As you may recall, I was given the unique opportunity to review The Ghost Butterfly, a thoughtful and emotional narrative set amongst an apocalyptic setting. The comic touched on heavy themes such as isolation and guilt that kept me hooked from start to finish (you can find my review here). I was given the chance to ask some questions to the writer and creator Rick Quinn. We discuss his influences, how he got to know the story’s artist, and what current projects he is now working on. With that, read on:
AP2HYC: In your own words, can you provide a brief summary for The Ghost Butterfly?
Rick Quinn: The Ghost Butterfly is about someone immersed in grief and hopelessness searching an irradiated, post-apocalyptic world for the person they love. I have many friends and am a joy to hang out with, why do you ask?
AP2HYC: Where did your love for creating comics begin? What were some of your favourite titles?
Quinn: I grew up reading Spider-Man comics; particularly reprints of the early Stan Lee/ Steve Ditko stuff. I was bullied pretty relentlessly as a kid and so the character of Peter Parker deeply resonated with me. I loved how Spider-Man used self-deprecating humour to deflect from his fears and insecurities (see previous answer). And I liked that he had a secret identity that none of his classmates knew from which he drew an inner strength and belief in himself. I loved to draw – that was my secret identity that no one knew. Ever since, I’ve wanted to tell stories in a visual medium.
AP2HYC: How did you come to work with Martyn Lorbiecki on The Ghost Butterfly? Have you worked together prior to this?
Quinn: I found Martyn through Tumblr. I had posted a preview of my previous comic, Saltwater, a Sci-Fi/action-adventure one-shot I had done with Dane Obera, and Martyn was one of the first people to ‘like’ the post. To this day, I have no clue how he even happened to come across it. I scrolled through his portfolio and knew right away I had found someone utterly unique and idiosyncratic – and a perfect fit for The Ghost Butterfly – so I emailed him and before I knew it he was sending me concept sketches and thumbnails and we were geeking out over Nils Frahm, Philip K. Dick, and Akira.
AP2HYC: Did Martyn have much influence on the narrative? Did his artwork change certain parts of the story?
Quinn: Absolutely. I had written the first draft years earlier; once I saw Martyn’s work, I went back and added in certain details specific to him – like the robot helpers on the opening page. During the initial thumb nailing stage, Martyn made several suggestions – all of which were incorporated into the final product. The most effective change he made was transforming a dramatic splash page I had written from a fiery nuclear explosion… to a quiet moment where a character is quietly snuffed out of existence. He turned a bombastic, over-the-top beat into a tender, wrenchingly heart-breaking one. The colour aesthetic of the radiated environment was his idea too, which gives the narrative a kind of eerily beautiful, otherworldly feel that I think helps distinguish it from other post-apocalypse stories.
AP2HYC: The Ghost Butterfly carries very emotional themes throughout a rather bleak setting. What was the inspiration behind the narrative? Why did you want to present this story?
Quinn: The initial inspiration actually came from a photograph I found online one day of a Japanese man sitting cross-legged on a tatami mat in a tiny hotel room, smoking a cigarette. He was part of the crew that was working to clean up the radioactive exclusion zone left in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown. Researching the disaster, I came across a BBC News article about butterflies found near the accident site displaying strange abnormalities. Exposure to radiation had caused them to mutate. They became pale, almost translucent. From that point, I knew the story had to involve someone in a hazmat suit finding a ghost-like butterfly. The details in between came later and in a more mysterious, intuitive fashion.
AP2HYC: What is next for The Ghost Butterfly? Is there potential for further stories in this world?
Quinn: I think one of the aspects of making The Ghost Butterfly that appealed to us was the fact that it was a self-contained short story. This is it for this ‘world’, although I’m sure Martyn and I will be revisiting the genre and several of its themes again in future projects.
AP2HYC: And is there any future titles in the works that you’d like to discuss at the moment?
Quinn: Martyn and I are beginning work on a new project, Uncanny Valley, which will be anthology-like in nature. The first story for it we have planned, entitled Earworm, was co-written with Milton Lawson. I’ve got a true crime mini-series title Mint Condition with the artist Kyle Hebert that we’re just beginning to pitch. Dana and I have an original graphic novel we’re developing, kind of a manga/cyberpunk homage. I have a few unannounced projects that are currently in the works as well as trying some new genres: fantasy and superheroes. If you’re interested in following along, I’m on Twitter and I have a monthly newsletter you can subscribe to as well!
Thanks for spending the time answering our question, Rick. We here at AP2HYC wish you all the best on this and your future projects. If you wish to see more content from Rick, don’t forget to check out his aforementioned Twitter, which also has a behind the scenes look at this title! (Of which I’ll include a link to that post here). I’ll also include a link to Martyn Lorbiecki’s Twitter, show your support to this amazing artist!