EXCLUSIVE: Linsner & Image Prepare to "Sin Boldly"

Fans of Joseph Michael Linsner have two new stories to look forward to this December when Image Comics releases "Sin Boldly." Making their long awaited feature debut are Sinful Suzi, a playful lady demon, and the mysterious Obsidian Stone. The black and white one-shot, written and drawn by Linsner, follows Suzi as she learns about the price for sin and Obsidian as he loses a friend but meets a new demon.

Although neither character has been a regular in Linsner's books, both have been the subjects of his beautifully drawn pin-ups for the past decade. The two stories -- "Hell is Waiting" and "Burning Roses" -- have been on Linsner's mind for years and the writer/artist spoke with CBR News to share his plans for Suzi and Obsidian's future, as well as what he has in store for his beloved witchy goddess, Dawn.

CBR News: Tell us a little bit more about "Sin Boldly" -- were these one-shot stories something you'd been conceiving for a long time?

Joseph Linsner: "Sin Boldly" debuts two very important characters for me. Sinful Suzi has been around for 10 years and has never appeared in a story before. Obsidian Stone has been around over 25 years and has only seen print as the occasional pin-up. In fact, his first official appearance was on a card in the Dynamic Forces Creators Universe card set from 1993. I've been nursing their stories along for years, and I finally feel like the time is right to share them with the world.

In the past you've said that in between projects you like to return to working with Suzi as sort of a palate cleanser -- is that still true? How as your relationship to her character changed over the years and what makes her so compelling to return to?

Sinful Suzi is a far more lighthearted character than Dawn is. Dawn is my big cosmic epic that comes from the depths of my soul. With Suzi I get to have more fun. It is still very personal work for me, but I think it gets to show more of my humorous or satirical side. Her story is more linear and direct than Dawn's is. I want to layer it with some subtext, but the top layer will be very digestible. And she's a demon so she gets to walk around naked, which is great fun to draw. Why? Why not, I say. Sin boldly.

In the Image solicit, the book is described as a "guilty pleasure" for your fans. What makes Suzi a guilty pleasure?

The world is all primed for a new "Dawn" series. There hasn't been one since 2006, so any work I do aside from that feels like playing hooky.

Plus I can be an overly serious guy sometimes, and there is a part of me that feels like relaxing and having fun with something is a guilty pleasure.  And I've had a LOT of fun with "Sin Boldly." I had a great time doing this book.

It seems like there's been a critique that some of your work has been designed as purely sexual material for adult enjoyment, but there is definitely a long history of storytelling with these characters. How do you balance the two elements in your writing?

That critique comes from folks who haven't actually read my comics. The "Dawn" comics are sexy on the outside, but the actual content is more like Joseph Campbell meets Conan. It is my take on various world mythologies with some sword and sorcery thrown in. Dawn is like a sexy Merlin, a mystic guide who helps lead our hero to his enlightenment.

The lusty or exciting elements are there because I personally love entertainment that functions on both high and low levels. Real life has both, so why shouldn't art? "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac is a book about a spiritual quest across America, and yet it is filled with lots of humor and sex. I can't see divorcing the two. If something is too intellectual, it gets a bit dry, and if something is too bawdy, it just gets stupid. I like a balance.

Sinful Suzi will be different than Dawn because she will be spicier (she walks around naked a lot.) Suzi will deliver on what so many comic book 'bad girls' have teased.

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Lately there has been quite a lot of controversy about Apple prohibiting titles from their iOS comiXology app based on the content being unacceptable. As someone who writes/draws mature content, how do you feel about that?

Comics are tricky because images are stronger than words. The amount of sex in Laurell K. Hamilton books puts anything in the world of comics to shame and yet Apple seems to have no problem with her work. It's very hypocritical.

I am all in favor of giving the world access to the material, and letting parents choose what they want in their own homes. I hate the idea of someone else deciding for me what is indecent or immoral. I bet their idea of grace and beauty won't be mine. I hope that what Apple is doing is just a bump in the road as the world irons out how to absorb this new media.

Do you have plans to continue telling one-shot stories about Suzi or any of your other characters?

I love doing short stories, so I will always return to that. But both Obsidian Stone and Sinful Suzi have larger stories that I will explore in their own graphic novels, hopefully sooner rather than later. I'm done with waiting to work on these guys.

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What work is coming up on the horizon for you?

2014 marks 25 years of Dawn, so I am excited about that. Dawn will have her first crossover -- with the grand bad girl of them all, Vampirella. I'll be writing that, doing layouts and covers. The next series I write and draw myself should be the fourth Dawn miniseries, "Always Darkest." I've been writing that over the past few years, and it is just dying to burst out of me. Too many ideas, and not enough time.  But "Sin Boldly" first!

Readers can "Sin Boldly" when Image Comics releases the one-shot December 18.

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