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DF Interview: Writer/artist Mike Wolfer launches Daughters of the Dark Oracle
By Byron Brewer
Indy horror creator Mike Wolfer has built his reputation on books like Night of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th, Lady Death, Gravel and Stitched as well as his own creation, Ragdoll. Now he is starting up Mike Wolfer Entertainment and has announced the first release: Daughters of the Dark Oracle.
To learn more, Dynamic Forces sat down with the writer/artist/publisher.
Dynamic Forces: First, Mike, you have quite a reputation in the industry as a horror creator. Why was it the right time to take such a bold step with the creation of Mike Wolfer Entertainment? Please tell us what the move is about and a little about the new company.
Mike Wolfer: I think the primary reason I’ve decided to self-publish is because I’d like to once again have the freedom of choice. I began my career in 1987 as a self-publisher under the name Ground Zero Comics, and then worked exclusively for Avatar Press for almost 20 years. Now, I’m not denying that I had some incredible assignments offered to me that have greatly benefited my career, but all the while I’ve been yearning to cut loose and create something exclusively for me. In other words, I’ve wanted to do the book that I want to do, rather than what books were offered to me. Self-publishing is such a risky endeavor, so I’m not going into this blindly with dreams of selling 100,000 copies. But I don’t need to sell a huge amount of books to stay solvent because I have such low overhead. Mike Wolfer Entertainment consists of only me, letterer Natalie Jane, and cover colorist Ceci de la Cruz. That’s not many people to pay, and I can get by on sales that are lower than what might be achieved through publishing with a larger company. To make this endeavor even more doable, there’s Kickstarter, which has been such an incredible asset and is the primary reason that any of this has been possible for me. I’ve run several Kickstarter campaigns that have funded my graphic novel, The Curse of Ragdoll, the Countess Bathory one-shot comic, the four-volume Widow Archieves, reprinting all 14 plus issues of my Ground Zero Comics series, and now Daughters of the Dark Oracle.
DF: MWE's first release is your just-mentioned Daughters of the Dark Oracle, coming out in July. Is this your creation and will you be doing both writing and art duties?
Mike Wolfer: Yes, Daughters is all mine, and I’m writing and illustrating all covers and interiors.
DF: Tell us a little about the book's storyline. I believe right now it is slated to be a 4-issue miniseries?
Mike Wolfer: Right. The official title of the first series is Daughters of the Dark Oracle: The Curse of Ragdoll, which runs monthly from July to October 2015. I’m launching the series with the story from The Curse of Ragdoll, broken into four installments, with a bit of new material sprinkled in there, so anyone who has seen last year’s graphic novel will be seeing a totally new opening chapter in issue #1. The Curse of Ragdoll is set in 1777 Europe, and tells the tale of a patchwork, Frankenstein’s monster-type creature who calls herself “Ragdoll.” She doesn’t know how she was created or why, but she is aware that she was birthed through a combination of science and magic, and she possesses baffling, supernatural powers. But the “hook” of the story is that all of her composite parts -- which came from a large number of murdered women -- have retained the spirit of vengeance, and the life essence, intelligence, and memories of those unfortunate donors. Ragdoll’s quest is to track down every murderer responsible for the deaths of the original owners of each piece of her, and deliver to them a very fitting and brutal revenge. It’s scary stuff, with a very Gothic horror setting, but I’ve worked in a bit of levity, and some tongue-in-cheek irony to give the whole thing a sardonic edge. I should note that this is a “mature readers” title, and contains quite a bit of nudity and gore.
DF: Haha … you had me with ‘nudity and gore.’ Other protagonists?
Mike Wolfer: Daughters has several supernatural “guest stars,” but Ragdoll will be the constant throughout every miniseries. Each miniseries will focus on a different one of those “guest stars,” as Ragdoll encounters them on her road to self-discovery and revenge. The first four-issue series, The Curse of Ragdoll, is primarily a solo story and establishes Ragdoll as the lead, along with the world in which she lives, but we’ll see teases of some of the other characters. The follow-up series is subtitled Orgy of the Vampires, and features Ragdoll and Countess Bathory going head-to-head. Other characters we’ll see are the Wolfwoman, the savage, undersea Siren, and cartomancer Madame Sabina.
DF: And in such a world, IS there a ‘big-bad’?
Mike Wolfer: Here’s the cool thing about self-publishing: I can tell the story however I’d like, even if it’s breaking from traditional comic storytelling. Readers have come to expect a certain rhythm and story format, particularly with miniseries, but those techniques don’t necessarily create a more dramatic or unique tale, they’re just cookie-cutter comics. The modern concept of the “big-bad” comes from video game culture, where there has to be a climactic, final objective to every endeavor. But my approach to writing Daughters is to try to make it as much like real life as I can, and real life isn’t always about surmounting a single obstacle. Sometimes in life there is no main objective, other than surviving to the next day, or figuring out who you are and where you want to go. There is no evil overlord pulling any strings. Things just happen and we learn from them, and they shape who we are and mold our character. And that’s what Daughters of the Dark Oracle is all about. It’s about the characters, who these women are, and what they want out of life. Of course, there are some very horrific, supernatural things happening around them, but their stories are personal ones, rather than overblown, 100-issue mega-event crossovers in which there’s one bad guy that must be defeated.
DF: That IS different! Speaking of which, what is different about Daughters of the Dark Oracle that should really fascinate the undecided reader ... er uh, besides no big-bads?
Mike Wolfer: Well, aesthetically, I’m hoping that the look of the art will be a deciding factor for some people. The interiors are black and white, with hand-painted gray tone ink washes throughout, so it does have a very “human” feel, rather than a Photoshop feel. My decision to go black and white and hand paint in grays is an attempt to recapture the vibe of the old Warren Publications titles from the ‘70s (Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella), so hopefully when people open the cover of Daughters, they’ll immediately notice that this looks much different than the average color comic, or even other black and white comics like The Walking Dead. I think that the exclusion of color is kind of cool in that it engages the reader a bit more than does a story in which they’re given everything, up front. I’m asking people to use their imaginations a bit, in a sense.
DF: In the creative process, is there sometimes something Writer Mike Wolfer would like to say to Artist Mike Wolfer?
Mike Wolfer: Well ... Artist Mike Wolfer would probably ask Writer Mike Wolfer to not have the characters blab so much, because all of that beautiful art is in danger of being covered by captions and word balloons!
DF: Plug time: What is next for Mike Wolfer Entertainment?
Mike Wolfer: Well, I’m being very realistic with my publishing plans. The Daughters of the Dark Oracle series is a big experiment, to see if I can get the support of retailers who order through Diamond Comic Distributors. If sales to comic retailers aren’t strong enough, I’ll just go back to publishing graphic novels, as opposed to monthly “floppies,” and fund those through Kickstarter and sell them at conventions and through mail order as I did with The Curse of Ragdoll. Either way, the Daughters story will still get out there to those who want it. So whether it’s in comic or graphic novel format, The Curse of Ragdoll will be followed by Orgy of the Vampires, Beast from the Brine, and Werewolf Carnival. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve also brought Widow back into the public eye with the four Widow Archives volumes, which will also be made available through Diamond Comic Distributors this fall, and I’m funding a one-shot comic in June on Indiegogo called Maximum Rissk, featuring a villainess from the Widow universe. Eventually, I’d like to dovetail all of my creations together, to transpose the Ragdoll and Widow universes, which would be a lot of scary fun! Anyone interested in keeping up-to-date on what I’ve got coming out, as well as info about my Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, can find it all at http://www.facebook.com/thecurseofragdoll.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Mike Wolfer for taking time from his busy schedule to answer our questions. Daughters of the Dark Oracle: The Curse of Ragdoll #1 (of 4) hits comics shops in July!
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