Eric Esquivel Cranks Up The Volume On "Loki: Ragnarok and Roll"

Loki's finally getting the spotlight. After years of playing second fiddle to his brother, the Norse trickster God gets some love starting February 12. It's not that green and gold-loving guy over at The House of Ideas, though -- it's a new version created by writer Eric Esquivel ("Freelancers") and artist Jerry Gaylord ("Fanboys Vs. Zombies") showcased in the upcoming BOOM! Studios book "Loki: Rangarok and Roll."

After getting into the world of Norse mythology a bit with "Thor: The Unkillable Thunder Christ" a few years back, Esquivel hatched the title that would become this new four issue miniseries, developing a concept that finds Loki banished by Odin to Earth, where he finds a new family in the rock and roll world of a seedy Goth club.

Described by his creator as "the outsider's outsider," Loki discovers a group he finally gets along with, while uncovering a world of other gods and goddesses hanging out. CBR News spoke with Esquivel about his unique take on the mythology, Loki's status as the original geek and a very detailed description of what Loki's band sounds like.

CBR News: Eric, "Ragnarok and Roll" is a great title. Did it come to you first or as the idea took form in your mind?

Thanks! That phrase actually saw its genesis in 2012, when I released a one-shot called "Thor: Unkillable Thunder Christ" through Moonstone Books. "Ragnarok and Roll" was my backup title, my ace in the hole in case they went the sane, logical, adult route and demanded a title change. Fortunately, those guys are as hopelessly noncommercial as I am.

The title works much better with this story wherein Loki is banished from Asgard, finds that he prefers Earth to Heaven and starts a band whose music will ignite a deicidal revolution anyway.

When it comes to Norse-based stories, especially in comics, Thor tends to get the spotlight. What made you want to focus on Loki?

To me, Thor represents the old way of doing things. He's the fratty son of a politician -- Odin -- whose only skills are speaking very slowly and bludgeoning his enemies to death with a mallet. He's essentially the George W. Bush of Gods.

Loki's skill set is more subtle. He's the Lord of Language. But the beauty of the modern era is that words finally have a greater impact than violence. Edward Snowden did more damage to government corruption with an email than anyone could have done with a lightning bolt. The young people of Tehran have figured out how to use Twitter to whip up massive, regime toppling protests within minutes. Try doing that with a hammer.

What do potential readers need to know about the version of Norse mythology, specifically Loki, that you're dealing with here?

Nada! I mean, if you're super into Norse mythology then you'll pick up some Easter Eggs that your friends won't. There's a pretty great joke about Loki having given birth to a horse in issue #2, unless my editor cuts it for being too dirty, but you don't need a PhD in Theology to pick up what we're puttin' down.

That's why Loki's story has endured for hundreds of years, it's universally accessible. It's about being an unappreciated genius in a culture that's infinitely more excited by football than it is by Magic: The Gathering.

Loki is an outsider's outsider. His legend is the original "The Big Bang Theory."

Could you clarify why his legend is the original "The Big Bang Theory?"

I guess what I mean by that is that Loki was the original geek for lack of a better word. A lot of characters we know and love today are just updates of that archetype that he introduced.

For instance, the Batman versus Superman throwdown in "The Dark Knight Returns" clearly owes a lot to the "brains versus brawn" struggle that humanity first explored in the Loki versus Thor myths. Jesus Christ -- an anti-authoritarian rebel who changed the world by talking, even though it meant getting his ass kicked by a bunch of hammer-wielding thugs who nailed him to a cross -- obviously shares some DNA with him, too.   

A big part of the story revolves around Loki finding a new family in a rock club on Earth. What kind of scene does he find himself in?

One of the first places Loki wanders into after he's banished to Earth is a super seedy Goth bar in Los Angeles where he discovers that he's the least affected, least evil-god-looking-guy in the room.

Having finally found a place where he feels like he can let his freak flag fly, Loki digs his heels in and becomes a real fixture in the scene. It's the first place he's ever found -- in a life that spans thousands of years -- where he actually feels wanted.

When you think of the music Loki plays, what would you equate it to in the real world?

Their lyrics sound a lot like the resignation letter you drafted in haste during the lunch break when you decided you were going to quit your crappy day gig and go out into the world to be who you were always meant to be. 

Their bass lines sound like the steady staccato of boots worn by fearless young protestors who took to the streets to let The Powers That Be know that they were done being enslaved by their archaic have/have not binary paradigm.

Their drum beats sound like the throbbing hearts of teenage lovers who are too dumb and idealistic to know that it's not going to last forever. 

And their guitarist plays a lot like Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks. I don't know why. It's a mystery.

After Loki finds himself banished to Earth, does he come into contact with any of his Norse brethren for a while?

Not just the Norse Gods.

Every pantheon in human history exists simultaneously in the world of "Loki: Ragnarok and Roll," and the only reason they're not at each others' throats all of the time is because they've signed a pact of non-aggression which forbids them from, one, challenging the narratives of rival mythologies, two, public displays of miracles, and three, active recruitment of human worshipers.

A few jealous gods from neighboring pantheons see Loki's rock stardom as a violation of the terms of the pact, and decide to come to Earth during the biggest show of his carer and make something of it.

How did you wind up working with Jerry on "Ragnarok and Roll?"

I wouldn't have done this book if Jerry wasn't down to draw it. "Ragnarok and Roll" is a pretty hard sell. For it to work I needed an artist who could candy coat super esoteric occult concepts in a quasi-conventional comic book style, but also be able to jump from horror to humor in the span of a panel. I sincerely can't think of anyone else working who can pull of something like that.

Did the current popularity of Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki in the Marvel movies play into your decision to make this your next project at all?

I've always thought that Tom Hiddleston should've played Tony Stark, and Robert Downey Jr. should've played Loki. Hiddleston has the self-loathing, conflicted-yet-quippy thing down pat, and Robert Downey Jr. has the effortless charisma and  playful swagger that Loki would need to pull of his manipulations on such a grand scale.  Downey Jr. could make out with your girlfriend and kick your puppy right in front of you and then make you apologize to him about it with a wink and a couple of well placed words. That's the Loki I want to see.

If "Loki: Ragnarok and Roll" ever gets made into a film, or a TV show (which is very possible, given BOOM! Studios' first look deal with 20th Century Fox) I'd cast Russell Brand as Loki, Danny Trejo as Odin and CM Punk as Thor.

But, yeah, listen -- I think Marvel did a great job introducing Loki to a mass audience. They used their Disney money to do a lot of the heavy lifting, and I'm grateful to them for that. But I like to think that the real Loki was somewhere up there in Asgard, watching "The Avengers," and he was as confused by his Marvel version's motivation as I was (Seriously?  He hates his father for being a thuggish tyrant, so he goes to Earth in order to become an even thuggier, more tyrannical tyrant?  That's really his entire motivation?  And then we find out at the end of the flick that it was all Thanos' idea? Loki is finally free from his father's rule, and the first thing he does is seek out another oppressive patriarch to serve?) and tapped me & my team to show him as he really is.

You did "Freelancers" with BOOM! last year. What made you want to return to the publisher with "Loki: Ragnarok and Roll?"

I've never met a group of human beings more excited about making comics. From the Operations Department to Marketing to Design to Editorial they're some of the most passionate, knowledgeable folks I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

Plus, while "Freelancers" was fun as hell -- it was a preexisting property, I came aboard with issue #2 -- "Loki: Ragnarok And Roll" is a concept that's wholly mine. It's my chance to show BOOM! -- and the world -- what I'm capable of when I'm given free reign. So, y'know, do me a solid and pick up a copy of #1, alright?

"Loki: Ragnarok and Roll" by Eric Esquivel, Jerry Gaylord and BOOM! Studios rocks into stores on February 12.

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