Under the banner of DC’s Rebirth fans have been hoping for the return of many characters who were left out of or down played during the new 52 era. This week the mystic vigilante from Gotham City, Ragman a.k.a Rory Regan is re-birthed back into the DC Universe. Ragman returns to his own solo title with the help from the creative team of writer Ray Fawkes, artist Inaki Miranda, and colorist Eva De La Cruz.
To learn more about the series we were able to chat with writer Ray Fawkes at this years New York Comic Con. Ray Fawkes is no stranger to the supernatural side of the DC universe having wrote previous titles like “Constantine” and “Gotham By Midnight.” Below you can find our conversation with Ray and be sure to check out “Ragman” #1 in stores this Wednesday, October 11th.
So how has NYCC been treating you so far?
Ray Fawkes: The Con is fantastic, I love New York Comic Con. It’s usually my last big one of the year, so it’s like a big, giant, final fireworks laden adventure.
Yeah, it’s like … I don’t know, San Diego I guess is the Superbowl, but it’s nice to end the season in New York City. When I heard Ray Fawkes on “Ragman,” I thought, who didn’t think of that before, it’s fucking genius. How did you end up on that book, when it seems a perfect fit for you?
RF: It was kind of following up “Gotham by Midnight,” I was in the office pitching and I approached with a couple of characters that I liked, and they were all basically supernatural characters. It really seemed, we seemed to have mutual excitement when I started talking about Ragman, and my ideas for him. He just sort of stood above the rest and we took it from there.
I think the cool thing about ‘Rebirth’ so far has been, obviously the merging of everything. For you, coming into this new series with “Ragman,” what are you bringing in from his history, but also giving your own spin? Who is he to you at this point in this new series?
RF: It’s interesting because I think there’s a lot to love about Ragman, and about Rory Regan as the character. Right from the original, the core of him, where he’s the combat veteran living in a sort of humble circumstances, and then putting him in Gotham City, and then the wave where they gave him his supernatural abilities. If you put those all together, it created a character that I find completely fascinating.
To me, I’ve been saying, people have been asking if this is a reboot of Ragman, and I say, “No, it’s more like a reintroduction,” because the concept of Ragman is so strong and ready. That I love this sort of tortured former soldier, who’s in there with the little guy, he literally is one of the humble people living in Gotham City, who then becomes a great hero to the people through these supernatural insights and powers that he has.
He’s got a lot of darkness, of course because I’m writing him, but he’s really a true hero, and he’s always been that no matter what incarnation of him you see.
And you can see that. Ragman for most is a character I think the die hard DC fans, they know who he is, but ‘Rebirth’ has seemed to bring in a lot of new readers. For a creator, how do you balance introducing this character to new readers, but also knowing the fact Ragman is one of those characters that is core to diehards?
RF: When I write any book, I always try to treat is as if someone who’s never seen the character before can pick the book up and understand who they are. Luckily, with someone like Ragman, it’s actually quite easy to get the concept across. If you put together the kind of person he is, the self-sacrificing soldier, and his father runs the pawn shop in Gotham City. Then you add on top of that, the Cloak of Rags, the Suit of Souls, where he’s got the living souls of people inside the suit.Continued below
The way I present him is that the suit not only gives him powers, but it also gives him a sort of level of insight and empathy, because he can hear the souls of the people that he has absorbed in the suit. So he knows better than most, why some people become criminals, and what they’re suffering, and what it means when he fights them.
Often times to new readers, when they say, “Who is this guy?” I say, “He’s a superhero who can’t help but understand the perspective of the people he’s fighting against, because he’s gonna hear it from them when he wins.”
Right, exactly. Batman coming almost from a high place down with his morals, as opposed to Ragman who’s really coming from the street and understanding the people of the street.
RF: Yeah, it’s almost like … Batman is like this great figure who comes from above, like you said, he sort of cleans the city below him, and rules it below him. But Rory is fighting people just like himself, a lot of the time. Definitely in this story, the power that creates some of the villains that you see in the story, it takes a hold of people who are literally just like Rory, and he has to deal with them on a supernatural level. But it’s never someone coming in from the suburbs, or from somewhere else, it’s Rory lives in the slums, he understands these people and how they came up.
You’re obviously well known for the supernatural, especially in DC, with ‘Rebirth’ it’s been kind of slowly building that supernatural base. We haven’t had a huge wave of that realm yet. So bringing Ragman in, and bringing you back in, where will he fit in with that supernatural world? Will you be able to build that out where he also interacts with other supernatural characters in the DCU?
RF: He’s interacting with other supernatural characters, and non-supernatural characters actually right in this Ragman series that you’ll see. He’s in Gotham City, it’s inevitable that he would meet other heroes and villains. But as I was working on this book with Inaki Miranda, who did the artwork, and he did this crazy dark beautiful poetic version of Ragman, he’s the one that kept saying to me, “This guy deserves to be an A-list hero, he deserves to be someone that all the other heroes are familiar with.” And I said, “To me, there could be no better end to this kind of story than the other heroes of the DC universe.” Ultimately, outside that, the fans of the DC universe taking notice of Ragman and saying he does deserve to be up with people like the Justice League.
You mentioned Inaki, and the preview pages we’ve seen from there have been fucking amazing. What has he brought to the book aside from that fantastic artwork?
RF: Oh, man. Like I said, Inaki has brought this really weird chaotic poetry to the page that I love. It’s basically, when we were starting and we were conceiving of it, I was talking to him about I wanted this dark gothic chaotic kind of, because we’re in Gotham City. He just took it and ran with it to a degree that astonished me, I was so pleased with every page that he did. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
It’s amazing. I read some other interviews and things you’ve done for promotion of the series and you have said its as much of it is a superhero story as it is a horror story. How do you manage a horror story in that DC mainstream audience?
RF: The thing is, I love horror, but the thing is that horror ultimately is about this sort of dark side of human life, and the dark impulses we have, and everything. But I don’t actually see horror stories and superhero stories as all that far apart. Because all that it means is, Ragman I consider a superhero who is deep in the horror of Gotham City, but he is no less a hero. He’s just more aware of the darkness, he feels it more himself. That’s how I often approach things at DC, even though it may be supernatural and it may have a horror bend to it, it’s still ultimately about the heart of people, and the goodness of people.Continued below
Now the first issue drops this week. What do you want readers to take away from that first issue when they read it? What do you want them to take away and go forward into the new series with?
RF: Ultimately, I want readers to become excited about the concept of someone like Ragman. About the idea of an ordinary person, who gains this extraordinary ability, and uses it, instead of becoming devoured by it, uses it to help other people who are suffering in similar ways to him. I don’t know, I feel like a lot of superhero stories, the magic of superhero stories is saying that there are bad things in the world, and you may be feeling them, and you are not alone, and there are people who want to help you. Hopefully, people will read this and they’ll come away from it thinking that Ragman, he may have different circumstances, but he’s like a Batman or a Superman or a Wonder Woman. He is really at his core a person who wants the best for the world. And I want readers to love him, the way they love those other characters.
I think they will, it looks so good. Thanks so much for your time.
RF: You got it.