Rich Douek and the creative team, including Brett Barkley, Jules Rivera, and Nic Shaw, have come together with IDW Publishing to bring the previously self-published Gutter Magic to your local comics shop this January! Gutter Magic is an urban fantasy series that takes the unique approach of magic as a commodity, rather than an innate ability everyone is born with.
We were lucky enough to speak with writer Rich Douek about the upcoming series, including talks about how the industry has changed during the development of the book, moving from independent publishing to IDW Publishing, the creative team, and the inspiration and vast world-building that has gone into Gutter Magic. See what he had to say and check out a preview of the first four pages of Gutter Magic below.
It took nearly five years to make this book a reality, what changes in the industry did you see over those five years and how did that affect the development of the book?
Lots of changes! We’ve seen a lot of top flight talent at the big two embrace creator-owned stories, which I think has been a mix of good news and bad for newer creators – on the one hand, it broadens the readership for non-big 2 work, but on the other, it means you’re competing with huge names for the attention of both publishers and fans. I think the overall effect has been positive, though! As for how it affected the book, I think it may have made it a little harder for it to find a home, but a huge plus has been all the friendships I’ve made in the interim, which means I have a lot of people pulling for the book to succeed.
What is it like to go from indie publishing to working with a well-known publisher? What are some of the challenges that you had to overcome to adjust?
Well, when you’re working with a publisher, there are a lot of things that you need to account for that you might not if you were self publishing. There’s a greater level of quality control, actual deadlines, and a lot of other little things that come into play. I don’t think its been that huge of an adjustment, because everyone at IDW and Comics Experience wants to see the book succeed, so it’s kind of like just adding more members to the team. One of the great things about working with Andy from Comics Experience especially is that he gives me great advice on the editing front, but always reminds me that it’s my book, and the choices are ultimately mine. That’s a great deal of freedom to have, but the funny thing is, he’s usually spot-on in what the right thing to do is.
How was the creative team formed and what has the collaboration process been like?
The creative team came together in stages. Brett and I met through a mutual contact online, and have been working on the artwork the whole time. When we secured a publisher, we talked to a lot of colorists, and my friend Tyler James at Comixtribe suggested Jules Rivera. I knew she was a fan of the book, so I reached out and she was very enthusiastic about coming aboard. When I self published the first edition of Gutter Magic, I lettered it myself – it wasn’t terrible, but it definitely needed someone who had a better grasp of the art of lettering – I had known Nic Shaw for a while online, but he came out to NYCC 2 years ago and we hung out – I saw some of his recent work and knew he would be perfect for the job. As for how it’s been, it’s been great. Not that there aren’t any bumps in the road – there always are – but everyone involved has had an amazing, professional attitude, and always focused on making the book the best it can be. You can’t ask for much more.
What was the inspiration behind Gutter Magic? What has been the most fun part of building the urban fantasy setting?
I was inspired mostly by the fantasy epics I’ve enjoyed over the years – everything from the Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter. I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons in my youth too, and I’d be lying if I said those experiences hadn’t contributed as well. But as I started to develop Gutter Magic as a classical fantasy series I felt things were feeling a little flat – and when it occurred to me to bring in real world elements, to set it in a fantastical version of our world, things just started clicking. It’s been immensely fun weaving historical elements and fantasy elements together – there are huge amounts of development and backstory that went into building the world. A lot of that will come through in this book, or later volumes if we get to do them, and a lot of it won’t, but really building out what makes this place tick has been great fun.