Rich Douek Emerges from the Smoke & Mirrors

It’s almost time! Rich Douek, a course alumnus and Creators Workshop member, releases the sequel to his hit Gutter Magic on April 25! On Gutter Magic: Smoke and Mirrors, he is joined by Fei Chen on art and Sean Rinehart on letters.

Picking up six months after the original series, the new story sees protagonist Cinder continuing to explore his improved magical prowess, and an antagonist(?) facing down the legacy of The Morgue.

We spoke with Rich about what we can expect from Smoke & Mirrors. No spoilers, of course.

Comics Experience: No spoilers, naturally, but what can you tell us about what’s happened to Cinder and his team since the end of the original Gutter Magic?

Rich Douek: Well, at the end of Gutter Magic, Cinder was in jail. By the start of Smoke and Mirrors, he’s out, and trying hard to integrate his new magical powers into his life – but he realizes that studying something and actually doing it are two very different things.

One other character that is also imprisoned is The Morgue – but she’s still inside, and without her leadership, her gang, the Ghost Knives, has lost their dominance over the streets – ceding more and more territory to upstart gangs. Her daughter, Shiver, could take over – but for the first time in her life she’s out from under her mother’s shadow – so who’s to say she even wants to?

CE: So we’re going to get a good Shiver story out of this, eh? What do you enjoy most about writing her?

RD: Shiver has become one of my favorite characters to write. She’s immensely powerful, utterly fearless, and playful in a way that just makes it super enjoyable to get into her head. Having died several times before means that what seems all important to us feels almost trivial to her – what does she have to fear, after all? And as a consequence of that, she’s never afraid to be exactly who she is – though even now, she’s still learning about herself, and exactly who she wants to be.

CE: How does Tales from the Gutter fit into the Smoke and Mirrors world and timeline?

RD: Tales from the Gutter is a mix of tales from all over – there’s one that takes place during the first series, one that takes place during Blacktooth’s childhood, and many that don’t even feature characters that we see in the main series… but, they’re all out there in the world, and Might cross paths with Cinder down the road sometime – you never know!

CE: Are you teasing us, Rich?

RD: Always! I don’t know what the future holds, exactly, but every character I’ve introduced has a part to play in the world I’ve been building with Gutter Magic. Hopefully we’ll all see how one day!

CE:As a piece of historical fiction, what does your research process look like? How do you decide what to include and what to fictionalize?

RD: Well, the great thing about using magic is that it’s impossible to call me out on any historical inaccuracies – a wizard did it!

Seriously though, I do try to do a good amount of research to make sure that everything makes sense – that’s the most important thing to me. The history can be whatever I want it to be, but it needs to have all have a sort of internal logic that makes it all fit together.

CE: Were there any little bits of history that you hated to leave on the cutting room floor?

RD: Well, Robert Oppenheimer factored into the first series in a big way. He was a fascinating person in real life, and if I had been able to, I would have liked to delve a little bit more into his history, his life, and what made him special. As it was, I think we alluded to a lot of it, but we didn’t really have the space to go too deep. But hopefully seeing his name inspired some people to look him up and learn about him!

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Gutter Magic: Smoke & Mirrors #1 via mail or curbside delivery from your favorite local comic book store on April 25!