Guys, I have to say running this site has brought me into contact with creators I have yet to discover, and it's been amazing finding new writers and artists to follow.
Rich Douek is one of those creators. When he reached out to me about 2 of his recent books WAILING BLADE (Comixtribe) and ROAD OF BONES (IDW), I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't heard of him before, but I love trying out new stuff and new creators. Let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. Both books were amazing. But ROAD OF BONES was f***ing great. He created one of the best horror books I've ever read, and I don't usually read horror. This was one of the best debuts in recent memory.
Not only did he make me a fan of the book, but I can now say I'm a Rich Douek fan as well. I won't get to much into the book, I'll let Rich tell you guys, but you definitely need to check this book out. This is one of the most chilling stories I've ever read. Rich has a hit on his hands with this one. If you see a copy in your LCS grab it, cuz these have been selling out everywhere. If you don't believe me, just see what Rich has to say.
COMIC LOUNGE: Having just finished ROAD OF BONES, it's one of the best debuts I've read in a long time. For people that might not have read it, can you talk a little bit about the story?
RICH DOUEK: Thanks, Ryan, I really appreciate that! ROAD OF BONES is a visceral horror story, about three inmates who escape the Soviet Gulag only to run headlong into even darker horrors out on the Siberian tundra. The main character, Roman, is a political prisoner, jailed for a joke about Stalin (something that happened in real life far too often). As a way of coping, he starts to imagine visits from a Domovik, a kind of guardian spirit from Russian folklore, that he believes may be keeping him alive – or, it may just be him going mad from the brutal circumstances.
CL: Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
RD: Well, I was researching prison breaks in general, for a different story, and I started reading about the Gulag, the conditions there, and some of the stories that sprung up around it, including some daring escapes. I found the subject to be really fascinating, and decided I could just set the book there – I didn’t need to use elements of it in a fantasy world.
CL: As a huge horror fan, what drew you this particular genre for your latest book?
RD: One of the things I wanted to do with ROAD OF BONES was not sidestep the very real life brutality and horror of the Gulag camps. The first scene, with the worker collapsing, that’s right out of the history books. So the interesting thing to me was, can I take those real-life horrors and use them as fuel to craft a fictional story – can I take it to a place that provides the visceral thrill of a horror story, even when starting in a very real, very dark chapter of human history?
CL: Roman is a very relatable and interesting character, how much more of his backstory will we find out?
RD: You’ll definitely find out more, as the story goes on – but the truth is, Roman could be almost anyone. He’s not a revolutionary, not a political agitator, not anyone particularly important – he’s a person caught up in the machinations of a state that wanted to grind any hint of resistance into dust – and it’s scary to think how common that is in the world, for those living under totalitarian regimes.
CL: The rest of the cast is very interesting also, what can we expect from these guys moving forward?
RD: Well, these guys are stuck together, in one of the world’s most forbidding wilderness. Food is scarce, and none of them know exactly how much they can trust the others… so I think it’s safe to say things are going to get very, very tense as the journey goes on.
CL: Having the story take place in a real environment, how much research did you do when developing the book?
RD: I did a lot of research on the web, and in books about life in the Gulag, the Siberian ecosystem, and the politics of Russia at the time. I read some non-fiction books, like The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, as well as his excellent fictionalized account of life in the camps, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenitsyn was a prisoner of the Gulag himself, so I found his works to be a valuable resource in my research.
CL: There was a hint of supernatural elements at the end of the first issue, can we expect some revelations as to what that was about?
RD: I think it will be one of the central questions about the book – whether there is really something supernatural going on, or whether it’s all in Roman’s head – nevertheless, it’s definitely a part of the story going forward, and there are a lot of revelations to come.
CL: The artist on the book, Alex Cormack, really brought this book to life beautifully. What made you decide his was the guy for this book?
RD: I’ve known Alex for a few years now, through the books he’s done at Comixtribe, and it was SINK that convinced me he was the perfect guy for the job. He’s just amazing at creating a sense of dread and horror, and the work he does with facial expressions makes even he quiet moments in the book feel alive. He’s no slouch with the gore, either!
CL: What are your plans for the book moving forward?
RD: ROAD OF BONES was always planned to be a miniseries, so we are definitely going to finish that and get it out there in its entirety. When Alex and I were talking about the book, he told me he always wanted to draw something set in the snow. There were a couple of other environments he’s always wanted to tackle, too, so, if things go well, who knows?
CL: Is there anything else you would like to say about the book to any potential readers out there?
RD: I’d just like to say that this book is intense, and I’m not pulling any punches with it. And the only reason I mention that is because I know that horror, especially this kind of horror, is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for a feel-good book, this ain’t it. We go deep, and we go dark. But, if you are looking for one that will give you the chills, and maybe make you want to sleep with the lights on, you’ve come to the right place!