Published on May 15th, 2014 | by Richard Boom
Interview: “Halloween Man” and the “Eye of the Beholder”… about monsters and curves!
Pop culture has a seemingly endless army of slim-line, cookie cutter, superheroines running around these days. Well, one rebel rousing indie comics creator is going to be offering an super-thick, superheroic alternative very soon. So we decided to have a quick chat with Drew Edwards about his comic “Halloween Man” and his plans for a plus-sized superheroine.
COMICS FOR SINNERS: For those that don’t know what the heck is “Halloween Man?”
DREW EDWARDS: It’s a comic series I started when I was a teenager and here I am, still doing it now that I’m 35.
I think of it as a “Beauty and the Beast” tale with a monster movie twist.
It follows anti-hero, Solomon Hitch as *Halloween Man, **a* good-hearted but flesh-eating anti-hero with the power of the horror movie sequel and his lady love, Dr. Lucy Chaplin, who is basically Doc Savage in a burlesque dancer’s body. Together, this zombie superhero and sexy super-scientist try to save the world and their souls in the process. And if that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then I’d suggest that you read something a little more highbrow.
DE: I’ve always loved to tell stories, but never really seriously thought about it as a career until I was almost into my twenties. I was at that point in life where you’re thinking, “What do I do with myself?” For me, the answer was taking the two things I loved most; monster movies and comic books, and combining them.
I love superheroes and part of me loves old-fashioned, two-fisted “do-gooders” like Captain America and Superman. But on another level they represent an ideal that I find very distant from myself. Where as characters like the Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s monster seem strangely closer to reality. They’re the outcasts, the less-than-perfect beings. So I wanted to create a story where the monster was the “do-gooder” and got the girl. I wanted to show the world the heroic side of being weird.
C4S:For the purpose of this interview, tell us more about the Lucy Chaplin character?
DE: She’s the love interest of course. Certainly Solomon’s link to the living world.
As I said earlier, she’s represents a juxtaposition of two different archetypes. On face value, she is very much what we call a “good girl” character in the comics biz. Which is to say, she is a female character with a high cheesecake factor, sort of in the style of a classic movie starlet. A retro pinup type if you will. On the flip side of that she has this extreme level of genius. She’s an inventor, an adventurer and an innovator. The crusading scientist we see a lot of in comics.
And it’s the melding of “mind” and “body” which has made her the most popular character in the strip I think. On a good day, she’s certainly my favorite character to write.
C4S: Speaking of “body” are we to understand, this character is undergo a change in appearance in the near future?
DE: Correct. Although it’s almost like retroactively correcting my own misstep. When I originally envisioned Lucy, I pictured a buxom, plus-sized woman in 1950’s pin-up dress. But at that tender age, I lacked the confidence to follow through on this idea. I’d always try to slip it into my notes to artists, asking them to draw her curvier. But they’d normally just draw her with a bigger bust-line and that was it.
So now, over a decade down the line, I’m going to follow through on this idea. This change is going to come in the second story arc of the relaunched “Halloween Man” under Monsterverse. It’s entitled “Eye of the Beholder.” The story deals with a former friend of Lucy’s from her college days. You learn more about Lucy and her days as a student. So it’s character driven, even if the subject matter is a little tongue in cheek.
C4S: What made you finally decide to go this route with the character?
DE: I have more confidence than I used to. However, this is something I actually grappled with a lot. I wasn’t a decision made lightly. I know it could be seen as possibly pervy or weird. I also knew I could be shooting myself in the foot as far as making the comic more mainstream.
But It’s like I said, now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m much more comfortable with my own personal preferences. I’m attracted to full-figured women and it’s my comic. Certainly if I’m not pleasing myself with my own work, I’m doing something wrong. I know there are quite a few male comic fans, who want a superheroine with more meat on her bones.
C4S: How did you craft the new character design?
DE: I worked with several different artists on the new version of the character. Terry Parr and Sergio Calvet, both of whom have a long history with Halloween Man. Also, Paul Delacroix, who is a great pin-up artist who specializes in plus-sized women.
There basically was a lot of emailing back and forth. Some phone calls. A lot of discussion of what would look right and what wouldn’t. We didn’t want the new look to seem completely alien from how she used to look. So that was the trick, Finding something that felt like the same character. In the end, I think we nailed that.
C4S: How do you think female readers will feel about the change?
DE: Naturally, I’m hoping they will embrace it. “Halloween Man” has always had a lot of female fans, so I put a lot of thought into how they might react.
I had my wife and several of my female friends read the script before having it drawn. I tried to make sure my own desire to see A plus-sized superheroine wasn’t overwhelming my common sense.
Lucy has always been a positive character. As a creative team, we hit on the idea that she had to embrace her new curves pretty early on. So while there is some character bits of her adjusting, she very quickly starts to enjoy her new appearance. And I think there is something cool about seeing a character that isn’t your normal wasp-waisted heroine be shown to be smart,sexy, and powerful. So, I hope readers on both side of the gender divide see that a lot of thought has been put into this.
C4S: Will the comic downplay her sex appeal now that she is a plus-sized woman?
DE: Heck no! If anything we amp it up at first. One of the big influences for the original story and the ones that follow is Russ Meyer. The rebel in me really loves the idea having a plus-sized woman that is very in-your face about her sexuality.
I also did some reading into the concept of “lipstick feminism” and sought to apply that to the character. Most of the time in fiction, be it comics, film, TV, whatever… plus-sized women are relegated to being the comic relief. They’re certainly not allowed to be sexy or powerful in any form.
So this is a big, giant, middle finger towards the idea that a “BBW” can’t be as sexy as her slimmer sisters.
C4S: What do you think the long term effects on this change will be?
DE: Probably nothing. Of course, I hope it brings a little more attention to the comic. As a true indy comic, anything we can do to stand out is great.
A big part of me hopes more comic creators follow my lead and create (or recreate) characters that don’t fit the typical Hollywood mold. DC comics recently slimmed down both Power Girl and Amanda Waller as part of their line-wide reboot. If you’re a comic fan, you be staggered a little bit by that thought.
Most comic characters are very cookie cutter in appearance. I’m not just talking about female characters, I mean all characters. We need more body types and more diversity in comics, not less. But in reality, we have a legion of cookie-cutter characters filling up the comic racks. I’m making my little stand against it, which is the best I can do as a creator.
C4S: So this isn’t an example of say…Spider-Man putting on his black costume
DE: No, this isn’t a “comic book gimmick” in the traditional sense. We aren’t going to change her back a few issues later. This is full steam ahead with this version of the character. Love it or leave it.
C4S: You’ve recently relaunched the series through Monsterverse as a digital comic. Why go that route with it?
DE: Well, for one, Monsterverse is a great publisher, who “gets” what Halloween Man is about. And secondly, I feel like I had taken the comic as far as I could as a web comic. I’ve been doing this for thirteen years, so it was time for a change. I think the years I spent doing the web comic were well spent, but this is the way the industry is going. As much as I am a rebel, I’m not about to spit in the wind about this.
C4S: Other than the big changes with Lucy, what else can we expect from this new series?
DE: There are two “series” running currently. There is “Halloween Man” which is the ongoing series with all of the regular action. Then there is also “Halloween Man: Special” which features crossovers,team-ups, longer stories, and more mature subject matter. We launched that one with our Hack/Slash crossover. It continues with “Halloween Man vs. the Invisible Man.” Which was part of the web-series, but was sadly overlooked by a lot of folks. Personally, I think that is some of the best work ever done with the characters.
As far as the Halloween Man ongoing series, as regular readers know the first issue involved dwarves and dealt with a kind of high fantasy vibe. After the transformation stuff with Lucy, we’re going have a few issues where Lucy is the star.
C4S: What kind of tone does that stuff have?
DE: I was aiming for “if Russ Meyer made a superhero movie.” And I think we nailed it.
DE: Correct. It’s called “the Terrible Fruit Bats” and it combines a lot of my long time influences. It’s a little bit Joe Dante, a little bit Hammer Horror, and a whole lot of Scooby Doo. Vampires are my favorite villains, which is why I use them so much. But this is a little different, because it deals with mutated version of vampires. I was just trying to strip the monster down and make them scary again.
It’s also a little bittersweet because it is the swan song of long time Halloween Man artist Sergio Calvet. He’ll be staying on as art director, but this is the last time we’ll see his pencils for a good while. Working with him has been one of the longest, most fruitful, relationships of my career. So we’ll be sad to see him go.
C4S: Looking beyond that, what can we expect?
DE: After “Terrible Fruit Bats” our new artist Luis Inzunza is taking over and the guy is just a find. I fully expect him to be with one of the majors before too long. He will be delivering a story arc inspired by the late Ray Harryhausen. We’re introducing our version of Sinbad, plus a whole slew of new monsters.
C4S: Where can readers find out more about Halloween Man?
DE: My website/blog halloweenman.com is probably the best resource. With the
facebook group being the second best. Keep your eyes on the Monsterverse website for release dates as well. We have a lot of exciting stuff down the pipeline, including contests and give-aways. You should also check out the Monsterverse section on Comixology, not only for Halloween Man but for all of their fine products. https://www.comixology.com/