As part of the continuing Vertigo re-invigoration, Holly Black and Lee Garbett have joined up to relaunch “Lucifer,” one of the more successful series that the publisher has ever put out. Conveniently, there will also be a television show – shockingly called Lucifer – debuting on Fox in January, which will seek to bring the character even more awareness.
We spoke with Black and Garbett about launching the series, and what fans can expect going forward from both the book and its creators.
What is Holly Black and Lee Garbett’s Lucifer? What do you feel is essential to the character and what changes have you brought to the character?
Holly Black: In acting, when you’re improvising with a partner, you’re not allowed to contradict them. Whatever they say, you’re supposed to say, “yes, and,” then add your part to the story.
That’s how I feel about my work on Lucifer. I’m not contradicting what came before, but I am adding my own take on the character, on what happened to him since we saw him last, and who he’s become. The story of Heaven and Hell is a family story and a dynastic story. It’s about brothers and fathers, kings and princes. And, to my mind, it’s about getting sucked back in, just when you thought that you’d finally gotten away. The essential contradiction of Lucifer is that he’s a tempter — he tempts us into identifying with him and then, as Blake accused Milton of being, we become “of the devil’s party without knowing it.”
Lee Garbett: I had a very clear idea of the look of Lucifer and the book as a whole, and the project just felt right to me from the first mention. I loved the original run, and those initial Vertigo books had a huge influence on me, so I was honoured to be picking up where that series left off – but I think the trick is to acknowledge all of that without becoming overly reverential. It’s about taking that world and building from there.
A lot of the characters and locales are familiar but I think it’ll still feel fresh and new, in many ways.
With the TV show on the horizon and possible new readers not familiar with the character, how are you guys approaching this first issue to accommodate new and old fans?
Black: After a nearly ten year hiatus, I think it’s important to make sure that the first issue introduces us to Lucifer all over again. He’s changed and he’s discovering how much the world also changed while he was gone.
Garbett: Yeah, I think every issue of a comic should be as ‘pickupable’ as possible. With Lucifer, it’s set up as new-reader friendly and things have changed a bit since we last saw him but if you’re a fan, it’ll all be there for you too. It’s still very much in that world.
In this new series, we find Lucifer not as the ruler of Hell or the owner of a bar, but accused of murdering God and put on trial. What aspects of Heaven and Hell can we expect to see as these events unfold?
Black: You’ll be happy to know that Lucifer rebuilds his piano bar.
Over the course of the first five issues, we get to see Hell and the Silver City again and discover how their leaderships have changed. We also see what has become of Mazikeen in the wake of being left with Lucifer’s Morningstar powers.
Garbett: Lucifer has his priorities right. Get that bar built! He’s back up and running and that’s where we find him, sipping a Martini and minding his own business when suddenly, and rather rudely, he’s accused of killing God. There are so many fantastic scenes and settings in the book. That’s one of the things that’s so much fun, for me. I can be drawing a suburban coffee morning on one page and a royal banquet in hell the next. I’ll let you decide which is grosser when
you see it.
While the show seems to diverge greatly from the general tone and story of the previous comics, this new series seems to be more in line with past depictions. Do you feel like you have to compete with the show or look to it in any way, or are you treating the comic as very much its own thing?
Black: I didn’t know the show existed when I pitched a storyline for Lucifer and I still haven’t seen any of it, so it hasn’t really affected the writing at all. I’m looking forward to seeing the show in January, along with everyone else. It looks like fun.
Garbett: I thought the trailer looked a lot of fun but it hasn’t informed the book at all and I’m not sure the series has a release date over in the UK yet.
I’m sure we’ll get a nod or two to the show in the book, somewhere down the line but our Lucifer is very much grown from the original Vertigo series.
This Lucifer title is part of what a lot of people are calling the new resurgence of Vertigo. How do you two feel about that statement and the expectations that come with it?
Black: I think the only thing you can do when you’re working is push expectations and audience out of your head and concentrate on the story itself.
Garbett: I’m very proud to be a part of Vertigo and if people feel this is part of a new resurgence for the line then that’s great news. I’ve a lot of friends who are creators on the new titles and those books really are fabulous – but as Holly said, beyond that, you can’t really take any of those expectations on. You just have to concentrate on the work and putting out the best book possible and keep pushing to make the next issue even better.
It’s been solicited that Lucifer and Gabriel will be paired together in their search for their father’s killer. What can readers expect from that relationship and the role it will play in the series?
Black: I really loved Gabriel’s storyline from Hellblazer. He ended up with his heart crushed and being sent to Hell as a mortal — which meant he was still in play. I was interested in the idea of forcing he and Lucifer to investigate a murder together. Gabriel knows Lucifer in a way that few other beings do, as a brother. And Gabriel has plenty of reasons to hate him too, so there’s a lot of interesting tension.
Garbett: Whenever anyone mentions Gabriel I start to smile, as that guy has been put through the wringer so many times and Holly is showing no signs of mercy. We find Gabriel in a bad place and looking worse
for wear, which is great when you pair him up with Lucifer’s pristine and nonchalant air. They have to learn to tolerate each other and that’s always a fun thing to get across in the art.
How is the transition to a monthly series? Has your approach changed to how you might write especially plotting and outlines?
Black: This is my first time writing a monthly series, so I’ve been learning — with fantastic advice from some very smart people — to think about the structure of stories in a new way. It’s thrilling and a lot scary to be back in that place of not quite knowing how something works.
The series has been described with the elements of crime and noir. What can you tell readers about the tone and style they can expect in both the writing and art for Lucifer?
Black: Well, the shape of the story is a murder mystery and Lucifer makes for a quintessential disillusioned noir detective, back from the biggest war of all, the war of Heaven and Hell. But most of all, what I hope is that these new issues are a wicked good time.
Garbett: At its heart, it’s a crime noir but with an investigation that leads through places like Heaven, Hell, The Dreaming etc. So we veer off from those tropes pretty quickly. Visually, there’s tremendous scope for design and imagination and it’s probably the most challenging project I’ve had, so far. It’s amazing to be able to create so much and be adding to these wonderful worlds. To invent new characters and see them mix with the classic cast we already know and love. I think that passion the whole team has for the project will come across in the pages.