Coinciding with Comic-Con International in San Diego, Dark Horse has announced that its first four-issue “Let Me In” miniseries by Marc Andreyko, Patric Reynolds, and cover artist Sean Phillips, will begin shipping in December. The project, first announced at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, will tie in with the October-debuting movie “Let Me In,” the American film based on the nuanced vampire novel “Let the Right One In,” which has previously been released as an acclaimed film from Sweden. CBR News caught up with the creative team of Marc Andreyko and Patric Reynolds to discuss the “Let Me In: Crossroads” miniseries.
The Dark Horse series will tie in with the American film version of “Let Me In,” which recasts the characters Eli and Oskar as Abby and Owen, respectively. The world established in the movie will present Andreyko and Reynolds with the opportunity to tell a number of original stories. “Abby (Eli) is the catalyst for this story as her feral vampirism reverberates across the lives of anyone who is unfortunate enough to cross her path,” Andreyko said of the comic.
Newly-released information reveals that “Crossroads” will find Abby, the childlike vampire, and her caretaker struggling against the machinations of a real estate tycoon scheming to wrest control of their homestead by any means necessary. Beyond that, it would seem vampires are not the worst monsters in this town. Andreyko further revealed that the story would be set in 1982, just before the opening scenes of the new film. As for the motive behind the developer’s brutal actions, the reason is pretty straightforward. “The property is valuable because it stands right in the center of a new retail development. And they don’t want to sell,” Andreyko told CBR. But Abby isn’t the only one feeling the brunt of this tycoon’s aggression. “He has a son-in-law and their relationship makes Will H. Macy and Harve Presnel’s relationship (in ‘Fargo’) look positively warm and fuzzy.”
Reynolds, the artist, added, “To me, this a very interesting thing because I get to take these existing characters and use them to turn everything into a visual experience that is unexpected,” Reynolds said. “People will be less likely to compare it to the film as they read and more likely let this series stand on its own, yet it will still be a part of the menagerie of ‘Let Me In.’ The reader still gets to be see the characters under similar pressures that they’ve seen in the films, but in new and unexpected ways that Marc Andreyko and cover artist Sean Phillips are creating. It’s almost like building a foundation to the experiences you’ve seen and read about in the films and book.
“The nice thing about a character like Abby is that no one knows how old she is, and she could have centuries’ worth of stories to tell,” Reynolds continued. “This particular story arc focuses on a rural setting at a time when expectations for a brighter future were marred by the monstrosities that human beings were and are still capable of. Like the great George Romero zombie movies, the ‘normal’ humans are more monstrous than the actual monsters are. This holds true in Marc’s script. Sure, Abby is a monster, but she he has to be to survive. Unlike Abby, these humans actually can choose not to be destructive or hurtful to satisfy their own desires. But its that lack of discretion that makes them more frightening than her. Marc makes each page drip with that kind of darkness. This story is in good hands.”
“The most interesting thing from the book and the films is the parallel lives the characters lead,” Andreyko said. “In a lot of ways, Abby and the people around her are variations on similar emotional themes, except Abby isn’t bound by society’s mores. She is total ‘id,’ and once that monster in unleashed, it isn’t going back in the box until it feeds.”
Given that the protagonists of “Let the Right One In”/”Let Me In” are children (or appear to be), CBR asked Andreyko whether it’s difficult to write from this perspective or write scenes of some pretty nasty things happening to and being perpetrated by kids. “It might bother me if all I was writing was exploitation or torture porn, but the source materials handle horrific things happening with an almost haunting beauty and elegance,” he said. “It is a delicate balance, presenting something artfully while still maintaining the sense of horror of the events themselves.”
Reynolds also noted that Abby’s deceptive physical appearance adds another layer of challenge to portraying her as a child. “Abby is not even close to being as young as she appears. I have to make sure that even though she looks like a twelve year old, that she projects centuries of pain, loneliness and suffering. I have to make sure I can make her project that through her eyes especially, make them look like craters of time without looking like holes. I have to get a body type, but I also have to get a projection of a character,” Reynolds said.
CBR also asked whether the comic series would address some of the disturbing aspects of the novel that were largely excised from the Swedish film, such as Eli/Abby’s true childhood and certain particulars regarding her caretaker. As the series is aligned with the American film, though, Andreyko could not reveal what would or would not be incorporated from the book. “I’m working from the mythology that the american film establishes. How similar or different that is from the novel, well, I’m not spilling anything. And trust me, what is being set up is so cool, you want to be surprised. And, trust me, you will be,” he said.
Reynolds, though a relative newcomer, is the artist on two major Dark Horse projects in 2010, with the one-shot “Serenity: Float Out” by Patton Oswalt – released in June – and “Let Me In” at the end of the year. Reynolds described being in the spotlight as “pretty surreal.” “I never thought of myself as being accessible, both artistically and personally, to such a wide audience of people. But comic book artists (especially one who’s been lucky enough to work on some pretty big titles) are, for sure,” he said. “A lot of people will begin to know you, or at least your work, and you’ve never even met them. That’s both exciting and strange. I got my first (and only) fan letter when I was doing ‘Abe Sapien: The Haunted Boy,’ from a really cool guy named Jason. He talked about how much he liked reading the book, and made me realize that I have a bigger impact on people’s reading experience than I think I do. You never know just what kind of impression your work leaves on people. I hope I leave a lasting one, but for some reason, I’m always surprised when it actually happens.
“Everything you put on the page is exposed and subject to all kinds of judgment and reactions; your work becomes an extension of people’s perception of you,” Reynolds continued. “When my first gigs with Dark Horse started getting published, I was a little shy about it. I was pretty excited, but I didn’t like bragging about it. I always felt that I was pretty lucky to get work in the first place, and the next job I got could be my last. Even now, I try and downplay it. At the end of the day, I’m just a nerd making comics. I think its pretty important to stay grounded, not get ahead of myself, always be willing to learn from anyone, and just ‘run hard’ so to speak. My best page is always going to be the next one.
“That being said, this current ‘Let Me In’ miniseries is going to keep me busy for a while…at least until November. After that, who knows? I hope there’s more on the horizon, but I think this will be enough for right now. Of course I’d love to be considered for more things, but I have to not mess this one up first.”
In describing his process of bringing the American actors’ likenesses to the series, Reynolds also discussed his process of establishing the comic’s mood and auditioning for the series. “Right before I started working on ‘Float Out,’ Scott [Allie] told me that Dark Horse was negotiating to get to do a miniseries based off of this film called ‘Let the Right One In,’ and sent along a clip of the movie. I hadn’t even heard of the movie before. The clip was that beautifully gory swimming pool scene, and I was mesmerized by its bloody elegance,” Reynolds said. “Scott told me that I should do a few sample pages, to ‘audition’ for the job should Dark Horse land it. I chose to illustrate the scene where Oskar doesn’t invite Eli into his house, and she basically starts bleeding to death. But, since this miniseries was going to use American actors, I had to put them (Chloe Moertz and Kodi Smit-McPhee) into the roles of the Swedish kids. So I had to put the American actor’s likeness onto the Swedish actor’s bodies, and change their hairstyles a bit. Fortunately, Abby is always going to be about twelve, no matter when and where her stories takes place, she’s going to basically look the same. The people in charge of ‘Let Me In’ were pretty specific about Abby having the same kind of physical appearance (long, stringy hair always tucked behind her ears, etc.) as she does in the upcoming film.”
The original Swedish film’s dark, somewhat subdued aesthetic was instrumental in setting the tone and causing it to resonate with viewers, and Reynolds said his own art would naturally follow these lines. “Fortunately, my aesthetic style is a bit unsettling to being with, just because everything looks so darn wonky,” Reynolds said. I like to use an old school crowquill pen when I ink, because I like getting that agitated line. It just seems to give everything a bounce or a tension that I think would fit a story like this pretty well. This artistic choice renders things sort of realistically, but it’s expressionistic enough that it doesn’t quite sit right. This concept was very palpable in ‘Let the Right One In.’ One of the things I liked about the film is that it could have also been done in black and white and been just as powerful. It was more about contrast and space than color and action. There was that stark yet beautiful contrast of large areas of white and black always playing against each other, and hopefully I can convey that in this arc.
“I should also mention Dave Stewart, since he and I really like working together. For this miniseries, Dave and Scott really wanted to make it special, really wanted to explore new aesthetic directions in certain areas,” Reynolds added. “Dave suggested that he and I start creating a ‘morgue’ file where he and I would put examples of our influences as artists (such as Jason Alexander, Kent Williams, Austin Briggs, Stephane Levallois, etc.) so that we could get a good bank of ideas and examples of more creative ways to make a visual narrative. Whenever one of us would come across a part of the script that we think would look interesting with a more painterly or otherwise more ‘creative’ approach, we’d give each other a heads up, talk about it, and sketch it out. We’re thinking of taking some of these different approaches in certain parts of the story, such as flashbacks or dreams. We both agreed that we would try not overuse these techniques to the point that they would distract from the storytelling. Yeah, we want it to look cool, but we also want you to be able to continue reading the book as well. It’s going to be a pretty intense reading experience, I can tell you that. Buckle up!”
Of course, the subtle horror of the two existing versions of “Let the Right One In” – and, presumably, the upcoming “Let Me In” film and comic series – also served in setting the story apart from standard vampire fare. “One of the things I like about the movie so much was that it handled most of the more violent scenes with a good deal of suggestion rather than with clear graphic details,” Reynolds said. “You’d just see Eli from a distance feeding on some poor guy…but you couldn’t clearly hear her sucking the blood out of his neck. You knew what was happening, but couldn’t really see it. One of my favorite scenes in ‘Let the Right One In’ is the aforementioned swimming pool scene, where you never go above the surface of the water during the whole altercation. You just see feet being dragged through the water, a disembodied head floating in the far background and blood spreading like a stain into the viewer’s space. You can hear the muffled screams from the carnage above, but you never see it happening. It was so effective, because it invited you to create what was going on above the water in your head. You had to actively participate in the experience. Hopefully I can take this kind of approach, and turn it into something beautiful.”