Paul Tobin INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by James Ferguson
Paul Tobin has written a ton of comics over the years, including a variety of books for Dark Horse Comics such as Plants vs. Zombies and The Witcher. He's also the man behind my favorite comic of 2013, Colder, which is the best visual representation of insanity that I've ever seen. The comic focuses on a man named Declan, who was experimented on in an insane asylum. His body temperature dropped to the point where he was cold to the touch. The first series explores Declan finally waking up from his trance-like state and discovering new abilities that allow him to cure madness. Paul Tobin has once again teamed up with artist Juan Ferreyra to produce a sequel series entitled Colder: The Bad Seed, the first issue of which is came out on October 22nd, 2014. I had a chance to talk with him at New York Comic Con this year.
James Ferguson: Where do we pick up with Declan in The Bad Seed?
Paul Tobin: He's advanced a little bit. He has a little more control of his powers. Reese and Declan's relationship has advanced as well, but it all goes wrong immediately because it's a horror book. We introduce a new villain called Swivel that has his own agenda that's very different from Nimble Jack.
JF: Where does Swivel come from?
PT: The same place. The Hungry World is what I call it. He deals with insanity in a different way. I love what Juan and I established in the first issue. I wanted something unique and different, but at the same time I wanted it connected to the old. Nimble Jack and Swivel aren't friends but they know each other...
JF: Like acquaintances or colleagues?
PT: Colleagues is tough. I'm not sure there's a word for it.
|Click images to enlarge|
PT: Nope. They'll grab a brain together.
JF: The design of some of the characters within the Hungry World is terrifying. Do you and artist Juan Ferreyra work together to create these? Or do you say that this will be something weird and he runs with it?
PT: It depends on the monsters. With Nimble Jack and Swivel, we did a lot of back and forth. "A little more like this, but something like that." Some of the other monsters are entirely him or inspired by me. Sometimes he'll just take things. One of my favorite creatures is a group of dogs that he created that they're bodies are made out of hands. For those I just said, "Make creepy dogs." We work close on some, but it depends on how important the monster is really. His designs can overwrite what I've said because a good design is a good design. So if I say, "I want something like this," and he turns in something that's completely different but better, that's the one that goes in the book. I've backed off a lot more now because we've established a bond. That takes a while for a writer and artist to do to the point of almost knowing what the other is going to do. Now I let him design a lot more than I did at the beginning.
JF: This will be your third series together now after the first Colder and Prometheus: Fire and Stone?
PT: We had Falling Skies together first, but Juan wasn't doing the colors. If you've seen his artwork recently you know how important the colors are to him so it looks entirely different.
JF: Does Declan return to a normal temperature now? Or is he still a bit chilly?
PT: He will never be normal. He has some troubles in the upcoming arc. Then the third arc is where things really start to go crazy. He will never have a normal life.
JF: Does he continue this healing of the insane that we saw a little bit of in the first series?
PT: He's actually making that sort of his goal in life. You'll learn a lot more about Declan in the second series. It's time for him to do some good in the world, shall we say? So that's a focus of the second arc.
|Click images to enlarge|
JF: You touched on this a little at the Dark Horse Horror panel yesterday, but how much research do you put into things like insanity to prepare for this kind of book?
PT: Quite a lot really. I'm a big fan of saying you should do a hundred points of research and then put like five of them into your work. I've read so many works where people are just constantly putting specifics like, "Then I took out my gun which was an AR-15 with a scope..." and it's like you took out your gun. That's all I need to know. Sometimes all that research can get in the way. I want to make sure that I don't do anything like talking about insanity and then have a character step back, look at the reader and say, "You see, in the clinical trials that they did in.." because then you're not in the story anymore. You're in your research. As long as you have the knowledge. I've read a lot of books on neuroscience and clinical diagnosis of insanity and things like that, which have an influence on the work but maybe not made it in there on a point by point.
Then there's just the perception of humanity overall. At a base line I think we all have our moments of insanity. Even just areas that are constantly insane. You could be talking to a friend that you've known all your life and suddenly you learn that they believe in this one thing, and it's like, "Well, that's just crazy. You are a crazy person." Or even me. I have a certain amount of OCD or just habits that I cannot break. I keep a glass of water in my studio in my apartment. It's right next to my bedroom. When I go to bed at night, I have to have a drink from that glass of water. If I have a drink of that water and then lay down but then I need to go downstairs for some reason? By rule in my crazy brain, I have to have another drink of that water. Maybe I'm crazier than most. I hope not. So we all have these weird things in our lives where our perceptions are skewed. My friends being screwed up. My relatives being screwed up. My relatives are really screwed up. That works its way into the book.
JF: The Bad Seed is another five issues. Is there anything else planned for Colder?
PT: We do have a third arc of five issues planned and that might be it. I don't want to be one of those stories that just runs itself into the ground. I think that's a real problem for a horror series. If you have five-issue arcs where they need to defeat this or that and it's your 25th five-issue arc, you've seen it all. The horror is gone. Horror needs to be self-contained for me. You can only tell a horror story so long without starting to explain things. Explaining things is death to a horror series.
|Click images to enlarge|
JF: Considering that this is a story about insanity, there shouldn't really be rules and regulations about how things work.
PT: Right! That's really well put and that's the way I feel. I want to make sure we don't smash it into the ground, so probably just three arcs of five issues a piece.
HorrorTalk would like to thank Paul Tobin for taking the time to chat with us. The first issue of Colder: The Bad Seed is available now.
Want to share some news? Click here to hit us with it!