If you need proof that comic book characters have moved beyond being simply good or evil, look no further than the Purgatori series, published by Ravenswood company Devil's Due Publishing ( together with Chaos! Comics ) . The story—written by Roberi Rodi ( of Fag Hag fame ) —features the titular protagonist, a lesbian vampire who struggles with such issues as morality.
Nightspots spent some time with Devil's Due senior editor Mike O'Sullivan, who discussed everything from vampirism to the evolution of comics. Below are excerpts from that conversation.
Nightspots: There have been Golden and Silver ages of comics. What age is this?
Mike O'Sullivan: That's still being debated. People are still arguing about when the Silver Age began and ended. With the Golden Age, Superman started everything off in 1938. People are tossing around ideas about whether it's the Modern or Dark Ages of comics, when you can't tell the difference between a hero and a villain.
NS: You indicated [ in an earlier conversation ] that you have a Masters degree in this?
MOS: Yes... it's in sequential art, which is any type of art that tells a story in sequence.
It's one of the [ very few ] art forms that originated in America. You have jazz, comic books... and some people are debating about hip-hop. Yet, [ comics ] still struggle for validity.
NS: How would you describe Purgatori?
MOS: She's fascinating. In the '90s, Chaos! Comics tapped into the stereotypical comic stuff, like women with boobs bigger than their heads. The titillation was primary and the story was secondary.
They went bankrupt and a new company bought the characters. This new company wanted storylines that actually said something. Then, Robert Rodi—who is absolutely brilliant—became involved. In Purgatori, we're talking about a character who's been turned into a vampire. She's all of these vile things—yet she's seeking redemption. How do you not be evil when you're a vampire?
In the first six issues, we're talking about her complete origin and Robert Rodi is just brilliant. He's studied ancient Egypt and just pulled so much historical and [ mythological ] information for the story. Basically, she pisses the gods off and she's turned into what she becomes. She tries to find redemption, love and companionship; she tries to find everything we're looking for—we just don't have horns and red skin. [ Laughs. ]
Robert Rodi got involved in comics in 2001. He's worked for Marvel and DC Comics. He worked on the X-Men character Rogue as well as the Mystique series. We approached him about doing Purgatori and he was fascinated.
NS: What's in Purgatori's future?
MOS: We're completing her origin. She's going to have a chance to confront her maker—and not many of us get that chance. Robert then wants to have her confront the gods.
NS: Do you think the popularity of comics has declined?
MOS: I don't think so. There'll always be a huge subculture of comics. That's one reason why you see the huge glut of [ comic-based ] movies, like X-Men and Blade. In the '90s things reached a fever pitch with the whole 'death of Superman' thing. People were scrambling for that issue. We lost the spectator market when he was brought back. People said that 'Comics are dying,' but we just went back to the status quo.
Find out more information about Devil's Due ( and the lovely Purgatori ) at www.devilsdue.net . For more info about LGBT comics ( and LGBT fans ) , go to www.gayleague.com .