Chris Robertson and Leila del Duca talk The House of Lost Horizons!
Today Renee is joined by Chris Robertson and Leila del Duca to talk about their new book The House of Lost Horizons set in the Hellboy universe!
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Christopher Robertson and Leila del Duca
Renee: [00:00:00] Hey everyone. Welcome back to spoiler country. I’m Renee and we are joined today by Chris Roberson and Layla DeLuca Laila is drawn for wonder woman, sleepless, shutter written for afar and other titles like Scarlet, witch, American vampire. I could probably go on and on. Chris is the co-creator of eyes-on B writer of several New York times bestselling mini series.
And also the co-writer of Hellboy and the BPR D which finder rise to the black flame and many, many other titles. And I could go on and on and on. In order to get to you too, and not have me talking this entire time. I want to say, how are you two doing welcome to the show.
Leila del Duca: Thanks Renee. I’m doing good.
How about you, Chris? I am
Christopher Robertson: also doing good. I am four days away from being fully immunized and my big [00:01:00] plans are, I’m going to go back to the comic bookstore, do some shopping.
Renee: In my mind. You both live in Portland, you’re both in comics. You both have cute pets. You’re both award nominated. So I’ve created this BFF narrative of the two of you in my mind.
You’re just, you know, the bestest of friends. I’m curious. Working together. Have you found that you have anything else in common or am I just sort of romanticizing this a little too much?
Christopher Robertson: Well, okay. Well, I will say this living in Portland is like what I thought people working in comics was like, when I was a kid like that, there was a place where they all lived and they all knew each other.
Almost like, like a workplace, because it kind of is, I mean, w w we’re in the comic people everywhere. And before, you know, everyone was trapped in their homes all the time would routinely see comic people all over the place? I will say that, like, I don’t, you’re [00:02:00] romanticizing just a bit. I would say that we are very friendly acquaintances.
We talk in conventions and stuff. We have a many friends in common Yeah.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. Chris and I have never hung out as friends, but we definitely have nice conversations and conventions. And which has the
Christopher Robertson: hundreds of friends.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. The hundreds of friends in common, for sure. And that’s kind of what the general.
Atmosphere in comics. Portland is like, is that everyone at least seems to be on good terms with each other. And we see each other a lot at, at comics functions and even just running into each other on the streets or at comic shops and stuff like that. But it’s a really friendly atmosphere and it’s always a joy to run into Chris at whatever function it happens to be.
Christopher Robertson: Well, I mean, you have the advantage of being over at helium. I mean, so you have like a whole clubhouse vibe going just the daily work routine, you know, pre COVID
Leila del Duca: that’s true. For those of you who don’t know what HelioScope is, it’s a comic [00:03:00] book collective that used to be known as Periscope studios and mercury studio before that.
And it’s located in downtown Portland, Oregon. And there is, did I say there’s like 30 ish members of comic book creators, part of this studio. And a lot of us have permanent desks at the studio space, including myself, where we that’s like our studio away from home. We all get to work together. There’s tons of benefits, like commiserating together, sharing.
Stories about publishers together like snapping photos of each other for photo reference for our comics. Like there’s just, and then just also this really nice familial atmosphere there where everyone seems to have each other’s backs and everyone was just really funny. He knows how to have a great conversation.
Christopher Robertson: great. I don’t think I can get any work done if I was there because that’s what I go to conventions for is to see all my friends and talk. I mean, there’s, there’s people that function well in [00:04:00] those environments. And then there’s the rest of us who are basically hermits and shut-ins for whom the last year was a difference of degree.
Not of kind. I mean, my daily routine basically continued unabated. I just couldn’t go to the comic shop, you know, like I had to stay home and read things on my iPad.
Renee: Yeah. I mean to that point, right? Do, I mean, it sounds like there’s a really great community in Portland and a lot of, you know, sort of connections that are happening, but do you do either of you miss like cons or these like informal settings where you could run into your fellow creators that you haven’t like, oh yeah, it’s good to see you again.
Christopher Robertson: listened desperately. I mean, because my. Under normal circumstances is I’ll be at my house basically like on quarantine at my house for three months at a time. And then I’ll go to a convention and I will have all the conversations I would have had. But just over the course of like 72 hours I’ll eat [00:05:00] every meal with a friend or a group of friends.
I’ll spend all day up talking to people about the books we’ve read and the movies and the games we’ve enjoyed and the comics we’ve been working on and everything. And then I’ll go back home and I won’t see anybody for another four months. And so what this last year has been It took a while for it to like really impact on me because my D my D and D group went online.
Right. Instead of being in person. But then towards the end of last year, I had to like actively remind myself that I knew people because I had not talked to another adult human for like a year. And I’m like, no, you have lots of friends. Like you just only see them a couple times a year. And like we missed two Emerald cities, like two years of Emerald city.
Comic-Con not happening meant that I haven’t seen a lot of my non Portland friends since like the beginning of 2019.
Renee: Which is a long time. Right? I mean, you know, it, you don’t think of it until you it’s that absence. Right. And you’re like, wow, this is really a noticeable [00:06:00] loss or noticeable, you know, absence in my life.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. I was kind of the opposite of Chris. Since I was working in a studio with people and at the time that COVID hit, I was just sharing a studio space with Joel Jones and Emmy Lennox. We called bitch Corp. So I had kind of, that was an informal member of HelioScope, but like worked full time most of the time at bitch court.
And. So it was really cool to work with my friends on a regular basis. Like my two of my closest friends that were in Portland. So that was a huge hit. I’m definitely more of like a social person. I had set up this really nice balance of working around people and having a social life when COVID hit. So it really did impact me in my mood a lot.
And so I don’t. And also living in Portland and most of my friends being comics, professionals, I’m oversaturated in comics. So I currently still [00:07:00] don’t miss going to comic book shows, but I do miss like Christmases, like my friends that I only see at conventions a few times a year like that I do really miss those friends and having good times that.
Christopher Robertson: You’ve been well lately has been running the HelioScope YouTube channel for the last few weeks, which has been invaluable. Like it, it feels like I’m hanging out with my friends. Cause whenever a new video shows up, I was just like, oh cool. I get to watch and see people. I know talking about something and it, it looks like it’s just all of you guys together on a zoom.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. We’ve had a fair amount of like the zoom let’s everyone meet on a Friday night and catch up kind of thing. And then so, but those are usually aren’t recorded. There are a few recordings of that. I think Chris has mentioned talking about where we talk about like our favorite convention memories, or like, should you go to art school versus not going to art school?
We have kind of group discussions, like. It means a lot, Chris, that you watch those and that [00:08:00] you’re finding something positive because it’s kind of like something I’ve, or we’ve thrown into this YouTube and other, and haven’t really heard too much back about. So that’s really awesome. And like,
Renee: well, I’m just curious because.
There is a loss with COVID. Right. But there is opportunity, you know? And so I’m curious, like have either of you gotten to, you know, be able to connect with people that maybe you wouldn’t have, because like, we can, we can all meet online and, you know, like have these gatherings, but maybe not. I’m
Christopher Robertson: seeing, I mean, I did a lot of it, so I think it was more everybody else because in the early days, the first few months everybody being at home, I did a ton of like online socializing with, because all of my friends who are extroverts were stuck in their houses and like needed something to do.
And then as everything kind of started normalizing over the summer, that started going away. And I was kind of fine with it because as I say, I can go [00:09:00] months without eating socializing, really though, that being said, like, I’m going to start taking. Every invitation I get now I’m going to have to go. Because this I’ve got enough, I’ve got enough.
To last for awhile. I’d like to listen to some other people.
Leila del Duca: Awesome. Yeah. I think I had a similar thing happened where the first three to five months I was super, super social online. And like I caught up with high school friends that I hadn’t caught up with in years. Like we probably, would’ve never zoomed together if COVID didn’t happen, that kind of thing, but it has kind of petered off and I think it’s.
Fatigued from everything. I think that’s just, my life now is more normalized. So people feel, or at least my circle has felt less of a need to zoom with each other. But at the same time, the past month I’ve actually been seeing friends again, because most of my circle is vaccinated at this point. Yeah,
Renee: it’s so nice.
I had to say I’ve also gotten to [00:10:00] go out a little bit. I’m like people. Yeah. It’s amazing. Well, we’re here, I think, to, to talk about not just the world, but the collaboration that U2 did for dark horse, the house of lost horizons which I read the first issue and just loved, I mean, loved, loved, loved, loved it’s so good.
But this wasn’t actually the first time you two had collaborated, right. Because you had worked together on the winter special. And so I’m, I’m curious, like how did you two get together for that initial winter special? And it was Mike playing matchmaker. What was happening?
Christopher Robertson: If no, in actuality, the, this series began before the winter special, short, and then.
We saw an opportunity. We being a conversation that I had with Mike and Katie O’Brien, who was our editor, who is our editor that like this would be a great [00:11:00] opportunity to like, cause we’re always looking to like bring new collaborators in who haven’t worked in this universe before. And Layla was already lined up to do this book.
And so it was like, it was an easy like, oh, cool. I’ll just go do a quick eight pager. And then the canny held where readers were immediately like, oh, we’re going to get a Sarah jewel series. Now with, with these two people working on it, they call it the, and I’ll let Layla talk about her part of this and your second.
But the quick answer is. Everybody arrived at Layla at the same time. Like your name was already at the top of my list. I was reading shutter at the time. And when I first had the idea for the series, I was like, well, she’d be perfect. And we were at a road city, Comicon, I guess it was a couple of years ago.
Right? 2018, maybe. I think so. Yeah. And so Katie was there. Mike was there. Mike likes to roam around artist’s alley [00:12:00] looking for. Did he hasn’t worked with before. And so Katie came over to my booth and said, well, who were you thinking of for this? And I was like, well, I think Layla DeLuca would be fantastic for this.
And she was like, oh good. Because Mike does our work and thinks that she would be great too. And Katie agreed. And then I was like, let’s go talk to him. And so literally we just walked over and said, Hey, we’re you’re doing this thing. You want to do it?
Renee: Yeah. Layla, do you remember that conversation?
Leila del Duca: Yeah.
Yeah. And in fact, actually, Chris, I think you mentioned. And maybe I’m remembering this wrong, but I think rose city come count. Even before that, you’re like, gosh, it’d be cool to work together. And I’d be like, yeah, the timing works out. But maybe that didn’t happen and it’s relevant to the story,
Christopher Robertson: but it’s entirely possible because I’d like to work for.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. And then I think I’ve just, I’ve been always busy, too busy. And then, so you guys caught me at the perfect time. And from my perspective, what happened is I think Joe Keating, the writer on shutter was tabling [00:13:00] closer next to Mike Rosa to Comicon 2018. And Mike looks over or something and sees the book, or like, Joe gives him copies of our book and he’s like, whoa, who is this artist?
He like, never heard of me. And when he saw my work, I think that’s when he came over to my table. And I couldn’t tell if it was him or not, because I think I had only seen pictures of him without a beard and he had a beard. So I was like playing it. Cool. Don’t want to be. Oh, my God. Are you making Yella?
And then like you turns out not to be or something anyway. So he’s like talking to me up and like, asking if I’m working for anyone. And he’s like, I really want to to steal you or like you, I want to work with you or whatever. And, and then I asked, I was like, yeah, just to be sure, you’re Mike Mineola.
Right. And he’s like, yes, of course I am. Anyway. Cool. It was one of my favorite convention memories. Like he was he’s, he’s a part of the three artists creators that I look to and admire [00:14:00] the most in comics. So it was just fantastic to have him praising my work and then, and then have this project like fall into place so easily with like Katie and Chris coming up like that same day and talking about how we’re going to move forward on this.
So yeah, it was really cool.
Renee: I have to ask, since you were already a fan, you know, and Chris you’ve been in the Hellboy world for a while at that point, were you nervous at all Layla or were you, you know, just super excited
Leila del Duca: about it? I definitely wasn’t nervous even though I know I have. To do whatever.
Like I can draw whatever I want to now with my skill level. I think at least I didn’t want, I mean, I wanted to do right by the Hellboy universe and Mike Mineola and Chris and everyone on the team. I just, it is. Like a dream world to work in. So I definitely was a little intimidated going into this.
Renee: So I don’t imagine that many of the [00:15:00] people listening don’t know how boy.
But maybe there might be some people who aren’t as familiar with Sarah Joel. And so for those people, you know, or maybe the one person that’s never heard of. Oh boy. Can you tell us a little bit about this
Christopher Robertson: series? Well, okay. So this takes place in the world of Hellboy and Hellboy is a demon who was summoned in the last days of world war II by some Nazis, but he ended up getting taken by American GIS and then raised by an eccentric kindly British paranormal investigator.
So nature versus nurture. He just turned out to be just a lovable. He was just a regular Joe, just a dude. Who fights monsters and then Sarah Juul. There’s a character called the, which finders, her Edward Gray, who is a cult detective in Victorian London. And it’s my, it’s my favorite corner of that world that era in that place.
And so when I was really early in my time, collaborating with Mike on these books, [00:16:00] Six or seven years ago. One of the first time we’ve been friends for years, but he had been afraid to, this is too long dancer. I of, okay. So Mike and I had been friends for quite a long time. Like I’ve met him at a convention and we just ended up like sitting next to each other on the bus on the way from the airport to the hotel.
And then when he came in the lobby, he saw us the newest. So he sat down and talked to us and we became Facebook friends and then everything. But he was afraid to read my work, I think, because he was worried I might suck. And so like, he just never read anything. I did. And even though I would tell them that like, Hellboy was a huge influence on me.
Even though I still really thought of Mike as the rocket raccoon guy from the eighties. And he did not like to hear that like he never read on me, even when I told him, like, I hope Hellboy is probably one of the biggest influences on his own, but know it’s not really readily apparent from the surface.
Anyhow. Oh yeah. So we were talking about which finder and. He suggested that it’d be cool to [00:17:00] have like a young woman show up and then compare scars with them. It’s like that scene from jaws where the three guys are all comparing their battle scars across the table. And it like this young woman would be as much of a bad-ass as sir Edward Gray, but just comes at things from a different direction.
And so by the next day, I landed on Nellie Bly as the, the historical model for her. And then a couple months later, we were talking about the books that became rises, the black flame. And I was like, wait a minute. What if she’s a she’s in her twenties, in the ninth, in the 1890s? Why don’t we just introduce her as a middle-aged woman in the 19 teens or twenties, like who has been spent 30, 40 years off having adventures and then very quickly.
I fell in love with that version of her. More like she’s really cool as a 25 year old Nellie Bly roaming around the world, but I really, really liked the middle-aged lady. Who’s had decades of experience in her traveling companion. They’re probably more than friends. It’s never
Renee: that I w [00:18:00] I was totally okay.
I have to say, I w I don’t know if it’s because it’s pride month or, you know, because I’m just in Seattle, which, you know, is just a sort of queer bubble anyway. But like, I really was like smart women traveling companions. Right. I was like,
Christopher Robertson: that’s, that’s definitely it’s never textual. Canonically said one way or the other.
But in my head. Yeah, totally. Yeah. And so then I, I’m a huge fan of like Agatha Christie and miss Marple is my favorite of her characters, but I also love shows. Ms. Fisher murder mysteries and Frankie drink mysteries and stuff like that. And so I was like, man, I really want to do a story like that.
And I was like, why don’t you just do it in the world of Hellboy? And then like, people will read it because if I did it like without hell name on it, that’s kind of a hard sell, like middle-aged lady who solves supernatural mysteries in the 1920s. But if you say
there’s clearly, there’s a whole industry that does that, both in, in novels and in TV American [00:19:00] mainstream comics that might be a little bit harder, harder to sell, but you’ve put from the world of Hellboy of the cross, the top of it, and people will show up. So
Renee: yeah, it’s very much this like Agatha Christie, you know, I was getting murdered, she wrote vibes, you know, I’m a big Nancy drew fan.
So I was definitely in it. But then with the, like a cult element, you know, and the, the sort of supernatural there, which I really like
Christopher Robertson: In the world of Hellboy. Speaking of Nancy drew, there was a long series in the fictional world of Hellboy. There’s a long running series of girl, detective. Mysteries, the Sarah Juul mysteries, which are loosely based on her real life had dentures, which has been mentioned once or twice in different places and in short stories and elsewhere, but we’ve never spent a lot of time with him, but
Renee: now we get a whole series on it, which is great.
I assume. I’m curious. I can tell Chris your huge murder mystery, Agatha Christie fan, but [00:20:00] Layla, are you in, are you big fan of the murder mystery genre yourself, or
Leila del Duca: I’m a huge fan of it? Like I’ve only watched clue or like, I don’t know, watch another movie here. They’re like not someone who usually gravitates for that kind of comic, but the story.
Interested me because I’ve never worked in that genre before. And I was really interested in drawing like a darker story that has like subtle supernatural elements, like a really cool Victorian mansion, like making the house a character of its own sounded really cool. And then Yeah, just I mean, kudos to Chris and Mike for creating a middle-aged detective adventure.
Like I wanted, I want that in my life. So that was also just a joy to draw. I love drawing. Yeah. Like, I, I love that you didn’t create an age of story. There’s like a lot of those out there. So that was a really cool book to work on because of that too.
Renee: [00:21:00] It’s, it’s interesting. And again, you know, reel me in if I’m reading too much into this, but.
The drawings. I was really drunk. I was really drawn pun intended to the eyes, and I felt like the eyes of the characters were really you know, a focal point in your work. And, and it reminded me of like the painting. With the odd, you know, like speaking of clue movie, right? Where, you know, painting with the eyes going back and forth, watching you in the hallway.
It’s just such like a murder mystery trope for me. And I don’t know if again, that was intentional, but it was something that I kept, like, I was like, what are they looking at? You know,
Leila del Duca: I don’t think that was intentional, but that’s awesome. I love that.
Renee: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, clue is one of those movies you, you know, you think about, and I also love murder by death.
I don’t know if either of you have another fun lock room mystery. I’m curious. So something that like, my brain can’t even [00:22:00] comprehend is how someone does it. Right. Like who done it. Right. And, and so I’m curious for your process when you’re thinking about. A mystery. Right. And, and, you know, creating like the, the characters and the suspects and the, the fake outs.
Cause I was already faked out when I read it, I was like, oh, it’s not good. I know it’s not right. I love all that. When you’re doing that. Do you have a process with that? Do you start with the solution? Go to the beginning? How does that work for you? I’m really.
Christopher Robertson: It’s a little bit of both. I mean, I think that I kind of started from either end and work towards the middle.
Like I knew how it was going to appear at the outset. And then I knew what was really going on at the end. And then it was a question of the, the, I worked on this for months before it clicked. So like those initial conversations [00:23:00] that we had in 2018. I don’t think you’ve got scripts until like the beginning of last year, right
Leila del Duca: after the winter special
Christopher Robertson: game.
So like, if we knew we were doing it, I knew what it was about. And then it was getting all the way there. And so for the longest time, it was the mechanics of the. Were there, but it was really inert and boring. And where it finally clicked is when I realized that each of the suspects needed to be interesting enough to carry a book on their own.
Like, it couldn’t just be a standard trope. Like they had to be really interesting characters. But then what happened was I fell in love with all of them so much that like I had to keep coming up with new, like I had an introduce an asphalt, so I have somebody to kill off because like I was like, I can’t get rid of these people.
And I don’t want to spoil how it is. But no one, well, one character is exactly who they appear to be.
Renee: Like I’m [00:24:00] going to read it and be like, which one
Christopher Robertson: is that in the, in the original outline. And I think it’s in the first issue script, like there’s, it calls out that one character is exactly who they say they are and is exactly has the agenda that they say they have and that everybody else doesn’t exactly like everybody else, there’s something else going on with them.
And by the end of it, like, I really want to do spinoffs with a number of these characters. Like I really just want to go off and do things. Yeah. But once I figured that out and then spent a couple of months really getting to know those characters and what they were about, then it was easy. Like the rest of it was pretty much a cakewalk.
Renee: I feel like, I don’t know a writer I haven’t met or talked to a writer that doesn’t fall in love with a side character. Right. You know, that they’re like, oh, I need to write the spinoff. You know? And so I’m curious if you had to pick one character to spin off, [00:25:00] who would you pick? Cause he said he like all of them.
Christopher Robertson: I can’t tell you, because I know the answer. I know the answer, but the answer would spoil the end, but there’s one of these little, one of these little groups of characters could totally be off solving mysteries on there. Well, they’re all ultimately anyway There are none of them what they see and they are all way more interesting than they appear.
I think at the first introduction. Okay.
Renee: Layla, as an artist, you’re also a writer. I know that, you know, and so I’m curious, do you also. Sort of get the hooked on a character that you’re drawing or in the same way that you might writing a character. Is there ever a time where you’re like, I just want to draw this, this character over and over and over again?
Leila del Duca: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There’s usually a favorite character that I’m drawing at the time. It can also switch up [00:26:00] throughout the series or whatever, but yeah. So I think that the house of Los horizons, Marie teres was probably the one that I was like, yeah, get the jar on this page. The most of, I think Sarah was second.
And I don’t know if that’s because they’re more familiar than the rest because I had already drawn them in the winter special, but I also just really love their characters so much, but I love drawing everyone they create, or, yeah. Christian might you created a really cool, diverse cast and it was challenging in all the right ways.
I had a really fun time researching all the costuming and doing preliminary sketches for it. So yeah. And just their backgrounds are great. And I have an answer to who I would want to have an option serious for that isn’t Marie or Sarah, but I also don’t know if that’ll spoil anything. And so not going to see what we can tell each other off camera.
Renee: say we’ll save it. So Chris, I know you love to do research, right. And, and really, you [00:27:00] know, geek out. So sort of on the history and the historical influences did you pull Layla into that? And send, you know, like her like, oh, look at this and look at this. And as part
Christopher Robertson: of the. My scripts are Laden with stuff like, so it’s a, basically a script for a 22 page comical normally come in around 30 pages of just text.
And then they’ll usually be like 15 to 30 pages of embedded images after that image reference. And I always do way too much. And
Leila del Duca: that’s so much better than not enough. I’ve worked with a fair amount of writers who don’t put any reference in their scripts, which drives me crazy because then I have to spend the time looking for exactly what I think they might want.
So thank you for doing that, Chris and your writers out here, please do more of that.
Christopher Robertson: I went down some really interesting rabbit holes on this one. It’s set in a very specific location off the course, the coast of Washington state. But then the [00:28:00] backstory involves a lot of things about the development of the railroad about like one of the Pacific railroads.
I got super deep into it. And like, there was this woman who was paid to write a book about her travels on the railroad, like the 1890s. And I was able to get a PDF of this book. And it’s basically just a first person memoir of like what it’s like to get on the train in Milwaukee and go all the way out to Seattle.
And it was filled with images and like photos of the time and menus. I read the whole damn thing. Like none of that ended up in the book, but I was fascinated. And so then my kid and I took a week in the before times, we’ll go to Seattle a couple times a year just to go to museums and see friends and stuff.
And the last time we went I was in the midst of this research and we were taking the train which I hadn’t done in years. And while we were getting like concessions at the little newsstand gift shop thing, they had a bunch of. Railway, logo’s kind of on this [00:29:00] counter. And one of them was four. And I can’t remember which railway it was, but it’s basically a yin yang symbol.
And as we’re there, I’m putting in like, oh, what happened was the guy who ran this railroad, went to the Columbia next exhibition. And at the Korea pavilion, he really liked their flag. And so he just came back and he said, make it this guys. And so then for the next 50 years, one of the railroads had the flag of Korea as its logo.
And the woman behind the camera was like, oh, that’s really interesting. And I’m like, I just don’t normally know everything about railroads or not that I just happened to know this one fact
Renee: you are though a little bit. I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m just going to call that out just so you know, a little bit of.
Did you know that this so the PNW, right, like comes up a lot in your work, Chris, and I’m, I’m curious for both of you, how much does location sort of influence your work? And obviously this, this particular pieces set in the San Juan [00:30:00] islands. You’re in the house the whole time, right? It’s a locked box, you know, locker room.
How, like, how does location and place influence what you’re doing?
Leila del Duca: I would say for me, it’s a short answer. Like kind of, not at all, because I’ve been at the. Merci, not in a bad way of writers who write whatever. And I think this is the first script I have that has actually taken place in the Pacific Northwest.
Everything else has been like New York city or like space or like made up place. That’s. It only inspired 15 hundreds or something like that. So that’s my answer. Some
Renee: vague European location.
Christopher Robertson: I like, I like the specificity of a particular place. And even if it’s a fictional location, I like to use real life models.
And so it kind of goes in tandem with the research because. If I’m writing a period piece, it’s set in this [00:31:00] particular location, I spend way too much time finding image reference for that vocation. In that time, like for example, I did a not yet announced series set in the world of Hellboy that had a couple of issues take place in Hawaii in like the 1950s, sixties.
And I managed to find travel photos of like, people’s like just vacation snaps of their streets and the roads and I hundreds of them in the script anyway. Eyes-on, which is one of the first things I did was set in Eugene, Oregon years before I ever moved to the Pacific Northwest. Like it was sat there because Mike Alred was from there and wanted to drop place, basically that he knew.
And then I moved to Portland basically around the time that eyes-on was wrapping up. So I actually didn’t see Eugene in person until around the time the last issue came out. But. Yeah, I do tend to like to set things in a very specific locations and I tend to tend a lot towards the Pacific Northwest just because I like it up [00:32:00] here.
I think it’s cool. And there’s a lot of cool history here and culture meetings of cultures both names. And then like the Russians are coming in and doing stuff and like the 18 hundreds, right. Or like all kinds of weird confluences which I don’t think have been completely exhaustively done in other stories because yeah, so much stuff just gets set in new Yorker.
And I love San Francisco. I said a bunch of things in San Francisco, too. But, but I it’s much more interesting for me to like, let’s visit a place that hasn’t been seen a thousand times.
Renee: I feel like as a west coaster, I’m, I’m sort of like, yes, west coast represents and you know, it’s nice to see places that you’re familiar with, you know, in what you’re reading.
Cause I do think it helps connect you, you know, to that piece in a lot of ways. So, so in thinking about this piece, right, the house lately you mentioned is almost like a character itself. Right. And I’m curious, is there a house that you had in mind? Was it, what, what was the reference for it? Because [00:33:00] I, of course I’m like rich people on islands off the coast of Washington.
They all have these weird creepy houses with a cold things inside them. Right. Was there a ref, was there an actual house
Leila del Duca: reference? I think so, Chris, you put like two different houses and their floor plans, even in the script. And I don’t know if they had like specific names. Do you remember?
Christopher Robertson: I can’t. At one point early on in the process, the house was going to be much more complicated.
I had come upon references to what were called calendar houses. Which would have like 12 rooms, one worm for each month of the year. And like so many, you know, all these different permutations of Colin’s trickle numbers. So thankfully I, I dialed back from that a lot because that was going to get too messy.
But yeah, I found a couple of specific locations. One of them might’ve been here in Portland. I think I might’ve pulled from one of the, like that [00:34:00] by the zoo, you know, historic landmark. And then there were some specific ones. None of them were in the same one islands, but like I was referencing specific islands, geographically.
But we were pulling from places that were like elsewhere on the west coast.
Leila del Duca: Awesome. Yeah. I ended up changing a lot about the house plans that he gave me, but they were such a fantastic start. And I think, I think the outside of the house of one of the houses has stayed pretty true to one of those images.
But the interior is completely out of whack.
Renee: Well, I do have to ask if you two were locked in a house where there was a murder, who would you want to be locked in there with?
Christopher Robertson: I just want the library. I said in interviews before that, I just want to see what it’s on the bookshelf, because [00:35:00] I’ve seen so many movies and played so many video games where characters are just like, kind of traipsing through these big, vast libraries.
And I just want them to slow down, you know, like I, I want, I want Nathan Drake to slow down and see what’s on those shelves before he just goes, blow it the room.
Renee: But would you, is there a particular character that you would want to have with you to help solve the mystery? Oh,
Leila del Duca: like from this book. Oh, oh, Hmm.
I mean, I think the obvious for me would be Sarah because she’s the pros of all pros there. But if she’s not there, like, of course Marie teres, because she can kick ass, both detective. And physically
Christopher Robertson: yeah, yeah. That, those would be my answers as well. So I do, like, I can’t tell you why. I like some of the other characters as much as I do, but w I would expand that roster a little bit by issue three or four.
Renee: And has the series been completely done? I [00:36:00] know you’ve been working on it for awhile. Just as a, you know, a fan when you know, how long do I have to wait for the whole series?
Leila del Duca: Well, I finished drawing it last year, in fact, right?
Christopher Robertson: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, the first issue came out, I guess, like a close to a month ago.
So yeah, it’s five issues. There’ll be coming out once a month. So you only have another three months in change to wait to see what’s going on.
Leila del Duca: Yeah, the next issue should be out next week, but I am ashamed that I don’t even know the release date of the next issue.
Christopher Robertson: Even in the before times, I never kept track of that very well because we work so far in advance and this was a book that was delayed by COVID.
Cause later I think that you were like midway through like maybe issue two or three when we got the pencils down or,
Leila del Duca: and then pencils down happened for like, was it two months total, something like that. Yeah. And [00:37:00] then we pretty quickly after that.
Christopher Robertson: Yeah. And dark horse works really far in advance anyway.
So, you know, I I’m in, I’m in a position now where we just started getting, moving again on things that had been delayed by COVID, but also like other stuff happening. There’s lots of Hellboy books. And so things just get kind of jostled, particularly if an artist that we want to be one thing is doing another thing.
So I find myself like revising scripts that I wrote like literally a year ago and having to just sit down and read them before I make notes, because I don’t remember what the hell happened. Wow.
Renee: Yeah. I think to that end, I’m really curious. Are you two going to be working on anything else coming up or no?
Leila del Duca: Yeah. Who knows? Nothing scheduled though, for sure. But yeah, I’d be open to that for
Renee: sure. Yeah. What do you both have scheduled sort of in your coming up? I mean, you mentioned quite a lot for Hellboy, but I’m curious, what are some of the [00:38:00] projects that we can look forward to from both of you coming up after this?
Christopher Robertson: Chris, do you want to go? Okay. Sure. Because if, if my answer would be very short because I don’t think anything has been announced yet I look, I think there are at least three more. Hellboy world titles that I’ve written that are either just now being drawn or are about to be drawn, but that I’ve completely finished work for.
There’s another one that I’m just waiting on the contracts for before I get started. And then I’m doing some more tie in stuff for dark horse that I super can’t talk about because I had to sign an NDA and everything. But that was super cool. Yeah, comics is weird and COVID made everything even weirder because, yeah.
Sorry. I can’t say more than that. More stuff, more stuff kind of
Renee: weird. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory [00:39:00] everyone can understand that, that sentiment for sure.
Leila del Duca: Yeah. I I’m also, well, I guess, like I can mention I’m working on to create our own series one where it will be a solo project for myself.
The other one is the SQL to afar, the graphic novel that I wrote with kid Seton. And so we’re planning on launching a Kickstarter in July, if all goes well. Kit is in the middle of a move, so it might have to get extended. So I don’t want to like say officially that’s going to happen anytime, but we’re shooting for mid July.
And then on top of that, I still have like blogging that I wanna do. I have a lead on another like two issue thing, but nothing solidified which is simultaneously free. And terrifying as a freelancer. And I also think I’m a little bit less terrified because I do know that I have a little bit of income happening because I’ll be teaching another semester at PNC.
I think it’s like the Pacific college. [00:40:00] Northern Northwestern arts or something like that. It’s, it’s a community college here in Portland, Oregon. And last semester I taught the graphic novel or intro to graphic novel class through zoom next semester is going to be in person. So yeah, I have like a scattering of things that I’m balancing right now, but nothing that I can.
Be like, yeah, by the next month or whatever, but except for the house of loss of horizon horizon. Well,
Christopher Robertson: what I, what we can say is if enough people buy and enjoy household lost horizon, that the chances of there being another Sarah jewel mystery is greatly improved because everybody on the team would love to do more.
And we sneakily very much. The house of lost horizons carries the subtitle, a Sierra jewel mystery. So that should the opportunity arise. We can do noun pronoun, another Sarah jewel mystery down the line. I would love to keep doing this forever. [00:41:00] We’ll see,
Renee: we can actually realize the Sarah Juul collection that is referenced in how boy, like now we actually have that.
Leila del Duca: yeah. Can I actually go back to that question? So is the Sarah Juul mysteries was that stuff in there before you started writing Hellboy stuff too?
Christopher Robertson: No, the character, the character grew up. That conversation that I had with Mike, the name had been in my back pocket for like 25 years. Like I, I miss heard it was, I misheard something on Letterman one time, then I saw the other that’s what he was saying.
And I was like, that’s kind of cool name. And so I’d been meaning to use it for agents. It’s an, the character came into that conversation with Mike and then she very, she appeared on page almost immediately. And then I was doing a short story approach. For a collection of whores, I think was the name of the anthology, but that was about like a twelve-year-old Hellboy, [00:42:00] like having a kind of summer romance with this, this girl, but very like, kind of.
Platonic, like he meets a kid. She is super into these kind of Nancy drew ask Sarah Joel mysteries while he’s really into weird deals. And so they kind of trade books. And I think that was the only time it’s been mentioned. I don’t think it ever came up again.
Leila del Duca: Yeah, that’s still a nice little Easter egg if anyone’s paying attention.
Yep. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Renee: In thinking about writing, right. Layla, I’m just curious, like you’re a writer, right? Do you, or do you consider yourself a writer? Maybe I should start there. And what. In thinking about your own writing, right? What, what inspires you in terms of, you know, coming up with unique stories and characters?
Cause I love this like story of, you know, that I misheard a Letterman thing and now I have a character. Right. And so I’m curious, like, do you have anything like [00:43:00] that that really comes to mind when you’re thinking about your writing?
Leila del Duca: I would want to say yes, but I can’t think of an example off the top of my mind.
My inspirations usually come out of what am I not seeing in comics right now that I want to see in comics and how can I put a fantasy or science fiction twist on it? Like, cause I, I love creating new. Creatures and worlds, people like that stuff is so fun to me. And so that’s usually the kind of stuff that I try to write.
And that’s why I wrote that for a far and was very jealous that kid got to draw it because I was writing all these, this imagery that I love drawing. Yes. And that is also where I’m going to go with my next creator on the project is to be a highly imaginative when it comes to world-building and fantasy science fiction characters and that kind of stuff.
Renee: Well, and to kind of throw it back to you, Chris, how do you in a world that is so maybe. Well known, [00:44:00] right. You know, the Hellboy universes, there’s a lot there. Right? How do you keep coming up with, you know, sort of like within that world, things that feel, you know, original and unique, which I think you do really well, and I’m just curious how you get there.
Christopher Robertson: The truth is. The strength of the world that Mike created and that he and his collaborators have expanded over the years is that it is big and diverse enough and weird enough that it supports just about any tone you want to throw it, like, like it’s, it’s, it’s like a place to tell stories. And so, like I had an idea.
I wanted to do a thing. There was a book I did with Paul grist called the visitor, how and why you stay, which is this kind of really sad meditation on loss. And I, we got to do it like if this weird alien guy falls in love and his wife dies and he said, that’s, that’s the high concept? Well, at the same time we could do kind of more kind of lighthearted stuff.
Or as is the [00:45:00] case with this, I want to do like a proper locked room, Fairplay, murder mystery. Sure. You know, that that’ll work. And I think the reality is, is, is not like trying to find interesting ways to keep that world interesting. It’s just like that world is a way that we get to tell whatever kind of stories we want to.
So I want to do like a sixties, cold war spy story. Sure. You know, do it in the world of Hellboy. And as I mentioned before that banner across the top, you know, from the world of Hellboy the Hellboy audience is really. Willing to give things a chance in ways that maybe general or general readership, maybe wouldn’t have a new thing that wasn’t tied to an existing property.
Renee: I, I feel like maybe, and maybe this is just me inferring again, you know how I like to do that, but I feel like maybe that’s because Hellboy himself is, is very for, you know, sort of, willing, you know, willing and, you know, very, just like he accepts a lot, you know, [00:46:00] so as my tape hot tea,
Christopher Robertson: I think what was so great about that character?
Is that he is placed in these really super dramatic, very intense. Sturman drag, it’s the end of the world. And he’s like, oh, shut up. You know, like he’s the voice of that character is almost commenting on the things that the writer and artist is having him do. Like, this is dumb. I’m tired of listening to your talk.
And that’s just kind of my, I think it’s, it’s the voice of Mike’s dad. Like, like that character, my dad was like a carpenter and like, so he would come home and his hands would be kind of beat up and read. Sorry, sewing and stuff. And I think that’s why hell boys. That’s
Leila del Duca: all the reason that, or one of the things I love about the Hellboy universe is that.
A person in that world could live their entire lives without seeing anything [00:47:00] supernatural or knowing anything. Or you can be a character in that world and be surrounded by the things that we find fascinating and supernatural. And so there’s just so much room to create whatever you want and whatever Johnny you want in that kind of world, the rules that were set up.
Just like allow for the infinite. It seems like. So I love that about the whole universe.
Renee: So will we see any familiar characters later on in the Sarah Juul mystery to that end?
Christopher Robertson: Well, this is a, this is a proper fair play murder mystery, which means that the reader is seeing everything that the investigator sees.
There’s nothing, it’s not a Colombo thing where the characters figured it out from the beginning of this slowly unschooling it. So.
You have almost seen everybody you’re going to see already. And then it’s just these carrots, these, these pieces moving around the clue board. There, there’s one thing that we have kept [00:48:00] behind the curtain. It’s present, but not apparent yet. But otherwise, yeah, it’s all right there.
Renee: Well, I look, I can’t say again how much I loved reading it and it was such a good first issue.
I’m really excited for all the next upcoming issues that will be released. Thank you so much for last but not least where can people find you if they want to find more of your work or just, you know, follow your journey? Cause I Yeah. I always like to let you give a little plug there.
Leila del Duca: Yeah, I’ll go first.
You can find me and pretty much anything I do by Googling me. My name is Layla Del Duca. I’m sure it’s spelled wherever you’re clicking on this link. And then my website is Laila Del duca.net, and there’s like a link to like everything, including where you can buy my books. YouTube channels My Instagram, my NC, like all of that stuff.
So just go to my website and you’ll be able to find everything from there.
Christopher Robertson: My auntie could very sad website is Chris robinson.net which I update about [00:49:00] once or twice a year with a review of whatever sitcom on most recently. I’m on Twitter as Chris underscore Robertson, where I pipe up about once a week and talk about whatever TV show or video game I’ve just been enjoying.
I used to be very angry and political all the time, but it got tiring. So now I just talk about cartoons. Yay. Yeah,
Renee: I think Twitter. Both wonderful and awful for that. Very reason is you can just, there’s so much anger and yet there’s also a lot of great people doing great things on there as well. So it’s a double edged sword for
Leila del Duca: sure.
I dream about quitting social media every day. My boyfriend knows this I’ve complained to him so much, but I don’t think I would get the amount of work that I do without it. And so, yeah, I understand the whole double-edged sword thing. I
Renee: I’ve been trying to quit and it’s not because I haven’t been successful at all, [00:50:00] but yeah.
Well, thank you both again for joining me. It’s been just a pleasure talking with you both and yeah. I encourage everyone to check out the house of lost horizons, a Sarah Juul mystery issue. Number one is available now at dark horse, and we’ll put links in the show notes for both your contacts, so people can find more about you.
Thanks again, Layla. Yeah,
Leila del Duca: thanks for the great questions.
Renee: Thanks. Yeah. And for all of you still listening, I’m Renee, and this is spoiler country.