From TPub and Dark Horse Books, The Many Deaths of Barnaby James has just been released to stores and we have a Q&A with Brian Nathanson and Neil Gibson, who talked about bringing this story to life as a graphic novel!

"Showcasing intricate characters, gripping plots, and striking visuals, the gothic fantasy book from Neil Gibson, Brian Nathanson, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson and Saida Temofonte explores Barnaby James’ quest to reunite with his lost love while navigating a world filled with danger and the supernatural. 

The 136-page horror graphic novel is the product of a recent partnership between Dark Horse Books and, TPub, Twisted Comics’ B2B brand, with Valhalla Entertainment shepherding the project’s development."

Brian, can you talk about the origins of the story and screenplay you wrote for The Many Deaths of Barnaby James?

Brian Nathanson: The original story started as a ‘spec’ screenplay. A few decades ago, studios often turned those original stories into actual movies. These days, they’re less inclined to take those swings, so ‘specs’ are often used as a calling card to showcase your voice. And in a way, that’s liberating. There are only a few times in your career where you can write “whatever you want” – when you’re a superstar like Chris Nolan or James Cameron, or when you’re a nobody writing a spec script. So personally, I felt like I had the opportunity to put myself out there and tell the type of story that resonated with me.

And for me, blending tones is the most exciting form of storytelling. Like our twisted friend Neil, I gravitate to dark themes – dark humor. No holds barred. But underneath that, you want to add a sentimental, beating heart. That contrast can create a gothic fairy tale, in a sense. So in this story, we wanted to thrust the most hopeless romantic we can find (our Barnaby James) into the most cynical and twisted world we can create, in order to see if he can survive it.

How did Neil get involved and what led to this moving forward as a graphic novel? Neil, what drew you to this story and its characters?

Neil Gibson: Well, in the first case, Phillip Kobylanski, the president of Valhalla, told me that he thought our comics had the highest hit rate of any publisher and wanted to know if I would convert a screenplay he loved into a graphic novel. Well! I am no idiot! If someone compliments me like that, of course I am going to follow any request they have!

As for what drew me to it? Well, to be honest I get sent a fair few scripts, but not all spark my imagination. Brian’s was phenomenal in terms of the dialogue, plot, character and the whole world he built. In addition, he was a joy to work with and frankly has probably ruined all future adaptations for me by making this project so fun and easy. 

What was the process for adapting this into a script for a graphic novel? Were there any major changes during the creative process?

Neil Gibson: Great questions. You like keeping us on our toes! The process was the same as most comics, but this was slightly different in the time it took to make it. Piotr Kowalski (the illustrator) is incredibly talented but had a lot of things going on, including dedicating time to support initiatives related to Ukraine. Navigating unforeseen events is part of the creative journey, requiring adaptability, problem-solving and collaboration.

As for major changes, Brian needs to give his viewpoint, but from mine it was only changing the storytelling so that the story worked in the noble medium of comics. Most of the dialogue, plot, character and universe remain as Brian wrote them. 

Brian Nathanson: Certainly, adapting a story to a comic format isn’t as simple as ‘copy and pasting’ – there are strengths to each medium as Neil mentioned. We had to make some logistical tweaks to that end. But at the end of the day, Neil took great care to maintain the integrity of the story – and to maintain the “depravity” of the story, too. Most publishers would have been scared off by certain story elements (perhaps for good reason), but Neil is absolutely fearless.

Piotr Kowalski seems like the perfect artist for this story. Can you speak to the creative process with Piotr and how the characters or story may have evolved when he began working on characters / pages?

Neil Gibson: Nothing really to say. The man is a genius. 

Brian Nathanson: And “fearless” as well. He can tackle the grittier elements of a story without blinking an eye. As someone who’s new to comic making, I was particularly impressed with the detail of his work. Piotr draws by hand, too, so he’s creating this world brick by brick – literally in some cases. One of my favorite pieces he did involved the brick background of a tattoo parlor. That thoroughness and attention to detail really helps anchor us in this world. 

My understanding is that Valhalla Entertainment will be working with Dark Horse on an adaptation, which is very exciting! Are there any updates you can share on the status of the project?

Neil Gibson: Oh. I’m not allowed to say anything specific or else Phil will turn from the nice flatterer into a monster worthy of being in the story and I really don’t want that... 


Comic book fans can now pick up a copy of The Many Deaths of Barnaby James at your favorite bookstore and comic shop, as well as online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.