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JOHN ZUUR PLATTEN
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DF Interview: John Zuur Platten takes Mercy into a new era of obsession – Hollywood’s golden age – in ‘St. Mercy: Godland’

 

By Byron Brewer

 

In her new mini-series, Mercedes Oro finds herself immortal. In addition to protecting her cursed ancient Incan gold throughout the years, she's struggled constantly with gods who see her as both a threat and an opportunity. Now, with the spirit of Toctolissica inside her and her demon sister Quispe beside her, Mercy finds herself in another golden age, surrounded by different gods – this time 1930s Hollywood. But will her star power be enough to hold the past at bay, or will Mercy find herself in the bloody center of a conflict between the gods of old and the gods of the silver screen?

 

From Top Cow & Image and EP1T0ME Studios comes St. Mercy: Godland by writer John Zuur Platten and artist Atilio Rojo. I sat down to chat with scribe John Zuur Platten about this latest chapter of Mercy’s saga.

 

Byron Brewer: John, tell readers a little about the storyline of St. Mercy: Godland. One place I would not expect to find Mercedes Oro on one of her continuing adventures is 1930s Hollywood. What inspired this jaunt from the Old West to Hollywoodland?

 

John Zuur Platten: One of the real challenges for Mercy as a character is where would she find herself with this new-found power – not only in place, but in time.  She has become functionally immortal as a result of the cursed gold blade that has pierced her heart and is keeping her alive.  This presented the opportunity for Mercy to go to completely new environments and interact with an entirely different cast of characters.  As an LA native, I’ve always been fascinated by the history of the city and, of course, its ties to the entertainment industry.  So, setting the story during the 1930s and the golden age of Hollywood seemed perfect.  This also gave Atilio and I the opportunity to have a new palette for Mercy’s and Quispe’s adventures. 

 

In the story, Mercy finds herself embroiled in an unfolding series of events that become more violent, and more dangerous, while she is also attempting to navigate the temptations of Tinseltown during its early heyday.  She finds herself assisting a rising star named Lupe, but all is not as it seems.

 

Byron: For those unfamiliar with the character of Mercy (you know who you are!), can you introduce her to readers please and explain who she is, her curse and her vast responsibilities?

 

John Zuur Platten: Mercedes Oro (Mercy) is a young woman who is part of a long lineage of families that have looked over cursed Incan gold.  In Series 1, she was stabbed through the heart by an outlaw intent on stealing the gold who unintentionally created a “monster”.  Mercy is accompanied by a young daemon child named Quispe, who was a child sacrifice in a ceremony known as the capacocha.  Additionally, the spirit of another young Incan girl, named Toctollissica, now resides inside her.  Together, they form an unstoppable force who continue to protect the gold from both human threats as well as the mythical gods of the ancient Incas.

 

Byron: Is it necessary for readers to seek out and know anything about Mercy’s previous adventures to enjoy Godland? If so, which ones?

 

John Zuur Platten: Godland is a self-contained adventure.  Knowing about Mercy’s history through her first series is helpful, but not required, to understand, and hopefully enjoy, this one.

 

Byron: Can you spotlight Mercy’s daemon sister Quispe and their relationship?

 

John Zuur Platten: Quispe is one of my favorite characters in the series.  As I mentioned, she was a child sacrifice who the Incan god of the Underworld, Supay, brought with him to spy not only on Mercy, but on the spirit of Toctollissica.  Quispe is a daemon who is driven by pure impulse initially, but later comes to be something of a companion to Mercy.  This frustrates Supay, as her wavering loyalty is affecting his plans.  When Quispe is unleashed, she brings the power of hell with her.

 

Byron: What new cast members can you tell us about for Godland?

 

John Zuur Platten: Three of the main new characters are Chayoq, who is a “handler” of the Incan spirit animals (the serpent, the condor, and the puma).  He appears as an emissary from the world of the gods but we’re never quite sure whose interests he’s serving. 

 

Lupe Felix is an up and coming starlet who Mercy assists with the technical aspects of her film (a western).  She represents the glamour and the allure of Hollywood.  She is also hiding some dangerous secrets. 

 

And finally, there is Scott Fontaine, a classic leading man who has yet to have that breakout film, but is on the cusp of super-stardom.  With Mercy, he must find the strength to be an actual hero, rather than the ones he’s been pretending to be.

 

Byron: Talk a little about any research you or artist Atilio Rojo did to set Mercy into this very special era in early film-making. As a reader myself, I always find such background efforts fascinating.

 

John Zuur Platten: I did a fairly deep dive into the history of Los Angeles during this era.  I was looking for stories, people, the diverse culture… anything I could get my hands on.  In addition to the entertainment business, people often forget that the LA of that era was one of the biggest producers of oil, and that much of the land was farms and groves. 

 

We found a lot of great imagery, so Atilio and I would create folders full of references for the architecture, the cars, the film equipment, and so on.  And Atilio really captured it all in his drawings.

 

Byron: Wow, cool! … Discuss the awesome art of Atilio Rojo.

 

John Zuur Platten: I’m always amazed by his talents.  I will layout the panels in my script, but Atilio and I know that is just a starting point, and that he takes it from there.  He elevates everything he touches.  Not just his line art, but the angles and “shots” he creates.  That he then colors everything himself is just icing on the cake.  Whenever I get an email with new art from Atilio, I take time to just savor it.  I’m so grateful that we have found a collaborative spirit that works for us both.  When you see the art in this series, there are moments that are just pure comic brilliance and that’s all Atilio.

 

Byron: John, what other projects do you have upcoming that you can tell us about?

 

John Zuur Platten: I have another comic series that will announce around Comic-Con that I’m very excited about.  It’s an origin story for a new kind of superhero.  I’m also working on some new game projects that will announce in the next few months.

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank John Zuur Platten for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. St. Mercy: Godland #1 from Top Cow & Image and EP1T0ME Studios is slated to be on sale April 10!

  



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