Later this month, we'll see the release of a brand new Hellraiser comic book mini-series. This time, the series will go with an anthology format, giving us new tales in the Hellraiser universe from a variety of popular and upcoming writers. The first issue contains the start of a six-part serial written by Mark Miller and Ben Meares, where a group sets out to steal Pinhead's pins, and I caught up with both of them for the latest installment of our Q&A series.
We've seen a number of limited Hellraiser comic book series from BOOM! and Clive Barker. How did the idea for this anthology series come about? Was it something that you pitched to Clive?
Ben Meares: Hellraiser, in my mind, has always had a certain magic to it because the rules of the mythos can be applied to almost any kind of story.
Mark Miller: Right. Love stories, war stories, detective stories, etc.
Ben Meares: Exactly. We saw, in the late '80s and early '90s that Hellraiser works wonders in an anthology format in all the old Epic Comics Hellraiser stuff (which has subsequently been collected beautifully as Hellraiser Masterpieces from BOOM! Studios) that a wide variety of stories can be told using the rules set up in the first two Hellraiser films. I mean, I read a Hellraiser story called "Dead Things Rot" by Mike Mignola and D.G. Chichester when I was 13 years old and as soon as I finished it I had decided I was going to be a comic book writer. In fact, the first comic script I ever wrote was a Hellraiser story when I was 13 years old. So, I know firsthand the kind of impact short-form Hellraiser stories can have.
Mark Miller: On top of that, anthologies are how Clive got started. It doesn't get much better than Books of Blood. We both grew up on those as well as Tales From The Crypt, so when The Dark Watch was wrapping and we were considering where to go next, it made perfect sense to go back the kind of thing that started it all. Clive was all in, so we got straight to work!
For those that aren't aware, Hellraiser: Bestiary is an anthology series and you two are working on a six-part serial that begins in the first issue. When hearing about your story, the first thing that came to mind was: Who would be stupid enough to steal Pinhead's pins? And why would you want to?
Mark Miller: That's an excellent question and one that the three of us had to ask ourselves when Clive came up with the initial conceit.
Ben Meares: Totally. Clive was the one who had the thought,"What if the hunter became the hunted?"
Mark Miller: And we knew we had the title right there in that phrase. But we didn't know why.
Ben Meares: Then, in working through it, we asked ourselves who might be interested in the nails embedded within the skull of one of Hell's most nefarious demons.
Mark Miller: Who indeed?
Ben Meares: That's probably all we can say on the matter except that we learned in both Mark’s run on Hellraiser and in a Brandon Seifert's run on Hellraiser: The Dark Watch that Pinhead’s pins hold a remarkable amount of power. The quest for power makes people stupid, and always has throughout history.
Does your story take place at any particular time that is relevant to the movies or earlier comic book series, or is it a complete standalone?
Ben Meares: It’s a standalone. Keeping the majority of the stories in Bestiary as chronologically ambiguous, more or less, has been really important to us from the get-go.
Mark Miller: We really wanted to focus on telling good, engaging stories that are fun to read whether you’ve seen every Hellraiser film a thousand times or you’ve only seen the original once.
I really enjoy Carlos Magno's art style and hear that you've teamed up with him for your segment. Can you tell our readers a little about how you three work together to bring this story to life?
Ben Meares: Thank you! We really enjoy Carlos’ work as well! His work on Planet of the Apes was stellar, and he implemented some really innovative and clever panel layouts and compositions on that book. He’s a tremendously talented artist with a real knack for visual storytelling.
As far as how the three of us working together goes, the first word that comes to mind is: seamlessly. Mark and I work out the general idea for the story, then I sit down and write a rough script and send it to Mark. Mark finesses the whole thing and shoots it back my way for the finishing touches and we send it off to Carlos.
Mark Miller: Carlos speaks fluent panel. Right off the bat, he totally and completely understands how to best represent the story in a way that is loyal to our scripts while adding that extra flare that only an illustrator like Carlos can provide. I cannot recall having any notes whatsoever for Carlos’ layouts thus far. Ben?
Ben Meares: Nope. The guy is the dream collaborator for a project like this.
I love that Bestiary allows different artists and authors to jump in and tell their own Hellraiser story. It was mentioned that this is the a six part series, but do you two have plans to visit Hellraiser again in the near future?
Ben Meares: I will never say no to writing more Hellraiser stories. It’s one of the most inspiring worlds to craft a story around, and I’d happily write Hellraiser stories until I retire. And, you won’t even need to wait for the next Hellraiser series to see another story written by us.
Mark Miller: It's the very first story of Bestiary. It sort of brings us into the world that is about to unfold. It's called "Symphony in Red" and we're very proud of it.
Ben Meares: I’ve also got two standalone stories in Bestiary and two more that I co-wrote with a newcomer to the comics world, Christian Francis, who is a killer writer and a real Imaginer.
Mark Miller: I think it's clear that we both love this world too much to ever walk away from it.
Aside from your work on this series, Mark, I know that you're really busy with a number of Clive Barker-related projects. Can you tell our readers a little bit about what you have in the pipeline?
Mark Miller: Quite a few things, actually! We just premiered our new line of MadeFire Books of Blood motion comics at Comic-Con this year. The MadeFire team consists of some of our favorite folks in the world. They're good people and the app they've got on their hands is really going to revolutionize the industry. The first of those comes out in October.
We've also just reached picture lock on the Nightbreed Director's Cut, which I produced and Clive oversaw every aspect of. This is the film he wanted to make in 1989. It's beautiful. That also comes out in October.
I'm writing a Next Testament novelization, Scarlet Gospels comes out next year, and Clive is putting the finishing touches on the Hellraiser remake. Basically we'll just continue making new comics and movies and all that fun stuff. Keep your eyes peeled.
Thank again for taking the time to chat with us. Can you give our readers a little tease of what they can expect to see from the first part of your story in Hellraiser: Bestiary #1?
Ben Meares: Instead of is telling you about it, how about we show you: