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RICH DOUEK
SEND THIS TO A FRIEND!

 
 

DF Interview: Rich Douek reveals that fame can come at an ultimate cost in the ‘A Phone Call Away’ OGN

 

By Byron Brewer

 

Fourteen years ago, Emma and Andrew Walker suffered a devastating loss when Mandy, their 6-year-old daughter, was kidnapped. Her unrecognizable body was found one week later. The case and resulting media coverage moved an entire nation to the point that everyone knew who the Walkers were. Everyone felt sympathetic…which indirectly propelled the Walkers’ businesses and careers.

 

Years pass and the Walkers have both rebuilt their lives and prospered. As founders of The Mandy Walker Foundation, they’ve helped thousands of children around the world and have raised their new daughter, Meghan, in front of the world on a show called Second Chances. America is riveted by scenes of them coping with the loss of Mandy, but also finding new hope as Meghan grows.

 

Everything comes crashing down when Meghan disappears soon after her 6th birthday–on the very day Mandy disappeared 14 years ago. Emma and Andrew now have just one week to save their little girl from the tragedy that befell her sister.

 

From Mad Cave Studios comes A Phone Call Away, a new graphic novel from writer Rich Douek and artist Russell Mark Olson. I dropped the dime and chatted with my pal, scribe Rich Douek, about his coming book.

 

Byron Brewer: Rich, your new graphic novel, A Phone Call Away, looks to be one of family drama magnified to the max as well as an intoxicating mystery. What was your inspiration for the creation of this tale?

 

Rich Douek: A Phone Call Away is really inspired by the trend in our culture that began with Reality TV, but has now been given even more expression in online media like YouTube and TikTok. What I’m talking about is the idea that these various media channels are built on the idea that we’re seeing real life, real people, but in truth, they are all highly edited to tell a certain story, that very often has nothing to do with reality. I think, as humans, we have a natural instinct to tell stories, to make sense of the world around us through the tool of narration - and “reality”-based media kind of hijacks that impulse, allowing the creators to tell a certain story that is widely accepted as truth, when it really is anything but.

 

Byron: Can you explain the OGN’s title? I assume it has something to do with a kidnapping in the mag, but I may be mistaken.

 

Rich Douek: When you think of the term “I’m just a phone call away”, it’s generally meant as an expression of comfort, and safety, like something you would say to a child or loved one moving away from home, or someone going through a rough time. Mental health hotlines use similar terminology – if someone is struggling, help is just a phone call away. Without getting too deep into spoiler territory, the kidnapper twists that notion around a bit by insisting that the truth behind the kidnapping is just a phone call away – that if the people investigating it take the right steps, they’ll uncover what’s really going on.

 

Byron: Flash back 14+ years if you will, before dire tragedy befell the Walker family. Introduce us to the members of the family as they were.

 

Rich Douek: Emma and Andrew Walker were young and ambitious, with dreams of the picture perfect upper middle class life – a nice house, kids in the best private schools, all of that – and they were well on their way when tragedy struck, and their daughter Mandy was kidnapped on her sixth birthday. A manhunt and media circus ensued, as all of America watched the case obsessively. When Mandy was found dead, the country mourned along with the Walkers, but rather than letting the grief destroy them, they used their newfound popularity to forge a way forward, becoming even more famous along the way.

 

Byron: I understand that first daughter Mandy disappeared 14 years ago. Was there ever any resolution to this crime? Her body was discovered, but was any party labeled a person of interest? Aside from the date on which it occurred, was there ever any other connections established between Mandy and second sister Meghan’s disappearance?

 

Rich Douek: Mandy’s body was found, yes, as it was being disposed of by the kidnapper – who was gunned down by Detective Raul Martinez, leaving the case closed, but with a lot of questions unanswered, with nobody to interrogate.

 

Byron: Are there other important characters we need to know to enjoy A Phone Call Away? Can you spotlight a few of them here?

 

Rich Douek: The death of Mandy’s kidnapper was enough for the police department and the media to consider the case closed, but it never sat right for reporter Nina Hendrik, who uncovered and exposed some personal things about Detective Martinez that questioned his competence, and went on to harass the Walkers about their story to the point where they filed a restraining order. All of this comes back to light with Meghan’s disappearance, when Nina becomes a person of interest due to her perceived grudge against the Walkers.

 

Byron: Tell readers a bit more about The Mandy Walker Foundation and the reality show Second Chances.

 

Rich Douek: The Walkers created the foundation to help other kids who had been, or were at risk of being preyed upon – and worked tirelessly to keep the issue in the spotlight over the years. They created the show Second Chances to document the birth and childhood of their second daughter, Meghan – sort of like the Gosselins, or the Duggars, just meant to be this document of the perfect family growing together.

 

Byron: Talk about the awesome art of Euro-flair artist Russell Mark Olson and your collaboration on this graphic novel.

 

Rich Douek: Russell did an amazing job on APCA, giving each character a distinctive look, and really getting across the complex emotions they are all feeling throughout the story. In addition, his masterful use of color really sets the tone of each scene – I found him to be a great collaborator too, always receptive to feedback and bringing his own great ideas to the table. I can’t speak of him highly enough.

 

Byron: Rich, what other projects of yours, inside or outside comics, can you tell readers about?

 

Rich Douek: I have some really fun projects on the burner! Before Phone Call hits this summer, I’ll have Heartpiercer, my dark fantasy tale from Dark Horse coming out beginning in May, along with the Mechagodzilla 50th Anniversary Special from IDW on May 1st. Then, later in the year, I’ll have an as-yet unannounced series debuting from Vault Comics, and a few other short projects here and there!

 

Dynamic Forces would like to thank Rich Douek for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. The A Phone Call Away OGN from Mad Cave Studios is slated to be on sale August 13!

 




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