REVIEW/INTERVIEW: Gutter Magic TPB by Douek and Barkley

Be what you want to be . . . but if you can be anything; BE A DRAGON!

Rich Douek pens and Brett Barkley illustrates this Inception like journey into Cinder Byrnes quest to be a wizard.

The story takes place in New York a century after very different WWII. This war was not won by the Atomic bomb, it was won with Magic. The work is a beautiful amalgamation of mystic arts and science fiction in an alternate history. The script has a cinematic kind of feel to it complete with some memorable one liners. I would buy tickets to watch this on the big screen any day! I especially enjoyed the vast cast of character squeezed into a four issue run. None of these characters were treated as inconsequential, which gives me hope for more Gutter Magic from Cinder and crew.

The art team of Brett Barkley, Jules Rivera and Nic Shaw added depth to the cast of characters. Additionally, this fine group gave me a big ass dragon splash page!!!! The panel design flows so well I surprised how quickly I finished my first read of this trade.


I cannot praise this book highly enough and after reading Rich’s description of what it took to get this beauty in print I feel as if anything I can say will fall short of an adequate description. I can say I will be adding this book to my shelf and perhaps I can even get this fine team to sign it for me.

My one criticism is, I WANT MORE GUTTER MAGIC!

What say you, Rich?

I was so impressed with this book I decided to reach out to Rich Douek with a few questions and he was more than happy to take some time  for fans.

CC: What sparked your interest in writing comics?

Rich: Comics are some of the first books I remember reading as a kid, and I kept up with reading them well into my teenage years, when my local comic shop was the coolest place in the neighbourhood to hang out. I wrote and doodled my own comics when I was in high school, but didn’t really approach writing them professionally until later – still, it was those experiences I had when I was younger that really inspired me to pursue it seriously.

CC: Where did the seed of Gutter Magic begin?

Rich: Gutter Magic sprouted from my desire to write an epic fantasy story – something like Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones, which I’m sure is an impulse pretty much every fantasy fan has at some point in their lives. However, I found myself getting bored with some of the tropes I was using, and really wanted to put a spin on the story I had in mind that I had never seen before – which is where I hit on using an alternate history of our world as a setting – and the rest flowed from there.

CC: The societal hierarchy in Gutter Magic runs strikingly similar to actual society, can you explain the importance of this theme to you personally?

Rich: It’s no secret that the gap between the rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, is the widest it’s been since the gilded age. It affects all of us, and I’ve felt it personally in terms of the challenges it takes to get by, and raise a family in a society that tolerates such a huge gulf between the rich and the poor. While there’s no technical barrier to earning money, in the real world, we all know that the gulf Is practically insurmountable – and that’s something I chose to embody in the separation between the magic-using class and everyone else.

CC: What current or historic comic writer would you say influences your work?

Rich: For me, it’s a little hard to separate writers and artists in terms of influence, because as I’ve learned, the interplay between collaborators means that both writers and artists are ultimately responsible for the stories we love.

So for example, I’d say that the one book that has had the most influence on me is Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis, and Darick Robertson. And if I answered the question by just saying Warren Ellis, that would make it seem like it would have been the same book with someone other than Darick on art – which I don’t think is true.

That being said, though, I do find Warren to be a writer whose work consistently surprises and inspires me, and he’s been a huge influence on my own work.

CC: Can you give us a scoop on what we can expect from Cinder and the Gutter Magic title?

Rich: We’ve got a few different projects in the works, one which will be announced at some point this summer. The response to Gutter Magic has been great, and we definitely want to give fans of the series more material to enjoy.

We’ll be exploring both how Cinder’s story continues, and other stories taking place in the same setting, with characters both familiar, and new – fans who want to keep up can sign up for our mailing list at, or follow me on twitter @rdouek.

CC: What are you currently reading?

Rich: Right now, I’m really enjoying Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini’s LOW, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, and Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s INJECTION. I’m also a huge fan of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s CHEW, which is wrapping up soon, but has been one hell of a ride!

Thanks again to Rich Douek for taking time to talk with us and for putting out such a great book!

Writing: 4.5
Art: 4.5

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