Comic Book Yeti contributor Tyler Whitton had the opportunity to converse with Richard Wilson, a writer and filmmaker, regarding their newest graphic novel Halloween Girl. This book was a great read that highlighted how friends can work together, through thick and thin, to find their way through the spookiest of journeys. Ty spoke with Richard about his work as a creator, everything Halloween Girl, and what we can expect from him going forward!
COMIC BOOK YETI: Greetings, Richard! It’s an honor to interview you! How has the year 2022 treated you thus far?
RICHARD WILSON: Honestly, the honor’s all mine, Tyler – I was thrilled to hear I was on the Comic Book Yeti’s radar! And 2022 has been pretty awesome so far, thanks.
CBY: You’re also a filmmaker at RTW Productions, Inc., under Mad Shelley Films. How did you make the transition from filmmaker to graphic novel writer?
RW: Well, when we were working on the second season of ‘Under the Flowers’ (our ‘Halloween Girl’ spin-off web series), I kept seeing it as a graphic novel. I mean, I’ve been a fan of graphic novels for a long time, especially Neil Gaiman’s work, and I think, subconsciously, I was growing frustrated with the limitations of indie filmmaking. So, long story short, after we shot the third season, I got to writing a final ‘Under the Flowers’ season which would wrap up Charlotte’s story. Wrote it, was very pleased with it - and then started feeling a little heartbroken. Ultimately, I realized I didn’t want to say goodbye to these guys! So, I started teaching myself how to write a graphic novel, knowing this was the only path forward - IF I was any good at it! Anyway, not only did it work out but I quickly realized I’d never been happier writing anything!
CBY: What would be your elevator pitch regarding Halloween Girl?
RW: Angsty, teen ghost, Charlotte (aka ‘Halloween Girl’) and supernatural gal pal, Poe battle diabolic, secret society, The Hollow for the soul of Crystal Springs - and their own salvation. Or, if we really want to whittle it down - Buffy meets The Sandman!
CBY: Following that, Halloween Girl was a film you created in 2015 while under Mad Shelley Films. Were you able to transition details from the film into arcs within the graphic novel?
RW: I originally wrote an adaptation of the film when a publisher suggested ‘why not all-new adventures instead’? At that moment, it was like the key turned in the lock; I had always wanted Charlotte and Poe to be these supernatural heroines in ‘Under the Flowers’ but the show led me in a different direction. Anyway, I essentially used all of Charlotte’s background from the original film but was very selective about what I pulled from ‘Under the Flowers’. Basically, if I had planted too many ‘Flowers’ in the ‘Halloween Girl’ garden, it would have quickly become a very different story! This series needed to be all about Charlotte and Poe.
CBY: How did the film differentiate from the graphic novel overall?
RW: Really, the film is something of an origin story for Charlotte which is why I adapted it first. And I allude to some of Charlotte’s beginnings throughout the current book; her being a teen Mom, the fiery car crash that led to her death. But, like ‘Under the Flowers’, I had to be careful how much I brought over from the original film, knowing I needed to give this new story plenty of room to grow.
CBY: What made you decide to move Halloween Girl from a film into a book?
RW: I think the film and the related world of ‘Under the Flowers’ work best in the graphic novel universe. The inherent surrealism in both the ‘Halloween Girl’ and comics generally marry together perfectly and make for a more intimate experience for the audience. It just feels more like a conversation now than it did on film.
CBY: What inspiration did you have in creating the main characters Charlotte, Poe, and possibly The Hollow?
RW: Okay, I have a lot of favorites but James Dean and Peter O’Toole are my two favorite male actors. Why? Because they both feel like the two sides of my personality. And since Charlotte and Poe are basically me carved in half, I guess that makes Charlotte, James Dean and Poe, Peter O’Toole! As far as The Hollow go, they’re everything that’s wrong with the Universe because they experience the world as an experiment or theory. They’re the people that would watch someone on the street get murdered, look away and then head to Starbucks.
CBY: When writing Halloween Girl, what other stories became references throughout your creative processes?
RW: Well, I’m a big Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz fan - so, I love a good odyssey! I’m also a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books and Ray Bradbury’s horror work (like Something Wicked This Way Comes). Even the music I grew up listening to, LOTS of David Bowie, Genesis’ ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall - they were all one, big surreal odyssey. I also love stories about dark secrets in a small town - so, yes, I’m a big Twin Peaks fan too!
CBY: Can you tell us more about the choice to go with black and white throughout the graphic novel?
RW: I remain a huge fan of the early 70’s Warren, Skywald, and Marvel black and white horror comics, and that’s the vibe I was going after here. Like black and white films, there’s just a greater richness when it comes to atmosphere and mood. And I love that ‘Shudder’ has kept that whole thing alive with their awesome horror mag - I’m a big fan!
CBY: You partnered with multiple artists throughout the graphic novel as well. How did you go about choosing artists to work with during each of Charlotte’s journeys?
RW: I really searched long and hard to find great artists who not only had a natural love of the retro style I was going after but who also possessed a deep emotionalism. For me, great depth of feeling is really hard to come by, but I think that’s what makes our team unique. They are all brilliant artists, lovely people and I can never thank them enough for what they’ve brought to this story.
CBY: I know 2022 is in the process of ending, but can you tell us what other projects you’re currently working on as well as what you’ll be working on in the future?
RW: Well, I’ve been pitching the book to Hollywood and have several production companies looking at it now - which is pretty thrilling! So, who knows? Also, the next two books are already written so hopefully 2023 will see Book Two: Gods & Monsters released once it’s illustrated. Anyway, Tyler, thanks so much for this opportunity to chat, my friend - really enjoyed talking with you!
CBY: Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Richard! I hope the future is good to you and that we can witness even more fantastic projects from you soon!