Horror Comics

Ian Ziering Cast as Blue Devil in ‘Swamp Thing’ Streaming Series

Ian Ziering announced today via twitter that he will be joining the cast of DC Universe’s streaming series Swamp Thing as the lovable Blue Devil.

The actor, known for his roles on Beverly Hills 90210 and Syfy’s Sharknado series, will step into the blue and yellow pirate boots of one of DC’s prominent supernatural characters.  The character first debuted in 1984 (ala a special preview insert in Firestorm #24) and was created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Paris Cullins. His solo series ran for nearly three years and he would later appear as a member of the Justice League and Shadowpact.  The stunt man turned supernatural hero was also rumored to be a part of the long gestating and maligned Justice League Dark film.  At this time it appears that JLD is DOA, but having two competing versions of the same character on the small screen and the silver screen has never stopped DC before, so don’t be surprised if fans get two versions to further confuse them. read more

‘Hellboy Winter Special 2018’: The Horror News Network Review

There are two thing that you can count on during the holiday season: there will always be left-over fruitcake and the arrival of a jolly, red faced, barrel-chested icon.  I am of course talking about Hellboy and his annual Winter Special.

This year’s 2018 collection contains three seasonal tales featuring a classic Mike Mignola and Ben Stenbeck collaboration about a New Year’s Eve seance gone wrong, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s return to B.P.R.D.: Vampire with a new story entitled “Lost Ones”, and “The Empty Chair” starring Lobster Johnson by Tonci Zonjic. read more

Tom DeLonge’s ‘Strange Times’ in Development at TBS

Things are about to get strange as Tom DeLonge’s graphic novel Strange Times is being made into a series for TBS. Variety reports that Aaron Karo is set to write the series which follows five teenage skateboarders who also happen to be paranormal researchers.  The show will center around the group being chased by government agents.

“My love for all things paranormal and skateboarding are sometimes only superseded by my love for offensive humor,” says DeLonge. “This series combines them all into one.” read more

‘BrightBurn’ Trailer Brings Terror to Superman Mythology

What if a baby from another world, despite the best efforts of his adopted parents, turned out to be a little twisted?  This is the premise of BrightBurn, a horror film produced by James Gunn and written by Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn. Frequent James Gunn collaborator David Yarovesky (The Hive) will direct the film which stars Elizabeth Banks, Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman, Gregory Allen Williams, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, and Steve Agee.

The former director of Guardians of the Galaxy, Gunn actually started his career in the horror genre with 2006’s Slither.  He also explored odd super heroes in 2010’s Super, so Gunn is no stranger to either genre, and his role as producer is sure to rub off on his brother (Brian) and cousin (Mark), as well as Yarovesky. read more

‘Heavy Metal’ Magazine Documentary in Development at Fox Digital

Fox Digital Studio, Heavy Metal Media, and 4th Row Films are currently developing a feature film documentary about the history and influence of the quintessential sci-fi/horror/ fantasy comic magazine Heavy Metal according to an exclusive report from Variety.  

Director Douglas Tirola is attached to the film, making it the second time that the director has worked on a documentary based on a magazine, the first being The National Lampoon documentary entitled Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. 

Steven Johnson, Fox Digital’s VP of Production, praised the project, stating that “We are very interested in making pop-culture docs and horror/sci-fi content at FDS. Heavy Metal is the perfect fit; it was a tremendous influence on so many great artists and filmmakers of the genre, and Douglas has a vision that’s going to deliver something really unique.” read more

‘Preacher’ Renewed by AMC for Fourth Season

Preacher fans prayers have been answered, as AMC just announced that the series based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s classic Vertigo Comics series will begin production on their fourth season at the start of the new year in Australia, according to Deadline.

David Madden, the President of Programming, Entertainment Networks for AMC praised the show’s originality, saying that “Preacher is a show unlike any other on television” and one that has “A passionate base of fans found their way to Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy and have followed along with their adventures, at times indescribable adventures, for three seasons. We are thankful to our partners at Sony and to Seth, Evan and Sam for everything they have brought to this series, which we are pleased to renew for a fourth season. Like the superfans of Preacher, we can’t wait to see where this journey leads next.”

Preacher stars Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Coletti, Graham McTavish, Pip Torrens, Julie Ann Emery, Malcolm Barrett, Betty Buckley and Colin Cunningham.

For those who missed any (or all) of season 3, the blu-ray, dvd, and digital versions of the series were released earlier this month.

Stay tuned for further updates on the further adventures of Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy, and the rest of the players, right here at Horror News Network.

 

Vertigo’s ‘Hex Wives’ Writer Ben Blacker: The Horror News Network Interview

For many horror comic fans that came of age in the late 1980s and continued to read and collect comic books into the 90s, Vertigo was their publisher of choice.  With titles such as Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Garth Ennis’ Hellblazer, Vertigo was the place to go for mature, literary horror comics.

This past year, Vertigo has started to go back to their roots with a number of horror and supernatural titles, such as Ben Blacker, Mirka Andolfo, and Marissa Louise’s Hex Wives.  Writer Ben Blacker was able to pull himself away from his cauldron to engage in a lengthy interview about the new series and the ever topical subject of witches.

Horror News Network: Where did the idea for Hex Wives come from?

Ben Blacker: Hex Wives is the confluence of two ideas I’d been tinkering with in the back of my brain for years, while my writing partner and I were working on a few other projects. Maybe five years ago, I caught an episode of Bewitched on TV. I loved that series when I was a kid; when I’d see it in syndication when I stayed home sick from school. It was a typical episode—Samantha worries about getting dinner on the table for her husband who is bringing his boss home from work. Samantha’s mother, Endora, swings by to tell Samantha that she’s married below her. But this was the first time it struck me that Endora was right! Samantha is this super powerful witch who is “not allowed” by her husband to practice magic! That’s bonkers. Darren didn’t want his wife to be her complete self.

So, this was something chugging along in the back of my head. Meanwhile, I was having more frequent and honest conversations with my wife and my women friends about the way they were really treated at work, in relationships, etc. There were a lot more insidious and ingrained attempts to control women than I had realized. Ways of subjugating or minimizing women and their accomplishments seemed inherent to our patriarchal society.

It really came to a head leading up to the 2016 election when I saw both how people talked about Hillary Clinton and how others talked about the way Clinton was talked about. Never has someone so qualified run for this position and never has someone so unqualified won it. At its base, this came down to a question of the way women are considered and treated.

I learned so much about writing TV from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the lessons from Buffy is about having a central metaphor. When I put these ideas together—an exploration of witch tropes and a desire to write about gender politics—Hex Wives really took shape.

HNN: Your story displays witches across time and of course, starts with Salem.  Why is this historical setting so crucial to the opening of your tale?

Blacker: Hex Wives is, at heart, a love story between Isadora and Nadiya, two (basically) immortal witches. (They can die, but they get reborn as themselves). So, I wanted to give some scope to what I thought of as an epic romance. I wanted to give the impression that these two women were destined to be with each other. That, time and again, they’d find each other. That way, when the bad guys have their way and brainwash all of the witches, and Izzy and Nadiya know nothing of who they are or their past selves, it was really emotionally wrenching.

The other thing I was interested in was setting the boundaries of the book. Witches as a horror trope (and as historical figures) go all the way back to ancient Greece. So, by starting the book in Salem, Mass. (a place I visited often as a Boston-based elementary school kid) and referencing The Crucible (a book I taught a few times back when I use to teach 10th grade English), I was staking out that this would be about American witches (which was part of the initial conception of the book). That said, I’m finding myself going back even further in upcoming stories…

HNN: There are two nine panel scenes in the first two issues where Isadora is getting dressed in front of a mirror.  What is the significance of the mirror and her process in relation to your story?  

Blacker: That first nine-panel grid of Izzy in front of the mirror, getting ready for her day, was the very first image I thought of for this book, about four years ago, and it’s the one from which everything else sprung. There was something about seeing this woman in a private, intimate moment and knowing that she was doing this for someone else (her husband). For this character, putting on make-up, doing her hair, making herself “beautiful,” is all for him. I didn’t know why she was doing it, and it occurred to me that maybe she didn’t either. So, that kind of became the basis of the book. A suburban housewife who doesn’t know herself, doesn’t question her reality, who possesses this secret, even from herself.

I knew I would repeat that motif throughout the first arc and beyond. Mirrors are, of course, a loaded metaphor. Do you remember the ad campaign for Poltergeist II? Probably you don’t, because who would? But basically, it had a narrator saying “Some people are afraid of heights. Other people have a thing about mirrors…” and etc. I was a kid when that came out, and I remember asking my mom why people would be afraid of mirrors. She responded, in THE MOST TERRIFYING POSSIBLE RESPONSE, that people are afraid they’d look into the mirror and see someone who wasn’t them looking back. This fucked me up to this day! (Emanuela Lupacchino did a terrific take on this idea for the cover of Hex Wives #2).

So, without unpacking the entire metaphor of mirrors, I like how they function as an object of horror, a literalization of “knowing one’s self,” and as a tie to witch tropes (“Mirror, mirror on the wall,” and all of that). It was fun taking apart and re-assembling so many witch tropes—broomsticks are another one we tackle—in ways I haven’t necessarily seen in witch media.

HNN: How does Mirka Andolfo’s art help establish the tone of Hex Wives?   read more

New Photo Emerges of David Harbour in ‘Hellboy’

Our friends at Empire revealed a new photo of David Harbour as the titular character in the upcoming Hellboy movie. The still shows Hellboy seemingly preparing for battle as he moves through some sort of tunnel.

“It was always a case of, ‘When in doubt, go back to the source material.’ Some of the stuff is pretty sick,” director Neil Marshall tells Empire in the January 2019 issue. “More violent and more bloody. We weren’t making it with handcuffs on.”

Milla Jovovich will play opposite of Harbour in the role of Nimue the Blood Queen, an evil sorceress who wishes to wipe mankind off the face of the earth. Other cast members include Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, and Penelope Mitchell as Ganeida.

The film is set to premiere on April 12, 2019. Keep it locked to Horror News Network for the latest on Hellboy.

Remembering Stan Lee’s Influence on the Horror Comic

Stan Lee’s influence on pop culture can not be understated.  The late writer made characters such as Spider-Man, Thor, and Iron Man household names and his fame and notoriety shot into the stratosphere thanks to the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008.  Millions of people of all ages who have never picked up a comic book, came accustomed to seeing Lee’s signature cameos in countless blockbusters and he remained one of the most recognizable celebrities in Hollywood due to this very reason.

Comic fans will of course remember Lee as the architect of the original Marvel Universe, who along with artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita Sr., and a host of other talented writers and artists, established Marvel Comics as the hip alternative to the stodgy original super hero universe located across town at the offices of DC Comics.  Heroes such as the Incredible Hulk and the “ever-lovin’-blue-eyed Thing” proved to readers that heroes didn’t need matinee idol looks to save the earth, and heroes who questioned their motivations and couldn’t get a date on Saturday night ala Peter Parker assured fans that their idols had some of the same problems they did.  Lee populated his universe with the now cliche “heroes with feet of clay” and not only outsold the “distinguished competition”, but also brought together a diverse, vibrant collection of characters that have stood the test of time. And while super hero fans mourn the passing of Lee at the age of 95, horror comic fans also owe the writer and editor a great deal of thanks for his contributions to the maligned sub-genre.

Before Lee became the guiding force behind Marvel Comics, Lee was at the helm of the company that would later transform into Marvel, called Atlas Comics.  Throughout the 1950s, Lee followed publisher Martin Goodman’s advice and emulated the hits of the competition, and in the early 50s the best selling comics were the over-the-top horror tales from EC Comics.  Lee followed suit with similar horror titles such as Astonishing, Menace, and  Strange Tales.  When horror comics became “public enemy number one” due to Frederic Wertham’s  fear-inducing book Seduction of the Innocent, publishers scrambled to distance themselves from the graphic horror of EC Comics and started the self-censoring organization, the Comics Code Authority.

With the absence of horror comics on the stands and super heroes in a slump, what was a publisher to do?  Lee instead turned to the atomic age giants of science fiction/horror and created an entire stable of titanic creatures that helped keep the lights on at Atlas Comics.  These would become the famous Lee-Kirby monsters such as  Gorgilla, Fin Fang Foom, The Glob, Mumba, Groot, Xemnu “the Hulk”, Elektro, Gargantus, It the Colossus, and Googam, Son of Goom among others.  These city crushing critters helped satiate horror comic fans hunger for content and served as a bridge to the later Marvel Universe (and many of these monsters would find themselves stomping around the same pages as the Fantastic Four and the Avengers in short order once Atlas was re-branded).

After changing pop culture in the 1960’s, Lee entered the 1970s as the Editor in Chief, as well as the new publisher of Marvel Comics, and this was when Lee exerted the most influence on the evolution of the horror comic.  In 1971, Lee took a page from Creepy publisher James Warren, and began producing a wide array of black and white comic magazines aimed at older readers.  These magazines followed in the tradition of the classic EC Comics and didn’t skimp on the gore, adult situations, or violence.  Since these were technically magazines, they were not governed by the CCA, and therefore could push the limits once again.  Horror fans have fond memories of titles such as Vampire Tales, Tales of the Zombie, Monsters Unleashed, The Haunt of Horror, as well as non-horror titles such as the seminal Conan series, The Savage Sword of Conan, and The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.

Seeing the success of the horror magazines, Lee would soon usher in a new age of four color monsters, starting with Tomb of Dracula #1 in April of 1972.  After Tomb, the floodgates of horror opened, with the addition of The Monster of Frankenstein, Werewolf by Night, Man-Thing, Ghost Rider, and The Son Of Satan to the newsstand.  Seeing Dracula next to Spider-Man (and he also guest starred in Giant Size Spider-Man #1 in 1974) in the spinner racks of the era brought knowledge of the classic monsters to a whole new generation of fans and these issues  are still some of the most prized that were released during the disco decade (otherwise known as the Bronze Age of Comics).  These characters still grace the pages of Marvel Comics to this day and if not for the influence of Lee, may have been left to decay in the 1950s, along with EC Comics.

Fans will miss Lee for many reasons, but horror fans can thank “The Man” for keeping the monsters alive in Marvel Comics.

 

‘Swamp Thing’ Adds Kevin Durand as Floronic Man

Deadline is reporting that Kevin Durand is the latest actor to venture into the bog and join Swamp Thing. Durand will tackle the role of the Floronic Man, a creature that has the ability to mentally control plant life. In addition, the character can travel through the Green, create duplicates of himself and in dire situations, regenerate limbs.

Durand is known to horror fans as the character Vasiliy Fet in The Strain, and Carlos in 2004’s The Butterfly Effect. The actor also had memorable movie roles as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Barry Burton in Resident Evil Retribution, and Paul Shields in Dark Was the Night. His TV credits include Stargate SG-1, Dark Angel, Touching Evil, and Lost.

The Floronic Man first appeared in The Flash #245 in November 1976 and has been a part of many highly visible comic book villain teams such as the Injustice Gang and the Secret Society of Super Villains.

Keep it locked to Horror News Network for more on Swamp Thing.