To turn Penny Dreadful the TV show into a comic book, writer Chris King turned to penny dreadfuls themselves for inspiration.
“They were sort of the first version of the comic book,” King tells EW of the titular publications. “For a penny, you would buy these really cheap serialized stories so you would keep coming back to and following it. The goal for the television series was to do the same thing, where you really got to know these characters and keep watching them experience all sorts of evil situations and try to protect each other and humankind. So the series lent itself to the comic book form.”
King, who served as the executive producer on the Showtime series, was involved with it since its inception, making him the perfect person to continue telling the story. “I was the first person that [creator John Logan] mentioned the idea to. He and I would work very closely together, and although we ended the series by season 3, we talked about ideas of other characters and stories,” says King. “After the show ended and we knew we were going to continue telling stories within the comic book, I already had an idea based on what John was thinking. [So] I spoke to him about it, and where we were going, and obviously he gave me his blessing and has been very supportive of it. He is thrilled that the story is still reaching fans”
With the comic hitting stores on April 5, EW spoke to King about what fans of the series can expect in the upcoming issues. Here’s everything you need to know.
“I wanted to see how the death of Vanessa and what all happened, affected the characters who are a bit fractured again,” says King of the series picking up six months after the show’s finale. “Season 3 brought the characters together for Vanessa. So now without that piece, where do they exist in the world? They’re all figuring out their own individual journeys. That’s the goal of this new comic.”
And while Penny Dreadful may have focused on Vanessa Ives’ story, King feels the remaining characters are more than enough to keep telling their stories. “She was the fulcrum, but each character is so rich and interesting. Ethan, who was such a tragic character, grew over the course of three seasons. It’s a disservice to not continue to tell his story. The same goes for Sir Malcolm and the others.”
Part of this continuation of the story also allows King to possibly do a few things the show didn’t really have the opportunity to do — like reunite werewolf Ethan and “bride” of Dr. Frankenstein, Lily (which the first issue teases). “As a fan, I’ve always wanted to know what would happen if Ethan realized that his love Brona was back and alive. And how that would affect his relationship with Dr. Frankenstein if he discovered the whole reason behind Lily’s rebirth,” explains King.”It’s a fun thing to tease over the course of this comic book. And you never know. Hopefully, they’ll reunite.”
However much like television, the comic medium also allows for storytelling to dig into the back-stories of each character on an issue by issue basis. “In the series, we didn’t have time to go into more stories about Dorian or how long he’s been alive and what this curse that allowed him to be immortal was,” says King of what he wants to explore in the comics. “Same with Dr. Frankenstein. I’d love to explore more about what happened to him after both Lily and The Creature left him. He’s now an abandoned father. What’s he doing now?”
“It might not necessarily be the Vanessa Ives that we know and love,” says King about Eva Green’s character making a return to the Penny Dreadful story. “Anything and everything is possible in the world of Penny Dreadful. Characters can always return from the dead as we’ve seen over the last three seasons, so you never know.”There will be a new villain…
For the comic’s big bad, King reached back into the first season of Penny Dreadful. “John and I were obsessed with the Mummy. If you look at season 1, there are a lot of references to Egyptian mythology,” explains King. ” So having the opportunity to bring in a new villain, the Mummy was a no-brainer because it was always a character we would talk about. So why not explore that in the comic book world?”
And like the series’ other villains, the Mummy (named Belial) won’t be clear-cut evil. “What I learned from working very closely with John [Logan] is that every character is flawed and not necessarily 100% good or evil,” says King. “So I wanted to make sure that we understood what was the motivational factor behind the Mummy and who he was. He isn’t this lumbering evil character that would kill without care. There’s a motivation behind it. So we get to explore that a little bit and see that ultimately he was a character that was driven by love, and that is still driving him to do what he does over the course of these issues.”
He might not be the only villain. “Dracula kind of vanished, he’s still out there,” says King. “And obviously, Lucifer is a huge villain in our show and has been from the very beginning. He’s a character that will never go away and is always around.”
“I’m so happy to have Ferdinand Lyle back. We didn’t get a lot of him in Season 3,” says King of the flame-haired Egyptologist. “So because he left to go to Egypt it only made sense to start with him there, in Cairo and explore what he’s been up to. And it just tied in perfectly with bringing in the mummy legend and carrying that forward. And I just think he’s a fun character to have, especially in these serious moments.”
“They were such great characters that we got to meet just relatively briefly,” says King of the red-headed, death-studying thanatologist and the unconventional therapist, both of whom will be present in the series. Catriona will be using her skills to help Mr. Lyle and Sir Malcolm face off against evil, and Dr. Seward will tap into her abilities to help Ethan gain control of his werewolf side.
“Catriona was a big fan-favorite. People loved her because she was this badass, but was really smart. I also loved the character and wanted to see her more,” King says. “Ethan is desperate to understand who he is now that he knows he can turn into a werewolf and maybe find a way of fixing or controlling himself, so I thought the best way possible was to bring in Dr. Seward. Plus she’s such a feisty character.”
As for the desperate Hound of God pairing up with Vanessa’s former therapist, King notes that they’re the only two Americans in the whole story, and that he thought they’d make an interesting pairing. “It’s because Vanessa went and saw Dr. Seward and found support with her that Ethan is interested and intrigued to do the same.”
“It’s now becoming a very popular comic book,” explains King about possibly continuing the series. “The goal is to keep going along and hopefully do as many comic books as the fans will want to read. And telling more of these characters’ stories as well.”
Penny Dreadful #1 is currently available for purchase. King will be doing a signing at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 13.