Boxing is typically seen as a contest of strength and agility, two fighters enter the ring to fight it out for the glory of victory. Yet in Soul Beat by the talented Morganne Walker, it takes on a deeper dimension. Imagine if the opponent you’re facing in the ring is the devil.
Enter Dante Alfonse, a 70s-loving boxer named for “endurance.” His fearless spirit sees him defending his community and intervening in crimes. However, in trying to save his mentor, Ben, from the devil, Dante is thrust into an ancient feud between Heaven and Hell.
With more than just his soul on the line, Dante is caught in a cosmic tug-of-war. As he navigates this mystic battle, Dante must discern allegiances, uncover hidden truths, and define what it truly means to have a “soul.”
We’re excited to jump into Dante’s epic journey, but first, we’ve delved deeper into Morganne Walker’s inspirations and the story’s profound layers in this exclusive interveiw.
Can you share the initial inspiration that led to the birth of Soul Beat?
“The initial inspiration came from wanting to fuse the narrative of Dante’s Inferno with the funky theme of Disco Inferno, a popular 1970s song from the band the Trammps. It’s as simple as that really, haha.”
Can you talk about the significance of Dante’s mentor, Ben, and how his past will play a role in future volumes?
“Ben’s role has evolved over the years, going from a “throw away” character of sorts to becoming a much more integral figure in the lore and backstory leading up to the opening chapters of SOUL BEAT. I won’t spoil too much, but certainly his past and the sins he committed will have consequences that—for better or worse—Dante will be forced to reconcile with before the series is over.”
How does your background in architectural design influence your work in manga, both in terms of story and art?
“My architectural background has affected various aspects of the manga-making process in pretty general or minor ways, whether it’s how detailed I get into the background designs or in how I think about the character creation process (the old adage “form follows function” comes to mind); otherwise, the overlap isn’t too noticeable. Although, one interesting connection to architecture I’ve enjoyed making has been making obscure references to design concepts in exposition scenes, or even taking names of famous designers and using them to name my characters when I can’t think of anything. I suppose that’s been a fun little nod to the architectural profession, haha.”
Writers often speak of moments when characters seem to “write themselves.” Have there been instances where Dante or other characters surprised you in their development or choices?
“It’s hard to say if a character’s actions surprise me, per se. Perhaps because I’m the one giving them direction, it’s hard not to know what a character will do next in the story, haha. But regarding characters who “write themselves”, I’ve found myself much more comfortable understanding Dante’s personality and behaviors where his snappy one-liners and his agency to do the right thing feels like second nature. I’m beginning to know more instinctively how he’ll react to a given situation, what he’ll say and so on.”
How do you deal with writer’s block or creative slumps? Are there any routines or rituals that help you get back into the flow?
“The best advice I can give on this is to take time off to decompress from creative drawing, writing, or both. Sometimes a day is enough, but other times, it’s worth taking more than one until you feel ready to get back to work again. Additionally, I think it’s good to use that time off to relax and indulge in something you haven’t enjoyed in a while (gaming, reading, completing a hobby project, hanging out with friends) to recharge mentally. Likewise, studying other manga can help kickstart new ideas and inspire you to get back into the saddle sooner with a fresh perspective toward your own work.”
We’re truly grateful to Morganne for sharing insights into her creative journey with us. If you love a blend of adventure, supernatural action, and a retro vibe, don’t miss out on SOUL BEAT VOL.1 Grab your copy TODAY!