You may have seen or heard of Halloween Man; a dark, funny, occasionally heartwarming slice of webcomic delivered to the interwebs by writer Drew Edwards and his crack creative team. The title refers to protagonist and unconventional (to say the least) superhero, Solomon Hitch - horrifically scarred and inconveniently undead. (OK, the undead part comes in handy. The craving for warm, juicy flesh? Um... not so much.)
Solomon keeps his bloodlust in check and uses his invulnerability to protect the weak, aided by a group of equally odd friends and companions, including and especially his girlfriend Doctor Lucy Chaplin, scientific genius and pin-up siren extraordinaire.
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Where did the idea for Halloween Man come from?
Basically from a lifetime spent watching monster movies. I noticed that in a good number of them, the monster only wanted the girl, but never got her. So I started searching for a way to invert that story where the monster would end up with the girl. My other passion is classic comic books, which have a long history of outsider protagonists. By combining the two, I'm allowed to make the monster the hero.
Now, the name "Halloween Man" came to me while listening to the Misfits song "Halloween" while writing. It was perfect and lent itsself to a whole slew of imagery.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Initially, most of it came from different forms of pop culture; horror movies, comic books from the 1960's, dungeons and dragons, punk rock, and the like. As I've grown older, I've started to look more and more towards the real world for inspiration. I still take a lot from popular culture. But I filter that through whatever is going on in my own life or past experiences, both painful and positive.
The webcomic is a collaborative effort with artists; how do you choose which artists to work with?
I try to work with the best artists I can find. Typically, I see how well they can draw certain characters and how they react to the material. If an artist isn't having a good time, I don't want to work with them. I've been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented people.
How does the collaboration work?
The process is an interesting one. All members of the creative team come together to result in a singular vision. That's why I've always maintained that creating a comic is comparable to being in a band. It takes several different pieces coming together to create one work. Typically, I plot out the story concept, followed by several stages of scripting. It is then passed on to a penciller, who takes the script and gives it visual form. From there the inker gives the pencils depth and shadow. And the colorist and letterer do just what their titles might make you think. As you can see, a lot of different hands go into creating a single comic.
What sort of responses does the comic receive?
The character and the world he inhabits is fairly offbeat. So it attracts an offbeat type of fan. The people who love this comic are really passionate about it. Having said that, in recent years, we've gone a hedge darker and certain, very vocal segments of the fanbase have not enjoyed it. Although I tend to think of such things as growing pains.
I've seen ads for Halloween Man in Gothic Beauty Magazine... are you personally associated with the Goth subculture, or does the comic simply attract a strong Goth fanbase?
I've always leaned more towards psychobilly and horrorpunk, but it's simply a "short walk" from those subcultures to goth. For about 8 years I was very involved in the Dallas, Texas goth scene; hanging out at a local gothic haunt known as the Lizard Lounge. There wasn't much of a subculture in Dallas at the time, so pretty much every one hung out there, from rockabillies to punks to metal heads. I do like a lot of music that could be considered "goth." I'm a fairly big fan of Alien Sex Fiend. I also love The Damned. Of course this leads to the million dollar question of what is goth and what isn't goth.
In regards to the latter part of your question. Having a comic with this subject matter,makes it easier to attract fans who already love the bizzare and the macabre. I think the same people would be reading it, even if I wasn't involved with this subculture at all. I love the fact that goths enjoy the comic. They're typically more intelligent and more open minded than your usual comic fans.
In your hometown, Austin, there has been a series of Halloween Man shows! How did this come about?
I did a ten year anniversary show here at a club called Headhunters. It was basically a big Halloween party with tons of bands of varying genres, plus circus freaks, a costume contest, and the like. It went over so well that people asked me to keep doing them. Intially I resisted the idea, as I do not think of myself as a show promoter. But once I gave in, I threw myself into it. I can't ever half do anything, so it's become a second job for me.
How much involvement did you have with the show and how did you feel about it?
At least with the intial show, it was my baby from start to finish. The club basically just lent me their space and staff for the night. I was really proud of that show. Although, I've learned a lot since then and I feel like the ones I've done since then have been more professional.
What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Professionally, probably the Halloween Man crossover with Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash. It was published by Image Comics and having a comic published by Image was a childhood dream of mine. Personally, moving to Austin and finding the love of my life.
Where do you see your creative endeavours taking you next?
It's hard to say. My career has mutated so much over the last few years. I never thought I would be as involved with the music industry as I currently am.
So, I'm sure that will continue to take me to some exciting new places. I would like to pitch some stuff to DC and Marvel. In recent years, mainstream comics have really embraced the sort of imagery that has been in "Halloween Man" from the start. So I think it's time for me to take that gamble. My fiance' keeps pushing for me to write a children's book, so I might try my hand at that as well.
What are you working on at the moment?
Aside from Halloween Man, I am regular contributor to Rockabilly Online. I also take part in a bi-weekly horror movie review podcast called "Castle Dracula." The show was founded by vampire novelist, Jason Henderson. My other co-critics are Deserts of Mars guitarist, Tony Salvaggio and travel writer Julia Guzman. The show is a lot of fun. We review a good mixture of classics, cult films, and more mainstream stuff. If you're even just a casual horror fan, I'd suggest checking it out.
On December 9th, here in Austin, I will be putting on the 2nd annual Winter Shock Hop at Ruta Maya. There's going to be a slew of amazing bands, vendors, a pin-up contest, and a costume contest. So if any of you readers are in Texas, please come on down.
What are your long-term plans for Halloween Man?
Having made it over the decade mark, I really want to just expand the fan base. When I first started out, web comics were on the cutting edge. But technology has changed so much. You can reach your fans in so many new ways. So, it's time for me to think beyond print and beyond the web. I'd really love to see "Halloween Man" as an animated series and a toy line. That would be a dream come true.
Your wife-to-be is part of psychobilly/swing fusion all-girl rock&roll orchestra Danger*Cakes! I don't suppose that having a rockabilly pin-up as your amour had any influence on the comic... for example, scientist siren character Lucy Chaplin?
Well, I created Lucy years before meeting Jamie, but it certainly doesn't hurt having such a glamourous and creative woman around at all times. It should be noted that Jamie is in fact, extremely brillant. A trait she shares with Lucy for sure.
Lucy is pretty easy, as for a few years now fans have been suggesting Christina Hendricks. And I'd be hard pressed to think of a Hollywood actress that is a better fit. Solomon is a bit tougher, because you have to find the right balance of animalistic fury and humanistic sensitivity. I don't know that I can think of too many leading men who I feel could pull it off. If Michael Fassbender hadn't already been Magneto (in X-Men: First Class) I think he could have probably pulled it off. He's got that right balance. He has similar screen prescence to Christopher Lee, but is classically handsome at the same time. At the rate Hollywood is making comic movies, we'll probably see a terrible adaptation starring Megan Fox and Justin Bieber in a few years.