Interview: Rich Douek on Sea of Sorrows from IDW

Sea of Sorrows #1 Alex Cormack cover

Sea of Sorrows #1 Alex Cormack cover

Rich Douek has written Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gutter Magic, and the popular horror comic, Road of Bones. He teams again with Road artist Alex Cormack for Sea of Sorrows, a tale of terror set in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Douek shares some tantalizing tidbits about the series with Westfield’s Roger Ash.

Westfield: Road of Bones was inspired by true events. Is the same true for Sea of Sorrows?

Rich Douek: Sea of Sorrows is also inspired by true events, but in a slightly different way than Road of Bones. Whereas with Road, we were looking directly at a horrific situation in the gulag, here, we are more looking at the aftermath of WWI, and how it affected people. But, we are drawing on historic events for sure – for example, the submarine the crew is trying to salvage was a real ship that disappeared during the war – there are little details like that threading their way through the story, that we hope people will appreciate and pick up on.

Westfield: How much research did you do for the story?

Douek: A lot! It was interesting because Alex and I not only had to learn about diving, salvage operations, and oceanography, but also we also had to learn about the state of all those things and more in the 1920s! So, for example, things like how deep divers of the time could realistically go, what technology and techniques were used to salvage ships, all of those subjects were things we wanted to educate ourselves on. One great thing about the diving community is that there are a lot of people who are really interested in the history of it, as well as the practice, so we were able to find a wealth of information out there that helped inform us.

Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book?

Douek: As with Road of Bones, they can expect a taut, tense thriller, where our characters are pushed to the very edge of sanity. But we didn’t want to just repeat everything note for note, so we definitely have some surprises up our sleeve that will set Sea of Sorrows apart from both Road of Bones, and other horror stories out there.

Sea of Sorrows #1 Katie Sawatsky incentive cover

Sea of Sorrows #1 Katie Sawatsky incentive cover

Westfield: Who are the main characters readers will meet?

Douek: Two characters we follow  are men that were on opposite sides of the war, and both remain haunted by it in different ways. Nick Shoals is the chief diver on the Vagabond, and he’s sought out the silence of the deep as a place to hide from the horrors he experienced in the trenches. Albrecht Pfeiffer had a very different experience of the ocean as an officer on the U-boat, Bremen. For him, it’s a place of horror and danger – but also opportunity, as he knows the final resting place of the ship, and its gold.

Then there’s the crew of the Vagabond herself – on one side, you have Deke Harlow, the captain, and an incorrigible gambler – this voyage is his last chance to clear his debts – but to make sure he doesn’t run off with the gold, the mobsters he owes to have sent along “Sunny” Jim Hawkins and a gang of bruisers to keep an eye on him – so tensions are running high before they even find the sunken ship.

Westfield: You’re working again with artist Alex Cormack. What makes this a good collaboration?

Douek: I’ve loved Alex’s artwork since the first panel I saw of it, and working on Road of Bones also made me love him as a collaborator. He has amazing attention to detail and always brings great ideas to the table when we’re discussing how the pages and covers will look.

It’s a great collaboration because we’ve learned how to build upon each other’s strengths and combine our perspectives of what the book can be. This helps us create a unified vision that’s stronger than what either of us could do on our own.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Douek: I say it a lot, but Road of Bones was my first venture into writing horror, and the response I got to it was fantastic. I hope that Sea of Sorrows will show readers how much I’ve come to love the genre, and that I have a lot of great, dark tales to tell. Alex and I both hope that everyone that enjoyed Road of Bones will come on this little ocean trip with us, and stick around for even more when we’re done.