Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your graphic novel, Holier Than Thou! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Mike Ragsdale: Holier Than Thou basically contemplates what would happen if Satan had a mid-life crisis. What if the Devil changed him mind? Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Wouldn’t God welcome that with open arms? Well, not in this story. When the Devil starts to change his outlook, the cosmos begins to unravel, and well… all Hell breaks loose. The idea was originally inspired by a paraphrased Mark Twain quote that goes something like: “But who has said a prayer for Satan? Who among us has had the most common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needs it the most?” Ultimately, Holier Than Thou is my personal quest to explore and understand why there’s so much suffering in the world and in our personal lives.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working with Pablo Arias on the graphic novel, and what have been some of your creative influences?
MR: I interviewed dozens of artists – if not hundreds – to bring Holier Than Thou to life. I had two "false starts,” hiring artists who eventually dropped out of the project for personal reasons. I lost a lot of time, work, and money in both cases. But I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason, and eventually, I found Pablo. Pablo lives in Chile, and after earning a PhD in Physics, he dropped out to pursue a career as a professional comic book artist. We worked together day-in and day-out for 18 months, exchanging sketches, notes, ideas and edits. His work is absolutely incredible. He totally brings the story to life. I’ve never spoken with him by phone, and I’ve obviously never met him in person. But we are good friends, and we are working now to bring him to the U.S. for book-signings and other promotional events. I can’t wait to meet him and shake his hand in person.
As for influences, like so many others, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller was the first graphic novel that really captured my young imagination. It was somehow dark and heroic, inspiring and apocalyptic, all at the same time. Now that I think about it, The Dark Knight Returns is also a tale of mid-life crisis … of getting old and questioning choices. Of rebirth and second chances. And, of course, Mark Twain’s wit has always been a huge influence on me. And there’s a little Monty Python thrown in for good measure.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
MR: I hope they will be surprised. I hope they will laugh out loud. I hope they’ll get goosebumps once or twice. I hope they will think about the hurt and suffering they’ve experienced in their own lives and try to look at it through this new lens. I hope they will give us a 5-star review on Amazon.
BD: Do you have plans to expand the Holier Than Thou world into additional graphic novels or an ongoing comic book series?
MR: I always thought about Holier Than Thou as an epic, one-and-done story. But when we added “THE END” to the last page, I suddenly felt a sense of loss. This story has been part of my creative thoughts for so many years that I didn’t really want it to be over. Should I put a period after “THE END” or a question mark? Within minutes, fresh ideas started coming to me. I opened my laptop and just jotted down as many notes as I could, as quickly as I could. The outline for the next book came to me in a rapid-fire succession of funny and interesting ideas. So, who knows? I now have a great outline for the next book. But I plan to fully enjoy this one first.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
MR: Actually, I first wrote Holier Than Thou as a full-length screenplay. It’s 115 pages long, and when I finished it, I sent it out to dozens of agents, influencers, screenwriting contests, and movie studios. The script even won a top 10 finish in one of the contests. But then nothing. People told me how much they loved it, but nothing ever came of it. So, finally, in 2012 or so, I decided to make it a graphic novel. I thought, well, I can’t afford to produce a 2-hour epic movie about God and the Devil, but a book? A graphic novel? Maybe I can make that happen. And here we are. One day, I truly believe it will be made into a full-length movie. This is just a step in that direction.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MR: My “real job” is serving as founder and CEO of the 30A company (30A.com), a beach lifestyle brand. We have over 1.3 million social media fans, several 30A stores, online gear (30Agear.com), a beach radio station (30Aradio.com), two top-selling craft beers, wines, and much more. Living at the beach, writing stories… that’s pretty much the dream that I’ve been blessed with.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Holier Than Thou?
MR: HolierThan.com currently links to our Holier Than Thou Facebook page, which offers a lot of insight into the story’s evolution and sneak peeks of Pablo’s art. When the printed book arrives in the next few weeks, we’ll probably redirect HolierThan.com to the Amazon page, so you order it right there. We’ll also have the book in stores, but that will take time to roll out.