Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts is almost impossible to describe: a gonzo superhero parody comic that’s visually arresting, hilariously funny, and wildly unpredictable — like Axe Cop for the 18+ crowd. When Browne launched a Kickstarter for his cult hit webcomic in 2013, he exceeded his $15,000 goal by more than 400%, raising $75,770 and publishing the first volume in a deluxe hardcover!
Now he’s bringing back his bickering, battling superhero team — brought together by NASA to stop farmers from launching themselves into space — as a monthly series from Image Comics! We had the chance to interview him about what’s next for GHA and why you should pre-order the new series right now. Plus, Browne threw in a four-page preview for God Hates Astronauts #1 (NOTE: FOR MATURE READERS ONLY), which comes out September 3!
TFAW: The first volume of God Hates Astronauts featured torrid affairs, bank-robbing owls, ghost cow heads, and lots of other fun stuff. What does the new series have in store for us?
Ryan Browne: The new series is more plot driven and intergalactic in nature. I’m really trying to plan ahead and make this new volume epic in scope, while being as totally stupid and fun as ever. Finally all of the negligent, petty, over-reactionary antics of the Power Persons Five will come home to roost! Also, things will get punched a lot and there will be awfully obvious sound effects.
TFAW: What changes have the Power Persons Five been through since we last saw them?
RB: Well Star Grass and Starrior have a daughter named Starlina. Gnarled Winslow has hi-tech robo-arms, and Dr. Professor is starting to lose his mind. I wanted the new series to be a great jumping-on point for new readers, so the first issue starts with a new chapter in the characters’ lives. If you haven’t read the first volume that’s okay, but if you have you will understand more of the back history of the characters.
TFAW: What made you decide to publish through Image as a monthly series, instead of doing another Kickstarter?
RB: The Kickstarter was the best thing I’ve ever coordinated, but it was also the hardest. Months and months of running the Kickstarter and fulfilling packages as a full-time job meant that I drew a lot fewer comics last year than I wanted to. Using a publisher lets me focus more on the comic creation rather than the printing and distribution of the book. I love what Kickstarter provides for self-publishers, but after the experience I wanted to get out of self-publishing.
TFAW: There’s really no other way to describe God Hates Astronauts than completely, flat-out, over-the-top insane. What are some of your influences?
RB: Yeah that’s always been the problem of the book, how do you describe it? My biggest influences are the films of the Coen brothers as well as Die Hard, Robocop, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. As far as comics go, I draw a lot from The Tick, Scud, and Milk and Cheese. I’ve always got to throw in there the first seven seasons of The Simpsons and the last few seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as being really important for helping me develop my sense of humor.
TFAW: Obviously, God Hates Astronauts fans will be all over the new series. But what are three reasons a new reader should pick it up?
RB: Well, let me see.
1. It features astronaut farmers who ride horses into battle and use laser-shooting pitchforks against cosmic star bears.
2. It has more space crabs in it than any other book that does not have “crab” in its title.
3. The whole series is narrated by “3-D Cowboy,” a ghost cowboy that actually pops off the page in 3-D if you are wearing the proper glasses.
Described as “The Swiss Family Robinson Meets Quantum Leap,” Black Science focuses on Dr. Grant MacKay, a scientist who breaks all the rules in his attempt at interdimensional travel. Unfortunately, when his device, called the Pillar, is damaged, he finds himself — with his group of colleagues and his two children — being hurled from dimension to dimension at random!
We chatted with Remender about the genesis of Black Science, where his wild ride will take us, and what he’s excited for next! Make sure to pre-order Black Science now to save 20%. Plus, preview the first five pages of issue #1, courtesy of Image Comics.
TFAW: What sparked the idea for Black Science?
Rick Remender: It goes back to an outline that I was working on for a creator-owned book in 2006. I had the very basic concept, but I couldn’t find a way to make it work. It was about dimension traveling, but I couldn’t get the hook down. So I shelved it for a while, but it’s always been there, nagging at me.
When I got up and running on this, I really I think it came from looking at Frank Frazetta Eerie and Creepy magazines. Every single one of those covers feels like it’s in a new world, with a new past, and every single one demands that I know more about it! It got me thinking about the concept of Black Science, about dimension traveling, which sort of gave birth to, “I’ve got to do this.” I want to hit what I feel when I look at those Frazetta paintings, and have the rules somehow work in a way to give me the ability to tell a story that travels to interesting new places every few issues. That was really the impetus, what kind of kicked me in the ass!
TFAW: What is “black science,” exactly?
RR: Well, the term is supposed to reflect black magic. In this world, our hero Grant MacKay is an anarchist, he’s an old punker who probably listened to too much Crass in the ’80s. As a strident individualist, he views man-made laws and hierarchical organizations as the wall between humans and discovery.
And so, he has delved into all of the forbidden sciences, and all of the things that are illegal. The kinds of things that government bodies say are off-limits, that’s what he’s been doing in a secret bunker in the south of San Francisco in a hidden laboratory. He and some people who have named themselves the Anarchist League of Scientists — because they’ve read too many comic books — have devised this Pillar, as they call it, which can punch through dimensional boundaries and travel to other dimensions.
In Grant’s eyes, delving into black science is the thing that will lead to utopia. Every time a scientist has revealed some truth to the public — like the world is round, or any truth the general population isn’t ready for — they’re stoned to death or they’re called crazy. And so he sees this as an opportunity to overcome the laws and boundaries between him and true discovery, and by mapping the roads to different dimensions, he’ll be able to pilfer any resource our world needs, in any instance.
For example, you could find a dimension, a parallel universe, where cancer was cured, and he’d go take that. Any resource they may need, they can just find another dimension and they can go pilfer it. It’s like an imagination lockbox, where if you can imagine it, then that parallel dimension likely exists, and then you just have to map the road to go acquire it.
So all of his intentions are good, he’s a good guy — he’s just trying to do it his way. But of course, there are consequences to these things, and that’s where we find them at the beginning of the first issue.
TFAW: It seems like their plan went awry, and there was some sort of sabotage — and also, Grant’s children are with them, which I can’t imagine was part of the original plan.
RR: No, and we’ll reveal in upcoming issues how that all came together. Basically, it was the perfect storm of things going wrong, and who it was that sabotaged the Pillar device, and how exactly it’s been damaged, and broken, to where now it’s jumping at random intervals to random dimensions for unspecified periods of time.
So sometimes they’ll end up in a dimension for 30 seconds, and sometimes they’ll end up in a place for 30 hours. And every one of these dimensions has a new set of rules, as well, which adds to the high adventure and makes it exciting.
But at its core, it’s still a character story. Somebody amongst them sabotaged the device, and obviously Grant’s kids are with him. The woman who helped him build the Pillar — the engineer behind half of what they’ve developed here — Rebecca, he began having an affair with her, so obviously he’s hiding that from his kids.
So the ensemble cast drama starts bubbling, and at the same time they’re being hurled to new dimensions every issue or two. As a foundation, I’ve already plotted to issue #35 at this point. The concept lends itself very easily to long-form storytelling.
TFAW: Besides Grant’s relationship with Rebecca, what are some other group dynamics?
RR: I’m going to be playing a lot with the idea that there is no such thing as a hero or a villain. It’s all subjective, it’s all relative: what a human’s motivations are, and what those are colored by. Someone who has a tendency to do something that we would all agree is unsavory or unethical might have a whole sea of other positive characteristics that are not being looked at.
Every one of these characters has that. I’ve made sure to temper them, so they’re all just complex human beings. As the plot grows and the cauldron bubbles and boils, we’ll start to unravel their back stories and see who they are, and that will help us pull a few whammies in terms of subverting expectations.
People may expect things to go one way, but we’ll veer the car and go the other. Nobody is really who they seem at this point, because of where we decided to start the story. There’s a lot of interpersonal stuff: Shondra, who is sort of a sycophantic assistant, and Kadir, who is one of Grant’s former colleagues who became upper management, and is able to fund Grant. But of course Grant is anti-authoritarian, so he sees him as the enemy.
Then you’ve got Pia, who is Grant’s daughter, who is 18 and hates him. He hasn’t been home for the last 10 years, he’s been in the laboratory. She sees him as a failure and an obsessive, somebody who’s turned his back on her mother, which he has. And then there’s Nathan, who’s 11 and sort of still loves his dad and doesn’t know any different. His whole life, Grant has only been around for the occasional dinners and maybe a movie here and there.
And then you’ve got Shawn, who’s sort of the adopted son of Grant. He’s somebody who has a high genius-level IQ who Grant took under his wing and brought in on the project.
Working with my editor Sebastian Girner, we’ve spent about seven months writing character sheets and ramping up the drama between the ensemble cast, as well as finding ways to tie it in and reflect it against interesting new worlds.
TFAW: Image is calling Black Science “the spiritual sequel to Fear Agent.” How is Black Science similar to Fear Agent, and how is it different?
RR: It’s mostly different. I think that it’s similar just in that they’re both pulp science-fiction. Fear Agent is more grounded in reality. Obviously we deal with dimension traveling and time traveling as well. But it was really the story of Keith Huston, this lonely alcoholic trying to redeem himself.
With Black Science, the story is really the cast, and while Grant MacKay is definitely the lynchpin for part of it, he’s not the entire focus of the book. When we get to issue #7 through #10, I think people will see where we’re actually building to and going with this. The story really is more about the ensemble cast. I’m trying not to be specific and tell you which of the characters [is the focus], but it’s not the characters that you expect that you’ll be following through the story.
TFAW: What do you think is going to be the most exciting thing about this book to readers?
RR: We put in all of our time and energy to make sure that this is a character story at its core. The fun is obviously the high-adventure hijinks as they’re being hurled to different dimensions–each one completely different than the next.
Taking artists like Matteo Scalara and Dean White and unleashing them on new worlds every few issues, where you can basically do anything you want and cook up any sort of “What If?” scenario visually, is the kind of comic book I’d like to see more of, where the artists are unleashed and really allowed to show what they’re made of.
But underneath it all is this hodgepodge group of scientists and this family, and that’s the beating heart of it, while the color and Frazetta science-fiction of it all is the world traveling. It’s a nice middle ground between insane comic books and something that’s a character story with some heart.
TFAW: Black Science seems to be phenomenally well planned out–you said you have about 35 issues plotted out, and you also mentioned that artist Matteo Scalera will stay on the book for the entire run. What spurred that for you?
RR: That’s just the dream! With somebody like Matteo, who is not just incredibly talented and an amazing storyteller, but somehow fast — he’s the most valuable artist in the world, as far as I’m concerned! He’s that rare mix: he can hit his deadlines, and the pages look like he labored on them for six months.
I like long-form stories. As a reader, I was with Hellboy from the beginning, and Preacher from the beginning. Those books kept coming out and kept feeding me stories, and had the same artists and the same writers and the same teams putting things together. Even when Mignola pulls in somebody, it’s Duncan Fegredo, somebody amazing. And on Preacher, they managed to keep Steve Dillon for everything.
The consistency is important. On Fear Agent, I think one year we only shipped five issues, and that was a sacrifice that we made in order to keep either Tony Moore or Jerome Opena involved in some capacity in every one of the stories. Now that it’s finished and there are two volumes, and there’s going to be the second hardcover of Fear Agent, I think that that book stands as something I can be proud of, because of that artistic integrity, and because of the consistency of the art.
I know as a fan I like it, and as a creator I definitely am excited by the opportunity to be able to tell a story that really builds this cast, and gets you invested in them with a consistent art team.
TFAW: What comics are you reading right now? Do you even have time for that?
RR: Very little! Right now I’m reading Dungeon Quest by Joe Daly, and I just repurchased Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown. Every few years I have to re-read Ed the Happy Clown. I just picked up Lost Cat by Jason. That’s what’s on my pile right now.
Usually, if I have time to read and I’m looking for inspiration for the comic book stuff, I’ll try and go way back and read things like old, old Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury edited a series of short stories in the late ’30s and early ’40s, and that was the last thing I was picking away at. Or I’ll just try and tear apart old weird fantasy comic books and sink my head into the ’50s DC guys.
TFAW: What other projects are you excited about right now?
RR: We’ve got some pretty exciting stuff coming up with Uncanny Avengers, showing the consequences of all of the superheroes fighting each other that we’ve seen so much of over the past 10 years–from Civil War, to Schism, to AvX. I wanted to show the consequences for people when they lack the ability to cooperate, and give a consequence to all of the petulant squabbling we’ve seen amongst the superheroing community. So that stuff is coming up — I think issue #14 is when that really starts to come together. And that ships the same day as Black Science [November 27].
Then I have Deadly Class coming up, which is about a high school for assassins set in 1987, so I get to delve into my stories of being a punker back in the mid-’80s, and also mix it in with some blood and murder, with kids. [laughs] Who doesn’t want that?
I’ve recently pitched a lot of big exciting things for Captain America. Things that we haven’t seen before, so we’ll be shaking that title up in a pretty big way. I’m pretty excited. It’s probably not anything that we can announce for another five, six months.
And then, obviously, the Fear Agent [Library Edition] Volume 2 hardcover. For people who read the first one, I think the second is even better. Tons and tons of Jerome Opena and Tony Moore art, and those guys just got better and better every single arc. And then, also, The Last Christmas has an oversized hardcover, a book written by Gerry Duggan and penciled by me, with Hilary Barta on finishes and Michelle Madsen on colors.
Our thanks to Rick Remender and Image Comics for a fantastic interview! Make sure to order Black Science now and enjoy an all-new adventure.
Are you excited for Black Science? What’s your favorite Remender series? Post your comments below!
Interested in the new Twilight Zone comics from Dynamite Entertainment? Preview an excerpt of Cliff Biggers’ in-depth interview with writer J. Michael Straczynski (Superman Earth One) and Dynamite CEO/President Nick Barrucci!
This won’t be the first time that The Twilight Zone has come to comics, but neither the Gold Key series of the 1960s nor the Now Comics series of the 1990s made any major impact. What convinced Dynamite that there was a way to do this franchise properly and make it work in comics? “The Twilight Zone is a great property, one of the greatest of all time,” Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci said. “Everyone here at Dynamite loves the series. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a publisher that has such a diehard fan base of fans.”
“However — and this is probably going to sound odd — we were not going to take on the license until we knew we had the right team together that would do the series justice . . . we had to bring a distinct voice to it, just like Rod Serling was the original distinct voice, and it had to be someone with passion. It had to be someone with a passion that would excite the market and get fans to try this and say ‘Wow, The Twilight Zone. I’ve loved it. I’m glad that the series is back!’ and just as importantly, someone who retailers and fans respect to try the comics series if they haven’t seen it. J. Michael Straczynski is that man.”
Of course, Straczynski is an ideal choice to write the new Twilight Zone, because he’s one of the few writers in comics history who also wrote for the television series. Straczynski explained how he became involved with the 1980s relaunch of the Rod Serling classic. “It’s kind of a stop-and-start situation. I’d been an animation writer for about three years, and didn’t have any significant live-action credits. A lot of animation writers had bashed themselves against the wall trying to get in to write for the Zone; a few did, most didn’t . . . fortunately, one of the stories I pitched — about a man who returns to his childhood home to discover that the imaginary playmate he’d had as a youth was not as imaginary as he’d believed — took hold, and I got the assignment.”
While all of the television episodes were self-contained stories, Straczynski is taking a different approach for the comic book series. “The thing about the original Twilight Zone that you have to remember is that it was as much about experimentation as classic storytelling. This would include “And When The Sky Was Opened,” and “Five Characters In Search of an Exit,” which is as much a surrealist play as it is a television episode. So if Rod were with us today, I think he’d still be pushing the envelope and trying new things while keeping the heart of the show where it needs to be.”
“The experimental part [in the comics] comes in having each of these three seemingly separate stories occupy the same timeframe, and the same characters, in overlapping stories that seem to have nothing to do with each other . . . until you begin to pull the threads together . . . it’s a very tricky structure and difficult to pull off — but if we do this right, it should be pretty cool.”
Of course, there’s still one question that remains unanswered: has the Dynamite team figured out how to make their comic play that famous theme song? “Not yet,” Barrucci said with a smile, “but when we do, we’ll let everybody know.”
The Twilight Zone #1, written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Guiu Vilanova, is scheduled for December 31 release. Our thanks to Comic Shop News and Nick Barrucci for the interview!
Are you a fan of The Twilight Zone? What’s your favorite episode? Post it below!
Browncoats, take note: Dark Horse’s new Serenity comics will finally answer the question, #WheresSerenity? It’s a query that has been on fans’ lips almost since the beginning: after Joss Whedon’s space western drama Firefly was canceled by Fox after only 11 of its 14 episodes aired, a small but extremely active fanbase — known as the Browncoats — took action and rallied to bring the show back.
Their efforts resulted in the 2005 feature film Serenity, which continued the exploits of Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds and the rag-tag crew of the Firefly-class transport ship Serenity, as they eluded the evil Alliance and struggled to survive by any means necessary — legal or illegal.
While there have been several Serenity comics since 2005, the upcoming Serenity: Leaves on the Wind adventure is the first post-Serenity miniseries featuring the entire surviving crew! Captained by Zack Whedon (Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale) with art by Georges Jeanty (Buffy Seasons 8 and 9), this six-issue miniseries is highly anticipated by thousands of fans.
Curious? We were, too! Fortunately, we were able to interview Zack Whedon and ask him how the crew is dealing with the aftermath of the events of Serenity — in which they lost several of their crewmates and exposed some of the dirty deeds of the Alliance — and what’s coming up next!
Read his responses below, and check out the covers to Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1 and #2, as well as two interior pages from issue #1! You can pre-order the first issue of these new Serenity comics now to save 20%.
TFAW: Where is the crew of the Serenity when Leaves on the Wind begins?
Zack Whedon: They are hiding out in the middle of nowhere. They are in a place with no name, where no one would ever think to look, because they’re trying to stay missing. They’ve gotten themselves a lot of attention with what they did during the events of the movie Serenity, and they’re laying low.
TFAW: This is the first in-depth view we’ve seen of Mal and the gang since the movie. How have they changed?
ZW: I think they’re all still reeling from the loss of Wash and Book — that was a very traumatic experience for them all. They’re still dealing with that. River has reached a place of relative mental health, compared to how she was before the movie, so they’re happy about that, but nervous that it could go the other way at any moment. Zoe is dealing with the prospect of having a child whose father has been killed, so that’s tough on her. Even though they were successful in exposing the Alliance in Serenity [Editor's note: the crew discovered that the Alliance had released an experimental drug on the planet Miranda, killing most of its inhabitants and spawning the savage, crazed Reavers], it puts them in a difficult position, so they’re feeling pinched by the Alliance.
TFAW: How is Mal, mentally and emotionally, right now?
ZW: Mal doesn’t ever really admit his concern to anyone, but their situation is dire, and he knows it. So he keeps a stoic façade with his crew, but he knows they’re in a desperate spot and need to make a move if they’re going to survive.
TFAW: What is the dynamic of the crew like, with the loss of Wash and Book?
ZW: It’s interesting. With Wash gone, there’s certainly less humor — not that there isn’t humor, but also there’s the fact that two of their friends met violent ends. It casts some gloom over their situation. So they’re not loving life at the moment. But it’s interesting, they’re all sort of dealing with different things, so even though they’re on the same ship, or most of them are, they’re living very different lives. Kaylee and Simon are still basking in the glow of new love, and Zoe is, as I mentioned, dealing with the prospect of having a child who doesn’t have a father. So everyone’s in a different place, even if they’re in the same location.
TFAW: So you mentioned Kaylee and Simon; will the potential romance between Mal and Inara be explored?
ZW: Yes. [laughs] I’d like the readers to know as little as possible going into the first issue. That question is answered very quickly.
TFAW: What other characters will we be seeing? Are there any new ones to introduce?
ZW: There is a new character, a young rebel activist named Bea, who gets hooked up with our crew. She’s sort of leading the Resistance — well, not leading them, but sort of spearheading their efforts to find Malcolm, because they think that he could be a great asset in terms of not only leading them, but in terms of being a figurehead for their movement. So she’s pursuing him for that reason, and she factors in in a big way.
And there’s some returning characters, some faces from the show and the movie. And then in terms of new characters, we made a couple of other Operatives. We meet them early on, but they play a larger part later. Their names are Denon and Kalista, and they are Operatives. Then, we’re also introducing an Alliance officer named Officer Rogers, who is also part of the pursuit of Serenity. So lots of bad guys, and one good guy.
TFAW: So the odds are pretty equal!
TFAW: I can’t imagine Mal would really take to playing the savior role. How does he respond to Bea?
ZW: He’s not into it. You know, Mal is misunderstood by a lot of people, Bea included, and what she expects to find is not what she does find, when she meets him. The guy that she imagined is very different from the person that Mal actually is. He has no interest in playing that part for her.
TFAW: This is your second foray into writing Serenity comics, after The Shepherd’s Tale. [Editor's note: Mea culpa! We temporarily forgot the magnificence of Whedon's FCBD Serenity comic.] What are your favorite aspects of Firefly and Serenity?
ZW: I love the dynamics of the crew, and trying to recreate that. Everything is so off-kilter in the first issue of this new series, that you don’t really get to see them clicking together until later on. But I love recreating that. The show had such great chemistry between all these characters, and finding that again is fun.
And then, digging into the possibilities of the reaction to what they disclosed in Serenity. They dropped a big bomb with that revelation about Miranda and the Reavers and everything, so I’ve had a lot of fun with playing with how the world received that news.
TFAW: The fans of Firefly and Serenity are so enthusiastic, and so vocal! How do you deal with that kind of pressure?
ZW: Well, I’m not thinking about it. [laughs] I count myself as a fan, so I think that hopefully if I’m into the stories, that they will be too. You know, it’s very important to me to preserve the tone of the show and the movie, and of the universe, and to not stray from that. To create new stories that feel like ones you could have seen on the show. So I don’t think about it, except to get excited that there’s such a large audience waiting for it. That’s not usually the case, when you’re writing something.
So it’s exciting that there are a bunch of people who are enthusiastic about the universe, to pick up the comic on the first day and dig into it. I’m excited to share it with them. I’m really, really pleased with the first issue, I think it came out amazing.
TFAW: Will there be more comics after this six-issue miniseries?
ZW: I think this six-issue series will be it for me, at least for a long while. I just have a lot going on, and the process of writing comics is much slower and much more difficult for me than it is for some people. So I’m going to take a break, but my sincere hope is that they can get other great writers to keep it going, maybe in six-issue chunks or something like that. Georges is an amazing artist and has done an incredible job so far with the series, so I hope that if it does continue, it will continue with him. Because he’s doing an awesome job.
TFAW: Do you have anything else going on that you want to talk about?
ZW: Right now I’m working on a television show for AMC, a show called Halt and Catch Fire, which is set in Dallas in 1983. It’s about a computer company that’s getting into the PC business. I’m on the staff there. It was created by Chris Rogers and Chris Cantwell. It’s an amazing pilot, and I’m very excited.
Our thanks to Zack Whedon for updating us on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind! Make sure to order these Serenity comics (and catch up on previous ones) here at TFAW — you’ll save 10-50%!
Are you a Browncoat? What do you hope to see in the pages of Serenity: Leaves on the Wind? Post your comments below!
Since The X-Files television show ended in 2002 after nine seasons, millions of fans have wanted to believe it could somehow continue. This fervor for the beloved FBI team of Dana Scully — the skeptic — and Fox Mulder — the believer — and their paranormal investigations have led to two movies (with a third hinted at during New York Comic Con), and now IDW’s popular The X-Files Season 10 comic book series, written by Joe Harris (Great Pacific, Fury of Firestorm).
As part of Horror Month, we sent Harris our questions about working on the X-Files, Scully’s son William’s true parentage, and what’s coming next.
WARNING: IMPLIED NUDITY IN IMAGES BELOW. MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR READERS UNDER 18.
Enjoy Harris’s in-depth responses below, as well as an excellent five-page preview of X-Files Season 10 #6, out November 20.
TFAW: How does it feel to have been given the reins to The X-Files?
Joe Harris: It’s been exciting. A little scary and intimidating, to start, but mostly cool at the moment. I try to just go with it and not psych myself out. It’s amazing to have gotten to do this, I’ll be honest with you.
TFAW: What’s your personal history with the show?
JH: I was, I think, right in the prime demographic when the show debuted back in the early 1990s. My brother and some friends got onboard first, and eventually, I relented and started tuning in. The X-Files kept us all company on some lonely teenaged Friday nights. By the time the show really started taking off and finding a broad audience, along with a choice Sunday night time slot, I was in deep.
TFAW: How have Mulder and Scully changed, since the TV show and the movies?
JH: Well, they’ve got some experience on them. They’ve been through the wringer, like, 10 or 20 times, and they’re aware of what they’re up against, in the actual and the broader, overall landscape.
TFAW: What advice, if any, has Chris Carter had for you?
JH: He reminded me that the “science” — meaning the scientific explanation Scully would end up going to when she and Mulder were confronted with whatever paranormal situation happened to be on tap that week, had to be sound. And then he recalled the simple, obvious but essentially crystal clear paradigm the show followed — that Scully has to have reason to be convinced that something paranormal is not going on, and that the paranormally inclined Mulder is always right, in the end.
TFAW: You’ve got the first arc under your belt now, with the conclusion of “Believers” in X-Files Season 10 #5. Are there any differences to how you’re plotting and writing the next one?
JH: I feel like we’re rolling a bit now. In terms of story, we’ve re-set the table and can operate with a foundation under us that’s directly comics-based. And so far as writing these characters goes, I think I’ve got a good read on Mulder and Scully. Going into this, I was drawing on the television episodes for backmatter and research. But they’ve got new experiences we’re going to be building off of too now.
That said, I’m still doing tons of research, shuttling through the shows and films for backmatter and inspiration.
TFAW: As a fan, is there a scene you’re just dying to write?
JH: Oh hell yes. As I’m always scanning through old episodes, I make note of little hooks and references that might later work their way into a Season 10 story and cement us a little more within the mythology.
There’s a lot I’m looking into right now, and I really don’t want to reveal and spoil anything here. But I can give you two examples of moments and bits that would ring some bells with the fans, and which I really want to illustrate as either the center of an upcoming issue, or in a scene somewhere down the line, etc.
The first involves Mulder’s trip to a Washington, DC “head shop,” as mentioned in the Stephen King co-written episode, “Chinga,” where he ends up buying the iconic “I Want To Believe” poster that hangs on his basement office wall. I mean, can you imagine Mulder browsing through the bongs and glass pipes before he gets to the blacklight posters and patchouli?
The other involves Monte Propps, the killer who was the subject of young Fox Mulder’s famed work as a profiler before founding the FBI’s “X-Files” division, and who was mentioned in the very first episode of the show. I’d like to expand and expound upon that bit of lore a little at some point, too.
And I’d love to show more of Mulder and Scully’s past, at some point, if it works within the context of what we’re doing in the present.
TFAW: How large will Scully’s son William figure in the overall series?
JH: I read this question a couple times thinking, at first, you were asking me how big he was these days!
It’s all a mystery, wrapped in a puzzle, inside of an enigma. William is, obviously, a core concern for Mulder and Scully — for Dana, especially. And the events of our opening “Believers” arc didn’t do anything to lessen that.
But William is also a dear concern for Chris Carter, and I know he has business he wants to get to on that front, himself. So we’re touching upon things where appropriate, and when expected . . . but we’re being careful for other, very cool reasons too.
TFAW: Are we going to get a definitive answer about his “true” parentage?
JH: You sound like my Twitter feed! See above.
TFAW: The X-Files has always been an fantastic blend of horror and sci-fi. What are your personal influences in those genres?
JH: I’m a huge horror and sci-fi nerd. I’ve written a few horror movies and directed a few short films of my own, having grown up on a steady diet of John Carpenter and Friday the 13th sequels and all sorts of other influences. I am a Richard Matheson junkie and a Rod Serling lover, too.
TFAW: Can you give us any hints about the alien invasion, or whatever else is coming next?
JH: If I told you about “the alien invasion” Chris Carter would excommunicate me . . .
But I can tell you that we’ve got lots of hooks and permutations of the X-Files “Mytharc” to explore, and new conspiracies to dig into. Lots of old friends, enemies, and characters difficult to classify as one or the other will be returning . . . some in unexpected ways, with motivations and secrets that keep this a forward-leaning series, rather than just a trip down memory lane.
We’ve got everyone’s favorite monster, Flukeman, returning in a two-part sequel to the immortally beloved Season Two episode “The Host” beginning in issue #6, and Mulder’s mysterious informant “X” makes a return from beyond the grave in issue #8.
Issue #9 is going to spotlight our first original “Monster of the Month” that I’m super excited to reveal. It’s going to be a pretty creepy experience, I can promise you that.
After that, we’re going to expand on the presumed history of everyone’s favorite nicotine addict a bit, both as a love letter to one of my favorite episodes, “Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man,” as well as an uncovering of some new details regarding the mystery of CSM’s reappearance in the pages of The X-Files: Season 10.
And all of this will propel us toward the next big, shocking multi-part storyline beginning in issue #11.
Our thanks to Joe Harris for answering all of our questions! You can find The X-Files Season 10 comics and graphic novels right here at TFAW; save 10-20%
Are you excited about The X-Files Season 10? Post your comments below!
When Army of Darkness debuted on movie screens in 1992, it was both the third installment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series and its own unique creature. After defeating a demon in Evil Dead II and losing his hand, Ash Williams is thrown back into the Middle Ages, where he fights horrific Deadites, retrieves the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (unleashing unexpected consequences), and flirts with the alluring Sheila — before returning to his own time.
Blending over-the-top horror, a fish-out-of-water story, and absurd humor, the movie had a respectable — if relatively modest — run in the theaters, before becoming a monster cult hit for millions of fans on video, thanks in large part to Bruce Campbell’s gleeful turn as hapless hero Ash.
Now Dynamite Entertainment is bringing a direct sequel to comics with Ash and the Army of Darkness, written by horror icon Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre) and beginning right after the events of the movie! Niles has created some incredible horror stories in his career and is an exciting choice for the series — particularly because he’s committed to an entire year!
We had a chance to interview Niles for Horror Month — check out his insights, below, and check out our five-page preview of Ash and the Army of Darkness #1! Plus, make sure to pre-order Ash and the Army of Darkness to save 20-35%.
BREAKING NEWS: Since we conducted our interview, Steve Niles’ home was severely damaged by a major flood. We’ve included information on how you can help at the bottom of this post!
TFAW: What attracted you to Ash and the Army of Darkness — for a whole year, at that?
Steve Niles: Well, I love the Raimi movies, so when Nick [Barucci, President of Dynamite Entertainment] asked me to do Army of Darkness, it was a no-brainer. We had tried in the past, but my schedule was a nightmare. Timing was right this time. The other reason is I wanted to do something longer than four issues, which is my usual length. I wanted to try doing some long-form [storytelling], and this came up.
TFAW: What were your favorite aspects of the movie?
SN: I love how the horror and comedy play alongside each other, and I love Ash as a character.
TFAW: This is a direct sequel, right? Where is Ash — in the present, or the past?
SN: I pick up after the last frame of the film. To me one of the best things about AoD was the setting, having a modern man thrown into the past. My 12-issue run takes place almost entirely in the Dark Ages. Things have gotten much worse.
TFAW: Will we see any other characters from the movie? What about Sheila?
SN: You should see just about all of the characters as one point or another. Oldman Wiseman plays a big part.
TFAW: Has Ash grown or learned anything in your pages, or is he still a (mostly) loveable screwup?
SN: Ash? Learned something? Of course not. He makes every bad situation worse.
TFAW: Will this be more of a humorous story, or more of a horror story?
SN: I am playing the horror as straight as I can. Really most of the humor comes from Ash and his reactions to the horror.
TFAW: You’ve written some indelible horror stories, including 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre. Are there any aspects of horror that are neglected these days, in your opinion?
SN: I think horror is doing just fine right now. We have Walking Dead and tons of horror comics of the stands. The Conjuring bitch-slapped the tent poles at the box office over the summer. I think we’re doing fine. I would like to see less watered-down, CW/kiddie horror, but I don’t really pay attention, so I don’t care. I always hope those silly shows are just gateways to bigger and better horror.
TFAW: How many projects are you juggling right now?
SN: Just five or six right now. I’ve slowed down.
Ash and the Army of Darkness is sure to make a splash — make sure to pre-order issues #1 and #2 now to save 20-35%.
We want to thank Steve Niles for his time, and wish him and his family a swift recovery from the flood that recently damaged their home. If you’d like information on how to help, you can get the details at ComicsAlliance now.
What’s your favorite Steve Niles comic, and why? Post your comments below!
One of the most buzzed-about horror titles of the past year is Revival, written by Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) and featuring the amazing art of Mike Norton (Battlepug), with positively haunting covers by Jenny Frison (House of Night). The concept is simple yet compelling: one day in a small Wisconsin town, the dead suddenly came back to life.
Why did it happen? What does it mean? While the outside world is clamoring to learn the reason for this “miracle” — and partake in it themselves — Officer Dana Cypress must deal with a government quarantine, religious zealots, her demanding father, and all of the town’s dirty little secrets, which are spilling out one by one. Did we mention Dana’s little sister Em is one of the group of people who has come back to life (now known as Revivers) — and was apparently murdered?
It all adds up to one of the most addictive titles yet from Image Comics! If you haven’t jumped on board yet, the Revival Vol. 1 deluxe hardcover is out October 30, and if you pre-order now, you’ll save 20%.
We had the chance to interview Tim and Mike for Horror Month! We asked them who killed Em, what’s up with the ghostly spirits in the woods, and more. Did they answer? Read below! Plus, check out six pages from Revival #14, available now.
TFAW: Can you tell us how the concept for Revival came about?
Tim Seeley: I’ve wanted to do a crime book set in a rural Wisconsin town for a few years, but I didn’t have a catch for it. I also had an idea for a “un-zombie” zombie story, which would focus on this girl, Em. Mike and I were looking for something to do together. I pitched him both ideas over lunches at our studio, and they eventually somehow became one idea. I brought some of the characters from previous ideas in, Mike and I developed new ones, and BOOM-POW-VOILA, we had Revival.
Mike Norton: Just like Tim said. I was pretty much there from the beginning. It was very much a matter of Tim having an idea and then us hammering it into something we’d both like and want to work on.
TFAW: Revival is based on a fairly simple idea: one day, a small number of people in a tiny town come back from the dead. But after re-reading the first two trades, it’s amazing how complex the story gets, once everyone’s secrets are revealed–or at least hinted at. How do you keep track of it all?
TS: Ha, not easily. We have a white board and ever evolving documents and notes and books . . . it can get pretty hairy sometimes. Mostly I just hope that if I forget it, Mike remembers it.
MN: Yeah, it’s hard. Every issue has a moment of “what are we forgetting?” It’s exhilarating in a way, but it’s also nerve-wracking. It’s been really fun so far. Tim does a great job of it, and I kind of try to poke holes in it to make sure the story is bulletproof.
TFAW: One major mystery in the beginning was “Who killed Em?” but that hasn’t been addressed lately. It looks like the thread will be picked up in issue #15 — will we get a definitive answer?
TS: Not yet, no. But there will be clues and hints, because Mike and I know the answer.
MN: You will get an answer. It may just be a year or two.
TFAW: Em is a very ambiguous character–she’s a Reviver, but she’s keeping it a secret. She always tried to be the perfect daughter, but she was having an affair with a married professor. Plus, she’s acting out more and more and becoming more violent–is this because she’s a Reviver, or because she’s stuck in a crazy situation?
TS: It’s a little of both I think. Em is like all of us . . . she’s complex and has more than one side. Add to that she’s facing a situation in which she has no precedent for, and you can see why she reacts in some pretty extreme ways.
MN: That’s kind what I like about the story we’ve set up. She’s pretty much grown up sheltered and is letting loose. Being dead is kind of an advantage for that. Who cares what happens if you’re dead?
TFAW: What are the motivations of Em’s professor, Aaron Weimar? Is he a bad person, or just misunderstood?
TS: I think Aaron is mostly a good person, actually. He’s made mistakes, and gotten himself into a difficult situation, and we’ll see what that makes him do in issue #17.
MN: Aaron . . . Hmmm. Wait ’til issue #17.
TFAW: Em’s sister, Dana Cypress, is a complex woman. She’s good at her job, but hampered by some hangups that affect her relationships with her family, potential love interests, and colleagues. What made her this way?
TS: Dana was profoundly affected by the loss of her mom when she was a kid. Em barely remembers it, but Dana has blamed her dad for it, and it’s made her act out in a lot of different ways. She’s now trying to make up to her dad and her sister for the way she acted out.
MN: I love Dana. She’s strong and it comes from a place where she’s had to overcome a lot of hurdles and personal mistakes. She’s messed up. And she’s trying to make her life (and everybody else’s) better now.
TFAW: Are the “demons” in the forest the souls of the Revivers? Does this make the Revivers evil, and how did this happen in the first place?
TS: Well that’s the big question, isn’t it? We know. And we will tell you if you keep reading.
MN: Ha. Yeah what Tim said.
TFAW: Mike, what strikes me the most about your art is how gorgeous it is–and how disgusting and gory it is, often in the same panel! What were your thoughts behind creating the look of the book?
MN: Well, for one, thank you. That’s really nice. With the art, I’m just trying to bring the realism and atmosphere of a small town. I think that quiet normalcy is what makes moments of extremely horror and violence so disturbing. If a book is drawn in a spooky shadowy scratchy style, you kind of expect the big scare. In our book, you’re not going to know when something crazy is gonna get you.
TFAW: Do you have a favorite character?
TS: I love them all. I like writing Blaine’s dialogue the most. And I think Dana is sort of the most “like” me . . . but I can’t choose a favorite.
MN: I like something about all of them as well. I love Dana the most. She’s the hero of the story to me. It’s really fun to draw Lester, though.
TFAW: What’s the best part of working on this book?
TS: I like getting to work with Mike, and playing to our strengths and interests, while occasionally making both of us work on things we aren’t as confident about.
MN: I agree. We both share similar aesthetic and preference for comics, and making comics together has been really fun and challenging. I’m really proud of it.
TFAW: What are your personal favorite horror stories?
TS: I’m still pretty attached to the original Halloween, Dawn of the Dead and a whole host of slasher movies. I recently read — and totally loved — John Dies at the End and This Book Is Full of Spiders. I still love Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and I think Charles Burns’ Black Hole is maybe the creepiest comic I’ve ever read.
MN: Favorite horror? That’s funny. I used to hate horror as a kid. Nightmare on Elm Street and Fright Night were movies I had to watch behind closed fingers.
TFAW: Can you give us any other hints about what the future will hold for Revival?
TS: We’re going to see what the government is doing with Revivers who’ve “stepped out of line.” And, there will be an explosion of blood coming up.
MN: A lot of the trademark Revival character moments. And some seriously disturbing stuff.
TFAW: What other projects are you excited about right now?
TS: All of ‘em! I’m in a good place, working on a lot of books I’m really enjoying! Yay! [Editor's Note: Tim is currently working on Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash and Clown Fatale, as well as providing variant covers for Afterlife With Archie.]
MN: I have to say the same. I’m more creatively satisfied at this point in my career than I ever have been. [Editor's Note: Mike is currently working on The Occultist -- with Tim -- as well as The Answer and Battlepug.]
Big thanks to Mike and Tim for chatting with us! If you haven’t read this amazing series yet, make sure to pick up Revival Vol. 1 and 2 in trade paperback, and pre-order Revival comics and the Revival Vol. 1 deluxe hardcover now to save 20%!
Have you read Revival? What’s your theory on who killed Em? Do you have a favorite issue so far? Post your comments below!
As part of Horror Month this October, we’re interviewing the creators of comics’ best horror comics–and who better to kick things off than Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie? During his nearly 20 years at Dark Horse, he’s edited such notable horror comics as Hellboy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Criminal Macabre, and he’s currently co-writing the monthly Abe Sapien series with Mike Mignola.
We chatted with him about transitioning from an editor to writer, and what’s coming up next for Dark Horse’s horror line!
Our thanks to Scott Allie for taking the time to answer all of our questions! Make sure to stop by our Horror Month Sale and save 25-50% on hundreds of horror comics, toys, and more.
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Decades after The Blight all but wiped out the human race, Mother Nature is taking back what’s hers, and she’s not alone . . . The Hinterkind have returned.
Who are The Hinterkind, and what will their return mean for the last remnants of humanity who struggle to survive in a world gone wild? We asked that question and several others of Edginton, who introduced us to the book as well as Prosper and Angus, two teenage friends who venture out of the safety of their village, unaware of the dangers they will face!
Check out our interview, below, as well as a five-page preview of The Hinterkind #1, courtesy of DC Entertainment!
TFAW: What was “The Blight”?
Ian Edginton: It’s the unspecified biological event that wipes out 98% (or thereabouts) of the human race in a matter of weeks. It’s unspecified because no one survives long enough for it to be studied and examined thoroughly. It’s uniquely infectious, there’s no defense against it. After it’s done its work, those who are left are more concerned with trying to survive in what’s left of the world than investigate what caused it.
If it sounds a but like handy-dandy plot device to neatly provide a convenient apocalypse, it is — but it’s also much more. I have to tread carefully here because I don’t want to give too much away, but as the story progresses, we’ll discover that The Blight is more than a nifty plot device, it’s fundamental to the whole return of The Hinterkind.
TFAW: Who are The Hinterkind?
IE: It’s a catch-all title that covers scores of different races, creeds, and cultures. There are Centaurs, Satyrs, Sprites, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres, Trolls, Vampires, Werewolves, and many, many more besides. They’re a myriad menagerie that mankind has used to hang its tales of myth and magic upon. In darker, less enlightened times, it was mankind’s way of rationalizing the irrational, but these aren’t fairytale creatures as we know them, they are beings and beasts of flesh, blood, and passion.
The Hinterkind are a divergent species. Exotic, evolutionary “try-outs” that couldn’t compete with the rapacious ape. Hunted to near extinction through fire, fear, and pogroms, they fled to the great forests and deserts, losing themselves in the shrinking wilderness of an ever-expanding world.
Part of my thinking behind the history of The Hinterkind is the theory that Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon man existed at the same time. That they interacted, inter-bred or (in the Neanderthals’ case) were wiped out by their evolutionary neighbors. Suppose then, we make a leap and say that the creatures we built our myth and legends around actually existed, too? Red in tooth and claw, hunted and hounded to the edges of the world. Now their fortunes have turned and the world is theirs for the taking.
The word hinterkind is derived from the word hinterland, which comes from the German meaning the “land behind” or the hind land.
It’s the wilderness or back-country. In the story it’s what the world’s become, green and overgrown. The Hinterkind themselves have lived in the wilderness, at the edges of the developed world for centuries, but now that the world is the wilderness, they’ve come back to claim what’s theirs.
TFAW: The cover to issue #1 is reminiscent of Fables, but the solicitation copy warns that “these aren’t childhood fairytale creatures.” How does The Hinterkind compare to Fables overall?
IE: It’s like apples and pears, they’re similar but different. The fundamental difference between the two is that The Hinterkind doesn’t have the fantasy element of Fables at all. The Hinterkind themselves look fantastical, but that’s about as far as it goes. The world has slipped back into a dark age, which was when they last walked abroad unmolested, so there is very much a tribal, feudal, medieval feel to everything. The Hinterkind are governed by what tribe, family, caste, or clan they’re born into. Life is perilous, short, and bloody, especially if you’re human. There’s a treacherous uncertainty to it all. Heroes will do terrible things to further their cause, villains will perform acts of kindness, and characters you grow to love will die in sudden, sometimes stupid and violent ways that you didn’t see coming.
TFAW: What can you tell us about Prosper and Angus?
IE: They’re friends in their late teens. They grew up together. Asa Monday, Prosper’s grandfather, is the village doctor. Her parents died when she was a baby and he’s raised her on his own, so they’re very close. Angus is the sister of Sophie Chung, who Asa’s training to be his replacement.
Prosper and Angus are like brother and sister. They love each other. They fight. She’s gets them into trouble that he has to get them out of. They’re children of the new world. We’re so media savvy and saturated these days, we can’t imagine what it would be like without cell phones or social networking, but this is their world. We walk down the street, heads lost in a little screen, often tuning in on world-wide events but ignoring the people around us.
For Angus and Prosper, they know everyone in their village. Their lives and welfare are inextricably linked to those of their neighbors. They’re connected to their friends and family in ways that we don’t seem to be anymore. Ways we might find intimate and intrusive. Plenty of us might remember our grandparents saying that they used to be able to leave their doors unlocked without fear of anyone breaking in? It’s that kind of place.
This also means they don’t have the prejudices and paranoia that life in our time brings with it. They’re not innocents, they know how dangerous their world can be, from getting cut and catching tetanus, to being eaten by bears or Ligons. They’re both wary of the wild and respect it, but they’re not afraid of it, until they learn about The Hinterkind, of course!
When Angus decides to leave the village (I can’t say why) Prosper doesn’t think twice about going with him, even if he doesn’t want her to at first. However, there also comes a time, that no matter how close you are to your friends, you have to walk a different path, and that time is fast approaching for Angus and Prosper.
TFAW: In The Hinterkind, nature has taken back the earth from humankind, and the preview pages show very striking images of New York City overgrown with trees. Was there something specific that inspired this?
IE: Absolutely. The way the world has changed post-Blight is an important part of the story. Without us being around to maintain our “civilized “world, Mother Nature will take back what’s hers with a vengeance. There was a National Geographic documentary, World Without People, that charted how quickly the major cities of the world would fall into decline and decay if people weren’t around to maintain them. Once nature and the elements gain a foothold, it doesn’t take long for things to start falling apart. I used that idea as a springboard for the way the world of The Hinterkind would look.
New York itself is massively overgrown. The survivors, those who stayed behind in the city, have established a village in Central Park. They’ve turned the meadow into farmland, built houses from what they’ve been able to salvage from the city around them, which as you might expect, is quite a bit. They’ve stayed in the city, on Manhattan Island, primarily because of that — it’s an island. During the dark days as The Blight gripped the world, there were bands of marauders and rogue military who would raid, plunder, and kill communities. Being on an island, especially as the tunnels flooded and bridges became overgrown, has afforded them a unique sense of security and isolation.
TFAW: What other changes have come about, thanks to The Blight?
IE: The Blight has meant the effective removal of mankind from their place as kings of the hill, which means the Hinterkind have moved in and the various clans are jockeying for that top spot. The favorite contenders are the Sidhe, what we would call Elves. Of all The Hinterkind, they’re the most powerful, organized, and politicized culture. With humanity gone, they have the mechanisms in place to quickly re-establish their empire, which they can develop and expand in ways undreamt of when humans were around. Then there are the Centaur clans in the Midwest, the Ogre-kin and so on. They’re all carving up America in their own way, but when the edges of their empires brush against each other, that’s when the trouble starts.
TFAW: How did Francesco Trifogli enter the project, and what’s the greatest advantage of having him?
IE: [Editor] Will Dennis got in touch to tell me he’d found this amazing artist. He sent me some samples of Francesco’s other work and I was blown away. I told Will, “Yep, he’s our guy,” and that was that. Job done. Francesco’s been great at taking all the ideas I’ve flung at him and coming up with this amazing art. You forget, we’re world-building on a huge scale. There’s not only the over-grown America to design, but all the people of The Hinterkind! That’s a massive undertaking, and Francesco’s admirably stepped up to the plate. I’m worried about working the poor guy so hard that he just keels over!
TFAW: What else are you excited about?
IE: I’m looking forward to the New York Comic Con next month. Sitting in my office at the top of the house writing the scripts is one thing, but to finally be let loose into the wild to talk about the book is going to be exhilarating and not a little scary. This kind of job has a habit of making you something of a borderline agoraphobic, so the thought of talking in front of a crowd is a tad unnerving.
I’ve also been working on the next series of Brass Sun with I.N.J. Culbard (New Deadwardians) and Stickleback with D’Israeli (Sandman) for 2000AD. I’m also working on a Judge Dredd run with Dave Taylor (Batman: Death by Design). I’ve not long finished writing a 200-page graphic novel adaptation of Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s young adult novel Noughts & Crosses. I also have a television project in the works and that’s progressing nicely.
Are you looking forward to The Hinterkind? What do you think of our preview pages? Post your comments below!
Just in time for Halloween, Vertigo Comics debuts Coffin Hill, a supernatural horror series written by novelist Caitlin Kittredge (author of the Nocturne City and Iron Codex series) with art by Inaki Miranda (Fairest).
Coffin Hill stars Eve Coffin, a rebellious, teenage lowlife from a high-society family with a curse that goes back to the Salem Witch trials. Following a night of sex, drugs, and witchcraft in the woods, Eve wakes up naked, covered in blood, and unable to remember how she got there. After a stint as a Boston cop that ends in a bullet wound and unintended celebrity, Eve returns to Coffin Hill, only to discover the darkness that she unleashed 10 years ago in the woods was never contained.
Coffin Hill debuts October 9 — read our exclusive interview with Caitlin Kittredge below to learn more, check out a four-page preview of Coffin Hill #1, and pre-order the series to save 20%!
TFAW: Can you introduce us to Coffin Hill?
Caitlin Kittredge: Sure, I’d be happy to! Coffin Hill is a wonderful, supernatural horror comic — written by me. (Laughs.) It’s about a woman named Eve Coffin, who 10 years ago participated in a black magic ritual that irrevocably changed her life and the life of her three best friends. She’s now a former Boston PD officer who’s forced to go back to her hometown, the site of the ritual, and she finds out that the evil she called forth is still there, and she’s probably the only one who can put it back to rest.
For a decade, she’s tried to escape it, and there are a lot of dark family secrets, black magic, and there’s also a mystery for her to solve, because when she comes back to town, she finds out that kids who are roughly the age she was when she conducted the ritual have been disappearing into the Coffin Hill woods, which are these spooky, dark, primeval woods outside of town that people tend to get lost in for inexplicable reasons, and report strange happenings, and see strange things.
So all of that is waiting for poor Eve when she comes back from Boston, not in the best of shape, and kind of looking to settle down for a bit. In a nutshell, that’s what you can expect from the first issue.
TFAW: Awesome! What do you find most interesting about the character of Eve Coffin?
CK: I think Eve is interesting in terms of characters that I’ve written before, in that she’s probably the most morally grey of the protagonists I’ve written. My protagonists tend to be a little more good and lawful than she is, and I’m having a really good time exploring what she is and isn’t willing to do, in terms of doing bad things for the right reasons.
It’s also an interesting contrast to write her when she was young, a decade ago, because she was pretty happy using black magic and getting what she wanted, not really caring about anyone else. Which of course led to some pretty bad consequences for her.
She’s definitely tried to turn it around since then, but she’s still quite flexible on what is or isn’t lawful, or good or bad. She does what she thinks is right, but maybe not what everyone else considers right, or legal — or justified, even! It’s been really fun to get to explore someone who’s more of an antihero.
TFAW: I was wondering how someone could be a “lowlife from a high-society family.”
CK: Yeah! (Laughs.) Her family is very old, they’re very wealthy — they’ve been in New England forever. They have tons of blue-blooded old money. They have lots of high-society cred, and Eve’s just not interested in that at all. When she was a teenager, it was because she was rebelling. She didn’t want to be a debutante. She didn’t want to go to tea parties and take ballroom dancing lessons, and she kind of went out of her way to be a jerk to her parents, as we all do when we’re 16 or 17.
Her family has a lot of powerful black magic, and she was able to take it further. And then, when she saw the result of what she had done, she tried to conduct this ritual that went horribly wrong. It kind of skewed everything being part of this high-society family had to offer her. So she said, “Write me out of the will, I don’t want to have any contact with you, I’m going to make it on my own in Boston.”
Then 10 years later, she’s starting off a very successful career in the Boston PD, and she’s really badly injured on the job in the first issue, and she has to come home, because she has no more money and no more prospects. She has to come limping back, and face her wrongs and her family and say, “Well, I can’t make it on my own, I guess I have to come home now,” and then she finds out things in her hometown are not as great as she thought. She gets sucked back into everything she left when she ran away 10 years ago.
TFAW: Which family members is Eve going to be interacting with? Who’s left of her family?
CK: She is definitely interacting a lot with her mother, whose name is Eleanor. She’s basically the rich high-society matriarch from hell. Just add some magical powers to the mom from the TV show Revenge, and you’ve got her. She’s kind of hell on wheels and she’s awful, but awful characters are so fun to write that I try to fit her in here and there wherever possible.
You get to see her in the past in the first issue, interacting with Eve when she was a teenager. It was so much fun to write because I remember when I was 16 — “No Mom, I hate you, get away from me!” and mix it all up with black magic. Their screwed-up family dynamic was just so much fun.
Eve also has a very strong connection with her grandmother — she was the one that she felt closest to as a kid, and the one who gave her what little moral compass she has. Her grandmother was very different than her mother. She wasn’t selfish and out for herself. She took legacy of black magic the Coffin family has very seriously. It’s like a weapon; you have to be careful who you point it at, and only use it when it’s absolutely necessary.
Eve’s had a tiny bit of good influence from her, which is what I think saved her from turning out terrible like the rest of her family. I hint at other Coffins in the first couple of issues, all the way back to the Salem witch trials, and I can say maybe, possibly, you may see them later on in the story arc, all the way back to the 1600s. But I don’t want to give out spoilers.
TFAW: Eve, like Luna Wilder from your Nocturne City series of novels, is a cop. What is it that captures your attention about the combination of the supernatural and the police life?
CK: I think, on a basic level, it’s because when you’re a cop, you have to be very logical, and very reality based and fact based. And obviously, when you’re dealing with the supernatural, that flies right out the window.
Eve is unique because she’s always known that such things exist — she herself has the ability to tap into otherworldly powers and abilities that most people don’t consider to be real, but then she’s also trying to get as far away from that life as she can. I thought being a cop was a pretty natural job for someone who was trying to help people, and base herself in reality as much as possible. I really like the juxtaposition, on a personal level.
For a long time, before I got into writing, I thought I wanted to go into law enforcement. So it’s a field I feel an affinity for. I find cop characters very interesting when they’re morally grey, like Eve is, and it leads to a lot of interesting paths for your character to take, and interesting conflicts for me, as a writer, to explore. It’s one of my personal things that I like to poke at again and again with my stories, and see if I can tease out new, interesting fault lines from it.
TFAW: Coffin Hill is your comics debut, right?
CK: It is, it’s the very first thing I’ve ever written for comics!
TFAW: What was it about the premise of Coffin Hill that made it a comic rather than a novel, for you?
CK: Coffin Hill started off as an idea I had for a novel years and years ago, and I think the reason it never worked is it needed to be laid out in a specific way, and it needed that visual punch to bring all of these twisty, disparate plot elements together.
It has such a dense, labyrinthine plot, and sometimes that can be hard to shoehorn into one book, without confusing your reader. Since comics are a visual medium, you can switch points of view, and you can switch time periods so easily. You can convey in one panel what it would take three pages to describe in a book, so it lends itself really naturally to a visual story.
I describe the plot of Coffin Hill as a snake swallowing its own tail. Eve thinks she knows what happened, but then at the end of the first issue she discovers that she really doesn’t know what happened that night, and what she thinks she saw was just one tiny part of the bigger picture. Her story arc goes on as more and more of the layers start to peel away, and she starts to get deeper and deeper into this labyrinth of family secrets.
TFAW: What’s been the most surprising aspect of creating a comic book series?
CK: For me, coming from the world of print novels and prose novels, it’s been how fast everything has moved! When you write a novel, you can spend literally years waiting for it to be published.
I started working with Vertigo at the beginning of this year, and Coffin Hill #1 is coming out at the beginning of October — that’s breakneck speed compared to what I’m used to! The artist, Inaki Miranda, and my editor, Shelly Bond, they get back to me so fast — I think they just never sleep. They must drink all the coffee in the world, because I’ll turn in a script, and 12 hours later, Shelly will say, “Great, here’s all my notes!” And Inaki will say, “Here’s my preliminary art!”
It’s been great, it’s been gratifying to me as somebody who’s been used to the slow pace of prose publishing. It’s been fun and very different, and just such a different medium, because there are so many elements, like the art, and all of the editorial input and everything, it’s been really just a great experience so far. So — knock on wood — I’m just going to stay enthusiastic and starry eyed about this as long as I can.
TFAW: How has it been working with Inaki? Were you part of the selection process for the artist?
CK: Shelly Bond actually brought us together. She said, “Here’s an artist working on Fairest, and I think he’s willing to do some concept art for you,” and his concept art was amazing, and he ended up coming onto the book, and I could not be happier. I am not visually inclined, or artistically inclined at all, so I should not have been allowed to make the selection.
I’m so glad that Shelly took the wheel there, because Inaki worked out better than I ever could have hoped. His style is a wonderful match for the kind of story I’m trying to tell. It’s got this wonderful dreamy quality that’s perfect for Eve’s story, especially. In the first issue you see the ritual, and you see the opulent parties she was part of as a teenager, and this sort of stark, gritty, unhappy life that she has now as an adult in Boston. Inaki does such a wonderful job with the juxtaposition, and all of the creepy, magical stuff that goes on. I’m very fan-girly about him.
TFAW: What’s coming up next? Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
CK: I’m really so excited about Coffin Hill right now, it’s been my focus for the last six months, because I wanted to do the best job possible. And I am writing novels. I’m working on a brand-new urban fantasy novel series right now, but the comic has been my life. It’s been an awesome experience.
Big thanks to Caitlin Kittredge and Vertigo Comics for a fantastic interview! Browse Coffin Hill comics now and pre-order to save 20%.
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