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Interview: Christopher Golden Unleashes His Fangs ‘Baltimore: Infernal Train’

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Spinning out of Dark Horse’s announcement for their horror line at C2E2, the company continues to reveal new titles with the upcoming “Baltimore: Infernal Train” mini-series. The series will of course be written by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola with art from Ben Stenbeck.

The series beings months after a devastating plague ends World War I, Europe is suddenly flooded with deadly vampires. Lord Henry Baltimore, a soldier determined to wipe out the monsters, is on the hunt for the creature responsible for this chaos and his own personal tragedy. What he uncovers is a terror as horrific and frightening as any he’s seen on the battlefield. Baltimore: Infernal Train finds our protagonist hiding out in Budapest awaiting the arrival of the sadistic Judge Duvic, when a strange woman shows up with a bizarre invention she promises will rid the world of vampire plague.

Christopher Golden checked in with Bloody-Disgusting to reveal details for the upcoming “Baltimore: Infernal Train”. Golden spoke candidly about the development of the series from a prose novel to comic book series, working with Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and the current state of the Baltimore movie with writer/director David S. Goyer (Man of Steel).

Bloody-Disgusting: What can you tell us about Baltimore: Infernal Train and what fans can expect with this upcoming story-arc?

Christopher Golden: Way, way back when Mike and I first decided to do the BALTIMORE comics series, we began batting story ideas back and forth. The last of those stories “The Play.” Later, when we were talking about doing a Free Comic Book Day issue, we came up for the ideas for the two short stories in “The Widow and The Tank.” The idea for “The Infernal Train” was born in the space between those. In fact, it started while I was in the process of writing the very first Baltimore comics story, “The Plague Ships.” Normally I play it pretty coy with this stuff, but I’ll come right out and tell you…there’s a weird character shown in, I think, the second issue of “The Plague Ships”–a woman who has a strange, mobile furnace and who is allowing the townspeople to use that furnace to incinerate the plague dead. Her name is Lucrezia Fulcanelli. If readers noticed her at all back then, most probably thought, well, that’s weird, and moved on. But we put her in there for a reason. Even way back at the beginning of “The Plague Ships,” we knew we would be telling the story of “The Infernal Train.” Of course, the events of this miniseries spin directly out of the latest one shot, BALTIMORE: THE INQUISITOR, which hits on June 19th.

BD: Lucrezia Fulcanelli and Duvic play a large role in this series, what can you tell us about their character and their involvement in this storyline?

CG: I’m not going to tell you much about Fulcanelli, who she’s working for or with, and what she’s up to. What would be the fun of that. But I will tell you that “The Inquisitor” will not only give you the origin of Judge Duvic, but will change that character forever…and lead directly into “The Infernal Train.” As always, Baltimore is pursuing his own vengeance and Duvic is pursuing Baltimore…but by the time “The Infernal Train” is over, the entire dynamic will have changed forever. That’s one of the things I love best about working on a creator-owned series. Big superhero comics are always talking about characters and their worlds being “changed forever,” but it’s bull. It’s not forever, just until the next time they reboot. Well, we’ve been going somewhere with Judge Duvic, and this is where you find out what we’ve been planning all along.

BD: There are a lot of key historical moments in the book that are important elements of the story. How much research goes into making the story historically accurate, or is it more of an embellishment of your own version of history?

CG: It’s a little of both. I definitely research the locales and many of the items (the train we’re using, for instance). Ben Stenbeck obviously does loads of research. At the beginning, dealing with the war required a lot of research, but now for the most parts it’s getting the cities and their circumstances right. If I’m including a specific vehicle or tool or whatever, I try to include links in the script to give Ben a head start.

BD: You’ve written Baltimore as a prose novel and continued the series as a comic book. When you have a story idea for the characters how do you select if it will work best as prose or as a comic book?

CG: The novel sprang from a graphic novel idea Mike had had brewing in his head for years, so in fact all of the ideas for this series started as ideas for comics. I’m not going to say never, but I have zero interest right now in doing another Baltimore prose novel. We have long terms plans for Baltimore and if they come to fruition, the intention is that it be in comic book form.

BD: How does the writing process with you and Mike Mignola work? Do you both script the book?

CG: We plot together, usually on the phone. I do an outline based on those conversations which we then go over together. The scripts are mine, but I go through two rigorous editorial processes–first I send it to Mike and the two of us go over everything together, make sure that we’re on the same page and that I haven’t done anything that makes him roll his eyes, and then I send the revised script to Scott Allie at Dark Horse, and Scott forces me to make sense of the things that didn’t make sense the first time around and to tighten up the things that could work better.

BD: Is Baltimore a book that you could envision yourself writing for a long period of time or do you have a definite ending in mind for the book?

CG: At some point, we’re going to dovetail back into the novel. That’s a given. But Mike and I have some very specific plans about moving beyond that. After that, who knows?

BD: Does the success of things like Twilight, True Blood or even Buffy in pop-culture, change the way you approach writing vampires as writer?

CG: Not at all. We do what we do. The vampires in Baltimore harken back to old folklore and we’ve also created our own myths here. I’ve done a variety of different kinds of vampire stories, and that’s as it should be. Vampire fiction continues to be popular because it’s a constant source of invention.

BD: There is a flood of vampire books on the market at the moment. What makes Baltimore standout from the rest of these vampire books?

CG: Much as I love vampire stories…Baltimore isn’t just a vampire book. All throughout the series we’ve seen a variety of different monsters and other evils. Baltimore happens to be hunting Haigus because that particular vampire killed his family, but meanwhile the whole world is changing and that’s a much larger story…which we will get to eventually. It’s that larger mythology that makes Baltimore unique. We are exploring a very dark world and our tour guide–Baltimore–is just about as dark as anything in it.

BD: Years ago Baltimore was optioned for film by New Regency with David Goyer directing, but it has since been abandoned and the rights reverted back to you and Mike. How was that process for you as a writer to see Baltimore go through the Hollywood wringer and what is the status of the project right now? Is there a script? Will we ever see a Baltimore movie?

CG: Ninety percent of it was a great process because we were working with people who understood and respected and really wanted to be involved with the world we were creating. Mike and I were the first ones to suggest some of the larger changes that were made and we wrote that screenplay. I absolutely thought that the finished screenplay would have made a great film, and as far as I know, David Goyer felt the same. Unfortunately, during the time we were off writing our script, the Big Chair at New Regency changed occupants, and the new guy did not get what we were doing at all. We were working with grim, complex characters and a sweeping arc, but we also had a very non-linear script that telescoped in and out–just as the novel does–and the new guy wanted something much safer and more typical. At that point, I knew we were dead in the water at New Regency. As to whether or not you’ll ever see a Baltimore movie…there has never been a time when we haven’t been discussing how to bring Baltimore to the screen in some fashion. Time will tell. Right now, Mike and I hold the rights, and that’s what is important to me.