Hello darlings, I present to you my interview with Cole Haddon, a man that has woven together numerous works of horror literature and cinema to create “THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. HYDE”. Set in Victorian London, the combination of Haddon’s writing and M S Corely’s artwork give this story the correct look and feel of period. Additionally, this comic serves to present a completely new story, while simultaneously giving readers a feeling of familiarity due to numerous horror references and character cameos. Read on for all the details.
Cole Haddon: “No problem. I’m a big fan of the website, so this is a treat.”
Johnny_Trouble : “This comic series is a combination of Jack the Ripper’s infamous crimes, The Silence of the Lambs, The Island of Dr. Moreau, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. What inspired you to combine such a wide variety of subject matter for a comic book?”
Cole Haddon: ” I suppose it started with a childhood love of Victorian horror fiction, which itself was probably inspired by an earlier love for Universal monster movies. You know, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Invisible Man, and so on. I think I discovered Shelly, Stoker, Wells, and, of course, Robert Louis Stevenson right around the same time I discovered Hammer horror movies, too. In other words, I grew up finding a classic style of monster and horror much more appealing than the slasher flicks other kids were obsessing over in the 80s. I wanted to pay homage to that childhood love affair, what all these books and movies had done to shape my life. Now, the Hannibal Lecter parallel, I blame that on the fact that The Silence of the Lambs is probably the first time I saw a B-film elevated to a level others considered art as much as I did. Plus, Lecter is what I love most about villains: their perspective is often far more interesting than the heroes’. They’re foils for that reason, to help challenge the heroes’ generally far more naïve ideals.”
Johnny_Trouble : “Our main character is Thomas Ayde, also known as Col. Ayde the inspector in The Invisible Man. Why did you choose him to be the main character of the series?”
Cole Haddon: ” From the start, I figured the best way into this book was to look at is as prologue to a larger X-Files-like heroic narrative. I needed a protagonist for that, an investigator of some kind who could carry us through that timeline, who could face off against and learn from the monsters I loved as a kid. Adye, whom I knew would eventually end up with some degree of experience and even expertise on monstrous serums because of The Invisible Man, seemed like the perfect fit for that model. I guess in that way, this is the origin story of the hero of The Invisible Man and a sequel to the villain of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
Johnny_Trouble : “In the series it seems that a lot of people look down on Thomas Ayde and his approach to forensics. The Peelers consider him crazy due to his use of science when approaching evidence and investigating crimes. Additionally, Dr. Jekyll also seems to belittle him because he was born as part of the lower class as well as Ayde’s personality. Despite being surrounded by people that look down on him in some way, Ayde is still considered our hero. What made you decide to portray him as such an underdog?”
Cole Haddon: “Dr. Jekyll’s is a transformation story in the original novel. I wanted to continue that theme with my hero. I wanted him to begin as far as possible from the point he would end up, in other words. If you want to get more intellectual than that, Adye also begins as an advocate for the status quo. He’s a man of faith, a man who idolizes the upper-class, a man who has never questioned anything he believes because he was taught not to. Jekyll sees potential in Adye despite this, Adye’s naïveté, because Jekyll sees what he used to be – a man who mistakenly believes he has the power to save the world. That’s what did Jekyll in, the desire to cure Mankind of evil, and that’s what Jekyll will exploit, Adye’s ego, to “educate” Adye about how the world really works.”
Johnny_Trouble : “Regardless of how many sources you drew characters from, you have made The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde flow organically, and in doing so, you have made the characters your own. How did you overcome the challenge of blending the characters together despite all of them being identifiable and separate figures in their own right?”
Cole Haddon: “Wow, that’s a huge compliment, given my love of these characters. Thank you so much. As for how did I blend them? I think that goes back to my last answer about Dr. Moreau. Once you begin imagining a world where all these monsters, these super-villains, existed at the same time, or rather in the same world, all sorts of possibilities begin to present themselves. Of course, I do pervert the original presentation of many of the characters in doing this, to draw stronger contrasts here or there, but I do my best to stay true to the spirit of whom the characters were. If I changed them too much, they’d cease to be the characters I loved so much growing up, after all, then this would all be some cheap, crass exercise. Comics, at least at this point in my career, don’t pay remotely enough to justify that.”
Johnny_Trouble : “In your opinion what was the most difficult obstacle you faced while working on this project?”
Cole Haddon: “Oh, that’s easy. It happened once I started working with my artist, M.S. Corley, who, by the way, you need to pay plenty of attention to. This guy is amazing. The covers he’s done for Strange Case are just beautiful. Anyway, biggest obstacle…that was the amount of research necessary to visually bring this world to life. It’s easy enough to write it, but when every single thing that appears in a panel has to be selected for historical accuracy or thematic intent, you begin to realize how lucky the guys who write and draw Batman or Spider-Man are. “Batman stands at the top of a skyscraper?” “Check, got it. Know what that looks like.” But Mike and I wanted this to look like one of Hammer Film’s Gothic horrors, like the Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee Frankenstein and Dracula flicks. But denser in detail, since their sitting rooms and parlors and police stations tended to be more Spartan than such real locations would be. The result is…well, just a lot of work to get it right down to mantle decor. And this is all before our amazing colorist Jim Campbell came aboard. He still gets emails from me about finding new wallpaper patterns, fabric patterns for couches (lounges in Adye’s world), and the degree to which smoke damage would have discolored walls. I’m not sure if it will even be noticed by readers, but Mike and Jim killed themselves to make Strange Case look as special as possible.”
Johnny_Trouble : “How did you and M S Corley get teamed up for this comic series?”
Cole Haddon: “My editor, Dave Land, sent me some art samples and a short comic story Mike had illustrated for Dark Horse Presents on-line, this after I had kind of shrugged at samples from more established artists that just weren’t right for this. Dave knew I wanted Strange Case to have its own unique look, a look that could belong to this book, and Mike had everything I was looking for, that’s for sure. I still remember how I felt when he sent me the first six pages of Issue 1. I actually got teary eyed, man. It was exactly what I had seen in my head when writing the book.”
Johnny_Trouble : “How did you guys get signed on with Dark Horse Comics to make this series?”
Cole Haddon: “Well, Strange Case actually started its life as a screenplay pitch to Mark Gordon Company. A producer over there, Josh McLaughlin, took it to Keith Goldberg at Dark Horse Entertainment. A few weeks later, I met with Mike Richardson. They all agreed this could be a movie, which I obviously agreed with since I was the one who pitched it to them. But I had also grown up a comics geek, the kind who spent all his money on the week’s new releases. The chance to finally make the leap to writing in a medium I loved so much was probably more exciting, at least at the time, than working on the screenplay. We eventually went out and, as I was working on the comic script, pitched the forthcoming comic book as a movie as well. Skydance Entertainment, David Ellison’s company, bought it with me as the screenwriter.”
Johnny_Trouble : “What is the best way for our readers to keep up with news and updates about you and The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde?”
Cole Haddon: “They can follow me on Twitter: @colehaddon. Thanks!”
We would like to thank Cole for doing this with us. “THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. HYDE” will be available April 27th throughDark Horse Comics.
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