Interview: Rich Douek on IDW’s Road of Bones

Road of Bones #1

Road of Bones #1


Rich Douek is known for writing comics such as Gutter Magic, Wailing Blade, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe. Now he joins with artist Alex Cormack for the spine-tingling Road of Bones from IDW. Westfield’s Roger Ash chatted with Douek to learn more about this new series.

Westfield: Where did this story come from?

Rich Douek: I was researching prison breaks in general, for a different story, and I came across some really interesting stories about the Gulag. Some were factual, others were semi-fictional, like campfire stories. There was a whole culture and body of lore that grew up around the camps, and the more I dove into it, the more this story started to take shape.

Road of Bones #1 preview page 1

Road of Bones #1 preview page 1


Westfield: What can you tell us about Road of Bones and who are the main characters involved?

Douek: Road of Bones takes place in the 1950s, at the height of Josef Stalin’s oppressive regime. It was a time when an off-color joke at a party could get you sent away to Siberia for 20 years of hard labor – and that’s exactly what happened to our main character Roman. He’s been in the camps for a while at the start of the story, and has made the best of it that he could – but it’s a deadly place – not only because of the brutal environment, but from the guards and warring prison gangs that rule over everyone. Roman’s best friend in the camps is Sergei, another political prisoner who introduces him to Grigori, a lieutenant in one of the prison gangs – the Vor. It’s Grigori and Sergei who bring Roman into their escape plans – and with life in the camps being so hopeless, he agrees to go with them.

Westfield: How much research did you do on both the Siberian Gulag of Kolyma and the mythology involved in the story?

Douek: I did a lot of research into both non-fictional and fictional accounts of life in the Gulag system, and escape stories. I also researched the period of time the story was set in, the various gang factions, and stuff like that. In addition, Alex did research into how things from that era looked – things like the prison uniforms, and the camp buildings, to ensure they look as authentic as possible. As far as the mythology goes, I got a little bit of it from my grandparents, but I did more research into folklore on my own, to get a better sense of how the culture at large viewed the figures and creatures I am using.

Road of Bones #1 preview page 2

Road of Bones #1 preview page 2


Westfield: The creep factor in the first issue is pretty high. What influences helped shape the story?

Douek: Horror was never a genre that I felt was a natural fit for me – I’ve always been more attracted to fantasy and science fiction. So I read a lot of horror comics in preparation for taking this on – from people who I feel are modern masters of the genre. A couple of books that I can reference are Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Gideon Falls, and Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County. One thing those books all do really well is build an atmosphere of creeping tension and dread – and that’s what I sought to emulate with Road of Bones.

Westfield: Adding greatly to the mood of the story is Alex Cormack’s art. How did you come to collaborate with him?

Douek: I’ve known Alex as a talented artist for many years now, but it wasn’t until I saw his work in the indie horror book, Sink, with John Lees, that I knew he would be perfect for this project. I think one of Alex’s strongest suits is building atmosphere – and he does a lot of great, subtle and not-so-subtle things to create the feeling of tension and creepiness that really make the story work. He’s also great at violence and gore… which we’ll get to as the series moves forward, haha.

Road of Bones #1 preview page 3

Road of Bones #1 preview page 3


Westfield: Any closing comments?

Douek: I just want to say that I think people will be happily surprised by Road of Bones – I know that personally, I surprised myself as I was writing it. If you’re familiar with me as an SF/F writer mainly, you’re going to see something new here, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. It’s an intense story, with a lot of twists and turns – dark horror, and black humor. I had a great time writing it, and I hope you have a great time reading it.

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