An Unfathomable Darkness (from Cyclical)
MARIE ENGER is a green-haired punk cartoonist from St. Louis. Her coloring work has appeared in Pistolwhip, 2 Sisters, and Past Aways for Dark Horse. She is currently in development on Cyclical, a dark bicycle western inspired by the Irish Mythological Cycle. She tweets @so_engery, and can be found on Facebook, Tumblr, and her website.
ON COLORS AND BEING POOR
Coloring is my bread and butter. One of my professors in college was Matt Kindt — he was my character design professor my last year. He invited me and my boyfriend to sit in on a comics class he was teaching, and then he said “Hey, why don’t I help you get comics pitches ready in return for erasing and filling in blacks on some projects I’m working on?” Through Matt I met Brian Hurtt, and now I work with both of them. Matt was the one who helped me get my first professional gig.
For awhile I was doing animation and comics was my plan B, which is weird to say now. I was weird in highschool — I was reading comics on the weekend; if you looked at me and you said “she probably reads all those comics” you’d be right. Sandman and Hellboy and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. When I was getting an animation degree, I stopped doing and reading comics. But I’m a shitty animator — I can do character design and cars really well, but I can’t make things move smoothly.
So comics wasn’t my first choice in college, but now I can’t imagine not doing them. I remember when I started out, Matt said, “You’ll be poor, but you won’t hate yourself.” That was okay with me. I’m a very good poor person. I buy bargain meat. For awhile I only had one pair of pants, but now I have three. I’m making steps.
I don’t know how to talk about Cyclical right now — I call it a “dark Irish bicycle western,” but I said that a few weeks ago to this guy and he just said “Oh, of course it is,” and gave me the most beautiful eyeroll. It fucking put me in my place. But lately I’ve been thinking of it as across between Mad Max and Hellboy. It’s about the change and sacrifice needed to allow a better world to exist.
A lot of Cyclical comes from Irish myths. I’ve been applying for Irish citizenship for about two years, and when you’re ass-deep in all that paperwork, you learn a lot about the culture and the mythology. I got into Irish literature and it feels like it was all written by a drunk two year old. All these people die and then these monsters eat all these other people, and they all have to work together but they hate each other. It’s written in these three cycles. If you stop the cycles you’ll have this dead Earth syndrome, and I like that — you have to keep it going.
It’s an ongoing project — I did a first issue and then my style changed, so now I do 8 pagers as a way for me to do environment studies, or to focus on characters. When it’s done it’s going to be 15 issues. I used to write each script on a case-by-case basis, but then I would never have time to do a second one. Now I’m doing all the scripts and landmarks and thumbnails, and then I’m going to go for it.
ON CYCLICAL (THE 8-PAGERS)
An Unfathomable Darkness is about a lesser-known character in Irish mythology called Tethra. He’s a Droch-Fola (the Irish interpretation of vampires), and Fomorian, which are the Irish demon presence. They’re bloodthirsty creatures. He lost his humanity a long time ago, but he chooses to believe his bloodlust is a malfunctioning flight or fight response. He suffers from anxiety attacks, but can’t remember why he’s afraid. He’s followed by the Slaugh, who are the souls and bodies of men unrepentant of the crimes they committed in life.
The guy with four eyes in I Made a Deal is Elatha, another Fomorian — he’s smart, but compassionate, and he cares only about the well-being of his son, Bres. Bres is a Changeling who grows up and sets the wheels in motion for the end of the world, and the beginning of a new cycle. This story also mentions the T.D.D., which stands for Tuatha Dé Danann, the Irish race of gods.
Let Me In is set in the Cyclical universe, but it’s inspired by a Murder by Death song. When their Big Dark Love album came out, I knew I would have to draw something for it. I am super, super into music — like really really into it, to the point that if I’m listening to music when I’m coloring, I can’t listen to certain things because I’ll just want to stop what I’m doing and start drawing my own stuff. When I’m coloring I have this pop mix made for me by my beautiful friend Miya Norfleet — like, I just have to listen to Ke$ha.
To see I Made a Deal and Let Me In from Marie Enger’s Cyclical, start with the top left thumbnail:
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