Research Ramps Up The Rage For Rasputin
Aug 31, 2017
by Vince Brusio
One of the most fascinating personalities in pre-Soviet Union Russia was a strange man named Rasputin. The subject of essays and documentaries, Rasputin was shrouded in mystery, said to have powers, and according to writer Chris Roberson he practiced magic for the Third Reich. Don’t believe us? It’s true! Check out what Roberson had to say in this PREVIEWSword Exclusive interview for Dark Horse Comics’ upcoming 5-issue mini-series Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon (SEP170033).
Vince Brusio: Rasputin was said to be a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man. He was a larger-than-life figure in the family of Russian Tsar Nicholas II, and was inseparable from the favor of the imperial Russian’s wife because he was thought to have power that kept their son alive (who was diagnosed as a hemophiliac). As this “Mad Monk” is a fascinating personality prior to the Russian revolution, will any of this background be re-interpreted in Rasputin: The Voice of the Dragon #1 (SEP170033), or will you be focusing more on alternative fiction independent of the past, and how Rasputin himself plays a role in World War II?
Chris Roberson: We allude to the historical events surrounding the real Grigori Rasputin, but this is very much the version of the character that Mignola introduced in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, so we’re primarily focusing on the fictional biography presented there, about what happened to Rasputin after he supposedly drowned in the Neva River.
Vince Brusio: Professor Bruttenholm is another exceptional character to say the least. He’s graduated from Oxford. He was an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was murdered by a frog monster. How many people can say they’ve led that life? But what we’re going to be focusing on in this story is where his life intersects with Rasputin, correct? What new side of Bruttenholm will we see in this story? Regarding Bruttenholm’s activities, what catches the camera eye?
Chris Roberson: Trevor Bruttenholm is our primary point of view character for the series, and when the story begins he is working as an analyst for British intelligence at Bletchley Park in the early days of the war. We know from passing mentions in previous stories and in the pages of Hellboy: The Companion that Trevor worked with British intelligence during the war, in addition to carrying out his own occult investigations, and much of the inspiration behind telling this story was the opportunity to explore what he was up to during the war years, and what experiences he had that might have shaped him into the kind of man who would decide to adopt an infant demon when it appeared before him in a puff of smoke.
Vince Brusio: There’s a long period of time when Russia and Germany were at each other’s throats. And the same holds true for the relationship between Russia and Japan. Were there any other historical references you may have examined in formulating the plot for The Voice of the Dragon #1? Any unanswered questions that you thought were worthy of resurrection as they could be used in your plot structure?
Chris Roberson: The germ of an idea that this story grew from came from a long dinner conversation in Chicago between me, Mike Mignola, and Christopher Mitten, and a lot of the discussion revolved around the real historical events of the war that would make for interesting hooks for a story. In particular, I’d done a lot of research over the years into the UK’s Special Operations Executive and their operations behind enemy lines, and that coupled with the Germans’ wartime obsession with the occult (both in real life and in the pages of previous Hellboy stories) provided the seeds from which this story grew. And Christopher was lined up to draw the series, even before the series had a name!
Vince Brusio: What was the most challenging aspect of working on this project? What was responsible for revisions, or several cups of coffee throughout the day?
Chris Roberson: I am a nut for research, and have a tendency to get overly obsessed with ways of working in real historical minutia into a story. Thankfully, I have collaborators like Mike and our editors Scott Allie and Katii O’Brien, who remind me that what I find personally fascinating might not always be as enthralling to readers, and that instead of doing a six-page sequence about how Trevor Bruttenholm is trained how to use a parachute by the spy masters at the Special Operations Executive, that we could simply drop in a narrative caption explained that Trevor was hastily trained to do so and then cut to him jumping out of a plane.
Vince Brusio: Will you be appearing at any other remaining comic conventions this year to promote the book? If not, is there any particular web sites or social sites fans can consult to get more information about this upcoming mini-series?
Chris Roberson: I will be appearing at Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon in September, but after that I’ll be home, chained to my desk and working on new scripts! But if anyone wants to keep up with my antics online (albeit mostly about cartoons, Star Wars, and politics) they can follow me on Twitter at @chris_roberson.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.