Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer debuted back in 2016, and in a very short time has become one of the most interesting properties in comics. The original series, about a group of superheroes trapped on a mysterious farm following a cataclysmic event in their home of Spiral City, featured characters inspired by classic superheroes, but with unique twists. The potential for the universe of the series was apparent immediately, and it wasn’t long before the series’s first spin-off debuted in the form of Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil.
The four-issue series, written by Lemire and illustrated by David Rubin, spun out of an issue of the main series and followed Lucy Weber, the daughter of one of the heroes who disappeared from Spiral City ten years prior, as she investigated the circumstances around the heroes’ disappearance and a potential connection with Spiral City supervillain Sherlock Frankenstein. Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil was the first of what would be many spin-offs for Black Hammer, and positioned both the titular character and Lucy Weber as characters vital to the future of the Black Hammer universe.
As part of Dark Horse’s celebration of Black Hammer and its universe, The Beat is proud to present the first issue of Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil for you to read, completely free. Check it out, along with an interview with artist David Rubin reflecting on his experience with the series, below.
The Beat: How did you come to work on Sherlock Frankenstein? Were you familiar with Black Hammer beforehand?
David Rubin: I did a couple of issues of Black Hammer’s main series before I started to work on Sherlock Frankenstein, and one of them was a kind of prologue to the spin off, so I was very familiar with the characters and the worldbuilding of the series created by Jeff and Dean.
When I was finishing the first arc of Ether, my editor, Daniel Chabon, asked me if I want to draw a few issues of Black Hammer before start with the second arc of Ether, I said yes, of course. Jeff and I felt so comfortable working together on those Black Hammer issues that Jeff and Daniel proposed Sherlock Frankenstein to me.
The Beat: The series explores some previously unseen corners of Spiral City. Coming in on the heels of what Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston had already done, how much freedom did you have in designing the new characters and locations throughout the book?
Rubin: I had total freedom to do it. I followed the lines built by Jeff and Dean on the previous issues, but I felt free to design a lot of new characters like Doc Andromeda, Cthu-Louise, The Liberty Squadron, Crimsom Mist and many others. A lot of great artists are working with the upcoming spinoffs, too, which is so cool.
The Beat: Did you have a favorite character to design/draw?
Rubin: Yeah, my favorite character was Chtu-Lou, a kind of Lovecraft’s monster head on a 50 year-old plumber addicted to nicotine and cheap whiskey. He was very fun to draw, and his daughter, Cthu-Louise, is other of my favourites too.
The Beat: What was your collaboration with Jeff Lemire like? Were you in much contact during creation of the series?
Rubin: Work with Jeff is so great! He’s a great writer and artist, and a very good person too. And he writes scripts so fast!
For the first time in my cartoonist life, I had ALL the scripts of the series before I started to draw the first one, so I can read the whole story and understand the motivations of all the characters before I started to draw, which isn’t common.
We had a lot of feedback during all the work on Sherlock Frankenstein and Black Hammer’s issues, and I think Jeff and I work well together.
The Beat: Has there been any discussion about you returning to the world of Black Hammer?
Rubin: Yeah, Daniel Chabon, Jeff and I have had many talks about doing more in the Black Hammer world, but at this moment our schedules are full with other projects. Of course I would really love to return to work with that amazing characters — never enough Black Hammer for me!!
The Beat: Looking back on it, what about Sherlock Frankenstein stands out to you the most, whether in your work on the series or the experience of working on it?
Rubin: I only have good memories about my work on Sherlock Frankenstein, and it brought to me a lot of good things; Eisner nominations, a lot of new readers… and overall, a friendship with Jeff Lemire and all the people involved on that series. Really, I remember my experience with that series on a very positive way.
The collected edition of Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil is available in stores and digitally now.