Comic Vine chats with the writer for the latest Archaia one shot!
Recently, I had the chance to get comic writer Ryan Schifrin on the phone to talk to us about his latest project, 'The Devil's Handshake,' which is a one-shot that follows the adventures of Basil and Moebius as they search for artifacts all over the world to bring back to 'The Collector.'
Comic Vine: Hi Ryan, how are you today?
Ryan Schifrin: Good, thanks!
CV: I wanted to start off by congratulating you on the release of your book, 'The Devil's Handshake.' Why did you decide to go with Archaia?
RS: I had done a comic called 'Spooks' at Devil's Due with a lot of the same creative team, and worked with Stephen Christy at Devil's Due, so I brought it to him when he moved over to Archaia and he liked it.
CV: I know that the concept for 'The Devil's Handshake' is yours, but how did you team up with legendary G.I. Joe writer Larry Hama to write your book?
RS: It started on Spooks. I was introduced to Larry through a mutual friend and we collaborated on about nine issues at DD. I really liked working with Larry, we became friends. When it came time to do this I asked him if he would write it with me. It was a natural fit. The Sword and Sorcery.
CV: Was it easy working together as writers? Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process?
RS: Yeah. I would have a treatment. I would give that to Larry and then we would go over it and figure out how to structure it. As far as writing the script goes, the way Larry has been working since his days at Marvel is he would write each panel for the artist to get a sense for the dialogue, but not the final dialogue. We send it over to the inker and after it is inked, we do the final dialogue and then give that to the letterer.
CV: Adam Archer and Lizzy John are both artists for the book. What made you go with them?
RS: I had worked with Adam on Spooked; he was the penciler and inker on that and this as well. We work very well together, he's very talented. He had done the Friday The Thirteenth books for Wildstorm which are amazing. Lizzy had worked on a DD book called Rest, a Milo Ventimiglia book, which I thought was gorgeous. I thought her style was gorgeous. She was on staff at Archaia, so that made it even more attractive.
CV: How detailed are your scripts for your artists?
RS: Fairly detailed. We give them a description of each panel. Sort of an indication of how wide of an angle...we try to give them a bit of freedom, but basically just how many panels are on a page and what happens in each panel. If I have them, I send visual references like photographs or pictures.
CV: The book has an "Indiana Jones" feel to it; maybe it is Moebius' hat; what would you say was your inspiration for this book?
RS: There's a lot of things. Indiana Jones definitely, James Bond is another one, a lot of Guy Ritchie British crime drama. Sort of an eclectic mix.
CV: You take a lot of historical concepts and revise them in your book; the use of the Dead Sea Scrolls are a good example of this. Why did you decide to go with something that already exists as opposed to creating something new?
RS: Well, just the way they do in Indiana Jones, when you're dealing with historical artifacts, when it's grounded in something real it is sometimes more fun...then you can do your own fictional take on it. In this case, theres a whole mythology around "The Collector" who is Moebius and Basil's boss. He is after certain supernatural artifacts. In doing research, there are these legends around the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Temple of Solomon had all these treasures that vanished...the location of those treasures were listed in the Scrolls. I thought it would be neat to use real history and just add in our fictional take.
CV: Where did you get the idea for the title, 'The Devil's Handshake'?
RS: Basically, in my mind, it's [the title] sort of referencing this mysterious boss, 'The Collector' that Basil and Moebius work for. He looks human, but he can also turn into this sort of Cthulhu/ Craft-ian tentacle like creature. He has branded them both with these tattooos that whenever he wants to summon them, they burn. If they should fail him, then this black paint will spread out from the tattoos and turn them into these zombie slaves. Larry came up with the title by the way.
CV: Can you tell me a bit about the two main characters, Moebius and Basil? Will you be getting into their back story at all in the book?
RS: Basil is a member of the Queen's Guard by day, and an ass kicking jewel thief by night. Moebius is this very charming ladies man, and the brains and mouth of the operation. Basil is the muscle. They were rivals and used to be in love with the same woman and then when she was murdered, they teamed up to track down her killer and eventually became best friends. They go on all these adventures together. They were recruited by 'The Collector, so theyre always trying to find a way out of their enslavement to him, they crave their freedom more than anything else.
CV: Which is your favorite character?
RS: I would have to say the Ghoul Brothers, which are sort of the predecessors to Basil and Moebius. They used to work for The Collector back in the fifties. [They] failed and he turned them into these zombie things...they are always trying to get back in The Collector's good graces.
I had written a prequel adventure that I wanted to do with a movie, and also a sequel that we could turn into a graphic novel and also possibly a movie. I have a lot of other stories outlined. I would like to do a long series of adventures in different mediums with these characters. Since you have this Collector sending these characters on adventures around the world to bring him various artifacts, that really lends itself to episodic sort of storytelling.
CV: Where did you get your inspiration for Sofie?
RS: Like any good "Bond" film, ee needed a love interest that could recur through the series. We came up with her just for the book. The Israeli Massad is always competing with The Collector, they're always after the same artifacts. We thought it would be neat to have a female agent that would run into them, butting heads with Basil and Moebius, but there would definitely be an attraction there.
CV: So taking the story to the movies is something you are interested in doing?
RS: Absolutely! My background is film so it's definitely something I want to do. We are developing it, but it isn't in production yet...definitely something I am working to bring about. It is my main priority.
CV: Thanks for talking to us today and doing this interview! Good luck with your book and have a great Thanksgiving!
RS: Thanks very much, you too! I hope you guys enjoy the book!