Comics Experience community member Rich Douek, recently of Gutter Magic, will be debuting the first issue of Wailing Blade at New York Comic-Con on October 4-7! The team also includes artist Joe Mulvey, colorists Chris Sotomayor and Jules Rivera, and letterer Taylor Esposito – plus a cover by Declan Shalvey! You can pick it up at the Comix Tribe booth.

You may have already seen the teaser at Emerald City Comic-Con; now it’s time to check out the full issue. For fans of Conan the Barbarian, Mad Max, and the Masters of the Universe – all of which Rich notes as an influence – this book has plenty of sci-fi and fantasy action to please fans of both genres. Wait until you see the character and weapon designs, too!

We spoke with Rich about how Wailing Blade came together.

Comics Experience: What’s it like building an entirely new fantasy land from scratch? How do you and your team create maps?

Rich Douek: It’s a lot of fun, first off! You have the freedom to build the world exactly how you want it, and you can let your imagination run wild. And it doesn’t have to be a lot of work, at least not at the beginning. My approach is to spend a lot of time thinking about the parts of the world that the story immediately occurs in, and while I have ideas for the rest of the world at large, I leave myself the flexibility to develop them further as the story takes us there.

Creating maps is a lot of work, but also fun, too. We started with the areas the story takes place in, and expanded from there. I found some tools and guides online that helped as far as making the maps – things like how coastlines look, and how to depict mountains and forests. I also found a really cool set of Photoshop brushes that made rendering the map a lot easier and fun. After that was the hardest part – coming up with names for everything on it!

CE: How does writing a purely fictional world differ from writing a parallel reality in our own world, like in Gutter Magic? What are some of the challenges that you weren’t expecting?

RD: Well, as I said, there’s a bit more freedom, but that comes at the expense of familiarity. When you’re creating a world, you want it to feel lived in, like it has a history – in a way, you want it to feel like it could exist even if you weren’t telling this story. Setting something in our own world, of course, takes care of a lot of that for you – you can focus on how your version of it differs from the real without having to establish certain things. Gutter Magic was set in a modern day New York City, and while it’s different from the NYC I live in, setting it there gives me a lot of touchpoints that I don’t need to define independently. With a new world, you can’t take anything for granted.

I think the biggest challenge, with any setting, is making sure that everything is internally consistent. You can make it as crazy as you want, but it has to make sense, from the smallest interaction, to the biggest of the big picture stuff going on in the background. For Wailing Blade, that meant doing a lot of research into how feudal societies work, how the introduction of new technologies can affect people, and lots of things I might not have realized I needed at the start in order to make things work.

CE: What is your relationship with the creative team like? What is your preferred process?

RD: I’ve known Joe for years, we met at the first NYCC I ever went to and hit it off really well. Since then, we’ve always been looking to work together, but either he was busy with something, I was busy with something, or both. For whatever reason, our availability didn’t line up until very recently – but man, am I glad it did. He’s one of the most thoughtful, hardworking, and friendly people I’ve ever worked with. He brings great ideas to the table, and is really defining the world right alongside every word I write.

With Chris and Taylor, you couldn’t ask for two more seasoned professionals to be working on the book. They both have hundreds of projects under their belts, from indie work all the way up to Marvel and DC. (What that means is that generally 90% of the mistakes come from either Joe or myself. Haha!) But seriously, it makes the workflow that much easier, because everyone knows they can rely on each other to get the job done.

CE: How did your work with Comics Experience help in the creation of this project?

RD: I always try to apply the lessons I’ve learned from Comics Experience courses on every project – be it story structure, engaging dialogue, or pacing – and the enthusiasm and supportiveness of the community always inspires me and keeps me going. Even though this isn’t a CE publishing project, I’m glad to have the Workshop as a place I can talk about the work, and as a resource if I run into a roadblock.

We hope you’ll check out Wailing Blade #1 at NYCC, October 4-7, 2018!