Q&A: Writer/Artist Bo Hampton talks “3 DEVILS”Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Svetlana Fedotov
Few comic creators have had the lifelong stay power as Bo Hampton. A writer, artist, inker, letterer, and colorist, Hampton has been in and out of every angle of the industry and if history does repeat itself, he’ll keep doing it long after he’s dead too. His newest work, 3 DEVILS, features the extent of all his talents as he pens and illustrates an epic of devilish proportions. Featuring a gypsy girl and a her protector who cannot die no matter how often you hang him, Hampton explores the dark side of the Western comic. He recently sat down with FANGORIA to explain what makes him tick.
FANGORIA: What’s the story behind 3 DEVILS? What’s the inspiration?
BO HAMPTON: The story revolves around the pact sworn between a young gypsy girl who was made an orphan by a vampire called The White Man–a former slave turned Zuvembie/Zombie and a side show freak marketed as The Wolf Boy. It is a pact of vengeance against the 3 Devils- supernatural horrors that created them.
FANGORIA: There’s a solid mix of Old World monsters and New World cowboy culture that makes for a unique combination. Why combine these seemingly different subjects?
HAMPTON: Certain genre clichés such as Gypsies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies have been done to death. No pun. But the visual appeal is undeniable so I decided to approach it from the standpoint of the conflict itself. Sure, the Devils are real and represent constant danger, but they must also contend with the devils of bigotry and discrimination in the Old West, not that it’s that much different now. If the reader doesn’t pull for these characters, the story dies aborning.
FANGORIA: Western Horrors have been making a quite a comeback lately, did this influence the timing of your comic release?
HAMPTON: No. I realized that I’m running out of genres to stake a stab at, like William Goldman realized prior to tackling THE PRINCESS BRIDE. I love period pieces that don’t require me to draw perfectly straight lines- and I’d never done a Western. Plus, I love the way Toth and Kubert drew that stuff.
FANGORIA: Why did you choose to both write and illustrate 3 DEVILS?
HAMPTON: I wrote and drew 3 DEVILS because I felt the need to tell a story that allowed me free rein to romp through the old west in pursuit of monsters that were as original as I could make them. Well, actually it’s monsters pursuing other monsters. Sometimes you have to own a thing, for good or ill. The buck stops here. But if it’s only one buck, it really stops here.
FANGORIA: Were you worried about trying to keep the vampire and zombie mythology fresh in time when horror and comic audiences have grown weary of vampires and zombies?
HAMPTON: I’ve written or co-written comics and Graphic Novels off and on since LOST PLANET in ’84. I think using Robert E. Howard’s “Zuvembie” concept from PIGEONS FROM HELL opposed to the normal Zombie freshens up that angle quite a bit. I can’t go into the other characters without revealing too much so I’ll stop there. Except to say “what a world” this is for your readership. Where else would you find an argument that actually contains the words “Normal Zombie”.
FANGORIA: You have worked on comics for over thirty years and have done nearly every job in producing a comic. How do think the industry has changed over that time?
HAMPTON: The biggest change, technically, is the advent of digital coloring. It winds up hurting the look of the original comic pages because the penciller and inker give over the reins for modeling/shading to the colorist. And since that is only done in a file, the original art looks like a page from a coloring book. I did this project “Old School” with tons of chiaroscuro and high contrast lighting in the ink stage. My colorist, Jeremy Mohler, is very good and could easily handle it all but I prefer black shadows beneath the color. If you’re familiar with Mario Bava movies, you’ll know what I’m always striving for.
FANGORIA: While you have certainly done your fair share of creator original comics over the years, do you think it’s easier now with the huge resurgence in comic fandom to do original work, especially as more and more writers are stepping away from DC/Marvel and going to other publishers such as IDW to do comics that they want to do?
HAMPTON: It is easier now to find a publisher for this sort of project but it’s harder to find an audience to sustain it. I’m hoping that 3 DEVILS, being a monthly book, starting in April, will keep it in front of the retailers and readers long enough to take off.
FANGORIA: Do you have anything planned in the future you can tell us about?
HAMPTON: Oddly enough, I continue to work in this industry. I have a TARZAN series which I’m drawing for Dark Horse called THE ONCE AND FUTURE TARZAN and it starts in Dark Horse Presents this May. That is written by Al Gordon and edited by my old co-hort, Tom Yeates.
I can’t sign off without the thanking the staff at FANGORIA. You guys have pushed my earlier horror books, RIVEN and SIGHT UNSEEN, [with Robert Tinnell] and consistently provide a great springboard for material that swims upstream against the superhero current and it is much appreciated. Strangely, though, I think of 3 DEVILS as an adventure TEAM book as much as anything else. I’d say there’s something for everybody but who needs that kind of money? Thanks for the interest, guys.
Bo Hampton’s 3 DEVILS is now on shelves from IDW Publishing.