Alrighty, so the dust has settled a bit and Left Hand Path is now out in the world. Many punters from Supanova Sydney have copies and more of them are flapping their way to shops around Australia on a pair of creaky black bat’s wings. First review is in and the book is already looking like it will be the biggest success I have had with a domestically-published Australian comic.
Obviously, with only the first issue out I can’t say too much without spoiling anything–there are some twists and turns coming up that I hope will surprise and shock you–but I do want to talk a little bit about where all this came from.
Back in 2010 I was standing around depressed in the Hyatt bar in San Diego. I was there to promote my new graphic novel, The Sixsmiths, at Comic Con, but the book wasn’t ready in time and I had already booked everything. I knew that the Hyatt bar was where real business at the show done, but I didn’t have a proper book to show for myself, I didn’t really know anyone and I didn’t know what the fuck I was even doing there. My old contacts hadn’t seen me for about four years and I could tell they weren’t quite sure who I was anymore.
Then Paul Abstruse rolled into the bar. I’d met Paul back home in Australia, but I don’t think we’d had a proper conversation before. Paulie came over and started croaking at me–he’d lost is voice but was powering through it. It sounded like he’d swallowed a chainsaw. Paul introduced me to his friends, we had some drinks, and eventually he braced me about writing a comic for him. “A horror book. Something depraved.”
Well, that sounded right up my alley. Once I got home I put my head down and came up with LEFT HAND PATH (click through and then click on the cover thumbnail for an 8 page preview).
I had a few starting criteria in mind. First, I wanted a contemporary setting. Originally it was going to be Sydney, but Paul convinced me to relocate the book to LA. I wanted to do something depraved, per Paul’s orders, but not particularly grim. Los Angeles is a sunny place, full of beaches and beautiful idiots and paparazzi. I wanted something heady–black magic and humour, gore and ice cream. Professionals struggling to make ends meet and amateurs succeeding beyond their wildest nightmares.
I wanted to write about magic, as the title suggests, and I had a specific idea about how I wanted to do that for this project. Without going Dungeons and Dragons on it, I wanted to sorcery with a forensic eye. That suggested specialist police.
I didn’t want to do the X-Files. There have been a lot of different variations of the old paranormal investigator over the years and I wanted these characters to seem fresh. I didn’t want to make the cops Federal Agents with carte blanch to gallivant all over the country with unlimited resources. I wanted them firmly rooted in LA and I wanted them to be ground-level plods. The Unconventional Incidents Unit is primarily there because weird shit does happen in LA and nobody really knows how to do with it… but it doesn’t happen often. It has two detectives on staff and they’re not there because of some secret backstory–they have been put there because the department doesn’t know what else to do with them. Danik’s been sequestered to the UIU because she’s talented but bad-tempered, which is not a good combination of attributes to demonstrate exhibit in the boy’s club LAPD. Livia, on the other hand, is overqualified for her job. A science PHD who has joined the force because she’s tired of working in a lab, she’s not a particularly experienced police officer but she’s undoubtedly one of the smartest people in the department.
So yeah. Two women who don’t fit into the organizational culture, marginalized into a small office that mostly deals with hoaxes and coincidences. I have tried to present a pair of smart, professional, well-adjusted women. They have problems like everyone else, but neither of them is pursuing a revenge quest for a dark and rapey past. Neither of them is going to become a Spinny Killbot in a spandex outfit. Neither one of them is a prize for a male hero to claim or a damsel in need of rescuing. They’re capable operators trying to solve a problem that nobody else in the department can, because it’s their job.
On the other hand we have Beaumont, a magician, and his apprentice, Trevor. Beaumont is talented but small time, and he’s not above scamming the rich and credulous to make ends meet. Trevor is tough, confident and good-humoured.
I can’t say much about Zycorax, the antagonist, without soiling the story but Paul’s designs for him look ridiculously cool, and that’s important, too, right?
So yeah. Left Hand Path, written by me, drawn by Paul Abstruse, coloured by Eddie Swan, lettered by Ed Brisson and published by the fine folks at Winter City Publishing. Paul and I will have copies at Oz Comic Con Melbourne from next week; otherwise look for it in comic shops around Australia. You like ice cream? Then come get some.