Ofﬁcially, it's the Department of Cryptozoology, Mythological Studies, Parapsychology and Fortean Phenomena. But to the rest of the students and staff at the Dunsany College, bafﬂed by the cloak of secrecy that surrounds the Department and its affairs, it has another, more dismissive, name: The Department of Monsterology. Funded by the mysterious Hampton Foundation, the Dept. operates several ﬁeld teams that roam the globe on extended research expeditions.
Their brief: to investigate the dark and unexplored corners of our world – the places we've forgotten, lost or believe to be mythical. And to study those things that may still be lurking there.
We caught up with writer, Gordon Rennie to talk about Department of Monsterology.
Horror News Network: How did you come up with the concept for this title?
Gordon Rennie: It's a distillation of lots of lots of different things I like or am interested in. I wanted to do something about Cryptozoology – the study of lost, forgotten or mystical creatures – and the rest just kind of spun out from there. Add in dinosaurs, Cthulhu mythos, hopping Chinese vampires, lost worlds, secret societties, paychic powers and lots of totems gleefully plundered from a myriad of comics, movies, video games and novels, and that's pretty much Department of Monsterology.
Horror News Network: Can you tell us a bit about the main cast?
Gordon Rennie: There's two different teams in, both field expedition teams belonging to a rather oddball and mysterious college department. One of them Challenger – specializes in Cryptozoology and Cryptogeography, which basically means exploring lost worlds and tracking down monsters for academic study, while the other team – Carnacki – are the specialist in the paranormal and occult. Each team is composed of various professor types,, but there are signature characters in each one. In Challenger, it's definitely Professor Henry Wilmington, who, as far as we can tell, is a living brain-in-a-jar encased inside a giant antiquated deep sea diving suit.
For Carnacki it's probably a precocious teenage girl called Samwi, who has all sorts of strange and interesting astral powers, and her Nepalese guardian and tutor Professor Jang Sonam, a mystic and ex-Gurkha who's fairly handy with a pair of magical Gurkha kukri knives.
There is a third field team – the ultra-mysterious Team Carter, specializing in expeditions involving UFOlogy studies – but we're keeping it and its members a closely-guarded secret for the time being….
Horror News Network: Can you tell us more about the Hampton Foundation?
Gordon Rennie: It was founded in the 1920s by a wealthy philanthropist Howard Hampton, and funds various worthy and respectable academic programs and scholarships. However, it also funds Dunsany College's mysterious Department of Cryptozoology, Mythological Studies, Parapsychology and Fortean Phenomena. Now, in the present, times are harder and Hampton's heirs want to know where all the Foundation's money is going, and one of them, Hampton's great-granddaughter Emma begins her own investigation into the Department's activities. Which basically means going in field expeditions with them to see what it is they actually do.
Horror News Network: What can our readers expect from this series in terms of blood, guts and scares?
Gordon Rennie: It's not a total gorefest – and I'm not necessarily adverse to that kind of stuff; after all, I worked on the reboot of the Splatterhouse game – and it's got more of an action-adventure vibe to it, but, in a story featuring an army of Chinese vampires, plenty of Lovecraftian horrors from the depths and a few other surprises, there's plenty there to keep gorehounds happy. One team chopping apart an army of Chinese vampires, while another has to deal with all sorts of slimy nasties that come spilling out the belly of giant, dead….ah, but that would be telling…
Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about the rest of the creative team joining you on this book?
Gordon Rennie: The artist is Paul J Holden, whom I've worked with on many, many things already – mostly Judge Dredd and the like, for the UK's 2000AD title. We're ably assisted by letterer Jim Campbell and colorist Steve Denton, who are both long-established members of the UK comics scene.
Horror News Network: How many issues is this series?
Gordon Rennie: There's four issues in this first series, a fifth digital-only episode in the pipeline, and more series planned after that.
Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about Department of Monsterology?
Gordon Rennie: We've loads more stories planned, with backstories for the organisation and the characters all layered in. There's lots of secrets still to be discovered about this organisation and its members, and lots and lots more monsters and creepy stuff still to be explored.
Horror News Network: Thank you for your time Gordon! Good luck with this title.