Acclaimed novelist and comics author Joe Hill is launching a new line of horror comics this fall through DC. Called Hill House Comics, the monthly line will start off with a tale called “Basketful of Heads,” written by Hill himself and illustrated by Leomacs (Massimiliano Leonardo). Four more stories — “The Dollhouse Family,” written by Mike Carey with art by Peter Gross, “The Low, Low Woods” by Carmen Maria Machado and Dani, “Daphne Byrne” by Laura Marks and Kelley Jones, and “Plunge” by Hill and an artist to be announced — will follow.
In addition, Hill — whose novels include NOS4A2 (now an AMC TV series) and The Fireman — will also pen a backup story called “Sea Dogs,” about werewolves at sea, which will run in the back of every issue. The first book will debut this October 30 and we spoke with Hill about it when we caught up with him in San Diego during Comic-Con.
“I’m really excited, it’s actually been developing for about two years now,” says Hill, who won an Eisner Award for his first foray into comics, Locke & Key. “When I pitched it to them, I pitched it to them basically as Blumhouse for comic books. You know, it’s just been this amazing time for the genre. You see it in film, you see it in breakthrough movies like It Follows, Get Out, Hereditary, you know — it seems like every sixth month there’s a new canonical classic, something that’s going to last for decades. You see it in TV with stuff like Stranger Things, which has been so great.”
Hill continues, “There’s been some great horror comics as well, but I’m greedy and I always want more. So DC offered me the opportunity to write some horror comics for them and to curate a line of comics that would sort of all go together and have a kind of cohesive feel.”
The pool of talent that Hill has recruited to write the books doesn’t just come from the comic book world. Carey is perhaps best known for the novels he writes as M.R. Carey, including the celebrated The Girl with All the Gifts, while Marks is a playwright and television writer who has contributed to shows like The Exorcist and Hulu’s attempt at adapting Hill’s own Locke & Key (which is now being produced through Netflix). Machado is a short story writer, essayist and critic whose collection, Her Body and Other Parties, came out in 2017.
Hill’s own tales will range from a story of gruesome supernatural vengeance in “Basketful of Heads” to a Lovecraftian tale of lost ships, ancient civilizations and mutated humans in “Plunge.” And then there’s “Sea Dogs,” which Hill describes as “historical horror” in which the embryonic and battered U.S. Navy uses unorthodox means to defeat the powerful Royal British Navy during the Revolutionary War.
Says the author, “In 1779 the Royal British Navy was the most powerful military force in the world and it absolutely devastated the American Navy– what we had for a navy, a kind of ragtag collection of second-rate ships. When you think about it, it seems unbelievable (that) we won the war. How did that happen? My idea is obviously it happened because of werewolves. It stands to reason — we couldn’t fight them in a straight-up battle on the sea, but what we could do is put three American werewolves aboard one of their most powerful ships and then eat the crew from the inside out.”
Hill’s “Basketful of Heads” will kick things off this Halloween and, while setting the tone for the rest of the line, sounds like one of its more outrageous tales, with its story of a young woman who defends herself against four vicious criminals with a mystical Viking axe. “’Basketful of Heads’ is more of a grindhouse type thing,” Hill explains. “Moving in the direction of the kind of gonzo horror that we sometimes see from someone like, you know, Sam Raimi. It’s probably more willfully scary in a lot of ways. It’s certainly a lot redder.” And of course, he adds, “There’s a basketful of heads.”
Hill House Comics debuts this October from DC.
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