feature by David Brothers, originally published in IMAGE+ #15
GASOLINA is shaping up to be Skybound's latest hit series. It's the new project from Sean Mackiewicz & Niko Walter, and features colors by Mat Lopes. In it, Amalia and Randy ran south to escape trouble, and have found a nice life working on a farm. Trouble strikes, as it tends to do, and they're forced into a fight against a brand-new cartel, one that would burn the world if they had a chance. What's a loving couple to do when faced with not just their deaths, but the deaths of their family and friends?
You know Walter's work from last year's DEMONIC with Christopher Sebela. A police detective bargains away his soul to protect his family, and soon discovers that his new deal requires a great amount of sacrifice, possibly more than one man can take. Walter's collaboration with writer Christopher Sebela on that series was remarkable. He displayed a facility for depicting violence that made me sit up and take note. His characters get cut, break, and bleed under his pen in a way that's violent in all the right ways. The kicker, though, is that Walter is even better at depicting conversations. One of the tensest scenes in DEMONIC takes place around a dinner table as two people sit down and talk to each other, and you really feel it while you read.
You know Sean Mackiewicz's work, too, even if you don't realize it. He's the editor on THE WALKING DEAD, for one thing, and if you look at the finest series Skybound has to offer—HORIZON, GREEN VALLEY, and OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA, just to name a few—Mackiewicz is right there in the credits. He's got a real eye for helping guide creators so that they tell their story in the best way possible, and with GASOLINA, he's stepping into the writer's chair.
Together, Mackiewicz & Walter are telling a story about a couple on the run that find themselves pushed to the limit even further. There is no easy escape, no easy solution, and very little hope on the horizon. Amalia and Randy are going to have to stand tall against the cartels, but what can two people do against an army?
GASOLINA starts on a resonant note, with a touching conversation between Randy and Amalia. You learn a lot about them with their short exchange, and that sets the stage for what comes next: two people in love trying to survive the awful situation that they're thrust into. When the bodies start dropping and people begin begging for help, we learn what they're truly made of.
By the end of the first issue, the crime story reveals itself to be something no one could've seen coming, and the stakes are left sky-high accordingly. You'll know Amalia and Randy very well by that point, though, and the cliffhanger will leave you breathless for what's coming next.
SEAN MACKIEWICZ, EDITOR TURNED WRITER
DAVID BROTHERS: You're known as an editor, and as near as I can tell, this is your first writing gig. What made you switch roles? Have you always had the writing bug?
SEAN MACKIEWICZ: I went to NYU to study playwriting. I lucked into publishing after graduating and really came to enjoy collaborating with writers as an editor. But after being surrounded by so many talented comic creators for so long, it felt right to try creating something myself. I can’t imagine publishing my first comic anywhere but at Image, and as a bonus, it’s allowed me to see my job as an editor from another angle.
DAVID: Tell me about your collaborator on this book, Niko Walter.
SEAN: I met Niko at WonderCon in 2014. He showed me his portfolio, and the storytelling on those samples immediately felt special. There are some similarities to Sean Phillips’ art...but Niko’s developed his own style with very little professional comics work. After DEMONIC wrapped, I asked him what he’d be interested in drawing next, and there was some crossover with the idea that was becoming GASOLINA—ancient civilizations, bizarre creatures. I used my Christmas bonus last year to pay him to draw the first issue and see if this was really a comic or not. When those first pages appeared in my inbox, it felt like he really leveled up and was distinct from anything else Skybound was publishing.
DAVID: GASOLINA is an evocative title. Why'd you choose it?
SEAN: Since the story begins in Mexico, it was important to have a Spanish title, which would also set it apart from the majority of new series. It also had to be a word that non-Spanish speakers could easily understand. So factoring in the series’ origins in the Mexican drug war and the Spanish occupation of Mexico, the prevalence of fire, and the passion between the newlyweds at the center of the story...something combustible felt right.
DAVID: Who's editing you?
SEAN: Assistant Editor Arielle Basich is taking point on this. We discuss script notes on every Skybound series, so it was natural to continue that relationship on my own book. It’s a lot like how I work with Robert, except Arielle actually listens to me.
GASOLINA #1 debuts 9/20 and is available for preorder now.
Vernon Miles is a reporter with the Alexandria Gazette and freelance writer for Image+. He lives in a crowded apartment in Washington, DC with two roommates and a lop-eared rabbit named George. IMAGE+ is an award-winning monthly comics magazine that's packed with interviews, essays, and features about all your favorite Image comics and your first look at upcoming releases.