by Nicholas Eskey
This year, as part of Dynamite Entertainment’s 10th anniversary, the comic publisher will be rolling out with “Chaos!” line of titles, including a rebirth of the cult classic Purgatori. The first issues goes on sale next month. Through the magic of the interweb, I had a chance to interview Aaron Gillespie, writer for Dynamite’s take on the series, and ask him a few questions regarding the demonic femme fatal:
Eskey: Purgatori was originally published with Chaos! Comics. Did you ever get a chance to read any of her appearances/story when she was with them?
Aaron: I grew up in an extremely small town in southern Iowa so my reading list was limited to whatever I could find at the nearby Wal-Mart or drug store. Neither of those places carried Purgatori.
Chaos comics started right about the time I began going to conventions so I was able to find the books there. They were unlike anything I was reading up to that point. They scratched an itch that other comics couldn’t. Purgatori was exactly what this angsty teenage outcast needed. I read Evil Ernie as well, but Purgatori was the book I really gravitated to.
Eskey: Was Purgatori something that was assigned to you, or did you request to take her on?
Aaron: A bit of both. Dynamite approached me with their plans on revamping the Chaos line and asked if I’d be interested in pitching a Purgatori series. I had a good knowledge base of the character and instantly knew what I wanted to bring to a new Purgatori series. I’m happy they agreed with my direction and gave me the book.
Eskey: Dynamite obtained Purgatori in 2011, and in 2012 it was announced that she would be receiving a new series. Over these two last years, what were some of the undertakings that had to be done to finally make the new series a reality?
Aaron: I’m not really sure about the backstage stuff. All I know is that someone at Dynamite had the brilliant idea to bring Tim Seeley in to write a mini that would kick off the solo books. Tim is one of the best writers in the industry and a die-hard Chaos fan. His Chaos! miniseries is so great that it’s a little intimidating following him.
My involvement really got going after that.
Eskey: The character Purgatori has a long and detailed story. Are we to expect a remodeled version of them, or are we going to see new storylines and characters introduced?
Aaron: I’m using characters and plot elements from the original series, but twisting them to keep them fresh. I strive to maintain the definitive Chaos style that makes those original books so unique while bringing in a more modern sensibility. Once Purgatori pushes through the struggle of the first arc, we’re going to see all kinds of new characters and new challenges for the vampire goddess. Until then, we get the pleasure of seeing old favorites such as Lucifer and Cremator.
Eskey: Seeing as the character Purgatori was originally written by Brian Pulido, what were some of the challenges you personally faced with her?
Aaron: A challenge was to make a new audience care about someone so ethically bankrupt. Let’s face it, Purgatori’s moral compass isn’t just broken, it’s obliterated. Longtime fans of the book know what makes Purgatori great and will follow her to hell and back no matter what horrors she unleashes. But I wanted to make sure newcomers would get a chance to develop a love for her delightful brand of evil as well.
Because of that, the book starts by showing Purgatori on a more human level. It’s through her struggle that readers will see the tenacity and singular focus that makes Purgatori such an appealing character.
Eskey: She is very… red. And wears little to nothing. And let’s face it, she’s kind of hot. Was she a fun character to work with, or a very distracting one? And what are some of the things that come with writing a very feminized, yet kick-butt character?
Aaron: To be honest, I rarely think of Purgatori in terms of masculine/feminine. Sometimes it’s necessary in order to fulfill story requirements, but mostly I just keep her motivation in mind and that dictates her actions.
As far as her look? She’s not quite as red in the first few issues, but she’s every bit as hot. She will see a costume change halfway through the first arc that is a nod to some of the original Purgatori artwork so hopefully that will be a nice little Easter egg for long time fans.
Eskey: After working with the character, what are your personal feelings about the character Purgatori and her storyline?
Aaron: I love the strong foundation of oppression and betrayal in Purgatori’s back-story. It sets up her character traits so perfectly. We can see how she became the power hungry narcissist she is.
I talked a bit about the challenges of writing such a selfish evildoer. But here’s a secret…it’s also a lot of fun. I don’t have to worry about different motivations and internal struggle. I get to focus on a character that is only interested in gaining more power and using whomever she needs to in her rise to the top.
Eskey: Purgatori deals with alot of satanic and vampire references. Looking at some of your other works, they deal with alot of sci-fi. How was this kind of change up for you?
Aaron: When I plot a Purgatori story I know that I have big shoes to fill. I make sure each issue has a high sexy factor and meets a strict gore quota.
Seriously though, the nature of a character dictates the references and plot points you’ll find within the story. That goes for everything from a sci-fi story to a vampire action thriller. With Purgatori, I know there are certain notes I need to hit, but really it’s just about creating compelling stories. Once I have that story in mind I can start to throw in genre trappings if I need to.
Eskey: What do you hope to show/accomplish with this comic?
Aaron: I just want to create cool comics that provide that same take-no-prisoners attitude of the original Chaos line. There was a lot of crazy in the original Purgatori book and I want to celebrate that.
Those familiar or new to Purgatori, pick up a copy at your local comic book store, this year September 17th.
given all the talk, blogs, articles, tumblr sites, etc about sexism in comics recently, this seems like an odd time for Dynamite to trot out the old “bad girl” sub-genre.
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