Coming this July is Black’s Myth, a punk rock noir horror series starring werewolf private investigator Janie Jones. At its heart, this black-and-white series is as much about discovering whodunnit as is about “outcasts finding each other and accepting their place in the world,” said writer Eric Palicki in the AHOY Comics’ press release. Palicki is joined by artist Wendell Cavalcanti, with covers by She Said Destroy‘s Liana Kangas and variant covers by Jamal Igle.
Meet Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercado—just an ordinary werewolf PI, trying to make it on the mean streets of Los Angeles. When the case of a lifetime falls into her lap, it’s up to her and her charming djinn assistant Ben Si’lat to figure out just how many silver bullets have been used, and just where do silver bullets come from anyway? BLACK’S MYTH mixes familiar noir detective tropes with urban fantasy world-building as it explores the “supernatural underground” thriving in Los Angeles.
Here, Palicki answers a few questions about his latest series.
Why a werewolf? Why a djinn? What is it about these particular mythical creatures that interested you?
I’ve had a werewolf story I’ve wanted to tell since college, where I came across the supposed real-life account of 17th century werewolf Theiss of Kaltenbrun, and his conviction that werewolves were good, actually. (The TL;DR version is that Theiss believed he was entrusted by his village to transform into a wolf and battle the Devil to protect the harvest, a concept that didn’t sit well with the Catholic church.) Being misunderstood, even to yourself, seemed like a concept worth exploring.
Djinn, on the other hand, fascinate me because the surrounding mythology is so expansive. I wanted to write a story from the perspective of something so powerful but also barely able to connect with humanity.
What was the inspiration for this story? How long has it been percolating for you?
Black’s Myth resulted from a lot of ideas swimming in my head that weren’t quite stories on their own— a “good” werewolf, a half-breed djinn, what could you kill with thirty bullets made out of Judas’ silver? Etc. – left to congeal and coalesce into a fully formed narrative. Some of these ideas have been living in my head for fifteen years, but if you leave them alone long enough— “percolating” is a great word for it—they’ll mature into stories, eventually.
How did you settle on punk rock noir horror as the genre that would best tell your story?
Well, The Maltese Falcon was a big influence on this story – with the missing bullets playing a role similar to the falcon statue — which brings a noir flavor to Black’s Myth. Once you start plugging in the characters to the story, those other genre elements start coming to light. Strummer’s named after The Clash’s frontman, after all!
Tell us a bit about the main characters. Who are Janie and Ben?
Janie Jones “Strummer” Mercado inherited two things from her father: a love of The Clash, and the ability to transform into a wolf. When we first catch up to her, she’s more or less turned her back on the supernatural side of herself, mostly just using her enhanced canine senses as an advantage in her day-to-day work as a private detective. Our first issue focuses on the strange circumstances—more than just the missing bullets and their peculiar owner—that draw Strummer back to the supernatural underground community she abandoned.
Ben Si’Lat is a half-djinn and formerly a resident of Manchester, England. (I did a ton of research to get the accent down, but I’m sure I’ve screwed it up.) Ben has partnered with Strummer as a fellow outsider who doesn’t quite seem to belong in either the natural or supernatural world. Their friendship forms the backbone of the story.
What’s the most important thing you hope readers will take away from reading this series?
Joe Strummer — he’s all over this book! There’s a quote of his, “Without people, you’re nothing,” and Joe’s words loom large in describing the big theme of our story. I hope the story spurs readers to find their people, or at least to appreciate the ones they’ve already got.
You’ve identified Iron Man as a character that got you into comics — when did you start reading comics? What was it about Iron Man that sparked your interest? How have your interests evolved?
I started reading comics in the 6th grade, in the early ’90s, and like most comics readers of that era, I was an X-Men guy who became an Image guy. However, a friend of mine around that time gave me a stack of his older comics, including the Armor Wars run on Iron Man, and I was hooked. I spent a good chunk of my adolescence thinking I’d grow up to be an engineer. Characters like Tony Stark, Ollie Queen, Bruce Wayne…those are the characters I’ve gravitated to most as a fan and as a writer. They’re ordinary humans who’ve figured out a way (in most cases that means lots of money, but don’t let that overshadow the point I’m making) to stand alongside sometimes-literal gods and monsters. I think all the best comics stories find a way to touch on the underlying humanity of the characters, whether they also happen to be brilliant technologists, aliens, werewolves, or djinn.
If you were a werewolf or a djinn, what would your career be? Would you still be writing and editing comics, or would you use your abilities to become something more?
Well, whatever else I would be or do, I want to believe I’d be off having the sort of adventures people want to make comics about!
Black’s Myth #1 will be out in July from AHOY Comics. Pre-order your copy now and then catch up with Palicki’s other work on his website.