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Fanboy Comics Interviews Christopher Golden on ‘Joe Golem: Occult Detective’

The following is an interview with New York Times bestselling novelist Christopher Golden, who – in conjunction with long-time collaborator Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics – will soon release the first-ever comic book expansion of the novel, Joe Golem and the Drowning City.  In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Golden about the impetus for taking the Golem character into the sequential art medium, the creative process of working with Mignola and artists Patric Reynolds (Serenity) and Dave Stewart, when readers may anticipate the release of the five-issue Joe Golem: Occult Detective series, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: This November will see the release of your new series, Joe Golem: Occult Detective, in collaboration with writer Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Comics. While readers will recognize Golem from your previous illustrated novel, Joe Golem and the Drowning City, where will the new comic book series find the character?

Christopher Golden: We’re jumping backward in time, actually. The novel takes place in an alternate history 1975. The comics series starts a decade earlier, in 1965, but in the same alternate history world where global cataclysm caused Lower Manhattan to sink and be flooded by twenty-five to thirty feet of water. They call it The Drowning City, and that’s where most of our story takes place.

BD: The series will span five issues and will have a distinctly dark and dystopian feel, set within a world of magic. What do you hope that readers will take away from this extended universe tale, and do you feel that it will be welcoming to readers both new and returning to the Joe Golem world?

CG: I don’t want to overstate the “world of magic” stuff. It’s a world where the supernatural exists, but it isn’t as if there are wizards running around. It’s not a Harry Potter sort of thing. There is occult evil, but also human evil. As for readers . . . you absolutely do not need to have read the novel or know anything about these characters. One of the reasons we’re starting so much earlier in the story of Joe Golem and Simon Church is to make it clear that you’re not missing anything. Sure, people who have read the novel will find a slightly richer experience in reading the comics, but this is designed to be a brand new story, something that will unfold for the comics audience in a very rewarding way. If readers have half as much fun with this series as we’re having, they’re in for a hell of a good time.

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BD: Having worked with co-writer Mignola on several previous projects, do you find that there is an ease of process to your collaboration, and how would you describe your work together?

CG: Mike and I have been working together on various projects for nearly twenty years. Crazy to think that, but it’s true. We go all the way back to the first Hellboy novel, THE LOST ARMY, which I wrote in 1996. I think the fact that we’re still working together after all those years speaks for itself. We share a frame of reference and a love of folklore that makes the creative process fairly simple. More importantly, we’ve figured out by now what’s worth arguing about and what’s not. At the end of the day, Mike will go down as one of the greatest comics creators of all time. I’m honored to work with him, even more so to create with him. But, don’t tell him I said that.

BD: Artist Patric Reynolds and colorist Dave Stewart will be joining the Joe Golem team. How would you describe your creative process with Reynolds and Stewart in transitioning your story into sequential art?

CG: Patric is the perfect artist for this thing. Mike and I always knew we wanted to do Joe Golem comics, but we had to wait for someone who could bring the tone and atmosphere, the horror and realism to both the character of Joe Golem and to the Drowning City itself, not to mention the flashbacks to 15th century Croatia. Patric was that guy. As for Dave Stewart—look, let’s not kid ourselves. There’s never been a colorist in comics as talented as Dave, never been someone who adds so much to the look and feel of a comic. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with several different artists on Baltimore and Joe Golem who are remarkable talents, but no matter how great an artist is, you add Dave Stewart’s colors and it still elevates the work.

BD: As a writer, you have found great success in the horror and fantasy genres. Do you feel that these genres offer specific tools to you as a creator in sharing your story? Likewise, are there other genres of storytelling that you have not yet explored but would be curious to try?

CG: I’ve always felt very comfortable with fantasy and horror. Yes, of course, they’re fun. Full of monsters, so that’s always a plus. But, more importantly, they’re great vehicles. Supernatural and fantasy stories can be a wonderful way to talk about real-world issues and very human concerns without hitting the reader over the head with them. With a more subtle, indirect approach, you can explore the layers of a serious subject, reveal human fears and frailties, in ways that are sometimes more effective than pure, realist drama.

BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?

CG: My new novel, DEAD RINGERS, hits stores on November 3rd. It’s full of ghosts, evil twins, and the occult. I woke up yesterday to a rave review from Publishers Weekly. They think you’ll like it, and so do I.

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Joe Golem: Occult Detective?

CG: It hits comics shops November 3rd. While we’ve pulled influences from everything from Sherlock Holmes to Hammer films to Humphrey Bogart and The Island of Dr. Moreau, I can promise you’ve never read anything quite like it.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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