If you come to Comic Book Yeti, then you likely know Benjamin Percy from his work in comics on books like Green Arrow, James Bond and various X-titles. But he is also a prolific novel writer with several stand-alone books and a series of five in his COMET CYCLE. So it’s only natural to marry the two in his latest project, an illustrated novella: WEREWORLD, which is set to be released digitally on September 14, 2021.
Ben gives the Comic Book Yeti some of his time to talk about his “fur baby.”
COMIC BOOK YETI: I’ve read the press release, and WEREWORLD sounds like a furious slow-burn thriller/horror. Can you tell the readers, in your words, what it is and what was the spark for its inception?
BENJAMIN PERCY: Imagine if The Purge was supernatural. Imagine if, instead of one night a year, the world went wild once a month—when the moon was full. I was inspired in part by COVID—the invisible threat of it and the fear and paranoia that locked down and broke apart communities.
CBY: What makes this an even greater treat to read is that you got Francesco Francavilla to provide the illustrations. He is a master of selling the 2D mood. How did that collaboration come to happen? Did you actively search him out for this?
BP: I did actively search him out. I’ve been stalking him for over a decade—when I first read his collaboration with Scott Snyder on Detective Comics. He’s become one of my horror hall-of-famers, and the EC Comics vibe he can bring to the page seemed like a perfect match for this story.
CBY: Did you share the full book with him and let him go wild or did you highlight particular passages that you wanted to see his work on? (I’d be hard-pressed not to do the latter).
BP: Yes, he read the whole thing, and then we talked about different possibilities for artwork that would show just enough—since horror lives in the shadows, and implication is often more arresting than revelation. There are twelve chapters—each standing in for a month of the year—and he did a single illustration for each, similar to what Stephen King and Bernie Wrightson did with Cycle of the Werewolf.
CBY: My personal favorite thriller horror are the “who can you trust” variety. I think werewolves, shapeshifters or virus contagions are best for these. Sadly, werewolves have become a mindless slasher. Their true horror is their unpredictability. Were they what you created WEREWORLD around or did the idea of a world that worries about a threat come first and werewolves fill the role of the big bad?
BP: The backdrop of the story is the cozy college town of Northfield, Minnesota—where maples offer shade and no one ever locks their doors—and this Norman Rockwell comfort seemed like the perfect setting for a story about the clash of wilderness and civilization that comes from a werewolf yarn.
It doesn’t matter how refined or educated we are, we all have something terrible caged inside us, something that gets loose when we’ve had too much to drink or too little sleep, when we’re grieving or furious or, or, or…and so the werewolf isn’t aspirational, but it’s certainly relatable.
CBY: They are different, but which of the two formats: comics and novels, do you find easier to get lost in writing for hours in a day?
BP: Novels consume me. They’re solitary and marathonic and require an incredible amount of heavy mental lifting. Comics are, by comparison, a constant sprint—and a collaboration. If I’m working on a comics script, I’m texting or calling the artist, asking for their opinion on a sequence or design or setting. So they’re very different creative processes. I’m glad I have them both in my life.
CBY: Would you say your audience is made of two types of readers: novel readers and comic or graphic readers? Do you hope WEREWORLD can be the bridge to combine the two? Do you have plans to make this a physical copy in the future?
BP: I loved Cycle of the Werewolf and The Gunslinger in part because Stephen King collaborated with the artists Bernie Wrightson and Michael Whelan. My favorite copy of Dracula is the one illustrated by Greg Hildebrandt. My favorite copy of A Christmas Carol features the art of John Leech. This is the audience I’m hoping for—the story made more vivid as a result of my partnership with Francesco.
CBY: Is WEREWORLD a one-shot or the start of a series like your COMET CYCLE books? What does 2022 look like for Ben Percy?
BP: Wereworld is a stand-alone story—for now—but I am currently pitching and adapting it as a feature screenplay. I’m getting more and more involved with film and tv. Quite a few of the projects I’m currently working on, I’m not allowed to talk about, but here’s one thing that was recently announced: Summering. I co-wrote it with the director, James Ponsoldt. Sony produced it and it will release in 2022.
Follow Benjamin Percy on Twitter: Benjamin Percy
Follow Francesco Francavilla on Twitter: Francesco Francavilla
Follow NeoText on Twitter: NeoText