If ever there was a good excuse to drop a case, getting shot would surely be one of them. Luckily, Black’s Myth’s Strummer doesn’t work alone and in Eric Palicki and Wendell Cavalcanti’s new comic, Strummer is training her half-djinn best friend to be a detective, too. The first issue drops in July, but Palicki offered some insight into the series over email.
Rachel Bellwoar: What can you tell us about Janie “Strummer” Jones?
Eric Palicki: Janie Jones Mercado is an LA-based private investigator, shackled with the nickname “Strummer” by her The Clash-obsessed father. Strummer also happens to be a werewolf, which is something else her father gave her. When we catch up with her, she’s more or less abandoned that supernatural side of her life. Instead, she takes on what she calls mundane cases, where her enhanced senses give her a particular advantage when it comes to sniffing out missing persons or cheating spouses. However, the events of the first issue entice her back to LA’s secret supernatural underground, filled with vampires and demons and more. Unfortunately for Strummer, she’s not prepared for where this latest case will take her.
RB: With Black’s Myth, I was pretty much sold on this series as soon as I saw the name. How early in the process did you land on the title, Black’s Myth?
EP: I originally developed the book under the working title Strummer, which I kept all the way up until I pitched it to AHOY. The inherent pun in the title just felt more appropriate for the publisher. As a result, Rainsford Black, Strummer’s client and the story’s namesake, became a much more lively character, one who could’ve supported his own book if we approached the narrative from a different angle. This is Strummer’s book, but the supporting cast were all a joy to write.
RB: If the title wasn’t enough, one of the characters in this series is half-djinn, which is a supernatural creature that I don’t feel gets enough attention. Do you feel the same way, and what’s been your favorite part about writing for Ben?
EP: Everyone ought to check out the podcast The Hidden Djinn, from the same people who bring you Lore.
Ben being part of two worlds and not completely sure of whether he belongs in either fits into the larger theme of the book. And my favorite part about writing him has been shepherding him toward an answer to the questions, “who am I?” and “who do I want to be?”
Also, he possesses a degree of false confidence and bravado and he makes me laugh when those aspects of his personality shine through.
RB: Reading the first issue I definitely got some Veronica Mars vibes (and that was before meeting Strummer’s canine sidekick, Grim). Were there any shows or comics you took inspiration from for the genre elements in the series?
EP: I love Veronica Mars, of course! I developed Black’s Myth as a riff on The Maltese Falcon but set in a supernaturally tinged world like Buffy The Vampire Slayer or, well, Supernatural.
RB: Black’s Myth isn’t the first series you’ve written to delve into mythology. What attracts you to these types of stories?
EP: Well, these stories have endured for thousands of years — I can only hope something I write has that kind of longevity!
I particularly love the puzzle of how these ancient stories fit into our modern understanding of the world, as well as how they work together. Rainsford Black is the catalyst for a kind of Unified Theory of World Mythologies. Our first issue only scratches the surface.
RB: Ben and Strummer’s relationship — both professionally and personally — is another core part of the first issue. Has that been fun to explore?
EP: I love them, and their friendship is the heart of the book. Black’s Myth is a noir mystery, yes, but it’s also about finding your place in the world, about finding your people, and Strummer would be utterly lost without her friend Ben. Also, it was important to me to explore male/female friendships without the will they/won’t they question looming overhead.
RB: From the HBO Max series, 30 Coins, to the Sundance movie, Eight for Silver, do you think there’s a reason Judas’ silver coins have been cropping up in pop culture lately?
EP: Oh, how I wish I understood the zeitgeist and how this happens.
I will tell you, though, Black’s Myth had been in development for about a year when HBO announced 30 Coins, and when I saw the trailer, my heart sank a bit. Thankfully, having watched 30 Coins, I’m relieved to report our comic is very different. While those silver pieces — in this case having been made into thirty monster-killing bullets — loom large in our story, our focus is really on our characters.
RB: I’m always curious how creative teams come together. What has it been like working with Wendell Cavalcanti on this project and how did you first connect?
EP: Wendell and I have worked together on and off for fifteen years! Most recently, just before Black’s Myth, we collaborated on Atlantis Wasn’t Built for Tourists, from Scout Comics (and in stores now!). Wendell and I have developed a great working relationship during our time making comics together, and I’d love to keep going forever.
RB: Thanks for agreeing to talk about Black’s Myth, Eric!