At its panel during Comic-Con International in San Diego, Dark Horse announced the arrival of a new talent and his original take on a classic character. Cole Haddon’s four-issue miniseries “The Strange Case of Hyde,” with an artist to be announced, will represent the writer’s first published project and is also in the early stages of becoming a feature-length film from Skydance Entertainment. The dualistic protagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic horror story will face off against another of literature’s great monsters in what Haddon will be the first in a series of historical mash-ups. CBR News spoke with Haddon about the project and his further plans for comics.
“Hyde has always been one of my favorite literary villains, and I’m a fan of all the classic films about him. I just felt he had never been given his due on the big screen in the latter part of the last half-century,” Haddon said. “So I made the argument that I wanted to put him back on the top of the food chain, the top of the pantheon of movie monsters, present him as the baddest of the bad in England. I can’t reveal who the villain is – Hyde is not the villain, he’s more of an antihero here, but he’s pitted against one of the worst fiends in British history. It’s five years after his rampage, he’s been in prison since then, and he’ll play a role confronting a new fiend by passing on his expertise about what evil actually is to a young detective.”
Though the monstrous Mr. Hyde has been reintegrated into Dr. Jekyll and it will be Jekyll’s face readers see throughout the series, that is not to say the character does not retain a strong sense of danger. “In his own way, he’s Dr. Lecter – there’s a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ inspiration to it,” Haddon said. “So, he’s the good doctor with some ideas about what morality actually is and how society uses it to control the masses.”
The detective Jekyll will be assisting is Thomas Adye, a younger version of Col. Adye from H.G. Wells’ “The Invisible Man.” “This is, in a way, a prologue for his character, as well as to cross history with a franchise of comic books, movies,” Haddon said, “a franchise crossing history with classic literary and cinematic monsters, and Adye is a character whose soul is on the line and Hyde has his own ideas about how to teach him how to be moral.
“At the time period of this [story], forensic science is just coming into the sort of popular culture of the period, Scotland Yard is just starting to embrace it,” Haddon said.
Though the comic series will be debuting first, likely toward the end of 2010, Haddon’s “Hyde” concept was developed simultaneously for film and will see a big screen release as well. “The movie I know is being called ‘Hyde,'” the writer told CBR, drawing a distinction with the Dark Horse series title “The Strange Case of Hyde.” “It was purchased by Skydance Entertainment, which is David Ellison’s company, [who are] now co-financing a lot of Paramount’s productions.
“It’s been a really fun experience, because I grew up wanting to write comic books, but then became a screenwriter and started the comic book based on a screenplay outline, and then wrote the screenplay afterward, which influenced the actual comic book,” Haddon told CBR. “So it was really interesting how they’re two standalone things and are treated very differently, but working on them together has been a really cool experience. I hope they all work out like that.”
As to how the project ended up with Dark Horse, Haddon said that development executives from the Mark Gordon Company, the production company behind films such as “2012” and “Casanova” and the television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” pitched his idea to the publisher. “They were surprised to find that I had formerly been an illustrator and comic book nut – it just worked out very perfectly,” Haddon said. “Rather than be a screenwriter writing a comic book, I started off wanting to be a comic writer. It’s very strange, it’s all come full circle, that I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do.”
Haddon told CBR that he is also lining up further comic book projects. “The new company, Kickstart, is doing a book from me at the end of the year, as well. That one has a working title of ‘Space Gladiator,’ and unfortunately I’m not allowed to say more than that. The official announcement for that will be at New York Comic-Con,” he said. “There’ll be another one down there I’ll be talking about, another big A-list comic artist and I are teaming up. I think we’ll be figuring out in the next couple weeks who’ll be publishing it.”