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Ryan Cummins on Creating Rayna and Graphic Violence

Rayna Ryan Cummins

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Ryan Cummins takes on a Grim World with Rayna

Ryan Cummins has been creating comics under the moniker Skeletal Press for a good 5 years now. Having brought a couple of projects to life, thanks to the advent of Kickstarter, it’s fair to say that they’ve all been leading up to the launch of his latest project – RAYNA: The Bastard Queen #1.

Rayna, as well as being an exceptional into the foray of dark sorcery and graphic violence, is a great opener into the world of Rayna and establishing her as the queen of horrific violence in the Independent comics stage.

I caught up with Ryan earlier this week to discuss the influences behind Rayna as well as how he navigates writing a dark and graphic comic book.

Rayna #1 - Main Cover by Ryan Cummins
Rayna #1 – Main Cover

There’s a lot of dark sorcery and iron clad warriors in Rayna. Tell me where the inspiration of the story came from.

Ryan Cummins: Rayna, as a character, gathers inspiration from the many strong women I’ve encountered throughout my life. Rayna is a character that comes from a very dark place emotionally. The experiences of the women in my life have crafted this character in such a way that she stands apart from other similar characters in the genre. Rayna is very flawed and vulnerable for a comic book heroine. She falls down. She fails. A lot. She is a very human character but at the end of the day, it is her resilience that makes her special. Just like the women who inspired her, she gets up, she keeps fighting. She just keeps moving forward.

I feel like The Witcher is as responsible for this as much as Conan and Red Sonja. Which series would you say this is closest to?

Ryan Cummins: Definitely The Witcher more so than Red Sonja. I really took to The Witcher short stories. As far as Conan, definitely. And Solomon Kane as well. Rayna doesn’t fit the sword & sandals mold because her story is much more inspired by Slavic mythology.

Where did the idea for the story come from?

Ryan Cummins: One of the most overused tropes in fantasy stories is that of the CHILD OF DESTINY or THE CHOSEN ONE. It’s been done to death in my opinion. I wasn’t interested in treading the same ground. I wanted to tell the tale of someone who lives life like there won’t be a tomorrow. Rayna isn’t concerned about where she will end up or who she will become. She is Cursed to reconcile her past. She’s running from something. She is tortured by her past. How much does someone’s past trauma shape who they are now? That fight is much more interesting to me.

This is clearly not an All Ages book. Just how graphic does Rayna get?

Ryan Cummins: Ha ha. Just about as graphic as it gets. The story is brutal and raw. Very dark. Blood, sex, and slaughter galore. How much of each will be determined by the story being told but I can promise you, as I have so much of Rayna’s tale plotted already, that it will get VERY VIOLENT.

How many artists did you go through before you settled on the right one?

Ryan Cummins: Only one. I reached out to Stan Yak to do Rayna’s character design for me to use for the pitch and as soon as he turned in the character sheet I knew he was the perfect artist for this. His excitement for the character is rivaled only by mine. As soon as he designed her choppy, unkept hair I knew he got who Rayna was.

There’s an exceptional list of variant covers up for grabs but the Spawn tribute variant is probably the most popular. Why was a spawn tribute so important to you?

Ryan Cummins: Todd McFarlane is a huge inspiration for me and many others. His work ethic and his business have been an example that so many of us have followed and learned from for decades. Spawn in particular was such a huge part of my generation’s comic book upbringing. It’s historic. There are elements of inspiration from Spawn sprinkled through Rayna for sure.

Use five words to describe the ending of Rayna #1.


Finally, where can Rayna fans find you online?

Ryan Cummins: They can find me at my Substack.

Rayna #1 - Spawn Variant
Rayna #1 – Spawn Variant

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