Ripperman is a labor of love for Joe Martino. He has been working on the character for more then 20 years; of course the early work wasn’t for publication. But he has carried the Ripperman with him for a long time. This October Ripperman will be collected in a new trade paperback from Arcana. Joe Martino stopped by First Comics News to let our readers know what to expect from Ripperman.
First Comics News: Who is Ripperman?
Joe Martino: He is a character that I created in late 1987. At that time, as well as today, it seemed as though all you heard about were that people were being killed and worse! I kept wondering, ‘Where is God in all of this? Why doesn’t he do something?’ Receiving no answer, I came up with one in the darkest reaches of my mind… What if God and the Devil got together and created a killer of killers? That was all the incentive I needed. The Ripperman was born! The Ripperman was born out of the necessity for someone to dole out vengeance and justice to those who would have otherwise escaped their deserved ends.”
1st: Why can’t Joseph remember who he is at the beginning of the story?
Joe: Because he didn’t exist before that day. He was actually “born” that day on the steps of that small church in Timeless, NY.
Joe: He is on his own side and as people will see he has reason to hate both sides. It really is a story about finding your way in a world that you just don’t understand. Ripperman needs to find his own place in the world not whoever is trying to control him. It is also a story of redemption and picking yourself up after a big loss.
1st: Both God and the Devil play a role in the story.
Joe: I use God and the Devil as characters the same way some writers use Zeus or Hades. I wanted to make people think a little bit and using these higher or lower beings just made sense to me. I am not a highly religious person but I do believe in a higher power.
1st: For your purposes how do you describe God?
Joe: At the point where we meet him in this story he is regretting his decision to work with the devil. He sends Gabriel to watch over Ripperman but not get involved but as we see Gabriel gets really involved and God is not happy.
1st: Were you concerned that God would not appear Godly enough?
Joe: I don’t know that I captured the essence of God but I did my best to show a god that although omnipotent, he is still an angry and a passionate god who cares about his people.
Joe: Because as he said, the days of raining a plague on mankind are over. He wants a more subtle way. He wants a warrior on earth that will be a protector of man but also a tool of vengeance on a world where there is little justice.
1st: How do you describe the Devil?
Joe: A pure black soul. Charming, devious, scary. He hasn’t done much more than torture Ripperman. But he wants Ripperman to join him and be his instrument of evil. The devil believes that Ripperman is the key to him getting back into heaven.
1st: Is someone who is the murderer of murderers a hero, or just another murder?
Joe: There are different kinds of justice. I don’t see Ripperman as a hero. He isn’t dressing up in a uniform or keeping a secret identity. He really doesn’t even want to be what he is. But he is working towards accepting his fate and molding his life around that. I believe that there are some crimes that there is no redemption for and Ripperman is a perfect tool for that.
1st: As a spirit of Vengeance, how does Ripperman differ from say the Spectre or Ghost Rider?
Joe: The Spector and Ghost Rider were both human at some point. Also, he is not a spirit. There is no transformation. Ripperman was created and born to do what he is doing. He is an angel and demon together and this sort of hybrid existence is what makes the character interesting. He has to actually learn about humanity. This is why God puts him where he does. He has to learn how to be a good man, from a good man.
1st: What about redemption, can the guilty be granted mercy?
Joe: Ripperman doesn’t go after the guy who accidentally kills someone with their car. He is going after people and creatures that revel in making people scream and beg for their life. He is going after people who do deplorable acts to children or women. These are people who there is no redemption for. And he will make mistakes along the way. There is a gradual progression where we see a being that kills without thinking about it to a man who learns how to prevent such acts before they happen.
1st: The last line of the story is “The Beginning”, when can we expect to see more of the Ripperman?
Joe: I have more Ripperman stories in the works. I’d like to think this is only the beginning.