I have been reading comics seriously for less time than probably everyone else at Old College Comics. Sure, I’d picked up comics here and there, and as a boy was very interested in Superman dying. My dad had a collection of Red Sonja, Conan, and Heavy Metal comics that I’d sneak peeks at for less than noble reasons. I bought a Ghost Rider comic at a 7/11 once. It wasn’t until later, when most reasonable people were learning to drive, drink and fuck (in any lurid combination), that I first started reading Hellboy.
Hellboy piqued my interest. Preacher gave me an addiction. My paycheck has suffered ever since.
Because I never really had that kind of link to what I’ll wrongly call “kids’ comics” (for the lack of a more convenient term), I cut my teeth on comics that dealt with the devil, smoking, complicated personal relationships and more than a little blood. It was really only a matter of time until I discovered Hellblazer.
John Constantine quickly became my favorite character in comics. This isn’t hyperbole. He’s a good man and a bad man, a bastard to most and a friend to few. He suffers Satan’s wrath and strained relationships, he gains a cure for cancer, and gets his family damned. He finds real, honestly written love. He loses it, and it stays lost. Constantine spoke to me on several levels: the intimate and fantastic, the eloquent and crude. I could not get enough of the fucking guy.
I, of course, was not the only one. Constantine has spawned legions of copy cats, some closer and certainly better than others. Willoughby Kipling. Cal McDonald. Tom Judge. Harry Dresden.
I can, in no good conscience, say that Triptych, the titular lead of OCC’s first digital exclusive release, is anything but a Constantine clone. Certainly, I hope that I have managed to create a story that has legs enough to be readable on its own, but the influence is obvious.
If you purchase the comic, WHICH YOU SHOULD, I go on a bit about how Triptych came to be, so I won’t retread that too much. I will say though, that even though this was supposed to be one of the aforementioned Constantine clones, it was always supposed to have that Hellblazer edge.
It was a short script, so what you get is a one-shot look at Daniel Triptych’s life. He’s an ex-communicated priest who has seen beyond the veils of life and knows the game of Heaven, Hell and all the other muck that goes with it. So he does what he can on Earth, for the general good (mostly), and tries not to get anyone killed. To mixed results, naturally.
This is also the first of (hopefully) many. I was very lucky to meet Johnny Flores at an OCC signing in Orange County and, literally the same day we met, sent him this script in hopes to get it hammered out. Johnny, who as far as I know isn’t a huge fan of Hellblazer, got the tone, knocked it out, and did it quick.
He gets the sort of playful attitude of the dialogue. He understands that knocking out a demon’s teeth is dirty work. He doesn’t mind illustrating a panel that contains a Ready to Rumble joke. These things are the only qualifiers I have in choosing an artist.
Mike Pallotta did a fantastic job with layout and lettering, and dealt with a slew of dialogue issues. He got it out there and done, quickly and well. It can be a tough thing dealing with my months removed ideas on dialogue, but he knocked it out, we got it done, and now it’s out there.
And there’s more coming. I paused in writing the second Triptych story to write this, so if all things go well, that will be done soon and you can continue to buy my work over and over again, to your mental and financial detriment.
I hope you enjoy it, and if you don’t, buy several copies anyway.
Eric Bryan is the writer of Gutter, Triptych, and two stories featured in The Freshmen Fifteen, all on top of being a Managing Editor for Old College Comics and an unabashed fan of Ready to Rumble.