In our last FCBD piece, we talked with Criminal Macabre creator Steve Niles about his half of Dark Horse’s flipbook. Today, novelist Christopher Golden tells us about his work with Mike Mignola along artist Ben Stenbeck and colorist Dave Stewart on the Baltimore story on the other side of the book.
Golden is the author of dozens of novels and short stories, including existing franchises like Hellboy and Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as his own series including The Menagerie and Hidden Cities (and really, the man has a pretty diverse body of work). Chalk this latest Baltimore story into the mix. Titled “A Passing Stranger” it’s a bit of a departure from the regular stories featuring the title character. But enough from me—I’ll let Mr. Golden explain.
MTV Geek: Could you tell our readers a little about Baltimore and his FCBD outing, “A Passing Stranger?”
Christopher Golden: We only had fourteen pages to do it, but Mike and I wanted a story that would accomplish several things at once. First, though Baltimore's nemesis is a vampire, we wanted something that would show readers that there are all kinds of evils in this world. We wanted to paint a picture of what an unforgiving place the world has become, post-war, post-plague (although the plague is still ongoing). And, most of all, of course, we wanted a story that would stand on its own as a chilling horror story, while introducing Baltimore to FCBD readers in a way that requires no knowledge of his history. I have to say, I love the result. The artist, Ben Stenbeck, and colorist, Dave Stewart, have outdone themselves on "A Passing Stranger." It makes me very, very happy that people will have the opportunity to get this glimpse into Baltimore's world for free.
Geek: The vampire infestation in your story is being portrayed as a plague. What’s your approach to vampires in the story—supernatural beings or a type of biological threat?
CG: They're very much supernatural, but not in the way that has become so common in modern fiction. These creatures are an ancient evil. There are new vampires, of course, and lots of them, but Baltimore's nemesis, Haigus, and his kin are practically prehistoric in nature. Once upon a time they were more numerous, and the world changed, and humanity began to spread and evolve, and the supernatural creatures of the world died off or went into hibernation, like Haigus and his clan. The war—all the blood and death and suffering—woke them up, and their evil has been spreading ever since. The plague is both biological and supernatural, but we may never go into the fine details of that.
Geek: How long after the start of the plague does the story take place and in effect, how long has Baltimore been fighting vampires at this point?
CG: The plague started during the First World War and spread like wildfire. For the most part, it was simply that—a plague—though the symptoms of that sickness are quite similar to the condition of someone who has been preyed upon by a vampire. Some of those who died from the plague came back as vampires. Though we haven't set out a hard and fast calendar, it's safe to say that all happened in 1915. In the current Baltimore comics, it's the second half of 1916.
Geek: How did the collaboration between you and Mike Mignola come about?
CG: Many years ago, shortly after the first issue of Hellboy, I interviewed Mike for a magazine called FLUX, and that initial contact led both to a long friendship (holy crap, I just realized how long we've known each other—that is scary) and to my writing several Hellboy novels and editing three Hellboy short story anthologies. Over the years, he had told me many times about a "vampire graphic novel" he planned to write and illustrate. One day, out of the blue, he called and said, essentially, that he had realized he would never have time to draw it, and asked if I wanted to collaborate with him on a novel. Ironically, doing the novel eventually led to us doing Baltimore in comics.
Geek: Will we be seeing more stories about Baltimore in the near future?
CG: Absolutely. In late summer and fall, Dark Horse will publish Baltimore: The Curse Bells, a second five-issue series. We have some plans beyond that, but it's too early to discuss them.
Geek: What about other projects from you in 2011?
CG: My new novel with Tim Lebbon, The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Wild just came out. It's the first of a trilogy featuring Jack London's adventures as a young man... and monsters. In a few weeks, my new Peter Octavian novel, Waking Nightmares, will hit stores. It's the first new book in that series in eight years, so I'm very excited for that. I've edited a new anthology called The Monster’s Corner, written an original novel based on the video games series Uncharted and... best of all... Mike and I have collaborated on a brand new novel that will be out from St. Martin's early next year.
Free Comic Book Day 2011 Is On May 7!