A Tale Of Murder And Mayhem
Helen Mullane, writer of Humanoids’ Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen, talks exclusively to Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows about the genesis of this new graphic novel…
TRIPWIRE: What was the genesis of Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen?
HELEN MULLANE: The book’s first inception was the result of a chat over a pint in a pub (remember those!) while I was shooting a documentary called Futureshock! The Story of 2000AD. Dom and I were animatedly discussing our love of folk horror classics like The Owl Service and The Wicker Man, and I told him about an idea I had for a pastoral, druidic horror TV show. I remember Dom being really excited about it – he said that if I wrote it as a comic he’d be up for drawing it, and that’s definitely not the sort of offer I need to get twice!
So I went away and started writing this story as a comic, a medium I’d never tackled before, all in the hopes of getting to work with such a prodigious talent as Dom. In the writing, the book became this sort of hybrid of kitchen sink drama and dark horror fantasy. I really fell in love with this difficult and petulant but also passionate and smart young girl, Nissy, who’s forced to stay a summer in the countryside with her family. She falls for this older man and starts effectively stalking him – through that crush she gets dragged into this world of myth and magic.
So once I had this initial draft, complete with elements I know Dom shares my love of like real settings, real folklore and a subtly off kilter atmosphere, I sent it off to him in the hopes that he’d dig it, and he did! From there we sent it to Jock, who’s a mate of ours. He really loved it and supported us through that early process when you’re pitching around, hoping somebody bites. Eventually Humanoids picked it up and then the rest is history!
TW: How did Matthew Dow Smith join as an artist?
HM: We are all big fans of Matthew’s work, he’s a fantastic artist. He came on board probably about a third of the way through the process. The whole team of Alex, the amazing editor of the book at Humanoids, Dom and I were all looking for an artist who could jump on board to help with detailed layout work for the book to ease Dom’s workload. At that time the script was very sparse in terms of dialogue and other types of text (the magical poetry and song lyrics all came later) but very dense in terms of art, so it was a lot for one artist to take on.
We were so happy when we got Matthew on board
– not least because when we jumped on the phone and got to talking about the
project, it turned out that he shared our love of the folk horror genre! That
felt like such a gift because he shared our references and really got the very
specific atmosphere we were trying to evoke.
We got that same wonderful sense of synergy working with Lee Loughridge on colours and through Robin Jones’ letters. The whole team just really revelled in that pastoral disquietude that I think is such a classic part of British horror. Every element of the art takes you to this really eerie place, the setting is both beautiful and threatening, the characters often engulfed by this unsettling supernatural world.
TW: What was Jock’s role in getting the creative team together?
HM: It was in Jock and Dom’s hometown that Dom and I had that first fateful discussion, out for a celebratory beer and curry combo after our Futureshock shoot, so in a roundabout way he really was the unmoved mover that got the whole ball rolling!
But in a more solid sense, Jock really was an
early champion of our collaboration. And when he agreed to do our cover, that
was really massive in terms of getting us attention from publishers. He was
such a great help and inspiring presence through the whole process.
TW: What made Humanoids the perfect place to publish this?
HM:Getting Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen published by Humanoids was an absolute dream come true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered the phrase “I’m with the same publisher as Jodorosky and Moebius” in the last few years!
There are so many elements that make them the perfect home for this book. Being a European publisher they have a subtly different sensibility that I think made it easier to see what we were going for at an early stage. Experimentation is their lifeblood, always has been, so they were primed to take on a comic with a pace and atmosphere that’s a bit unconventional.
We were also lucky to come on board with Humanoids at a time when they were expanding and pushing the boundaries of what they are doing as a publisher. Starting H1, bringing in Mark Waid – we came along as they were on the lookout for work that fits with but also broadens their incredible existing output.
TW: If you could describe this in one succinct sentence, what would it be?
HM: Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen is a dark folk horror meets coming-of-age story, where nothing is as it seems and murder, myth and magic lie behind every panel.
Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen is out this week from Humanoids
A Tale Of Murder And Mayhem Helen Mullane, writer of Humanoids’ Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen, talks exclusively to Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows about the genesis of this new graphic novel… TRIPWIRE: What was the genesis of Nicnevin and The Bloody Queen? HELEN MULLANE: The book’s first inception was the result of a chat over
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