Over the past 20-plus years, Ian Edginton has built reputation for writing all types of different genres, including steampunk (“Scarlet Traces”), horror (“Leviathan”), superhero (“X-Force”) and science-fiction (“Alien vs. Predator”). For “Hinterkind,” the writer’s latest Vertigo series, Edginton has mashed up apocalyptic fiction with fantasy to deliver an Earth so unrecognizable that it took Mother Nature herself to make it so.
Decades after The Blight — a yet-to-be-explained plague that changed the course of history — all but wiped out the human race, Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on the survivors using everything she’s got. And that includes the Hinterkind — the monsters of myth and magic that inspired generations of fairytale creatures.
The Hinterkind are now hunting the remaining humans, which in turn forces them into hiding but after the wisest of one such band’s elders ventures beyond the protection of Central Park for answers, his granddaughter Prosper Monday heads out into the terrifying new world to seek out some of her own. What Prosper finds is what Edginton calls a “world with a teeth” — ready to bite back with an unparalleled vengeance as the Hinterkind and Mother Nature blame the humans for their unrecoverable losses during a lifetime of persecution.
CBR News spoke with Edginton following the release of “Hinterkind” #1, and he shared his thoughts on the series’ secret origin, which Hollywood actor inspired Prosper’s grandfather Asa and why the Earth he’s featuring in “Hinterkind” is closer to reality than one would hope.
CBR News: As a writer and a creator, how do you gauge how much to share, how much to tease and how much to hold back in the first issue of a new series?
Ian Edginton: It’s like a trip balance. You want to set things up and introduce characters, but it’s basically only a taster. You have to tantalize and introduce the first few footsteps of the story but by the end of it, you have to leave the reader wanting more. You want them intrigued. There’s a famous television screenwriter over here named Jimmy McGovern and he said that he would rather have people confused for 10 minutes than bored for half-an-hour.
What’s the secret origin of “Hinterkind”?
Some of these ideas come fully formed but for this one, it started as an idea of a green, post-apocalyptic world and another one, which was a real-world way of explaining mythic creatures. They came as separate clumps over different periods of time. Then, while I was going over my notes, I started to pull things together and I thought these two pieces dovetail nicely together. They started separately but they came together to create a nice whole.
The Hinterkind are evolutionary tryouts. They’re dead ends. They’re our evolutionary cousins but they’re what we’ve pinned our myths and fables and legends to. Centuries ago, it was our way rationalizing the irrational. And then I wanted a world that was very Arcadian and Eden-like but it’s still treacherous. This world has teeth. So again, it all kind of dovetailed nicely to make it a whole.
I was going to save this question for later, but you’ve touched on something here. What does “Hinterkind” say about your own thoughts on what we’re doing to our planet? Because the humans are not the heroes in this book; they’re the villains. Or at least, they’re the hunted.
As far as the Hinterkind are concerned, they were chased to the last lost corners of the world — to the wilderness and to the forests — because of religious fervor and fear. They were chased with fire and pitchforks and it was we, the humans that pursued them. We did terrible things to them. They, naturally, have a seething hatred for us as a race. On an individual basis, this can be broken down but as a race, they don’t like what we, as a race, did to them.
I suppose it’s an allegory for what’s happening to the world in regard to pollution and global warming and goodness knows what other terrible things we’ve done. And in “Hinterkind,” Mother Nature has reclaimed the world for herself. We’ve gone from kings of the hill to bottom of the food chain.
The world is changing dramatically every day and if you have small children, I think it’s a growing concern. A lot of the series is set in the present day of this futuristic post-apocalyptic world but we will have an arc or two where we flashback to the plague years and set up some characters there because we’ve established that some of the Hinterkind are very long-lived. We’ll flip back and forth in time but that’s way down the road.
Will we see what caused the Blight? Because that’s not always the case as series like “Walking Dead,” and even “Y: The Last Man,” I suppose, didn’t reveal or have yet to reveal what caused the massive change in the status quo on Earth.
The Blight is a handy dandy plot device to have a plague that works against mankind. But you to have to ask, how did it come about? Working through my notes, a little light bulb above the head struck me and it was like, “Oh, it’s that.” But I’m not going to say any more, because sharing how the plague came to be really is a big giveaway. We will go into it and we will explore the background of it and how it came to be. It’s not just a plot device; it’s also a crucial bit of the story. It’s a bit like a jigsaw. You get bits about the Blight in one arc. And a bit more in another and you’ll be able to piece it together over time. And later on, we’ll pull these threads together and we’ll have a revolution of how it came to be, where it came from and so on.
I love Angus and Prosper, or P as she’s called in the first issue. I’m guessing you are a few years older than me so how does a mid-forties Brit go about writing two American teens? How do you channel those characters?
I’m actually 50! [Laughs] But I have a young twenty-something daughter, and I had her and all of her friends read it. I’ve batted a few other ideas of them and they’ve all enjoyed it. It’s just about getting tuned into the young people. [Laughs] But the other thing is that Prosper and Angus aren’t like kids today. They don’t know about social networking. They are children of the new world — this post-apocalyptic world that they have been born into. They’ll go hunting and they’ll go swimming. They’ll farm and they’ll read because they have New York on their doorstep so there are tons of books. And they’ll still watch movies because you can hook a DVD player up to a battery. But the whole social networking thing and iPhones and iPads, it’s their grandparents that have these things in their drawers. They find it amusing that you could be in a crowd of people, shoulder-to-shoulder, and not be talking to each other. Everyone is just looking at their electric devices. To them, a social network is actually going and talking to somebody.
[Laughs] What a novel idea.
Yes. They’re not like normal teenagers that we’d imagine now because they’ve had to grow up basically on the frontier.
And while there was many McTwisties in the first issue, the biggest one was, and we’ll slap a big spoiler on this, that Angus — unbeknownst to all but P — is sprouting a tail. Is he evolving into something else?
[Laughs] Yes, well, it all ties back into the Blight and people that survived the Blight. There is a big reveal coming about the people that survived the Blight, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet because once you start pulling on that one thread, it starts to lead to other stuff. I don’t mind people trying to guess what’s happening but I don’t want to give too much away. We do explain it. And he does have his tail for a reason but we’ll find out why exactly and where it came from later on. Beyond that, I’m keeping my cards to my chest.
Fair enough. The other major player, at least in this first issue, is Asa — Prosper’s grandfather. One issue in, and he’s my favorite character. What can you tell us about him?
Basically, in my head, he’s Jeff Bridges as The Dude in “Big Lebowski.” [Laughs] He’d be the best grandfather to have because he’d let you go make your own mistakes. He’d just be so cool. I wanted him to be laid back and his interactions with Prosper to be like two friends. When she’s done something wrong and he’s caught her, he says: “I know you’ve done something wrong. You’re going to deny it. I’ll catch you and then you’ll get embarrassed. Let’s skip all of that and go straight to the end.”
He’s a really cool grandparent. His daughter and his son-in-law have passed away so he’s very protective of Prosper because he sees his daughter and his wife in her. At the same time, he gives her free rein.
And we will see more of him. He and Prosper have separate adventures that run parallel to each other, cross periodically and then run parallel again. We see the world through both of their eyes. Prosper is the main character but this Angus’ and Asa’s story too.
How did you hook up with Francesco Trifoglio for this project because there are some panels and spreads on this project that are truly awesome?
I talked about art choices with our editor Will Dennis early and he showed me some of Francesco’s stuff and I thought he was great. And it was as simple as that. It was one of those decisions that was very simple.
We’re world building on a huge scale and we’re creating all of these different types of characters and races and empires. He’s designing constantly and he’s already come up with a wealth of stuff.
But simply put, he’s amazing. I write these little short paragraph descriptions of stuff and the page comes in and I’m like, “Holy cow!” [Laughs] That double-page spread [in “Hinterkind” #1] is amazing. I’m glad we had extra pages in the first issue so we could have the luxury of that lovely double-page spread. He pulled out all the stops. And I can’t wait to see what he does with each subsequent issue.
With only one issue out, I hate to ask this, but when will the last one come out? Do you have a plan for how long this series will last?
There is a finite end to the Prosper story. There is a definite conclusion to it. I have two years of stories already roughed out and I’ve got the bones of many more already laid out. But there are enough characters and plotlines that we could do any number of issues, miniseries and one-shots. As for an exact number, I can’t say.
“Hinterkind” #2 by Ian Edginton and featuring art by Francesco Trifoglio is available on November 6.