Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your creator-owned trade paperback, House of Montresor! For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the story, how would you describe its premise?
Enrica Jang: Thank you! HOUSE OF MONTRESOR is a sequel to Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic short story, The Cask of Amontillado. This comic fills in the story of Poe’s most cold-blooded killer, Montresor, and what he’s been up to fifty years after getting away with the murder of his friend, Fortunato.
Fifty years after the mysterious disappearance of her grandfather, Edana Fortunato is the sole surviving heir of the Fortunato bloodline. On the eve of inheriting her family’s house and lands, Edana is summoned to the grand estate to meet her guardian, the enigmatic Count Montresor. She embarks on the journey, unprepared for the secrets still to be revealed, and unaware that a killer has set the stage for one final act of vengeance upon the Fortunato family.
BD: The trade paperback also contains Edgar Allan Poe's gothic classic, The Cask of Amontillado. What inspired you to take on this classic, and how do you feel that your interpretation adds to the story?
EJ: One of the enduring mysteries of Cask is just what was it exactly that pushed Montresor to kill Fortunato. The story is one of Poe’s most beloved stories even despite this missing piece of the puzzle. Aside from merely loving the story, what intrigued me was the fact that the victim, Fortunato, never asks, “Why are you doing this to me?” Aside from begging for mercy from the man who’s about to brick you up alive, I think maybe the second thing you’d ask is just what the heck you did to deserve this!
But Fortunato never asks, and to me that means he didn’t have to ask. Because he already knew. The story sprung up out of imagining the history between these two men. Both Fortunato and Montresor also make mention of Fortunato’s family at various times in the original story. It was kind of gruesome to imagine what that poor family went through after the mysterious disappearance of the beloved Fortunato, so immediately there was room to play in that story space.
BD: Why do you feel that Poe’s work still resonates so strongly with readers and with you as a creator?
EJ: I think Poe, as a writer, was brave and honest about how craven and twisted human desire can be. His characters not only dream of and obsess over their peculiar wants, but then act upon them. The fact that, in most cases, they are also then consumed or even destroyed by those desires is cathartic—kind of submission and warning, all in one. Poe takes you through it all. That honesty, both about your obsessions and the horrible places they can take you, never stops resonating with readers. All good writers strive for that, I think.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artist Jason Strutz, and how to you feel that his work enhanced the story?
EJ: Jason is a master of mood. My scripts can be very spare, and still Jason found a way to get at the heart of the story and bring it out. He chose an excellent palette, and he was fastidious about details—expressions, atmosphere, clothing, and historical details. The story was in the very best hands from the very beginning.
BD: What makes publisher Action Lab Comics a great home for House of Montresor?
EJ: Action Lab makes it a point to push for diversity, both in the stories they choose, and in the creative teams they work with. They also take on challenging and risky projects, which I really respect about them. Taking on Poe was maybe a calculated choice, but taking on a sequel to Poe—a book that just begs for comparison to one of the greatest American authors—was definitely a gamble. I’m grateful they took us on, and pleased (Read: relieved!) that it’s been such a success.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
EJ: Last week, we received word that one of the anthologies I edited, THE 27 CLUB, a comic anthology inspired by an infamous list of music artists who died age 27, has been nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology. Not a current project, but still some exciting news!
I also just wrapped up a Kickstarter for the first issue of a modern paranormal mystery series called CROSSING. A rookie train conductor is haunted by the ghost of an annoying goth princess who threw herself in front of his commuter train. She swears her death was a murder made to look like a suicide, and she won’t “cross over” and leave him alone until he helps solve her case. I’m working on that one with artist Alex Cormack. Issue #1 will be out in October.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about House of Montresor and your other work?
EJ: HOUSE OF MONTRESOR is out in comic shops and bookstores on July 20th. Anything else I’m working on is at RedStylo.com.