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DF Interview: Magic rules and science is a lie in Phil Hester’s Mythic
By Byron Brewer
Imagine you live in a world where Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Red Riding Hood and the fables from your youth really exist. Fun? What about the Wicked Queen, the Big Bad Wolf? Not so much fun anymore, eh?
In Phil Hester and John McCrea’s comic from Image, Mythic, there is a team that manages these things, that makes the world turn smoothly. To find out more, Dynamic Forces pulled up one of those giant mushrooms and spoke with to the writer on the opposite toadstool, Phil Hester.
Dynamic Forces: Phil, tell us the mechanics of how Mythic came about as a series.
Phil Hester: John [McCrea, artist] and I enjoy collaborating and he was looking for something to do at Image, so I hit him with my master list of 100 half-baked ideas, and he picked Mythic. I originally did sort of a proof-of-concept short story as a digital comic with Brent Schoonover, but John approached the concept without seeing that story. John pitched it to Image verbally with a couple of sketches in hand, and we were in business. Really, any time John wags his art under a publisher’s nose they usually approve the project.
DF: You’ve done the reverse with science and magic: Usually the writer has magic as a kind of science, but here science is a lie and magic is … broken?
Phil Hester: Not necessarily broken, but as with any complex system, in need of constant maintenance. Mythic Lore Services makes sure the unseen gears of the world turn smoothly, lest we all lose our minds. In this world, not only is the irrational concept that fables, myths, and folk tales are true, but that ALL fables, myths and folk tales are true, even the ones that directly contradict each other. Mythic not only makes sure all the mystical machinery runs properly, but makes sure it keeps humming even when the parts don’t fit together.
DF: Tell us about the team called Mythic and its members.
Phil Hester: So far we’ve seen the following, but there are more to come:
Waterson: Child of Water, one of two American Indian immortals known as the War Twins. He’s a world weary shaman deeply in love with humanity, mainly because he’s sired so many of us in the last ten thousand years, and dedicated to using his vast wisdom to keep us all safe. Field team leader.
Killer of Enemies: Waterson’s brother, who can be summoned from the depths of hell in an emergency. Beheaded centuries ago, he swings his fearsome head around like a weapon. Basically the Hulk, but with swears.
Dr. Devorah Baranski: A dead scientist who refuses to believe in an afterlife, and so haunts our earthly plane as a ghost who doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Cassandra: The Greek oracle of old, still alive, and fully committed to enjoying the pleasures of our modern world. She still sees the future and doles out that information readily, almost casually. Unflappable. Cannot be flapped.
Venus: The Venus of Willendorf was based on a real person. Her status as a fertility fetish gives her uncanny control over the hormones of all she meets.
Anatol: Born of a long line of cyclopses, but with the unfortunate birth defect of a second eye. Dumb, but brave and stalwart.
Asha: A giant baby who represents the god-force on Earth. Immensely powerful. Boss of Mythic.
Nate Jayadarma: Former cell phone store clerk drafted into Mythic by Waterson. Just a guy. The temp.
DF: You seem to have a great love of mythology …?
Phil Hester: Like all nerd kids. They have the same larger than life characters and incomprehensible, self-contradictory continuities as comics.
DF: How has it been to work with artist John McCrea? Tell us a little about the relationship.
Phil Hester: John’s brilliant. Everything I write for him is just a love letter to keep him working with me. He’s a great storyteller, and a superb designer, and he’s found a new gear with his art in the last few years. He’s really a unique talent.
We do Mythic Marvel-style, meaning I type up all the dialogue, then hand what looks like a radio script to John with very basic stage directions. He draws out all the cool story moments, hands it back to me, and I synch up or rewrite the dialogue to make it work. It’s exciting for both of us, and the results have been rewarding ... for me, anyway.
DF: Did John do the designs for the characters, etc.?
Phil Hester: Yes. As I said, I did an earlier version of the book with Brent, but we took care for John to go in without seeing those designs. I mean, I gave him general descriptions, like, Killer of Enemies has blue skin, white hair, and a detached head, but he riffed from there.
DF: Tell us about Nate as a character and some of the things (in a non-spoilery way) he must face in issue #7.
Phil Hester: We’ve been hinting around that Nate may not be just a normal cell phone salesman, and that his hidden talents are the key to Mythic surviving their current crisis, but we won’t know exactly what that secret past or gripping future hold until Nate gets there. I will say this; he faces that future without the rest of the team.
DF: Phil, any current or future projects you would like to discuss?
Phil Hester: I’m also drawing Thrilling Adventure Hour: Beyond Belief, based on the popular podcast for Image, and writing projects for AfterShock and Dynamite, which are not yet announced
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Phil Hester for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Mythic #5 hits stores Oct. 28th!
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