Talking To Doug Wagner About The Ride’s 15th Anniversary And The Dark New Series From Image Comics

by Olly MacNamee

We took a look at The Ride: Burning Desire #1 recently from Plastic team-mates, Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard. Celebrating 15 year since it was first published, this new series catches us up with ex-Detective, Samantha Vega, whose life since she left sing-sing has not been going too well. Well, with this new book out, it was a good enough excuse – well, the best really – to catch up with writer Doug Wagner and ask him about this new series. And, as always, I’d like to thank Doug, once again, for finding time for this interview, given it’s peak comic con season!

Olly MacNamee: Doug, you’re returning to a book you first wrote in 2004. Other than its 15th anniversary, why have you returned to The Ride with this new 5 parter The Ride: Burning Desire?

Doug Wagner: A perfect storm, that’s what brought me back. Keven Gardner (12-Gauge President) approached me about revisiting the book. I had the bandwidth to put it on the schedule, the team I wanted on the book agreed, and I got to help pick the talent for the backup features. Plus, I wrote the first ever Ride story, so by God, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to write its 15th anniversary.

OM: It’s an interesting concept, revolving a series around a car, and specifically a ’68 Camaro. I liken it to the 1965 film The Yellow Rolls Royce, “but filtered through the sick, pulp-noir mind of your good self”. That a fair summary of this dark series?

DW: Ha! Absolutely. I would add that one of the aspects of the book that sets it apart is all the incredible creators that have been, and are, currently involved. They’ve all added their own perspective to what exactly this car and its role in reality play. Is it cursed? Is karma riding shotgun? At one point, it was even insinuated that Ol’ Scratch himself may have played a role. A story in this series can be an insane action piece, schizophrenic horror, a straight up crime noir, or anything you can imagine. You just don’t really know what we might bring to the party.

OM: Now, I must confess, I hadn’t read the previous stories in this series, but I found this new book was easy to jump straight into feet first as a first-time reader. What do people need to know about what has come beforehand? After all, this series seems to revolve around down-and-out ex-detective Samatha Vega who, I have since learnt, plays a big roll in the original two-parter.

DW:  Well, if I did my job right, you shouldn’t need to read anything prior to this series. However, if you have, you’re going to see quite a few nods to previous stories. I do love my Easter eggs. 😊

OM: You’re working with your Plastic partner-in-crime Daniel Hillyard again. That’s good news to me, but how did this come about? And, will we be getting more Plastic soon?

DW:  Daniel (Hillyard) and I had just finished up Plastic around the same time everyone realized the 15th anniversary of The Ride was coming along. Daniel and I didn’t have any immediate plans after Plastic, so I approached the entire Plastic team (Daniel, Laura Martin, and Ed Dukeshire) about keeping the band together and doing the first ever, full-color Ride story. We all really enjoyed working together on Plastic, so lucky for me, everyone agreed.

I can’t tell you when you’ll be getting more Plastic, but I can tell you Daniel and I are working on something new. It’s going to be disturbing and horrific. <maniacal laughter>.

OM: Plus, you get to work with Adam Hughes! That’s pretty amazing, right? I mean, he does have a previous history with this title.

DW:  You’re correct. Adam was the artist of the first two Ride covers, so he does indeed have a history with the book. Plus, Adam and I have actually known each other for over two decades. I’ve always hoped we’d get to work together some day. As you said, he is pretty amazing. 😊 The exciting thing here is Adam also agreed to do a 6-page short story for the first issue. We tried our best to push each other into doing something that you may have not seen for either one of us yet. I may be just a little biased, but I think we accomplished that. I mean, a unicorn sporting a blood-soaked love paddle? Can you ask for much more in life?

OM: In both Plastic and The Ride: Burning Desire, you focus on the fringes of society, the darker side of the human condition. What do you find so fascinating about such flawed characters who seem to be making the best of bad situations most of the time?

DW:  I love challenging peoples’ perceptions and expectations, including my own. I also love the idea of not judging a book by its cover…and that goes for human beings as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends all over the spectrum of society, and I love them all for their uniqueness and beautiful souls. In my view, we’re all simply bags of meat doing our best to navigate our way through what seems like an impossible reality. In that truth lies all the stories I want to tell.

OM: And what can people expect from this series going forward?

DW: The main story will stay focused on Vega, the chaotic situation she finds herself in, and her past refusing to let her be. Lots of violence, heroine, spandex, gasoline, and death glitter are on the way. Exactly what you’d expect from our little “fetish noir” main feature.

Now that’s just the main story. Every issue also has a 6-page backup drawn by some of the most talented folks in comics. Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi helped me with a haunting tale that kept us all up at night; Cully Hamner joined me in the telling of a war story that involves bunnies and hand grenades; Tomm Coker and I dove into a story about a satanic cult, crotch rockets, and nuns; and then Doug Dabbs brought the heat with a story that has a suitcase full of cash and a banana with a gun. Every story is a completely different genre, but somehow manages to fit into our Ride universe. Hmmm, after re-reading that, there may be something wrong with me.

OM: And, if successful, are there further plans for The Ride beyond these five issues? Focusing a book on a car suggests that you can literally go anywhere with this book.

DW: More plans for The Ride? Without a doubt!!

The Ride: Burning Desire #1 is out now from Image Comics and reviewed here.

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