The author previews the first titles to be published by his imprint, Hill House Comics.
Given how much inspiration film studios have found in comics over the past decade it seems reasonable that novelist Joe Hill was partly inspired to set up the DC comics imprint, Hill House Comics, by the example of a movie company.
“I’m full of admiration for the film studio Blumhouse,” says Hill. “What they have done over the last decade is managed to release two or three intelligent character-driven and really scary horror films a year. The body of work is equal to the heyday of the British Hammer Films. You’ve had stuff like Purge and Get Out and maybe their scariest film, Whiplash, which I think is a totally effective horror film. So, I’ve been fascinated with, can we do something like Blumhouse has done, only do it for comic books? That was the pitch to DC. Let’s have a slate of horror comics that have big fat exciting hooks to them, and that are closed stories of terror that run fast and run hard, with beginnings, middles, and ends, and are all killer and no filler.”
The imprint’s first comic is the seven-issue Basketful of Heads (issue #1 out Wednesday), which is written by Hill with art from Leomacs.
“Basketful of Heads is about a young woman named June Branch, who goes to spend the weekend with her boyfriend Liam, who has been working as a summer police officer on Brody Island,” says Hill. “They wind up housesitting for the chief, and that night there’s a terrible home invasion, and four attackers come after them. June finds herself fighting for her life with an occult ax, part of this Viking collection that the chief has in his house, and the ax has this supernatural power. When you swing it, you can lop off a man’s head with a single stroke, but after you’ve decapitated them, the head goes on living, and talking, screaming, lying, pleading, debating. So, basically, June has to use the ax and her resourcefulness to find out what these home invaders are after, because it’s not simply a smash and grab job.”
Other upcoming titles from Hill House Comics include The Dollhouse Family (out Nov. 13) and The Low, Low Woods (out Dec. 18).
“If I had to describe The Dollhouse Family in just a few words, I’d say, intelligent, chilling, British horror, specifically of the sort we associate with the mid-‘70s,” says Hill. “I’m thinking films like The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now. The Low, Low Woods, that one is kind of the perfect collision of Davids. It’s 50 percent David Lynch and 50 percent David Cronenberg. It puts us in the company of El and Octavia, two compassionate, smart, tough teenage girls, who are investigating an outbreak of amnesia. It’s a very peculiar, Twin Peaks-ian kind of town and it’s full of lurking hidden menace, including the packs of skinless men who walk through the woods. Low, Low Woods is by Carmen Maria Machado and she’s worked with an amazing Greek artist, Dani. Dollhouse Family is by Mike Carey, who wrote The Girl With All the Gifts, and his frequent collaborator, Peter Gross.”
Each title will also contain a strip called Sea Dogs, which explains the important part werewolves played during the Revolutionary War.
“Sea Dogs, I’m doing with Dan McDaid and it’s a back-up feature that runs in every issue of Hill House comics,” says Hill. “Essentially, it explains how the American side won the Revolutionary War by using werewolves. When you think about it, it does make sense. I mean, the British navy, at the time of the Revolutionary War, was the greatest fighting force on the planet, and America had almost no navy to speak of whatsoever. I’ve scratched my head, and I’ve tried to figure it out, and it doesn’t make any sense at all unless we had werewolves.”
Get a sneak peek at the adult language-featuring Basketful of Heads, below.