We promised we wouldn’t write about the Freaky Trigger #1 comic of 2014 any more, but luckily a MUCH MORE AUTHENTIC AND REAL comic has come along for us to write about instead, thanks to this interview falling through a dimensional gateway from the evil alternate world of Earth-3. Caution – contains implied spoilers for The Wicked And The Divine #5-#7.

Few comics in recent years have attracted quite as much attention and praise as THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE, the groundbreaking Gods as classic rock fantasy by writer Kieran Giggin and artist Jimmy McLP. Only seven issues in, it’s already built up a strong following and – like its protagonists – looks set for an immovable place in the canon.

We caught up with Giggin and McLP after the Q Awards, to talk about THE SOULFUL AND THE ARCANE: the series so far, the gods, and how it’s been received.

Interviewer: Guys, congratulations, you must be thrilled by how things have gone.

Giggin: Rock’n’roll! [throws devil horns]

Amazing, man.

Giggin: We’ve really resonated with the people we made the book for – guys in their forties, basically, who really care about rock, and art, and, you know, who maybe are beyond the stage where they’re interested in shallow fads and are looking for something solid that will really last.

McLP: We do what we do, and if anyone else likes it it’s a bonus, man.

Interviewer: Can you just quickly sum up the premise of The Soulful And The Arcane?

Giggin: It’s all in the tagline, “Just because you’re an asshole, doesn’t mean your work won’t live forever”. Every ninety years, the gods – the Canon – reincarnate into humans. And they choose humans who have the potential to do something really substantial and meaningful – and this time it’s rock musicians. And these twelve gods get two years to create an all-time classic, something up there with What’s Going On or Sergeant Peppers, and then their career is over. But like, they’re geniuses, so of course they’re really troubled – they have women troubles, drug troubles, troubles on the road, hassles from the man. They’re not all going to make it.

Interviewer: As we’ve seen with Lucifer.

McLP: Tragic, man.

Giggin: Exactly. Lucifer’s thing was that he was so honest – a really truthful, sensitive guy – he really looked at the world and saw the pain in it.

Interviewer: He was modelled on Gram Parsons, right?

Giggin: Well, there’s more in there, there’s like some Jeff Buckley in there, some Ryan Adams – but yeah, a rock star just too pure for this world, man. In the first book, you can see that his honesty is going to doom him. We put in a clue with his age – he’s 27. And then at the end, after he’s ODed, our protagonist Lawrence – the up-and-coming musician – picks up Lucifer’s plectrum.

McLP: Crazy, man.

Giggin: So in the second arc, which is called Up To Eleven, we see the consequences of that.

Interviewer: With Lucifer out of the way, The Soulful And The Arcane has been able to put some of the other Gods into the spotlight. In issue #6 we got a look at Inanna, who has a pretty interesting look for a rock star god.

Giggin: Yeah, Inanna is like – he’s just an everyday guy, he’s just a bloke, nothing special, he’s kind of short, nothing much to look at, but he’s really talented, he’s an amazing musician. And you see him before he became a God and he’s this happily married, really contented guy – there’s no tragedy, no motivation for him to write. So then when he becomes Inanna – wham, he gets divorced and he gets this massive tax bill, and there’s stuff he can make art about that ordinary blokes can appreciate.

Interviewer: I had a theory about him, when Lawrence is talking with him outside the venue, and offers Inanna his jacket, and Inanna says –

Giggin: “No jacket required!” Yeah, we can be on the nose sometimes. [laughs]

Interviewer: Jimmy, are there any Gods you’re particularly enjoying drawing?

McLP: Yeah, man, The Morrigan.

Giggin: Yeah, The Morrigan is a real challenge to write and draw but we’re loving it. That issue where Lawrence takes the endless limo to the Morrigan’s mansion – Jimmy did incredible work on that one. The sequence where Fat Comeback Morrigan first appears and there’s a blizzard of rhinestones – that blew me away.

Interviewer: And who’s the most entertaining to write, Kieran?

Giggin: Well, these are all troubled geniuses, and you have to think yourself into some pretty dark places writing that. It’s a relief writing someone like Baal – she’s so humble and thankful. I have a lot of fun with Baphomet, she’s like our token pop God, cos like, pop is a part of rock too, kind of, and some of it’s pretty good.

McLP: Guilty pleasures, man.

Giggin: Yeah, Baphomet is kind of our guilty pleasure. And Jimmy has fun drawing those spiky bras.

Interviewer: So the second arc is well underway now, Issue 7 just came out, and we get to see a bit more of Woden – she’s got a nasty side to her.

Giggin: Woden is kind of like a rock and roll take on the muse – she’s the inspiration to all these young rock stars but she’s actually breaking up their bands, cos she’s jealous of their creativity. You see that again and again in rock. And the fans are really responding to that – we’ve been seeing a lot of stories on the Soulful And The Arcane hashtag, a lot of guys have stories they want to share about these ladies, you know what I mean.

McLP: Women, man.

Interviewer: And in case the guys reading this want to join in, the hashtag where they’re sharing these stories about women is…?

Giggin: #ArSoul

Interviewer: Great. So what’s coming up

Giggin: Well, this arc is leading up to the big End Of Year list, where the Gods get to see what sort of critical acclaim they’re getting, how people think they’re going to stand the test of time. And there’s a lot of fallout from that. And then we’ve got spotlights on some of the individual gods.

Interviewer: Up To Eleven ends with issue –

Giggin: Ten.

Interviewer: Kieran and Jimmy, thank you. Any last words of inspiration for your readers?

Giggin: Well, like, this whole series, it came from me thinking about rock music, and how in two years in the sixties all these classic albums came out – like literally every great album apart from Dark Side Of The Moon! – you had Revolver, Blonde On Blonde, The Velvet Underground, that one with the goats on the cover, everything. And now it’s all just manufactured pop and people showing off. Who would want a comic about THAT?

McLP: Amen, man.

Volume 1 of The Soulful And The Arcane, STAIRWAY FROM HEAVEN, is available now from Substance Comics.