Exclusive preview | Rastafarian ghost crime drama ‘Duppy ’78’
In February, former Vertigo editor Casey Seijas and artist Amancay Nahuelpan are taking comics fans to 1970s Jamaica with the Com.X graphic novel Duppy ’78. Into the capital of Kingston to be exact, to follow a fictional gang war that runs the gamut from drugs to guns to voodoo. The situation goes from bad to worse when one of the crime lords is assassinated, putting into play a child practitioner of voodoo arts and master of what Rastafarian religion calls ghosts, duppy.
Seijas has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive five-page preview of the graphic novel, as well as a description of the book and this excerpt:
Although Duppy ’78 is a fictional story, it’s definitely influenced by a lot of research I did on Rastafarianism, Jamaican politics during the late ’70s, and documentaries and films that were ether produced during or looked back at that era.
This scene — which shows the “origin” of one of the Obeahmen named Santa — was directly influenced by two things: one, an old Rastafarian ghost story called “Angels of Darkness” and secondly, a story about Peter Tosh from the documentary Stepping Razor: Red X.
The story of the “Angels of Darkness” goes like this: a bus driver comes across two little girls in the middle of the night and he feels obligated to take them home, which they motion is at the top of a mountain. As the story goes along, the bus driver starts to notice a lot of peculiar things about the girls — they don’t speak, they hold hands and sit very close to each other the entire time, they have “eyes like a goat — attentive and blank,” and are dressed in matching white dresses seemingly from another time. Long story short, he delivers them to an abandoned house, then goes and visits his brother afterwards who informs him no one has lived up on that mountain since well before they were born. It’s actually a story about “good” duppies, because part of it is the guy’s bus was on it’s last legs, but gets magically fixed after that night and from that point on it never has any problems. Of course, I decided to make them malevolent in my story.
The second influence is a story told about Peter Tosh, who — first things first, was a badass — whereas a Bob Marley came across as a “One Love” type of dude, Tosh made no attempts to play that role. So the story goes, Tosh gets a record deal and moves into a mansion which he finds out is haunted to the point he actually kept track of how many duppies lived there — which he claimed to be 49 total. Anyway, Tosh was a Duppy Conqueror, and how he handled the situation was he gathered them all together and shouted “Bumbclot!” and scared them away, which is what Santa does in the scene, thus giving them a taste of their own medicine so to speak.
You can also read CBR’s recent interview with the creators of Duppy ’78.