Vertigo has a long history of publishing fantastic adventures with magnificent art while reshaping readers’ understanding (and enjoyment) of classic heroes and villains of mythic and magical lore. From classics like “Sandman,” “The Books of Magic” and “Lucifer ” to current series like “Fables,” “The Unwritten” and “American Vampire,” the DC Comics imprint has received high praise from critics and readers alike over the years, for its reimagining of the monsters and men of world literature.
Enter Ian Edginton’s “Hinterkind,” featuring wonderful interior art by relative newcomer Francesco Trifogli, which is a monster mash of all its predecessors pitting the very last of humankind up against elves, ogres and dragons in the ultimate test of survival.
The series — and its world — continues to grow with the arrival of Vampires from Europe, and they’re none-too-pleased with the American Hinterkind and how they’re running the nation with the human population in rapid decline.
CBR News connected with Edginton to learn more about the world he’s building. During our conversation, it comes out that even though the Hinterkind are very, very different from humankind, they’re actually our evolutionary cousins — not mystic or magical creatures. And if that’s the case, this post-apocalyptic world just got a whole scarier.
CBR News: With so many moving parts, including a zeppelin full of new monsters revealed at the end of the first arc, how far out do you have “Hinterkind” planned, and do you have a series bible, which distinguishes between all of the different classes of Hinterkind, humans and any other race that exist on Earth?
Ian Edginton: Optimistically, I try and stay two years ahead of where I am, but I have notes and so on that can feed into a third years worth of stories. Sometimes though — and I know it sounds cliche — characters do take on a life of their own and you have to factor that in.
Starla, the bad fairy, didn’t feature quite so heavily in the original outline, but her character is so wonderfully foul-mouthed and gorgeously vile that she demanded more screen time. I do keep a notebook that lists all of the characters, their back-story, family history and how they relate to each other. Even then, I still occasionally find I’ve contradicted myself or made someone older or younger than they should be and have go back and make some changes before we go to press. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens.
There is a definite class structure amongst the Hinterkind. How did you go about ranking the different monsters as in the case of the Sidhe, who clearly outrank the Ogerkin?
The Hinterkind aren’t mystic or magical. Mankind has attributed that to them as it has woven myths and legends around them. They are our evolutionary cousins, try-outs and dead-ends. They’re flesh-and-blood just like us, but at the same time, very, very different.
The Sidhe, my analogues for what you’d call Elves, are the kings of the hill. They’re an ancient, cultured, martial society, and so feel they know better than everyone else, which of course leads to trouble. There is prejudice amongst the races of the Hinterkind. Despite loathing the human race who hunted them to near-extinction, the more human you look, the more accepted you are.
In the old, pre-plague days, if you could pass for human, you could blend in and have a better quality of life. Those that couldn’t eke out a living out in the wilds and the wilderness, more like animals and were looked down on accordingly. Now, with mankind in the minority, a lot of those races don’t want to go back to ‘living in mud and shit.’ This is their world now, but they’ve emerged from their nests and burrows to find the Sidhe have begun staking claims to huge swathes of it, and this doesn’t go down well.
In “Hinterkind” #4, the Sidhe Jon Hobb delivers one of the book’s big themes when he says, “Bottom line, it’s all about survival!” That really sums up “Hinterkind” for me, whether it be for the Hinterkind, humans or even the Queen of the Sidhe — is this a story of survival?
Very much so. Whether it’s the humans living in their little villages dotted around the place, or the empires of the Sidhe, the Skinlings or the Vampire Nation, it’s all about grabbing what you can and hanging onto it. While it may have the trappings of civilization, it’s very much a brutal, feudal world. Many of the Hinterkind thought that with mankind no longer in the picture, their fortunes would greatly improve, but it’s not working out that way. Where once they all banded together in adversity, with that threat of mankind removed, they’re now turning on each other. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.
While “Hinterkind” started with Angus and Prosper, we’re just seven issues in and the two have been separated — with Angus possibly dead. Prosper is off with Jon Hobb, Angus is missing in action with Lachlan and Asa, Prosper’s grandfather, is fighting centaurs with Starla and Jubal — why was it important to break the survivors of Manhattan apart before bringing them back together to battle the Hinterkind? And will we see them together again soon?
Ah, I don’t want to give too much away. Their paths will cross again, but not for a while and not in ways you’d imagine. I wanted to split Angus, Asa and Prosper up so we could see more of the Hinterkind’s world. It’s also the driving force behind that aspect of the story in that they’re desperate to find each other again. It gives them a reason to keep going on instead of running back home, bolting the door and hiding under the bed, especially after what they’ve seen.
By separating your lead characters into solo(ish) adventures, what does that allow you as a creator to do in terms of telling stories of isolation! Riding shotgun with monsters you don’t trust 100 or even 50 per cent must be pretty scary, especially in this post-apocalyptic world.
All three of them — Asa, Angus and Prosper — are innocents abroad. They have no idea what the world’s like outside of Manhattan, so they constantly have to adjust and adapt. And yes, it’s terrifying, but they have no choice. Especially when they’re split up and trying to find each other again. There’s a lot of uncertainty going on. Who do you trust? By splitting them up and forcing them into situations way outside their comfort zone, we also give them chance to grow and develop.
For example, Prosper started out feisty, arrogant and, let’s be frank, a bit annoying. Her journey so far has seen her face death and the deaths of those she loves. She’s also had to ally herself with Jon Hobb, who she knows to be shifty, but on the way, she’s finding strengths and hidden depths in herself that she didn’t know were there. It’s stripping away the arrogance and excess to reveal this steely core within. She has the makings of a hero, but is that necessarily a good thing? Will she still be the same granddaughter Asa knew?
It keeps getting worse and worse for the humans, and now Vampire Nation is coming. What do we need to know about the vampires of “Hinterkind?”
The Vampire Nation that we saw is what you could call the European chapter of the Hinterkind. [Laughs] We get to see what’s been happening in Europe, although it’s only a snapshot for now. In Europe, it’s the vampires, not the Sidhe, who are in charge, and now they’re looking to see what’s happened to their kin in the USA. They’re not going to like what they find.
Looking ahead at the solicitations for upcoming issues, Tersia will soon be Queen of the Sidhe, which means things might not end well for Telsche. Is a shakeup in Sidhe leadership coming?
You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. [Laughs] Oh, okay then. There’s trouble coming for Telesche and Tersia. One of them has prepared for it though — the other, not so much.
Jon and Prosper have a bit of a Han and Leia love/hate thing going. With Tersia having visions of Jon, and Jon no stranger to having multiple female friends with benefits — he already hinted at a past relationship with Starla — might we see the beginning of a love triangle, “Hinterkind”-style? Or even a love quadrilateral, if Starla crashes the party?
Jon does get about a bit, doesn’t he? [Laughs] His relationship with Prosper, though, is something special, and it’s not what we think it is. She reconnects him with his humanity — for want of a better word — and there’s a reason for that, but I don’t want to give too much away yet. Sorry.
Finally, with a new storyline just underway, what can you tease of what’s to come beyond what’s been solicited?
Prosper has a new traveling companion in the form of Parsifal. He’s Telesche’s other son and Tersia’s younger brother. They’re heading west to find Asa, but don’t realize he’s taken a detour. We also discover the sinister origins of the Blight, the plague that almost wiped out mankind.
“Hinterkind” #8, by Ian Edginton and featuring art by Francesco Trifogli, is on sale now.