There’s an old adage in the entertainment industry that says that you should always strike while the iron is hot.
But in the case of Boom! Studios’ latest offering, “Fall of Cthulhu,” a new ongoing horror series slated for a January 2007 release set squarely in the Cthulhu Mythos, Publisher Ross Richie and co. instead appear to be electing to strike while the tentacle is cold and slimy.
“What prompted the idea of a Cthulhu themed ongoing series? I realized that no one had ever done one before! No one! That’s nuts, isn’t it?” Richie told CBR News of what led to the book’s genesis.
And when the time came to pick a writer to develop the new series, flesh out the world and its characters and give it that certain oh-so-creepy vibe that all things Cthulhu seem to inherently need, Richie chose to approach one of Boom!’s usual suspects, writer Michael Alan Nelson.
“Ross pretty much came to me one day and said, ‘Hey, what about doing an ongoing series in the Cthulhu Mythos? Think you might be interested in writing something like that?'” Nelson recalled. “I said yes right away, because I’m a big fan of all those old H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleuth Cthulhu stories. Then, one afternoon, Ross and I basically just sat down and started talking about what doing a Chtulhu ongoing would come down to, about what works and doesn’t in the Lovecraft and Derleuth stories and why. The next thing you know, we’ve got an outline for the first six issues all mapped out.”
Although best known for his contribution to Boom!’s various Tales anthologies and as the scribe of the H.G. Wells themed Sci-Fi meets survival comic “War of the Worlds: Second Wave,” Nelson says that horror has always been one of his favorite genres to work in as a writer, even if he doesn’t get to do so nearly as often as he would sometimes like.
“Horror is an area that I’ve always very much liked and very much feel comfortable with – which I guess makes me kind of weird, and probably the perfect type of guy to be a horror writer in the first place,” Nelson said. “As a writer, you’re always saying to yourself, ‘Where the hell do all these crazy ideas floating around in my head actually come from?’ But when I’m doing horror, I’ve always felt a little freer, a little less restrained in my writing. A good horror story is supposed to be unsettling, disturbing, downright freaky, so I don’t feel the need to hold anything back when I’m writing horror. In fact, there were a few scenes that I just couldn’t write when I was scripting the first issue of ‘Fall of Cthulhu,’ not because Ross or anybody at Boom! told me that I had to censor them or rein them in or anything like that, but because I knew that there was absolutely no way in hell that we’d ever be able to get them in print. That’s how messed up these ideas were. So far writing ‘Fall of Cthlhu’ has been a really good outlet for all the ugly, strange little thoughts that seem to crop up in my head from time to time, so getting to work on the series has been nice in that regard too, I guess.”
However, fans looking for gore, buckets of blood and guts galore from the new series won’t find any, mainly because Boom! and Richie are purposely not shooting for a Mature Readers label on the title.
“We run a pretty PG or PG-13 kind of ship here at Boom!,” Richie said. “That being said, however, ‘The Ring’ was PG-13 as well, so we can still make things pretty dark and creepy, just not too graphic or overly bloody.”
“There’s such a rich and diverse universe of characters and concepts to play with in the Mythos, and so far that’s been half the fun of getting to work on the series for me,” Nelson said. “There are endless possibilities and ways to go with the book, and that’s another thing that I’ve been playing with at this point, having the series jump around and follow not just one or two major characters, but a whole ensemble cast, sort of like what I did on ‘Second Wave.’ But I also want to stress that the series very much takes place in contemporary times.”
So far Nelson says that working on “Fall of Cthulhu” has entailed learning how to walk a fine line, not just in terms of editorial content, but also when it comes down to what characters from the Mythos he can actually use and why.
“When you’re dealing with that whole pantheon of the Great Old Ones from the Mythosm there are certain characters that you can use, and others that you can’t, for a variety of reasons,” Nelson said. “Like Cthulhu for instance. You’re not going to see him running around in the new series, but his presence will definitely be felt in the book in a major way, believe me. See, according to the rules of the Mythos first outlined by Lovecraft and Derleth, if Cthulhu ever does get loose it’s essentially the end of the world, which is sort of the whole point of the series.”
“Fall of Cthulhu” debuts in January with a special zero issue illustrated by Jean-Jacques Diazlowski which serves to set-up the book’s status quo and the larger, overreaching story that ties the whole series together.
“The first issue of ‘Fall of Cthuhlu is actually going to be a zero issue, which serves both to set up the premise for the book and introduce a few very important and major characters into the series,” said Nelson. “While at the same time it sort of also works as an introduction to the whole Cthulhu Mythos, who all the major characters are in it and how everything works for people who might not be as familiar with it as some of those died in the wool Lovecraft and Cthulhu fans out there. Believe me, we definitely use the zero issue to hint at some much bigger things coming down the pike in future issues of the book. So, yeah, by the end of it you get the idea that some pretty big, bad things are indeed coming down the pike – if that’s enough of a hint for you.”