Gravel According to Mike Wolfer
Warren Ellis’ Newest Comic
You have a new ongoing book coming out, Gravel. What can you tell
us about the main character?
MIKE WOLFER: William Gravel has to be the hardest bastard you can
imagine, a man who wants nothing more than to be left alone in a
world that seems to be eternally dragging him into the hell of its
political and societal woes. A man who has faithfully served Great
Britain as a member of its elite S.A.S., but who also happens to be
a member of an even more secretive association: William Gravel is a
Combat Magician, employing brutal and bloody magic that springs from
the blackest pit of the occult ever conceived.
Though Gravel is
still on active duty with the S.A.S., many of his adventures take
place while moonlighting, taking dirty little jobs for the highest
bidder to earn pocket cash, much to the disdain of his military
superiors. And they’re the kind of jobs that you and I would dismiss
as urban legend, or irresponsible journalism; tales we’ve heard in
whispers that could not possibly be happening in our world. But they
are, and Gravel’s usually right in the middle of them. They’re the
kinds of situations whose final resolutions can only be brought
about by extraordinary… Or supernatural means.
Why did you start helping with the writing chores on Gravel after
the first mini series?
MW: After the success of
STRANGE KISS and the sequel mini-series,
STRANGER KISSES, everyone involved realized that there were so many
more stories that could be told about William Gravel. The only
problem with pursuing new stories after STRANGER KISSES was that
Warren’s work load was enormous, which would limit the number of
full scripts we could get out of him. When Warren submitted his
initial outline for the third series,
STRANGE KILLINGS, it was
decided that it was entirely possible for me to provide dialog for
the story. I had been scripting and illustrating my own works since
1987, so it wasn’t like I hadn’t done this kind of work before.
Judging by the fact that many readers had no idea that I was
supplying dialog, my style of writing could emulate Warren’s work
enough to not make a difference. But the ideas are Warren’s, and his
imprint is unmistakable.
Will the plots from the miniseries leak into the ongoing title?
MW: Warren Ellis has an incredible, grand scheme for the GRAVEL
ongoing monthly, a 21-issue story that’s broken up into three
7-issue story arcs. I have an idea where Warren is going, but how we
get there and who will be involved is still very much a mystery to
me. I’m just as excited to find out the answers as anyone else, but
we’ll have to wait and see just what Warren has in store for us.
From what I gather from the first few issues, we have an entirely
new cast of supporting characters in a story that exposes a side of
Gravel we have never seen, so initially, I don’t think we’ll see
ties to any of the previous series or characters.
What part do you play in the writing process of Gravel?
MW: The way we work is that Warren supplies an incredibly detailed,
7 or 8-page plot breakdown for each issue that includes all vital
dialogue passages and descriptions of action, along with any web
links to background or reference material which I will need to
study. From there, I write the actual, page-by-page, panel-by-panel
script in which I fully choreograph the action and write secondary
dialog to support Warren’s previously-supplied main dialog points.
Raulo Caceres is the new artist. How did you go about picking a new artist?
MW: Raulo had worked with Avatar previously on Warren Ellis’
original graphic novel
CRECY and he also supplied the wraparound
covers for Warren’s
DOKTOR SLEEPLESS. Raulo’s an awesome artist who
does some incredibly detailed work, so when his name was thrown into
the ring as a possible inheritor of Gravel’s adventures, I was all for it.
It has been mentioned that there is a revolving team of artists,
who else can we expect, or who would you love to see on this in the future?
MW: I’m not at liberty to reveal who is waiting in the wings, but
I’d love to have the opportunity to handle an issue or two here or
there. I always greatly enjoyed illustrating Warren’s visions, and
I’m dying to get my hands on Gravel again, my schedule permitting.
Gravel uses combat magic, is this based on any certain type of magic?
MW: Yes- The kind of magic that can turn the recipient of a spell
inside out. Seriously, though, there have been references in past
series to occult practices that are employed in our real world, but
for the most part, Gravel’s magic is a fantasy concept; an
amalgamation of the real and the unreal. In the new series, we will
see reference to some of the techniques used by writer William Hope
Thomas Carnacki character, as the premise of the first
story arc is tied directly to those early 20th Century short stories.
The focus of the previous books was on Gravel’s combat magic
ability, will this be a look behind the curtain at the
repercussions from his use of magic?
MW: In a sense, yes. We’ll be seeing a side of Gravel we’ve not seen
before. In the past, it’s been mostly all-action, all the time. We
know what he can do, but we’ve never really learned why he does it
or from where it comes. The first story arc of the GRAVEL ongoing
monthly is going to illuminate his personal life, his ties to the
world of the occult and what he does with his “time off”.
once a member of The Minor Seven, an covert assemblage of Britain’s
greatest Occult Detectives, but after returning from military
service in Afghanistan, he finds that he’s been unceremoniously
replaced. And the Minor Seven were glad to be rid of him. To make
matters worse, Gravel learns that the Minor Seven have recently
gained possession of the Sigsand Manuscript, a frighteningly
powerful occult artifact. The bottom line is that Gravel’s curious
about the Minor Seven’s intentions, but more importantly he’s
pissed-off about their dismissal of him. And you do not want to
piss-off William Gravel.
Do you adhere to any system of magic?
MW: Only Gravel’s combat magic. If you asked me to write a story
involving magic, this is exactly the interpretation that would most
interest me, this rough and dirty form of mystical art. I also much
prefer Gravel’s use of magic in
STRANGE KILLINGS and GRAVEL, as
opposed to how we’ve seen magic used in other comics or mediums. We
don’t throw it in the readers face right and left. Magic, as Gravel
uses it, is not his primary weapon or defense; he much prefers to
use military weaponry or his bare hands to extract results, but if
all else fails, he’s got an ace up his sleeve, and it’s a
magnificently deadly ace, to be sure.
The book format has been in black and white, is that going to change?
MW: Yes, the new ongoing monthly will be in full color, although I
am supplying gray-toned art for the 1-In-15 Black Magic Edition
“chase” cover variants. With the series interiors now in full color,
it’s nice to acknowledge the black and white roots of the book with
the Black Magic variants.
How soon can we expect to be seeing this book on the shelves?
MW: The GRAVEL ongoing monthly officially launches in January 2008
with GRAVEL #0, but we may see that issue hit store shelves in December.
Wolfer at Avatar Press