HOW TO DIE Exclusive: Joshua Plack On The SPIDER-MAN Inspirations Of The Lovecraftian Horror Mini-Series

HOW TO DIE <font color=red>Exclusive:</font> Joshua Plack On The SPIDER-MAN Inspirations Of The Lovecraftian Horror Mini-Series

When we spoke with indie comic book creator Joshua Plack about the rhyme scheme in his masterpiece Eudaimonia, we also got the opportunity to touch on his newest comic project, How to Die. Check it out!

We recently caught up with Joshua Plack (Eudaimonia) about his comic book projects, and while we had previously learned about his mini-series Eudaimonia, this time, he told us about his newest series, How to Die, which recently doubled its funding goal over on Indiegogo.

The new book should pique the interest of horror lovers and fans of cosmic Lovecraftian fiction. Plack also explained to us how Clue inspired the mini-series to be released with three different endings, meaning depending on what issue you receive, you don't know which one to expect.

The writer and comic book creator described in detail exactly how Spider-Man and the struggles Peter Parker faces as a man influences his new five-part series.

Click the podcast player below to hear our chat with comic scribe Joshua Plack. To enhance the Spider-Man portion of our talk, we have also included our conversations with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse director Peter Ramsey (Godzilla, Independence Day) and Marvel's Spider-Man voice actor Robbie Daymond (Digimon, Sailor Moon).

1m 22s - Joshua Plack: How to Die is somewhat a predator natural Lovecraft-Esque horror series; it will be launching a new issue every Halloween. It will be an ongoing mini-series with five issues, but the last issue will have three different endings. So depending on which one you get, it'll have a different conclusion to it.

1m 40s - Literary Joe: Is that the first time you've integrated something like that into one of your works?

1m 48s - Joshua Plack: Yeah. I wrote this story a decade ago before I even studied storytelling and went back to college. I decided it'd be cool to rewrite it, and if something didn't stick with me, that meant it wasn't worth keeping. So, I restructured it and rewrote it, with the things that stuck in my head. The series, as it goes on, its like a kid dumping out his box of toys. I realized that I have these characters that can have different winners, different conclusions. Some can team up together.

2m 40s - Literary Joe: Did you look to anything specifically for inspiration when it comes to that editing? Where did that idea first come to you from?

3m 0s - Joshua Plack: One of my favorite films of all time is Clue. It had that thing where you get different endings depending on when you go to the theater. I always thought that was neat, even though that was before I was old enough to be going to the movie. I've always loved the story itself. Weirdly enough, it's inspired by Spider-Man. That Spider-Man is probably my favorite comic-book series of all time. The things I enjoy about comic-books are humans rather than the super-humans. It's cool to have these gods wrestling with one another. But, what I find compelling is what that says about humanity and the experiences of Man. And for me, Spider-Man is a story about learning responsibility and transitioning from childhood into adulthood.

If you happen not to know, Spider-Man was conceived when the teenage identity didn't exist. We were figuring out that there was this period in a person's life where they learned how to be an adult. Now, that is one of the major themes of How to Die. It's arrested development, and people in their twenties trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves, what they want to be and wrestling with everything from apathy to depression.

17m 55s - Literary Joe: Is there anything you can tease about Eudaimonia or How to Die for what's to come in the future?

18m 6s - Joshua Plack: How to Die has an unconventional story structure. It's about a villain that does terrible things for good reasons. You have a villain like in the Dark Knight, Heath Ledger's Joker. He makes sense. It's insane, and it's wrong, but he makes sense paired with a hero that is doing good for all of the wrong reasons. There are stories woven together where one creates the other. It's about Bishop; he works at a video store, orders Chinese, watches movies, and does it every day. When his life starts to fall apart, he realizes that anything would be better than to carry on like this. So rather than doing anything to correct his course, he steers into his demise, and by doing so, he unknowingly makes himself prey for the Black Ice.

19m 16s - Joshua Plack: The Black Ice is a Hunter who skims the surface of mankind for the betterment of the herd. He is doing what he thinks will make mankind better. He is somewhat a supernatural force. The people in this universe get these supernatural superpowers not from their strength but their deplorableness. If somebody is about to die and are a terrible enough person, they can save themselves from death. If they know how to die by conjuring a supernatural ability that rescued them, and then those superpower's stay with them, and then they can carry on in that way.

20m 6s - Literary Joe: As far as the rhyme scheme aspect, will there be rhyming in How to Die as well?

20m 15s - Joshua Plack: No, How to Die is a more proper comic. I can tell you that it's going to be interesting because there is as little dialogue as possible. I wanted to be telling stories with images. You're not going to have word balloons all over the page. When somebody says something, it's going to be important.

20m 45s - Literary Joe: Do you have the same artists on that project as you did for Diamond here?

21m 50s - Joshua Plack: I did not. If you ever read A History of Violence, the art's interesting. It's black and white, the writing is awful, but it's black and white, and it's very minimalistic. It makes use of a black and white color palette effectively. That's what I'm going for. Cause in Diamond Mia, it's an exploration of life's potential for beauty. How to Die is something in the opposite direction. I thought that a darker palette would be more fitting. I learned from self-printing that when you print a book, you're either paying for color or paying for black and white, but your inside-outside covers can be color no matter what. The book is in black and white, but the first and the last page, the inside of the front-back cover, will be these color punches in the face. They wake you up and then close things out with a bang. You are going to see the color. You're going to read the book, get lulled into this black and white and gray color scheme, and then bam at the end.

22m 49s - Nick Brooks: Are you trying to capture that tone of the unknown and the bleakness that Lovecraft has always been very adept at bringing to life? Or are you reinventing the wheel in terms of that style of storytelling per se?

23m 13s - Joshua Plack: One of the things that have always driven me is sublime, something not many people point out. Lovecraft is a great example. Sublime is the idea that you can look at something and be simultaneously ruptured or rocked with fear. But at the same time, be drawn to it for being unknown. It's something I love, and it's not a difficult thing to work with you. When I said this is as little dialogue as possible, the more you explain it, the less of a sublime effect you will have. So, trying to keep things as unknown and alluring as possible, I think that for me is sublime Lovecraft.

*This interview has been edited for clarity. Comic Brooks co-hosts audio.


 

Since the onset of life it has thrived upon the back of one simple axiom; so shall needs grow so too will life's ability to meet them. But man is not a finch reaching for nectar and dancing along driftwood on teeming shores. Man is not happy to live out an adequate existence with all of his needs met. Man needs struggle, and if he can't find war he will make it within himself.


It is 2020 and there is little that mankind truly strives for. With nothing for his evolutionary make-up to fight against it collapses in on itself. The need for need becomes the need. Survival of the fittest is erased as the strong still wrestle with carving meaning from existence. So in this new struggle, only the very worst among us will thrive.


You can find your copy of How to Die here.

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