In shops and online today is the debut issue of Ian Edginton’s latest series from Vertigo Comics, “Hinterkind”. The series is a post-apocalyptic tale that sees Earth after 99% of the human population has been wiped out by an event known only as “The Blight”. In this new world, nature reigns supreme, and so do The Hinterkind. These strange creatures are a melting pot of mythologies and fairy tales, and they detest the few humans that remain on the planet.
Ian Edginton spoke with Bloody-Disgusting about the mythology behind “The Hinterkind”, the few remaining humans, and his plans for the series.
BD: I’m sure you’ve done it a hundred times by now, but give our readers the low down on Hinterkind.
Ian Edginton: Okay, so several generations after The Blight has wiped out 99% of the human population, Mother Nature has reclaimed the planet in a big way but that’s not all, the Hinterkind have returned. They’re what we have come to know as Centaurs, Satyrs, Elves, Dwarves, Ogres, Trolls, Werewolves, Vampires and so on. They’re what mankind has hung it’s tales of myth and magic upon over the millennia, but they’re not fey and fluffy fairy tale creatures. They’re real, brutish and bloody. They’re flesh and blood and full of fury at being hunted to near extinction. Those who survived, fled to the great forests and deserts, losing themselves in the shrinking wilderness of an ever expanding world. But now the wilderness is the world and mankind’s in the minority.
BD: The solicitations mention something called “The Blight” that has wiped out most of humanity. What can you tell us about this event?
IE: At first glance, it just seems like handy-dandy plot device for bringing about an apocalypse and putting mankind on the endangered species list but actually it’s so much more. I have to be careful here because the origin of the Blight is a big part of the story later on in the series, so I don’t want to give the game away.
BD: Prosper and Angus are two of the few humans left on Earth. What’s their story? How do they come to learn about the Hinterkind? What’s their role in all this chaos?
IE:They are children of this new world. This is their world now. They haven’t just survived the Blight, they’re immune to it, like their parents and grandparents. However there are plenty of others ways to die, from predators, other diseases or infection. This is how come Prosper is being raised by Asa, her grandfather, the village doctor.
Likewise Angus is being bought up by his older sister, Sophie.
At one point Asa cautions Prosper, that ‘The wilderness has teeth ready to devour the unwary.’
She and Angus cross paths with the Hinterkind when Asa and several others leave to investigate why the colony in Albany has fallen silent. He knows what she’s like and tells Prosper to stay behind. He orders Angus to keep an eye on her but Angus decides to leave for his own reasons. Prosper figures if he has to keep an eye on her then she has to go where he goes. She browbeats and finagles him into letting her tag along. Poor guy never stood a chance!
They’re our window onto this wondrous but terrifying world. To certain of the Hinterkind, they’re the detritus of a dying race but it will emerge that they both have a significant role to play in the fate of what was America.
BD: In your interview with tfaw.com, you said that the Hinterkind themselves are a medley of different mythological races. Can you tell us about them and how they come to exist again?
IE:We’ll see that appearances to the contrary, they’re not the actual creatures we know from fables and fairy tales, myths and legends. They’re actually a divergent species. Evolutionary try-outs and dead-ends who were eventually overwhelmed and out-competed by humanity. They’re powerful, potent but uniquely specialized species which in the end was their downfall. To them we’re vermin because we breed so fast and spread ourselves far-and-wide.
In less and not-so less enlightened time, we folded them into our myths and legends, because that was the only way we could rationalize the seemingly irrational. We also ran them down and slaughtered them with fire, pitchforks and pogroms, so it’s no wonder they pissed at us. The survivors hid on the diminishing wilderness waiting for the fortunes to turn and now they have, courtesy of the Blight.
BD: You’ve created an interesting mythology behind the Hinterkind. How did you go about developing their history? How much of this mythology makes it into the book?
IE: We find out some of this in the first arc but I didn’t just want to lay down a huge amount of exposition about their origin and so on. We learn enough to pique our interest and then, as the series progresses, we’ll pick up more along the way. I don’t believe in spoon-feeding the reader. Reading the story and discovering things along the way is what it’s all about, otherwise where’s the fun? I want people to read the book, turn a page and be reduced to tears, or laugh or slack jawed in astonishment at what’s just happened.
Developing the history of the Hinterkind was and is an on-going process. One I’d decided that they weren’t fairy folk but our evolutionary cousins, it was a matter of breaking them down into their various tribes, clans and kins, etc. There are half a dozen major groups which include the Sidhe (Elves) the Centaur clans, the Ogre-kin and the Skinlings (goblins, bogarts orks and so on). They’ve all begun carving up the continent for themselves, forging empires and fiefdoms. It’s when these start to brush up against each other that the spark fly. Our major players are the Sidhe. They’re a powerful, politicized, sophisticated culture. A warrior race at heart, they were the first to emerge from hiding and starting building their empire.
BD: Although there are a lot of fantasy and fairy tale elements, the book looks to be quite dark as well. What can readers expect in terms of tone?
IE: It’s primarily an adventure book. There’s a lot of humor in too but there are also great swathes of light and dark. Bad things happen to good people and good things to bad. My advice is, don’t get to fond of anyone.
BD: From the preview pages, we see that the world is now overrun with trees and foliage. There’s something terrifying about this, but oddly beautiful at the same time.
IE: I know, there really is something compellingly beautiful about nature taking back the world. We used a ton of real world reference photo’s, of abandoned and overgrown buildings, towns and even cities. They’re better than any science fiction film set.
BD: You’re working with artist Francesco Trifogli. From the preview pages, he’s able to capture both the post-apocalyptic aspects as well as the creature designs. How did he get involved?
IE: It couldn’t have been simpler. My editor, Will Dennis showed me Franncesco’s samples, which were awesome. We both agreed he was our guy and that was that. Job done. I love it when a plan comes together!
BD: What’s your collaborative process like?
IE: Good. We mostly bat emails back and forth. I’ll send the scripts in, he’ll do some roughs, we’ll maybe throw around some suggestions or ideas for things, the he goes off to do the pencils. Given we’ve never actually spoken face-to-face, it’s been a very easy and comfortable working relationship.
BD: What other projects do you have in the works?
IE: I’m working on the 3rd series of Brass Sun, a steampunk fantasy with INJ Culbard (New Deadwardians) and the 6th series of gothic crime yarn 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 also just finished working on a 200 page graphic novel adaptation of Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s young adults novel Noughts & Crosses.