If you are looking for urban supernatural horror this spring, Dark Horse Comics Last Stop on the Red Line is sure to check all of the boxes. Writer Paul Maybury and artist Sam Lofti where able to speak to HNN about their upcoming series, in the middle of putting some finishing touches on the first issues of their new series, and they discussed the origins of the project, the importance of the setting of their tale (Boston), and the difficult balancing act between crime drama and horror.
Horror News Network: What was the genesis of Last Stop on the Red Line?
Paul Maybury: I originally conceived of this story as something I would draw myself but ultimately shelved the book for a year or two. When I approached Sam about collaborating I returned to the idea. We had a phone call where we discussed the types of things Sam would like to draw. I wrote a five-paragraph synopsis and Sam drew a promo image to accompany it. I colored and dressed up the image for the pitch, which ended up being surprisingly close to the final product. Until now, we haven’t been able to show off this beautiful image due to the exclusion of this murdered homeless man’s storyline from the final version of the script.
Sam Lotfi: Paul and I met at a few conventions. When we would get the chance to hang out after the shows, we’d talk about projects. We quickly learned we have a lot of the same tastes and interests when it comes to storytelling. Paul came up with a pitch for a supernatural thriller with monsters set in Boston, all of which sounded fun to draw, so here we are.
HNN: Is it difficult to mix realistic crime/noir elements in with the supernatural for a comic story?
Maybury: There’s so much going on in this series that we don’t spend a lot of time pondering logistics. I admire those who can write straight procedural crime/noir while leaving no loose ends. I’m much more interested in the psychology of the scare than grounding things in a plausible reality. I believe comics benefit from a greater suspension of disbelief than any other media.
Lofti: That was one of the biggest draws for me on this book. I love both crime/noir stories and monster stories, both of which thrive on dark or creepy atmospheres, so this was a no-brainer. With the art, I really tried to push for as much of that moody atmosphere whenever appropriate, which can go a long way in giving readers an unsettled feeling even when there aren’t monsters in the scene.
Horror News Network: How much does the city of Boston and “the T” play into the story? How does it make the story unique?
Maybury: I grew up in Boston. Sitting on the train can be an isolating experience. Idle minds can wander into thoughts of dread which seemed like the perfect scenario for a fright. We’ve seen the Southie driven narrative ad nauseam and Boston is a city with a million stories to tell. Last Stop is full of fresh and unique characters who encompass a true vision of the shining city upon the hill.
Lofti: Our story takes place in a near future fictional Boston, so the subway stations, trains, streets and other Boston landmarks all play an important role in subtle ways that help convey the overall tone of our story.
Horror News Network: What type of reader will Last Stop appeal to?
Maybury: Anyone looking for good supernatural horror. With Sam on art and John on colors this book is a must read for anyone seeking jaw-dropping visuals. You don’t need tokens or a “Charlie Card” to enjoy this ride.
Lofti: The best kind of horror stories are the ones with heart, so if you like monsters, a good mystery, and creepy subway trains then get ready for a horrific ride on the Red Line.
Horror News Network: What can you tell us about your lead character Migdalia Torres?
Maybury: Migdalia, a Transit Detective for the MBTA, is assigned the case of the Phantom Strangler. She’s a strong, yet flawed character, swinging with all her might against the darkness she pursues. Her work and family life collide as Migdalia has to fight to maintain a balance and solve the mystery behind the killings.
Lofti: You could put her into any situation and it would be automatically engaging. Being a detective, a wife and mother all take their toll on her throughout our story and readers will be pleasantly surprised to see how she handles it.
Horror News Network: Are you planning this as a limited or ongoing series?
Maybury: It’s a self-contained story with potential for a follow up. If you like the series or creative team, picking up the single issues is a great way to increase the odds of future installments.
Lofti: There’s something really satisfying about a great limited series and I think readers will definitely want to re-read Last Stop looking for clues as soon as they finish it. That said, Paul and I have talked about a follow up which I’m very excited about, so If you’re interested, then (engage carnival barker voice) don’t be shy! Pre-order extra copies at your local comic shops and make sure to pick up the single issues not just for yourself, but get extra copies for friends and family who might also enjoy it! Don’t wait for the trade when you can have it on May 15th!
Horror News Network: What does each of you (and colorist John Rauch and letterer Adam Pruett) add to the collaborative effort in finalizing an issue of Last Stop?
Maybury: First issues are tough, I’ve found this to be true both when I was the artist or the writer. A LOT of extra time and care went into issue one. Issue two always feels like a walk in the park and I honestly can’t wait for folks to see what Sam and John have cooked up for the rest of the series.
Lofti: I can’t wait for readers to get to know these great characters and experience the macabre tone that Paul has written. My main objective is to step into those character roles and give an honest performance while balancing that with compelling and engaging atmospheres. Like a director with a pencil, I might play a loud scene quiet or vice versa if I feel it’s what best works for those characters. It helps that Paul is also an artist, so he can do a quick sketch to clear something up if needed. John orchestrates color to support the story, the emotional beats and pluses everything I’ve drawn on the page. Adam has given our characters their unique voices while making the lettering feel cohesive with the art. I couldn’t be prouder.
Last Stop on the Red Line #1 goes on sale on May 8 at finer comic book shops everywhere.