Earlier this week I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Cole Haddon, the writer of Dark Horse’s The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde. If you’re unfamiliar with The Strange Case I suggest you check out my review of it here. This is Mr. Haddon’s first foray into the comic book industry, and I personally hope he will be in it for a long time to come. Mr. Haddon also asked me to make it known that he is available for comments or conversation on twitter @Colehaddon.
Rob The Wrecker: Mr. Haddon I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. I also wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your work in The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde.
Cole Haddon: Thanks, Rob. Writing the comic book has probably been the most creatively satisfying experience of my professional career. It’s great to hear that anybody enjoyed it at all.
R.T.W.: To get started I’d like to ask something of a generic question but I feel it’s one the readers would like to hear the answer to. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
C.H.: I don’t know if I could answer that because, to be honest, I have no memory of a time when I didn’t just know I was going to wind up a storyteller of some kind. I still have comic book and film scripts I wrote in notebooks when I was ten and, later, the comic books I illustrated and inked by myself in high school. Along the way, there have been I don’t know how many screenplays, novels, short stories. You name it, I wrote it. I’m not remotely qualified to be anything other than a storyteller and I’ve never cared to become qualified at doing anything but that.
R.T.W.: Did you always know you wanted to write comics, or did that decision come later?
C.H.: Between probably 17 and 20, I took seriously the idea of becoming a full-time comic book writer. As in, that was going to be my career. Before that, it just sounded cool. After that, I came to the realization that, while comics would always be a passion, film was my life. It’s exciting now, in my 30s, to have the opportunity to shift back and forth between the mediums.
R.T.W.: It’s made pretty clear in The Strange Case that you take influence from some Victorian authors. Can you tell us about your influences from that time? How about your modern influences?
C.H.: I grew up obsessed with monster movies. Especially the Universal Pictures monster movies and Hammer Film’s horrors. That love led me to the novels, novellas, and short stories that many of these films were inspired by. H.G. Wells probably had the biggest impact on me, given the breadth of his fiction career, the sheer number of books he had published, but obviously Mary Shelly, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, all of these writers left a lasting impression on me and how my imagination works. As for modern influences…well, I don’t think any modern writer has had a greater impact on me than Michael Chabon; his genre-bending, in novels like Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, inspired me in ways I probably couldn’t explain in 5,000 words or less. In regards to The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde, I think it’s fair to say that Christopher Hitchens, who tragically passed away this past December, and his compatriot Sam Harris were a significant influence.
R.T.W.: Where did the idea for The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde come from?
C.H.: I had long wanted to do something that involved the character of Mr. Hyde. He is, as far as I’m concerned, the baddest of the bad when it comes to Victorian-era monsters. I wanted to remind the world of that, or so I arrogantly hoped. Writers have to have ambition, right? Anyway, I was working on another project that also involved Victorian fiction mash-ups. For this I had constructed a timeline of fictional and historical events, which was where I first realized that the events in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde roughly coincided with the Whitechapel murders most readers would probably identify as the Jack the Ripper murders. Almost immediately, I knew this was the way I wanted to approach Hyde, as a mash-up of Victorian fiction’s greatest monster and Victorian England’s greatest villain. Doing the story as a sequel to the original novella also made the most sense to me. I love the book too much to butcher it with a lame adaptation. I could never do it justice.
R.T.W.: Was The Strange Case your first foray into the entertainment industry? If not can you tell us a little about some of the other projects you may have been involved in?
C.H.: I sold my first screenplay three years ago now, to Warner Bros. It’s been retitled since then, but it was, at that time, called Thieves of Bagdad. Basically, the greatest thieves and scoundrels of Arabian Nights assemble to pull off the biggest heist of their career. After that, I set up The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde as a comic book at Dark Horse and, soon after, Dark Horse, the Mark Gordon Company, and I sold the idea as a film to Skydance Entertainment with me writing the screenplay. I’ve been working fairly steadily ever since.
R.T.W.: The Strange Case is being turned into a full-length motion picture. Can you tell us anything about that? Actors, directors, release date etc?
C.H.: I wish I could discuss all of that, but all I’m really at liberty to say is that the project is still in motion and I’m excited by the direction it’s heading. I’d say more, but I’ve put my foot in my mouth on too many occasions.
R.T.W.: What will your role be in the production of the film?
C.H.: Hard to say at this point. I wrote the screenplay, which was exciting in and out of itself.
R.T.W.: I personally felt the art in The Strange Case complimented your writing style particularly well. Did you know Mr. Corley before you wrote it?
C.H.: Thanks, that’s great to hear. I’m especially proud of the artwork that Mike Corley did for the book. As to your question…nope. I knew nothing about him, except, out of several names given to me to potentially illustrate Strange Case, he was the only one who had a style that matched the world I saw in my head. He drew up some concept art that blew me away. A length phone conversation sealed the deal. We had much the same taste in gothic horror, which was important to me going forward. I wanted Strange Case to look like a hybrid of a Universal Pictures monster movie and a Hammer Films horror, you see. Mike got that from the start, I think even before I started asking for it.
R.T.W.: At the end of The Strange Case you alluded to further adventures of Thomas Ayde. What can you tell us about the future of the character?
C.H.: Dark Horse and I are currently discussing what comes next, but I think it’s fairly obvious what monstrous villain will be at the center of Adye’s next “strange case.” As for Ayde, I think he’s left pretty rudderless at the end of Strange Case of Mr. Hyde. He’s looking for some way to make sense of the world as he now understands it, and the road ahead definitely won’t be clearly marked. Was that vague enough? Heh.
R.T.W.: Are there any other projects you’re working on at the moment?
C.H.: NBC hired me to write a new television series I created, called Dracula and based on the Bram Stoker novel. It’s a period drama. Basically, it’s another opportunity for me to explore a world I loved as a kid. Kickstart Entertainment is also publishing my second graphic novel, Space Gladiator, later this year. There are some other projects, but, unfortunately, I can’t talk about them quite yet.
R.T.W.: Do you intend on staying in the comic book industry?
C.H.: As long as the comic book industry will have me, I’ll be around.
To preorder The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde click here!
A big thanks to Cole for the interview. Thanks for stopping by, Get Comic Booked today!