A few months ago I was in my local comic shop, picking up my books, when I noticed a new series sitting on the rack. I picked it up and flipped through it and immediately decided to get it. That book was Dark Engine #1. I have been a huge fan ever since that moment. The story is so complex and dark, and the artwork mimics that essence perfectly. There are very few series that I can go back and read again when they’ve only been out for a few months, but this is one that I re-read almost monthly.
I reached out to Dark Engine writer/creator Ryan Burton for an interview, and he kindly obliged. Check out our conversation below!
4LN: Can you pinpoint your love of comics back to a specific moment, or event, in life?
Ryan Burton: Sort of. Memories coalesce. There’s glimpses of me on the playground acting like I
was a Super Saiyan with my good pals…running around shooting fireballs at each other;
then, after school, going to the corner store and buying the latest issue of X-Men or
Wild C.A.T.s while playing a fistful of quarters’ worth of Street Fighter II. I’ve never really
been uninterested in comics, so it seems—it feels—like it was always there.
4LN: When did you know that writing comics was something you wanted to pursue?
RB: In college, my then-girlfriend/now-wife stepped on my copy of New X-Men #121. She
ripped in such a way that, despite my terror, I caught a glimpse of the credits page. Prior
to that, I was happily ignorant to the fact that quite a bit of dedication and production
went into creating a comic. But in that moment, that moment of clarity, everything
seemed to click.
4LN: How did you officially get your start in the comics industry?
RB: JH Williams III saw what John Bivens and I were working on, and he’d asked whom I was
planning on pitching it to. He’d mentioned our project to Eric Stephenson, and about a
month later, we pitched our book. The first issue of Dark Engine saw the day of light
roughly eight months after.
4LN: Where did the inspiration for your current Image Comics series, Dark Engine, come
RB: Oof. This question, man. Put simply, it was mix of all the dark fantasy that I grew up
with, and became reacquainted with later in life. Swords, monsters, that sort of thing.
But I was really drawn to that unstoppable force of nature—that Conan, that Kratos-
type character. I just knew that I wanted a female lead, and that’s where the story
began to take shape.
4LN: One of the greatest things, for me, about Dark Engine, is the artwork. Your art team,
John Bivens and Kelly Fitzpatrick, are absolutely incredible. How did you connect with
them for this book?
RB: They’re incredible, aren’t they? Yeah, I’m terribly lucky to be working with such talented
creators. I’ve known John for roughly five years or so. We met on an old Ellis board, I
think. Incidentally, Kelly came as a recommendation from Jordie Bellaire, and she
jumped into the series at issue two, much to our delight. My favorite part of the whole
process is seeing what these two come up with after I send a script in.
4LN: I’ll avoid any specifics so as to keep from spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read
it yet, but Sym, the main character so far, has quickly become one of my favorite
female comic book characters. She’s just such a bad-ass! I’m a little worried about her
future after issue #4 though… Can you tell us anything about what we can expect in
the next few issues of Dark Engine?
RB: There’s a lot of change. Change in settings, change in motivations. The stakes are higher,
and while all the players work their way through the overall narrative, Sym will be
changing visually and emotionally. We’ll also get to see how a colossus dies, a dragon
survives poisoning, and how a killer can become a savior.
4LN: This next set of questions is our lightening round. Just answer with the first thing that
comes to mind… What’s your all-time favorite graphic novel?
RB: Joann Sfar’s adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
4LN: If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
RB: The Very Best of Otis Redding, Vol 1.
4LN: What fictional character (comic or not) do you feel you can relate to the most?
RB: Maybe Finn from Adventure Time?
4LN: What’s your absolute favorite thing to cook?
4LN: What established comic book character would you jump at the chance to write,and why?
RB: Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Batwoman. I’m getting bored of stories with straight white male protagonists.
4LN: Last question: Best movie Santa… Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, Ed Asner in Elf, or Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa?
RB: I prefer the Ghostbusters wearing Sa nta Claus hats, which happened in part 2, right?
If you’re looking for an awesome new sci-fi adventure series, you can’t go wrong with Dark Engine. The first trade collection is out today and issue #5 will be released in February. Ryan was kind enough to also provide us some preview pages of issue 5. Check them out below and head down to your local LCS to pick up Dark Engine vol 1 today!