Thursday, June 2, 2011
THE HALLOWEEN LEGION Interview
(Interview conducted by Barry Reese.)
BR: Tell us a little bit about The Halloween Legion and how it came about.
MARTIN POWELL: Be glad to. THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is a concept and group of characters that I originally dreamed up many years ago, way back in the vacuous days of high school. One day, during a mind-numbing semantics class, I started sketching these figures in my notebook: a Skeleton, Witch, Devil, Ghost, and a Black Cat, the iconic archetypes of All Hallows Eve.
I remember getting a mild chill when I first drew them all together, a sort of jolt of anticipation. Suddenly I began imagining a whole series of adventures for the weird little group.
Of course, they’ve been simmering in my subconscious until recently, never quite forgotten, and patiently waiting for their chance to be born. I’m actually very glad that I waited this long. I needed the last couple decades of writing experience to prepare me for their debut. This is a very important, very personal project for me.
I’ve always loved the autumn and Halloween in particular. I wanted to somehow capture that feeling of magic and mystery, the sort of thrill you get as a kid when the falling orange and yellow leaves appear to follow you down the street. It’s too brief a season and I suppose in some crazy way I wanted to have that feeling with me always. THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is the result of that yearning.
BR: You're collaborating on this project with Danny Kelly -- what is he bringing to the table that you think will enhance the experience for readers?
POWELL: I hand-picked Danny from a number of artists that I had to choose from. There is something raw and elemental in his artwork that mixes perfectly with what I had in mind for these characters. I look at Danny’s drawings and I immediately smile. I wanted his sense of energetic, creepy fun.
I didn’t want this group to be photo-realistic, and the works of Edward Gorey and Charles Addams were closer to what I had in mind. Danny fits that sort of style perfectly, while also maintaining his own artistic identity.
BR: The promotional artwork by Danny Kelly suggests a somewhat fanciful tone to the book. Is this an all-ages story or something a bit darker?
POWELL: Hmm. It’s tough to describe. Sounds ambitious, I know, but I’ve always wanted THE HALLOWEEN LEGION to appeal to everyone, kid and grown-up alike. I suppose I can safely compare the book to John Bellairs’ eerie mysteries in its tone. I love his scary novellas.
There is a certainly a whimsical side to my story, but it’s pretty dark, too, even terrifying in some places, I hope. Fans of the pulps, Harry Potter, and Baum’s Oz books will probably feel quite at home here, but I like to think that THE HALLOWEEN LEGION is unique and original.
BR: Again, just by looking at the promotional images, it seems like this is perfectly suited to become a continuing series and even has possibilities for multimedia usage. Any plans for any of this?
POWELL: That’s exactly what I’ve always had in mind for them. Although I'm starting THE HALLOWEEN LEGION off with an illustrated novella, I have lots of other plans, too. I’d love to do HL comic books, animation, action figures, lunch boxes, t-shirts, Halloween masks, radio shows, newspaper comic strips, feature films, and even a gentler picture book version for younger kids, too. I’m going to do my best to make all of that happen.
BR: This is your first foray into the Wild Cat Books publishing line. How long have you known publisher Ron Hanna and what led to WCB becoming the home for The Halloween Legion?
POWELL: Actually, I first worked for Wild Cat Books several years ago, co-writing the Captain Hazzard novel, “The Citadel of Fear”, with Ron Fortier. I’d wanted to do something more for quite a long while, but I could never manage to free up enough time in my schedule.
I’m a full-time freelance writer, and in order to make a living at this I need to write constantly. Luckily, my desk is usually happily swamped with contracted projects, but there just never seemed to be time for anything more.
Then, several months ago, Ron Hanna made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He offered to publish anything I wanted to write. Anything. Anything at all. In over two decades as a professional writer, no one has ever done that for me. I’ve always been lucky enough to get to write for many terrific characters, like Superman, Batman, The Spider, and Sherlock Holmes, but I’ve very rarely ever been given the opportunity to create, and to own, my own characters.
Well, I doubled up on my writing schedule, working twelve hour days and more, including weekends. Fortunately, I hardly ever sleep. After a few months, I’d finally cleared the space necessary to devote to Wild Cat Books. I thought about what I wanted to do for a few weeks. Ron had stressed “anything” I wanted, after all. That’s quite a situation to wrap your mind around.
Then, THE HALLOWEEN LEGION reacquainted themselves to me, from the back corners of my brain. Of course! I thought, with a distinct, rather giddy thrill. It had to be them. Just had to be. They had been waiting so long for me to get my act together. So, I dusted the cobwebs off my little group and now here we are.
BR: For folks who might be interested in learning more about you and your work, where should they go?
POWELL: Well, I post lots of news about my current and upcoming projects on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/martin.powell1). I also keep a blog for those purposes (http://martinpowell221bcom.blogspot.com/). And I have an Amazon Author’s Page, too, which lists many of my current books (http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JRXRSU). Soon THE HALLOWEEN LEGION will be lurking among them!