BY JENNIFER Nothing Up My Sleeve CONTINO
If you've mastered some of the world of magic, it seems hard to imagine anything could worry or bother you. After all, some magicians seem to have the world at their fingertips, but that doesn't automatically make everything happening around them ideal or wondrous. Take Jackson Pierce for instance, his skill rivaled that of Houdini, but he just wasn't satisfied. He wanted more, and in trying to achieve more, he lost everything. Now Pierce is struggling to regain his family, keep his wits amidst temptation and darkness, and stand up to the demons from his past. This may be a tough trick to pull off, but writer Mark Ricketts
and artist Horacio Domingues
have been practicing.
Ricketts wouldn't reveal any trade secrets about capturing the elements of magic on the printed page. Instead he told us, "A magician never gives away any of his secrets." But further elaborated with information on how he came up with his lead and star, magician Jackson Pierce. "In my story, Jackson Pierce (a.k.a. Lazarus Jack) was a famous escape artist rivaled only by Houdini. This rivalry, along with Jackson’s driving ambition, led him to seek advantage by experimenting with the Black Arts. Originally the story was going to be about Houdini's crusade to debunk magic, psychics, and fortune tellers. My plan was to have him discover that magic was real. But Houdini's story was interesting enough without me mucking around with it, so I invented his lesser known contemporary Jackson Pierce."
"While invoking the power of a great demon, Jackson's house and family were sucked into a vortex and lost forever in another dimension," continued Ricketts. "Jackson managed to escape the vortex, but not the guilt of having sent his family to their doom. He would spend many years and much of his fortune in attempts to retrieve them. All for nothing. Seventy years later, on his deathbed, Jackson is offered a chance to reunite with his family."
The story begins in 1926, but that's not where it stays. "[Lazarus Jack
] moves through many years and multiple other worldly dimensions," said Ricketts. "Houdini's legend was the biggest influence. He believed if anyone could break free of the constraints of the afterlife, he could. Houdini devised a code for communicating with his wife from the other side. Unfortunately after his death on Halloween 1926, he never managed to get that message to his wife. This was the jumping off point for my book, but I was also influenced by the romantic legend of Orpheus and Eurydice."
Ricketts told THE PULSE why he thought so many people were captivated with magicians. "When a rabbit is mysteriously pulled out of a hat, our perception of reality is altered," he began. "Maybe, for that brief moment in time, we can also begin to believe that dreams can come true, prayers can be answered, and hopes realized. Psychologist Carl Jung
believed that 'there is a dimension of human experience that is not external to us in the sense that it can be directly and tangibly grasped. Rather it is within us.' Perhaps when we witness a disappearing assistant or a lady being sawed in half, we feel connected to that intangible experience. Or maybe we just like seeing things go 'poof'."
Almost every story needs more than just one character to help flesh things out and make the story flow. Ricketts introduced us to the rest of his cast. "[There's] Mr. Nemo is a foppish young man whose manner and dress harken back to another time. He's obsessed with a magical object said to possess great supernatural power. Necromancer Rahman Bey was once a mentor to Jackson, but he ultimately becomes his greatest enemy. Angeline Pierce is the love of Jackson's life and his greatest inspiration. Angeline and Jackson's kids, Amanda, Orson and Bryce. Growing up in an other wordly dimension really messes them up good. Then there's the Pierce family butler, Thorndyke. And a load of nutty demons and fantastic creatures. With Lazarus Jack
, the fun comes from creating the story and developing the characters from scratch."
Ricketts told THE PULSE this story didn't take him long to write, but it was a chore finding the right artist for the job. "My editor at Dark Horse Scott Allie
championed the project," Ricketts said. "It didn't take very long to write, but it took up to three years to find the right artist and publisher for the book."
Ricketts is working with Horacio Domingues
, who is making his American debut on Lazarus Jack
. Ricketts came to work with the artist through his other collaborator from Diroamas, a Love Story, Dario Brizuela
. "Dario introduced me to Horacio. I was totally unaware of Horacio's work. He has illustrated many European graphic novels for Michel Albin
and some erotic comics for an Italian publisher, but this is his first US work."
"I couldn't ask for a better artist. He's got a distinctive, playful style that's both whimsical and erotic," continued Ricketts. "He's a master in the tradition of some of the great European artists, but his work has an animated quality. Someone recently said his work looked like a combination of Don Bluth
." Lazarus Jack
appears September 29th. Ricketts thinks it's just the right blend of "adventure, romance, humor, fantasy, black magic, and horror."
You can learn more about the comic here