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EXCLUSIVE: Gischler Dances with the Devil in “Kiss Me, Satan!”

by  in Comic News Comment
EXCLUSIVE: Gischler Dances with the Devil in “Kiss Me, Satan!”

Dark Horse Comics announced several upcoming projects during the 2013 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo including the upcoming miniseries “Kiss Me, Satan!” written by Victor Gischler and featuring art by Juan Ferreyra. “Kiss Me, Satan!” #1 hits stands on September 18, treating readers to a mafia-horror genre mash-up that follows fallen angel Barnabus Black as he attempts to regain his lost halo.

Hired as the protector of the witch Verona, Barnabus Black finds himself coming up against the hired thugs of the New Orleans werewolf mafia led by Cassian Steele. Comic Book Resources spoke with Gischler about “Kiss Me, Satan!” and the writer let loose some teasers about the story he and Ferreyra are telling, the stories a specific locale can tell and the long journey from darkness back to the light.

“[‘Kiss Me, Satan!’] is a pulp action ride with supernatural horror trappings,” Gischler told CBR News. “Cassian Steele heads the werewolf mafia in New Orleans. He runs the town for The Pack, but his position is threatened because an old witch named Verona knows his secret. So Cassian puts a price on Verona’s head (and on the heads of her disciples) to keep her quiet. That’s where Barnabus Black comes in. He’s been tapped to bodyguard the witches. ‘Kiss Me, Satan!’ is a story that fits into the larger story of who (and what) Barnabus is. We learn quick enough that protecting the witches is but a single chapter on his road to redemption.”

In his newfound role as body guard to a coven of witches in a city run by a werewolf mafia, Barnabus Black is sure to face down some supernatural aggressors. “Our villain wants those witches dead and fast, so he puts out a cattle call for hired killers,” said Gischler. “I won’t spoil anything, but we get a variety of colorful guns for hire (spell-casters for hire?) that cause Barnabus some trouble. As for Barnabus, I’d characterize him as a rock solid badass. He tries to do the right thing — but not gently or gracefully.”

Set in New Orleans, a city steeped in history and legend, “Kiss Me, Satan!” jams a supernatural populace up against a citizenry of, as Gischler refers to them, “normals.” The general populace remains ignorant of the role those supernatural creatures are playing in their lives, and, for the most part, aren’t aware they exist. Criminal organizations are insular and secretive to begin with — when they’re also werewolves, one can imagine, they avoid the spotlight with even greater determination.

“It’s not addressed directly, but readers can infer that the supernatural elements are semi-underground,” said Gischler. “The average citizen might be blissfully ignorant and yet at the same time have a vague feeling that some other force is pulling the strings. Certainly some of the folks paying protection suspect their payments aren’t going to the normal mafia. But really ‘Kiss Me, Satan!’ is less about the supernatural characters interacting with the normals and more about how they interact — or clash — with each other.”

Gischler is no stranger to stories of the supernatural. He’s worked within the genres and characters many times in the past, including the recent “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike” miniseries from Dark Horse and his 2009 novel “Vampire A Go Go.” The premise for “Kiss Me, Satan!” came to Gischler in the form of a fairly simple initial question, even if that question proves philosophically complex.

“It started with a fairly simple thought,” said Gischler. When Lucifer rebelled he took a third of the angels with him out of Heaven. What happens when one of them wants to go back? I felt like the story of answering that question would be a lot more fun in a setting with other supernatural creatures. I mean, it’s a comic book, right? So I really thought about what the potential would be for visuals. That was part of it — the incident which made Barnabus turn back toward the light isn’t part of this story, but we do get the feeling he’s been on this path a long, long time. But… [Lucifer] doesn’t like his people jumping ship. Barnabus is constantly looking over his shoulder for the underworld jerk squad who’s been tasked to drag him back and face the music.”

Supplying those visuals is artist Juan Ferreyra, fresh off a stint on Dark Horse’s recent series “Colder,” and the writer says Ferreyra has risen to every challenge set out for him.

“Editor Daniel Chabon suggested Juan, who was just finishing up work on ‘Colder.’ I saw the art and knew Juan would knock it out of the park,” Gischler said of his collaborator. “He’s been fearless so far about drawing some kooky — and creepy — stuff, so he’s done nothing but justify my faith in him. Really, the guy’s star is on the rise.”

“Kiss Me, Satan!” is set in New Orleans, a city rich with history, mysticism and its fair share of ghost stories. New Orleans, and the American South in particular, has been a popular setting in recent decades for stories of vampires and other creatures of the night. The allure of the city likely resides, in part, in its long history as a port city: a melting pot of cultures, religions and folklore.

“Some places just make a writer like me think ‘supernatural forces,’ I guess. I wrote a novel set in the city Prague in the Czech Republic. I spent a month there one summer and knew I would set a novel there and that it would have alchemists and wizards and supernatural fun things. I think a place can just speak to you like that,” Gischler said. “New Orleans is the same way. I live an hour away — I’ve walked those streets. I don’t claim to be an expert or a native, but I feel the vibe is right when I’m setting this kind of story there. I do like that New Orleans is a town that makes me think of Catholicism an d Voodoo in equal measures. That’s a crazy, interesting mix. If there is another Barnabus Black adventure, I’d like to dig into some voodoo stuff a bit more.”

Whether Gischler gets that chance to see Barnabus proceed further on his journey, and to dig into the voodoo of the Big Easy is up to readers. “Kiss Me, Satan!” potentially serves as just the beginning of Barnabus’ journey, and while there are no specific plans set in place, Gischler hinted at his hope to tell more of the fallen angel’s story.

“This ‘chapter’ is both a complete story but also left open enough to see more of Barnabus if people wanted that,” said Gischler. “There are no specific plans for a sequel mini at the moment, but I’ve caught myself sort of vaguely wondering how it might go. Who knows? We’ll need to wait and see how it goes with the first mini — although the chance to see Juan draw some more crazy stuff is almost irresistible.”

“Kiss Me, Satan!” #1 goes on sale September 18.

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