Meet Dr. Ishmeal Stone: Philosopher, detective, monster-hunter, primes inter pares of a shadowy network of supernatural guardians sworn to shelter the world from the Infernal Orders. Stone's mission is aided by his daughter, half-ghost, half-witch Amara Stone, Wilbur Branch, a master of mystic weapons, the mysterious monster-detector known as Blind Jack, and the smooth-talking mentalist Martin Priest. Philosopher REX opens at a moment of crisis as the old orders are fragmenting and the Philosophers dividing into rival camps, with Stone and his comrades on one side of the battle, with the malignant and craven Philip Delacroix on the other. Complicating matters... just when Stone and his associates need them most, their various abilities are inexplicably on the wane!
We caught up with co-writer and creator of Philosopher REX, Jason Miller, to talk about the title.
Bad Wolf: Tell us about the main character in the book, Dr. Ishmael Stone.
Jason Miller: Stone straddles the line between a kind of supernatural private eye and the appointed political leader of a collective of his fellow Philosophers, who themselves play different roles throughout the Network (we envisioned the whole thing as a kind of occult Pinkertons). He's intelligent, easily outraged, a bit fussy, incredibly attached to the people around him (though his advanced age gives their interactions a prickly, impatient quality at times), and has a seriously weird relationship with his daughter and (now dead) ex-wife.
The Big Bad Wolf: Can you give us some information on the following supernatural guardians that help Dr. Ishmael Stone?
Stone's team is a bit of a mixed bag. I think we wanted to get away from the idea of the smoothly operating "super team" and create a more varied and interesting group that sometimes presents as many problems as it does solutions. Certainly, their personalities are as important as their various abilities to our ongoing story.
There's Wilbur Branch, for one, a kind of surrogate son to Stone (and a source of friction between Stone and his biological daughter, Amara). Branch is the group's keeper of mystical weapons but really he's around because Stone loves him and wants to keep an eye on him.
Next is Amara, Stone's daughter. She's tough and self-sufficient. She has a relationship with her mother that's a mystery to Stone. Her relationship—or lack of one—with her father creates one of the longer story's principle points of conflict.
"Blind Jack" is sensible, polite, patient, and a bit of a foil for Priest and Branch. He's blind but can "see" and sense monsters, even when they're hiding in other shapes and forms.
Last is Martin Priest. He's a gorgeous creature, entirely self-absorbed, and burdened with an overweening sense of entitlement. People who meet him have trouble remembering that they've done so, though, and if he concentrates Priest can blank their memories, thus helping to keep Stone's activities at least somewhat secret.
The Big Bad Wolf:
What inspired the concept of this title?
Ian and I do mostly mystery fiction and this sort of supernatural investigator story seemed to fit well with the comic format. We started writing the book during the heyday of the Bush administration, so the idea of entropy and systems breaking down (as is beginning to happen in PREX) was very much on our minds.
The title itself—Philosopher REX—is a bit of description (Stone is the head of the Network, its "king," as it were) and a small pun (Stone's title is Philosopher, thus he's technically the Philosopher Stone).
The Big Bad Wolf: Tell us about the Infernal Order.
Nasty beasties mostly, the forces of decay and disorder, but also of authoritarianism, grievance (as we see in the Canby storyline that opens the book), disappointment, and loss. Basically, the Infernals represent all the bad shit that makes the world what it is today (and always, we suppose). As PREX opens, we see that the line between the Infernals and the Network is beginning to blur.
The Big Bad Wolf: What kinds of supernatural creatures will we see in this book?
There's an animalistic quality to most of them. In our story animals (including humans, of course) form the raw material for the Infernals, so what you get are lots of intermediary things: earthly creatures with monstrous entities trying desperately to hold onto their material form, at least for as long as they can. The things in the Another Devil in the Dark storyline are subterranean in origin, whereas the creature that's raising hell in The Fenris Condition looks like a gray wolf...sorta.
The Big Bad Wolf: What can we expect in terms of blood and guts?
Philosopher REX is a horror/mystery story, so there are certainly violent elements in it: Canby's "suicides," for example. I don't think we're especially graphically violent, though, and violence is less a central element in the imagery than it might be in comparable books.
The Big Bad Wolf: Where can we find out more information about Philosopher REX?
You can learn more about PREX at the Arcana Web site:
And there's some fun stuff about the book (and images from the various story lines) at our own Web site:
The book can be pre-ordered at Amazon:
The Big Bad Wolf: In closing, what would you like to say about Philosopher REX?
We're about as far as you can get from the authoritarian impulse that seems to be infecting much of our contemporary politics and civic life. But, obviously, people ought to be forced to buy this book by the most coercive measures of state action.
The Big Bad Wolf: Thank you for your time,
Jason. Best of luck with the Philosopher REX comic!
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