural TV series are a couple of my favorites. And, I confess to enjoying the Conjuring universe, even if the real-life Warrens were charlatans and con artists.
AIPT: Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercado and Ben Si’lat are funny characters? Are they based on anyone?
EP: Not in terms of their personalities, but if I were casting the movie, Strummer would be played by Aisha Tyler and Ben by Riz Ahmed.
AIPT: Will Black’s Myth be a one-shot series or do you have a bunch of different arcs planned?
EP: Right now, we’re just doing five issues, but I already know where these characters go next. Sales will dictate if I get to spend more time with Strummer and Ben, so fingers crossed, and please let your LCS know if you’d like a copy!
AIPT: How long did it take you to write each script and do you feel it’s usually an easy or difficult process?
EP: The hardest thing to write for me is “page one, panel one.” Once I build up momentum, each page is a little easier. The first issue took a couple of weeks to write, but by the time I wrote issue five, it only took two days, give or take.
AIPT: Do you have a particular writing program you use?
EP: I do most of my writing in either MS Word or Google Docs. I find that the latter has been a game-changer in terms of my ability to collaborate with co-writers, editors, artists, and others on the creative team.
AIPT: Do you typically listen to music or have any daily rituals when sitting down to write?
EP: I don’t usually listen to music while I write, but what I do, when time allows, is take a walk and listen to a project-specific playlist before I start writing. Of course, I work a day job and have other responsibilities, so I make compromises to be flexible with whatever time I’m given. Two issues of Black’s Myth were written while traveling due to a family emergency (everything’s fine now).
AIPT: You previously worked with Wendell Cavalcanti on Atlantis Wasn’t Built for Tourists. What was the work dynamic like on that book versus this Black’s Myth?
EP: We’ve been working together on and off for over a decade, so I’d like to believe we’re
simpatico at this point. I hope we get to keep working together for years to come!
AIPT: What was your first impression of the artwork when you saw it?
EP: Wendell’s vision of Strummer and the others — and since we dig deep into mythology and the supernatural, some of those “others” get really weird as the story progresses — is pretty much exactly what lived in my head. Again, our collaborations have always been a dream.
AIPT: Did you ever have disagreements with Cavalcanti during the creative process?
EP: I think Wendell was hoping for a more bombastic climax — although he’s too kind to say so — but this is a noir mystery and not a “big fight at the end” kind of story.
AIPT: Why should comic fans read Black’s Myth?
EP: There’s this bit of advice all writers hear: “Write the stories you’d want to read.” Black’s Myth is an intensely personal story, but it’s filled with everything I love: monsters, detectives, moments of introspection, yes, but also moments of humor, as is the norm at Ahoy. The entire team, from Wendell to our editor Sarah Litt to the amazing cover artists led by Liana Kangas — we’re all doing the work of our careers.
I just hope readers enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed making it.
AIPT: Sum up the story in a few words.
EP: Hmmm. How about “A werewolf P.I. and her half-djinn partner make trouble in the most hidden parts of Los Angeles”?
AIPT: Do you have any other projects coming out you can tell us about?
EP: Sure! The Kickstarter for Dead Beats 2, the follow-up to the Ringo-nominated horror anthology, launches in June. Joe Corallo and I are returning as editors, and our lineup this time includes Ron Marz, Lilah Sturges, Adam Gorham, Jody Houser, and more.
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