We recently caught up with writer Jennifer Van Gessel to discuss her latest project, “Beast No More.” Van Gessel is writing both the film, “Beast No More,” due for release in 2017 and the one-shot comic prequel, “Beast No More: Metamorphosis,” coming out this month from Amigo Comics. In this interview, Jennifer gives us more information about the story itself and tells us how a spooky event in her childhood helped shape this tale.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Can you tell us a bit about the story of “Beast No More?”
Jennifer Van Gessel: Essentially “Beast No More” is a story about grief, in particular one woman’s grief over losing her son. She’s a scientist and as a way of dealing she runs off into the bush using a research project as an excuse to escape her husband and her home, all the things that remind her of what just happened to her son. When she’s there strange things happen, eventually her husband tracks her down and things get stranger and stranger. I don’t want to spoil it so shouldn’t say much more.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: What got you interested in the “Mothman” mythology?
Jennifer Van Gessel: When I was younger I spent most of my holidays visiting my grandparents who live down in Nowra, it’s a pretty small town on the New South Wales south coast. It is close to a lovely area called Kangaroo Valley and we’d often drive over the mountains that separate Nowra from the valley. Me and my twin sister found an article when we were a bit older about an unusual sighting on one of the mountains; two girls claimed a man with wings jumped in front of their car and then ran over the roof and vanished (implying he possibly flew away). It always stuck in our minds, we still drive over those mountains when we visit sometimes and it gets quite misty and spooky at night, which I love. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find anything else about that story, there are lots of reports of a black panther in the area and some other strange things but I never heard another mention of the man with wings. Either way, that’s where the interest came from, but I have to say that the mothman mythology isn’t really explored in “Beast No More.” There is a boy we call “Mothboy” but there are reasons that don’t relate to the mothman mythology for that. It’s more about something, or a set-up, that might lead to people thinking they saw a mythological creature on the mountain when in fact they didn’t.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: What made you want to do the prequel comic? Was it planned all along?
Jennifer Van Gessel: No, it wasn’t planned all along. I had my first comic book titled “Unleash” published through Amigo early 2016 and it had some great reviews and sold decently. I really enjoyed working on that with El Torres and the artists Nacho and Sergio and wanted to do more. In “Beast No More” there are a lot of stories that you don’t have time to explore in 90 minutes, so me and the director Aaron Warwick decided to do the comic and tell one of the more interesting side stories. We both had lots of ideas for that story and thought it might help the actors also, as it gives them some background.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Are there any more “Beast No More” stories planned at this time that you can talk about?
Jennifer Van Gessel: No, just the prequel comic and then the film.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Are you working on any other horror projects you’d like to tell us about?
Jennifer Van Gessel: Yeah, “Unleash” the comic will have its fouth and final book released soon, followed by the trade. It’s very dark and not for everyone, it deals with sexual assault and is pretty in your face. Most reviewers have found it handled well but I’ve seen grown men on social media saying it was too much for them (*laughs*). There’s also a pilot for the “Nancy in Hell” TV series filming right after we wrap “Beast No More.” I’m really excited about that one, we have secured a great cast and there’s so much interest in it. I believe El Torres is a great story-teller, he’s had a lot of trials recently and I want to make that one really special for him, and for all the people who backed us during our crowd funding campaign.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Thank you for your time, Jennifer, and good luck with the project!