Thank you very much, that’s very kind of you. As for the inspiration for the comic, well, my parents are Catholic and I went to Catholic school. And when I say “my parents are Catholic”, I mean Church every Sunday, tithing, playing the organ, Knights of Columbus, etc. But they are odd Catholics. Among other things, they’ve both read Devoto (since I wasn’t willing to launch a Kickstarter without having had one of my parents look at it, and if it’s one it’s both). They don’t have a problem with it. Anyway, I guess my point was I had to read the Bible and write essays on it, plus the catechism (CCC) and Catholic theology papers and stuff, so a pretty substantial component of the comic is derived from that. (My senior paper was on usury in case you were curious.) I don’t really want to say, “If you want to understand Devoto, read the Bible” because wtfff so I don’t know how to help on that side of things. But there are applicable passages?
Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
There’s a good one in Corinthians too, but I’m triskaidekaphobic so I never cite it.
I’m also extremely fond of The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain (deeply affecting author), which though popularized in that creepy claymation clip, is one of my favorite stories ever written (along with Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death by Alice Sheldon. So good.) It doesn’t include this relevant quote, however, which is from Twain’s autobiography (but admittedly a little out of context here):
But who prays for Satan? Who in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner that needed it most, our one fellow and brother who most needed a friend yet had not a single one, the one sinner among us all who had the highest and clearest right to every Christian’s daily and nightly prayers, for the plain and unassailable reason that his was the first and greatest need, he being among sinners the supremest? — Mark Twain
However, I was also strongly influenced by the Niven/Pournelle novel Inferno, which I first read when I was 12 or so, which is about a science fiction author who goes to Hell. It’s a good book, but don’t bother with the sequel. I also read Dante’s Inferno, which has its ups and downs and is by and large a pain in the ass, but at least you can get it for free on Project Gutenberg. However, it contains words you’ll find in my wallet and on my wall at work,
vuolsi così colà dove si puote ciò che si vuole
commonly translated, “This has been willed where what is willed must be.” Different people take it different ways, it’s my fallback for situations that boil down to “I guess I just have to do this.” I’ve also read Paradise Lost, but I feel it has sort of… permeated English-language literary tradition so thoroughly that it might not be worth highlighting. One of my birthday presents was a copy of Paradise Lost from 1880. (It’s not actually valuable.)
Where was I… uh, we had N/P’s “Inferno” because my parents are science-fiction buffs, and therefore so was I. Asimov and Vonnegut are my favorites. I can especially recommend Asimov’s work, since it usually avoids being creepy shit like a lot of the crap my parents had around (e.g. Harlan Ellison). Also, his short stories are easy reading and have a good punch. That said, Devoto draws heavy specific inspiration from sci-fi classic The Black Cloud by Sir Hoyle, about a thinking cloud from outer space. Like, really intentionally, that has always been a keystone of the world design.
A lot of the ways the divine interact with human life/consider human life are derived from or informed by concepts in environmental ethics. Not so much that they’re right or wrong, but that they have or do or should or shouldn’t apply ethical frameworks that humans have written about or suggested. (And by “we” I mean like Dr. Peter Singer or Dr. Robert Heilbroner, I personally specialize in butts). I mean, the system is different, but the relationship between the divine and people is similar in some ways to the relationship people have with “inferior” organisms. Black cloud!! Uh, and then I’m pretty interested in AI, that’s where the references to Dr. John Searle come in. (“Strong/Weak” AI.) They’re interesting questions. I talk about this sort of thing quite a lot with some of my friends, like you get a certain set of people and this is the kind of chatter that can go on for hours and hours. Especially when we’re avoiding work in the laaaaaaab.
Uh, this list is hilariously pretentious and also really long. My favorite mangaka is Naono Bohra, and she’s only of the only yaoi authors I ever read, and often re-read. I imitate her work to a shameless extent, so that’s definitely influence #1.