RICH INTERVIEWS: Jack Holder Creator/Writer The Following Casework
First Comics News: Why do you enjoy writing?
Jack Holder: Writing has been such an integral part of my life. Ever since I was a kid, there were dreams and fantasies going on. Knights fighting off trolls, and new magics that explored the very nature of reality. As I started to put them down, I realized that the words in my head would change as they came on the screen, and it fascinated me. I got to do more and more.
And once I started getting into comics, the collaborative process involved not just my imagination, but that of some truly talented artists, elevating the creative scope. I love every second of that process.
1st: How did “The Following Casework” idea come into being?
Jack: In 2018, I was finishing up a Master’s degree in divinity, specializing in Church and the Arts. I was trying to figure out how to describe god and gods in the twenty-first century. Because I was a grad student, I was on my phone in class, and the idea of what a god of Twitter would look like. From there, things started to spin fantastically out of control.
1st: How would you describe the story in “The Following Casework”?
Jack: What is the cost of belief? Gods are real, and they are gone, but the remnants of the power of belief are very much growing. Titus and Bev are seeing new gods and old start to co-mingle with a world that really isn’t ready for it.
This story is one that is based on self-discovery through external adventures. What does finding a new god say about those who found it? And can you find the capacity to believe in today’s world?
1st: What type of personalities do Titus and Bev have?
Jack: Titus is a man who has seen the worst that humanity, deity, and the world has had to offer, and is trying to see the joy. He is fascinated by each and every foible of a world that is reopening itself up to fantasy. So he does kooky things like stand on his head, go up on church roofs, and delve into conversations with witches. But still, he hides things, a past that he’s ashamed of, and never seems to come up with a straight answer.
Bev has seen the world’s pains, but unlike Titus, they have been flung at her. Deeply cynical, she follows Titus to keep him in check, as well as the hope that maybe he can prove her wrong. She is straightforward, has seen it all, and is developing an ethical viewpoint to take on the world.
1st: Besides yourself who made up the creative team on “The Following Casework”?
Jack: Lucas Santos is a Brazilian artist. While he is just starting out, his talent for expression and character design are some of my favorites.
Chunlin Zhao is a perfect colorist for us. She has worked on Scout Comics’ “Wretches,” and her ability to take magic and make it glow is treasured.
Micah Myers is the veteran of our team. The letterer has worked with Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, and a host of indie publishers. Micah’s work helps keep us grounded.
And our editor Tracy Konopka keeps sanity. She is able to wade through the script and pages, making sure everything makes sense.
1st: What can you tell us about the new god in “The Following Casework” that makes this god unique?
Jack: Because she started off human. Godhood now is becoming something of a fluid statement. Are we believed in because of the amazing things we can do? Or can we do amazing things because we are believed in?
1st: What are “Dealing with the Apocalypse” and “Demon Riders” all about?
Jack: Dealing with the Apocalypse is my very first book. A collection of short stories that delved into what happens in a world that seemingly ends in nuclear fallout, but keeps going with the advent of magic. What happens immediately after the end? A century later? A millennia later?
Demon Riders is set in that same world, a thousand years into the future. A fantasy western that places a half-demon girl alongside a legendary demon hunter. Kait and Harsk try to navigate their own relationship as they battle demons, old gods, Texans, chimera, and all sorts on the plains.
1st: How was Arcane Inkdustries formed?
Jack: Arcane Inkdustries became the title of my personal story outlet. The tagline “Magical Musings in a Mundane world,” has remained true. Up until this year, we were constantly expanding throughout New England’s convention scene, as well as publishing prose books through Amazon.
1st: What do you see in the future for Arcane Inkdustries?
Jack: There are a bevy of new projects, both in prose and comics. We are going to finish up this arc for The Following Casework, release a four-book prose series for The Lost Heroines, and launch the next anthology I’m editing, “The Great Command Meant.” And that might bring us just up through the new year, where I have several ideas that are just starting to bear fruit.
I hope to make Arcane Inkdustries a real publishing imprint. Bringing in creators with comics, prose, and perhaps even more that challenge the very boundaries of their mediums. Daring to write that book you always dreamed of and helping lay the groundwork for major debates. All while producing some of the finest works in the industry.
1st: Where do you find inspiration from?
Jack: Mostly people. Whether it be from historical accounts, word on the street, or even my wife pointing out a beauty in the sky. There is so much about this world and the people in it that make me ask “well, what happens if…” and suddenly there is a story idea or a character.
Add in theological discussions, and suddenly everything becomes far more complex, and I love it.
1st: Do you have any plans to write more comics or books?
Jack: Plenty! We are not going to be slowing down at all. I may change direction a little bit, but I hope to keep writing for at least another fifty years.
A couple of things that we have in the works beyond those mentioned above would be a sequel to Demon Riders, a new urban fantasy series, and an epic fantasy comic book.
1st: Which other writers or authors would you recommend?
Jack: William Paul Young, author of “The Shack,” is by far one of my favorite pieces of Christian Fiction. His narrative structure and theology are built to be digested by those who are coming in fresh-faced and just wanting to read something different.
And if you haven’t yet read Hiromu Arakawa’s “Fullmetal Alchemist,” it is one of the best pieces of literature produced in the last twenty-five years. It’s manga, it’s awesome, it delves into some of the biggest topics of any age.
1st: How do you spend any free time you get?
Jack: Working on a new house, playing video games on Xbox, and watching way too much television with my amazing wife. No matter what, there’s always something new to work on, but we always manage to end the day reading a few pages of something to relax with. Cannot recommend that ritual highly enough.
1st: Any last words for all of your fans?
Jack: Thank you. You are such a blessing, I wish I could express just how much.