The inimitable J. Geils Band once sang “Love stinks.” For many, truer words have never been spoken.
Cupid, one of the stars of Dennis Hopeless and Kevin Mellon’s Image Comics graphic novel “LoveStruck,” would agree, but that doesn’t mean he won’t exploit the emotion of suckers to the fullest. The 192-page, black-and-white tome from the team that brought you Arcana’s “GearHead” paints the ancient Roman god as a ruthless CEO-type who sends agents out to kick love in the junk when it suits him and the company. Hopeless sat with Comic Book Resources to discuss Kalli Monroe — the September-shipping book’s star, and a love-buster on the payroll — as well as his evolving relationship with Mellon and which “Dune” character his version of Cupid most resembles.
“Did you ever read ‘Dune?'” Hopeless asked. “Our Cupid’s a little like Baron Harkonnen, only less evil and more powerful. He’s this total hedonist who has eaten himself immobile and floats around in a big crane-operated chair. Cupid is obsessed with power and control. He’s also a pretty savvy. In 2011, corporations run the world. So Cupid runs a corporation.”
Aside from our history with the works of Frank Herbert, a more pressing question is what the portly cherub’s role in “LoveStruck” really is. Hopeless was more than happy to offer some teases from his own quiver.
“Cupid plays a lot of roles in the story because he’s sort of the impetus for the entire plot,” Hopeless said. “Basically, his immortality has created a disconnect between the power he controls and the people it affects. So you have a bored, amoral glutton manipulating our most powerful emotion for his own amusement. The actual story is about the very broken people he’s chosen to help him do it.”
While Cupid’s not exactly the center of attention, he pushes the story along, allowing his employee Kalli Monroe to become the primary protagonist.
“Kalli is Cupid’s newest and most powerful recruit,” Hopeless said. “She’s charming, talented and completely broken when it comes to adult relationships. She says from the very beginning that love is bullshit. So, naturally, Cupid lets her control it.”
How a person who has no place in her life for love adjusts to working for a god of love — and her thoughts on the emotion as the story progresses — makes up a huge part of “LoveStruck.”
“Kalli’s view of love and the effect it has on her kind of is the story,” Hopeless offered. “When we meet her, Kalli’s in a dark but comfortable place as far as love is concerned. She knows love doesn’t exist and feels superior to everyone who thinks otherwise. In a romantic comedy, cynical Kalli would meet the perfect guy who challenges her convictions and after some hilarious misadventures, they’d fall head over heels into happily ever after. But ‘LoveStruck’ is very much not a romantic comedy. In our book, Kalli meets a love god who says, ‘You’re right, love is bullshit. Let’s go mess with people and get rich.’ Then, you know, hilarious misadventures [ensue].”
Unlike the dynamic between Cupid and Kalli, Hopeless and his creative partner Mellon have a far less dysfunctional relationship, stretching back to their days collaborating on “GearHead.”
“Kevin is one of my best friends and has been since before we did ‘GearHead,'” Hopeless said. “Our collaborative relationship is probably unconventional, but I don’t know that it has changed all that much.”
“LoveStruck” wasn’t always intended to be a graphic novel, but over the project’s long gestation period, it eventually turned into one.
“I think we originally pitched it as a five-issue miniseries,” Hopeless said. “And I did write it in somewhat self-contained chapters. But this thing took several years to complete, and we’ve known it was a graphic novel for a while.”
The reason “LoveStruck” took so long to put together is a simple one — time — but Hopeless is excited to see it finally making its way to stands.
“I started writing it in 2007, right after I wrapped up ‘GearHead,'” the writer said. “But writing 200 pages takes a lot less time than drawing 200 pages, especially with Kevin drawing the entire book in his spare time for free. Four years was a long time to wait to show off a project we both love. We’re both thrilled to finally have it done and ready to come out.”