Sunday, May 4, 2014

'Nightbreed' Series Returns to Monstrous Midian

by Brian Truitt)

(Photo: Mike Mignola/Boom! Studios)

Marc Andreyko is making himself at home in horror author Clive Barker's creature community.

The comic-book writer draws from literary and cinematic material, plus his own fandom and imagination, for the Boom! Studios series Clive Barker's Nightbreed, illustrated by Piotr Kowalski (Joe Casey's Sex) and debuting May 28.

The title further continues the mythology of Midian, a hidden city of monsters hiding from mankind, that was introduced in Barker's 1988 book Cabal and 1990 Nightbreed movie. A new Blu-ray director's cut is being released this fall with 40 minutes cut from Barker's original film.

"Whenever you work on someone else's properties, you want to do right by them and you hope they're cool," Andreyko says of Barker. "Clive has been a real dream collaborator. It's been a real honor and thrill to not disappoint him."

Between Kowalski and himself, the writer adds, "we both love this property so much, we're like little kids playing dress-up."

To make Nightbreed accessible for newcomers — as well as add resonance to a world loved by old-school fans — Andreyko is creating eight issues to begin the series that act as two-issue mini-arcs spotlighting two individual characters each. The stories will focus on origin material and show how these misfits found the secret society that's been in Midian forever.

The connective tissue is the narration by Dirk Lylesburg, the records keeper and historian for the Nightbreed.

"He has a real interesting backstory and he's telling these stories to a new resident of Midian," Andreyko says. "It's going to give some face time and texture to a lot of these characters who only appeared in the background of scenes in the movie."

Nightbreed's first couple of issues focus on Peloquin, a man with snaky dreadlocks whose story takes place in pre-Civil War America, and Andreyko follows the porcupine woman Shuna Sassi in Boston circa 1945. The next arc moves to 15th-century Europe and the 1967 "Summer of Love" in San Francisco.

"We're going all over the place," Andreyko says. "All of this stuff will dovetail into a bigger epic story we'll get to."

To flesh out his cast, he drew a lot from Barker's The Nightbreed Chronicles, a book full of characters that featured soundbites on who they were and where they came from.

Each of them has a varied and diverse background, as well as an individual voice, according to Andreyko.

"Some of them are mad, some of them are gentle souls cursed to be in these bodies," he says. "Some of them are warriors, some of them are mothers. Some of them hate who they are and want to destroy other monsters.

"It's just an embarrassment of riches."

The outcast mentality at the heart of Nightbreed and its characters is the "bread and butter of comic books," with all sorts of great resonance for modern times, Andreyko says.

"Even though there are big monsters and crazy supernatural stuff, it gives them a real human, honest core that I think anyone who ever went to high school can relate to."

Barker gives Andreyko a lot of creative freedom in his storytelling, but he's also been a supportive guiding hand in his notes to Andreyko when signing off scripts and issue breakdowns.

"The idea that Clive Barker is sitting in his house reading something I've written is just mind numbing for me," says Andreyko, who also pens DC Comics' Batwoman series. "It's like, 'Oh, OK, Mozart's going to critique this song I wrote on my Casio. Awesome.' "