After X-Mas Gift: Raven Gregory talks "The Gift"

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You've likely heard of Raven Gregory's "The Gift." It started out as a self-published book and interest quickly grew thanks to an engaging story coupled with art by rising star Tyler Kirkham. Then, with issue #8 out last October, "The Gift" moved under the big I when Image Comics became its publisher. The ninth issue of the series hits stores tomorrow, December 29th, and we gave you a big preview of that issue a couple of weeks back. Now that you've had a chance to read part of that story we thought we'd catch up with series creator Raven Gregory and have him fill you in with all the pertinent details.

"The story of 'The Gift' follows the Ancient One, a mysterious being who bestows items of incredible power to normal everyday people," Gregory told CBR News. "The personality of the recipient determines how they use their Gift.

"But the Gifts themselves have an almost monkey's paw effect. In that, just because these people are given these great powers doesn't necessarily mean that everything is going to turn out all right.

"The larger story behind 'The Gift' involves the Ancient One's motivations for bequeathing these Gifts. A series of small clues throughout the seemingly unrelated stories will eventually lead readers to the answer."

For those who've been following the saga of the mysterious Ancient One since the beginning, you can rest easy that finally some of the answers behind his motivations will be made clear - although Gregory's still going to make you wait a bit. The writer told us that issues #13 & #14 will "reveal all," but he added there's always more to the story than what you get in the answer. In the more immediate future, Gregory filled us in on the happenings of issues #9 & #10.

"[In issue #9] we will be introduced to a young female teenage that is going to go through some pretty horrible shit. She will witness her friends murdered by a group of corrupt cops and she's going to have to find a way to survive the encounter. Enter the Ancient One.

"Issue 10 is the last issue of the first arc. We're going to see one of the main players of this story and find out the biggest clue as to why the Ancient One is doing what he's doing.

Page 18"The Gift" #10,

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"The second arc (issues #11 - #14) will answer the biggest questions about who the Ancient One is and his motives."

So far each story in the series has been a single issue in length with no long form stories, but as Gregory mentioned above, that changes after issue 11. Each of those single issue stories will play an important part in the upcoming long-form story arc and Gregory says every character he's introduced so far (except for the star of issue #8) will be making a come back.

"You're going to get to see how all these character interact with each other," said Gregory. "You'll see how everything that has happened, that none of it has happened by chance. It's been a part of his master plan all along.

"There has always been this bigger story brewing right beneath the surface. The series is laced with clues in each issue that show you exactly where all this is going. It's one of those things where after we get there people are going to see what was there all along."

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Since moving to Image, the publisher has produced a trade paperback that collects the first five issues of the self-published series and Gregory says that the move has absolutely benefited "The Gift."

"It's been great. The numbers keep climbing. The trade is doing great. It's been just amazing. I still have to concentrate on the publishing details, but that 'I' sure does help a lot."

The move to Image is a rather simple story. Gregory said he'd always wanted to be a part of image, but was turned down the first couple of times he submitted to the "I." Earlier this year Gregory ran in to Image Publisher Erik Larsen at the WonderCon convention in San Francisco, CA and pitched the book directly to him. A month later Larsen dropped Gregory an e-mail about bringing the book over to Image and, well, Gregory says he had a smile on his face the remainder of the day.

"The Gift" started out being illustrated by Tyler Kirkham, but he's had to take a bit of a break as assignments with publisher Top Cow have taken up more and more of his time. Grergory says that Kirkham is back for issues #9 & 10 and will be handling cover chores starting with issue #12. Beginning with issue #11 artist Rich Bonk will begin illustrating the series. Beyond "The Gift," Gregory has some other projects he's been working on.

"'The Waking' is a new project that will debut some time next year," said Gregory. "It's a zombie story unlike any other. Also, I'm pitching to the big two so hopefully something good and Spidey comes out of that."

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