The following is an interview with writer Zach Chapman regarding the upcoming release of the comic book series, A Haunting on Mars, through Scout Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Chapman about his shared creative process in working with artist Ruairi Coleman to bring the story and characters to life, what attracts him to working within the sci-fi and horror genres, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of A Haunting on Mars! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise?
Zach Chapman: A Haunting on Mars takes some of the classic haunted house tropes and puts a twist on them. So, it shares a lot of DNA with books like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Richard Matheson’s Hell House, but there’s also a lot in common with William Gibson and Phillip K Dick books.
It follows a team sent to a derelict colony on Mars to investigate and retrieve a corporate secret from a seemingly haunted house. Each member of the team fits a role. There’s a psionic, an empath, a super soldier, a hacker, and the team leader. And none of them can trust one another.
There’s horror, big action, heady science fiction ideas. It’s everything I love about science fiction and horror all wrapped up in one book.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in working with artist Ruairi Coleman to bring this story to life?
ZC: Working with Ruairi was amazing. He’s a total pro. I typically write full script. So, that’s what I delivered to him, but with the idea that the full script is more of a discussion and can be changed/updated/reinterpreted/rewritten. Technically, comic scripts are internal documents that are only meant for one or two people (an artist and maybe an editor). So, as soon as he created thumbnails, I basically tossed it out, and revised the dialogue to better fit his art.
As an example of how the story evolves from script to comic page, I wrote the character of Paz to be a psionic (In this universe, that’s someone who has telekinetic powers.) with a fairly typical power level. Maybe flip a light switch with your mind kinda thing. But then when creating issue 1, Ruairi was like but what if she drops a city block on the enemies to save the team? And I was like, okay, that’s awesome. Let’s do that.
BD: How many issues do you have planned for this initial story arc, and, if given the opportunity, would you expand the series to subsequent story arcs or even other mediums of storytelling?
ZC: A Haunting on Mars is a 5-issue series, and issue 1 is out next month with each issue coming out every subsequent month! I think I’d like to return to Earth for my next projects, haha; however, I’m always interested in telling stories set in worlds like A Haunting on Mars. Maybe direct sequels or spiritual sequels!
As far as other mediums… I’d love to play a Haunting on Mars video game!
BD: What makes Scout Comics the perfect home for A Haunting on Mars?
ZC: Scout has some great books that have come out over the last couple years. I read Grit by Brian Wickman and Kevin Castaniero and loved it. They also have Diamond and Lunar distribution, so, logistically, they’re able to get a lot of eyes on the book, which is nice!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
ZC: I do! I’m working on a superhero book with Ty Peterson called Kaiju Blues which will be Kickstarted next year, another book called House of Blood Volume 2 (which I also will Kickstart), and several other projects, some cyberpunk, some more fantasy, that are multiple issues in but are yet to be pitched to publishers or ready to run on Kickstarter!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about A Haunting on Mars and your other work?
ZC: The easiest way would be to follow me or Ruairi on twitter (@chappyzach and @ruairicoleman). Or follow my House of Blood Kickstarter page, where I keep it updated with all my upcoming projects!