What do you think of when you imagine the angels of the Bible? Renaissance paintings of these divine beings pictured beautiful, toga-clad creatures with wings like doves, but those depictions aren’t in line with many Biblical, Hebrew, and Islamic descriptions of Gods’ messengers.
“We’re talking wheels of fire,” Bob Johnson said at an October 17 book event at Barnes and Noble in New York City. “Eyes everywhere. Winged rings of animal heads.” Johnson is the creator of the new graphic novel, Head Wounds: Sparrow, a book he developed alongside his childhood friends John Alvey and Oscar Isaac.
Head Wounds follows Leo Guidry, a dirty cop in New Orleans, as he attempts to right the wrongs he should have been able to stop in the first place. But he doesn’t have a change of heart all on his own: It takes a divine intervention to convince him to do good. That angel is Uriel, the apocryphal archangel, and I sat down with Johnson, Alvey, and Issac to discuss this and some of the book’s other scriptural connections.
My very first question was asking about the Pentecostal influence on this book, which to me felt like the Baptist’s fire and brimstone retribution. Johnson immediately responded that there was a lot of that which influenced the book; “I was raised Baptist and became ordained as a Southern Baptist minister when I was 23.” It was at seminary school where he read the apocryphal gospels. He wanted the angels “to have a sense of authority to them.”
The creators also mentioned that there might be other supernatural men and women showing up if the book gets a continuation. “This is Louisiana,” Johnson said. “There’s hoodoo and witches on every corner.” He also mentioned that the worldbuilding he’s done included some “old gods” hanging around, like the Leviathan, which he called “Captain Levi,” and the only demon who was never an angel (by way of a clerical error during the inscription of the bibles under Constantine’s watch), Orcus.
I asked how angels think of hope, and Johnson was sure they would be full of it. “They’re walking empathy machines,” he said. “I think if angels existed, they would probably be full of that shit. They would probably have hope coming out of their ears… and Demons too,” he said, laughing. “They hope you get sick and that you fall down the stairs, and they hope your mum doesn’t love you.”
Head Wounds: Sparrow is available now. The graphic novel was developed by Oscar Isaac through his production company Mad Gene Media, and published by Legendary Comics. It was written by Brian Buccellato, illustrated by Christian Ward, and created by Robert Johnson and John Alvey.
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