Interview with George Wassil of Oh, Hell Comics

Today I sat down with author George Wassil of Oh, Hell Comics, and we talked about his work.  Wassil, along with artist Dave Hamann and colorist Michael Birkhofer make up the creative team for this comic of the damned.

Headmaster drags Zoel to Hell
Literally, the Headmaster from Hell.

The story starts out with Zoel, a 15-year-old girl who started out life in a dumpster.  Literally.  The definition of “troubled teen,” Zoel’s parents enrolled her in a boarding school, hoping to straighten her out.  Only it isn’t the boarding school they thought.  Unbeknownst to her parents, the headmaster sheds his human disguise and transforms into a demon, dragging Zoel with him into Hell.  Throughout the story, Zoel not only has to deal with the demands of her demonic headmaster and the other students (hellmates, if you will), but also her own deep-seated emotional issues with abandonment.  “The very core question that she’s grappling with is, why did they throw her away?  Why did her mother throw her away?  Why did they abandon her?”  Wassil explains.

Wassil, a lifelong writer, first came up with this idea with the help of a friend, Micheal Connell, a London based film music editor.  “We ended up writing a story about ten year-old boy in Hell who didn’t fit it,” Wassil said.  The pair shopped the story around Hollywood for a while, but the age of the protagonist put people on edge and it fell by the wayside until years later.

While taking a “writing for the sequential arts” extension class at UCLA, Wassil was assigned to write a pitch for a comic book that would appeal to a 15-year-old girl.  “I spent the next week banging my head against the wall,” Wassil explains.  “And it was actually the night before the class when it hit me.  Oh, Hell!  If I take the world that Michael and I created and I send 15-year-olds there, then it opens up the story and you can deal with all kinds of things.”

With the story now firmly in hand, Wassil had to find an artist.  After a few months searching around Deviantart with no luck, it was former classmate Christina Strain (colorist for Runaways) who put him in contact with Dave Hamann.  After seeing the script, Hamann agreed to the project, and connected with colorist Michael Birkhofer, to complete the team.

In 2014, “Oh, Hell” won a Geekie award for best indie comic.

So what’s next for “Oh, Hell”?  The first trade paperback is available in print (and soon in PDF) through their website, and on sale in person at The Comic Bug comic shop in Manhattan, California.  However, that’s far from the end of the story.  According to Wassil, he plans for the story to be a trilogy, with the second volume, entitled “Emergence,” on the horizon.  With “Emergence” comes more about the side characters in the story – Zipper and Alesse – as well as more about the hierarchy of Hell.  “I’ve just been toying with the idea,”  Wassil hints, mysteriously.  “Why is Satan always a male figure?  Why couldn’t a woman take over Hell?”

Over 100 pages of the comic are available online through the website, but if you want the full story (and extra features), you’ll have to buy the book.  It’s absolutely worth the read.  After all, it is one hell of a comic.

Zipper and Zoel, totally not sharing a moment.
Zipper and Zoel are not sharing a moment in this panel.

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