Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your horror comic book series, Sea of Sorrows, with IDW Publishing! For those who may be unfamiliar with the project, what can you tell us about its premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Rich Douek: Thanks! I think what inspired us was in part having so much fun making Road of Bones. We really loved working with the mix of historical fact, supernatural folklore, and psychological horror, and wanted to explore other stories with those same elements. Looking back through history, we found no lack of horrific circumstances, and we settled on the aftermath of WWI as our setting. Sea of Sorrows tells the tale of the crew of the SS Vagabond, a salvage ship that’s been hired to haul up a cargo of sunken gold from a lost WWI U-boat. Different factions of the crew have their eye on the gold, scheming to take it for themselves, but that’s only the beginning of their troubles - they soon realize that they’re not alone down in the deep - and the monster lurking below them is out for blood.
BD: Given your previous work with Rich on last year’s Road of Bones, how would you describe your shared creative process on this series, and did you find that there was a shorthand to your process in light of this previous working experience?
Alex Cormack: It’s been great. We’re into the same things, so most of the time we’re on the same page on how the book should look and feel. Rich has given me a lot of freedom on character and set design which any artist will tell you is wonderful. This time around compared to when we started Road of Bones, it’s about the same. I’ve known Rich and have been friends with him and have read his work before we worked together, so it’s been easy jumping into his worlds.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Sea of Sorrows’ story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
RD: Why does this story matter? Because all stories matter. They’re the only way we have to even begin to understand what another person is feeling, or thinking. If I tell you I’m feeling sad, you might accept that. But you won’t understand why I’m feeling that way, or that it’s anything like the sadness you experience yourself, unless I tell you the story of how I came to be that way. Sea of Sorrows is set after WWI, and, obviously, I didn’t fight in that war - but, like everyone else, I’ve had struggles in my life. As the old saying goes, we all fight our own private wars, every day. And in the same way that researching and reading about WWI and its effects on the psyche allowed me to relate that to my own battles, I think that readers will connect with the characters here, and what they are going through.
AC: What he said. Sea of Sorrows is a story I’d want to read even if I had nothing to do with it. Which was the same feeling I had with Road of Bones. Whether you see yourself, your environment, or if it’s for escaping, whatever the reason, even just introducing good time stories matter.
BD: What makes IDW Publishing the perfect home for Sea of Sorrows?
RD: IDW has a rich history of horror - from 30 Days of Night and October Faction, to one of my personal all-time favorite books, Locke and Key. They’ve been a leader in the genre for a long time, and being under the same publisher as stories like that really inspires us to do the best we can to live up to that legacy. Aside from that, from editorial, to marketing, to support staff, it’s a company that’s full of talented, nice, and easy to work with people… so that’s perfect for us in and of itself!
AC: It’s a great bunch of people to be working with. And like Rich said, they have a wonderful history for horror. I remember early on when getting into the business picking up Zombies vs. Robots vs. Amazons and just being in love with Ashley Wood’s work in that and thinking one of these days I’ll have a book with these guys, and now here we are.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
RD: Besides Sea of Sorrows, I’ve got a new volume of Gutter Magic on the way, that I’m publishing with Source Point Press. It’s called Smoke and Mirrors, and it continues the story of Cinder, from the first volume. Here, he makes a bunch of new enemies and realizes that studying magic and actually using it are two very different things. The first issue is out April 29th!
AC: Sink, that I work on with John Lees (He writes Mountainhead for IDW. Read it!), will be back out later this year. Weed Magic from Bliss on Tap, Duel also from Bliss on Tap, Crossing from Red Stylo Media, and a bunch more that I’m not sure I can talk about yet...? So, I’ll leave it at that.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about and pre-order Sea of Sorrows in advance of the May 2020 release date?
RD: The best place to pre-order is your friendly neighborhood comic shop, where you can give them the code MAR200774, or just ask them to reserve you a copy. A great and easy way to find a store convenient for you is with comicshoplocator.com. You can just type in your address and local stores will come up. For more information, you’ll want to keep an eye on my Twitter account (@rdouek), Alex’s at @AlexCormack4, and IDW’s at @IDWPublishing, where we’ll be posting previews, sneak peeks, and all the info we can. You can also sign up for my newsletter, where I’ll be sharing more in-depth and exclusive content, like script pages and process stuff.