It’s the end of the world as we know it and the staff of Elsinore hospital feels fine, or at least they will if their secret plans to avert the apocalypse work. “Elsinore” is a nine issue limited series that began at Alias Comics and moves to Devil’s Due Publishing with the release of issue #4 in March. CBR News spoke to “Elsinore” writer Ken Lillie-Paetz about the apocalyptic, psychological horror series.
After three issues, Lillie-Paetz felt that Alias Comics was just not the right home for “Elsinore.” “Having Devil’s Due agree to finish the series was great news to the ‘Elsinore’ team,” Lillie-Paetz told CBR News. “Marc Sparacio, the artist for the second story arc, and I approached Josh Blaylock with the new art in Baltimore at the Diamond retailer Summit. I was on pretty friendly terms with everyone at Devil’s Due and had more than once allowed them to partake of the stash of Canadian beer that I bring to conventions. While they were unaware of the secret Canadian nanobyte technology present in the higher alcohol content that leaves unsuspecting Americans open to suggestion, this did allow me to ask for a small publishing favor and soon ‘Elsinore’ had joined the ranks of DDP.”
“Elsinore’s” plot involves a secret society whose roots date back to the 1600s, a plan to avert the apocalypse prophesized in The Book of Revelations, mental patients with psychic powers, and a despondent psychiatrist being manipulated to live up to his full potential, so it might be a little difficult for new readers to jump into, but they won’t have to jump in blindly. Lillie-Paetz said that all three original issues of “Elsinore” will be available soon on Devil’s Due’s website.
Readers of “Elsinore” issue #1 will be introduced to a number of diverse and mysterious characters including the series protagonist, Dr. Murchison. “Dr. Murchison is a classic outsider character, someone who would seem to fit in more with the works of Kafka, Hesse or Camus,” Lillie-Paetz explained.
|“Elsinore” #6||“Elsinore” #4, Page 1|
“I wanted to have an atypical leading man and hero in this story. Comics tend to deal with people who are more developed to one side: hero or villain, moral or immoral. Murchison, however, is someone who seems too detached and unfeeling; but he is able to accept the extraordinary things are happening around him, and yet still be so far removed from normal feelings that he can barely cry outrage at the strange events. He is found as a broken man, disgraced and accepting that life exists only to mock and pain him. Then he is introduced to Elsinore and has a chance to affect things. Whatever transformation he was looking for within himself is suddenly available to him. He can choose to be a follower or even leader of this movement. Or he can be the one that stands against it and stops their goals from reaching fruition.”
One of the first members of the secret movement that Dr. Murchison encountered was the mysterious Miss Candra. “Miss Candra is someone who has many secret talents,” Lillie-Paetz said. “The trauma that she experienced at a young age is something that has propelled her to excel in many things. Revenge is a very powerful driving force and with the target of her vengeance being something so vast, she has taken extraordinary measures to be ready for when she will have her chance to exact it. She is shown as an intense physical, spiritual and intellectual presence. She can hold her own in any situation. While this may make her a little too self-assured, the pain that she carries with her is like constant adrenaline coursing through her. She knows what she needs to make happen and is willing to do anything to see that through. With the added psychic attributes that were a result of her encounter with Ophelia [one of Elsinore’s patients], she has become even more powerful.”
Elsinore’s head, Director Roch, is very interested in psychic abilities and the insane. As revealed in issue #1, the Roch family has been part of a secret society whose roots stretch back to the late 1600s. “Up until now we have only known that the secret society sees an answer coming from the minds of the insane,” Lillie-Paetz stated. “The presence of the supernatural abilities suddenly possessed by Stihl, Edgar and Ophelia confirm that something indeed is going to happen. We know members of the Roch family have the ability to see angels and demons. They view this mystical presence as something akin to a spiritual plague. Now we will see that they have a definite plan of attack.”
In issue #2 of “Elsinore,” Director Roch revealed to observant readers that the secret society are followers of Gnosticism, with his comment to the newly arrived Dr. Murchison that God was insane. “There is definitely a lot of Gnostic thought in ‘Elsinore’, especially with the Roch family and their motivations,” Lillie-Paetz said. “A few readers have also caught on to a possible Gnostic reference in the character of the inmate Simon, because of his name and the fact that he may be levitating in a scene of issue # 3. With the Roch clan, it is pretty safe to say that they view this world as the flawed creation of an imperfect creator. They are troubled by the belief that humanity is placing in demons and angels. They feel humanity is empowering or even giving birth to these beings by their belief alone and that this will lead to the Apocalypse. I think the best way the secret society can be described is that they are a group of Gnostics that have been shown a way to possibly balance or save this imperfect world.”
Readers of “Elsinore” #2 also saw The Roch family is not unified in its views on how to save the world. “Project Hybrid is the secret plan of Director Roch’s younger brother,” Lillie-Paetz stated. “He is a classic middle child that is trying to live up to and, if possible, surpass the ‘golden boy’ image possessed by his older brother, for which he will always resent him. He is not given the mark; he has been left out of the secret of his bloodline. So he is trying to create something comparable, something so grandiose that he will have to be noticed and shown as worthy. He is the child that believes himself old enough to use matches like his father, but will instead end up burning down the house.”
Lillie-Paetz promised that March’s issue #4 will reveal many more of the dark secrets of the Roch family and the Elsinore staff. “Issue #4 is a strange one, we are dealing with the dreams of the patients and staff of Elsinore,” he said. “Dr. Murchison undergoes a night at a sleep clinic and the results are incredibly disturbing and shocking. I think issue # 4 — with the dream sequences, and different artists, and a more stream-of-consciousness style of writing — will let new readers see just what an unusual story Elsinore is. The four-page prelude in the beginning of the book also shows for the first time the ultimate plan of the secret society and how they think they can avoid the Apocalypse. The knowledge that Murchison gains from the dreams of Issue #4 are what will cause him finally to act. To finally become what he is meant to be.”
To bring to life the twisted dreams of the cast of “Elsinore,” Lillie-Paetz enlisted the help of a number of artists. “This issue features the art talents of some knowns and unknowns, a few which whom have found work at the Big 2 and others fresh out of art school; there is a Kubert school professor, an Argentinean tattooist, and a Suicide Girl,” Lillie-Paetz said. “I chose artists that I thought were right for the individual dream occurrence. It was a real pleasure for me to work with so many talented individuals and see their interpretation of my script. The roll call for this issue consists of Mark Sparacio, Brian Denham, Jaime Mendoza, Josh Medors, Fernando Granea, Richard Zajac, Ian Dorian, Tommy Castillo, Michael P. Sincavage, Fiona Staples and of course my colorist genius Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
“Issue 4 has the last pages of Brian Denham’s work on the series,” Lillie-Paetz continued. “It uses some of his original pencils from a much earlier version of the book, as well as four pages of new material, to tell the story of Murchison’s trip to the sleep clinic. Mark Sparacio takes up the chores of regular series artist for the second story arc of issues 5-9.”
In “Elsinore’s” second story arc, the action and the stakes begin to escalate. “After issue #4, the secret society is a lot more proactive,” Lillie-Paetz stated. “They have their sights on the invasion and destruction of two places… Heaven and Hell. They seek to prevent the Apocalypse, as it is outlined in the Book of Revelation, and the war between Heaven and Hell, by instead attacking first. How each of the inmates are needed to facilitate this end result is quickly made clear and Dr. Murchison seems a changed man as he faces having knowledge of what is intended and what will occur. He must decide if he is going to be part of it. There will be a few obstacles that were unforeseen (even though most of those involved possess some type of psychic knowledge of the future). How these occur and what snags they may cause to the grand plan are the mystery for the second part of ‘Elsinore.'”
|“Elsinore” #4, Page 8||“Elsinore” TPB|
Soon “Elsinore” won’t just be a visual experience. Lillie-Paetz had electro noise artists Weave produce a soundtrack for the comic, titled “Cell 29A.” “It is a companion piece to the comic – to heighten the experience so to speak,” Lillie-Paetz explained. “The music oozes out a dark and disturbing yet psychotically industrial melodic atmosphere. It is somewhere between Skinny Puppy and Beethoven, and is intended to burrow deep into the listeners mind.” The CD soundtrack will be available to coincide with the release of the first trade paperback, “Elsinore Volume 1 – Psycho Sanctii,” out this April.
As an added bonus, the CD book will contain a new short “Elsinore” story written by Lillie-Paetz. “The story on the album is another stream-of-consciousness blurb from me, telling the story of a group of teenagers affected by an auditory hallucination because of their proximity to the Mental Hospital and the odd noises being picked up by their car stereo,” Lillie-Paetz explained. “The album art is by Michael P. Sincavage (the artist who depicts an unusual version of Hell in issue #4).”
Lillie-Paetz feels “Elsinore” is a book that has something for everyone. “I would recommend ‘Elsinore’ to fans of the esoteric and the occult, of horror and historical mystery. To people who are interested in secret societies and strange religious sects,” Lillie-Paetz said. “But ‘Elsinore’ can also be read as something like ‘X-Men’ meets ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ It does not stray too far from the super-team formula. Will a group of individuals with strange superpowers save or destroy the world? I think there is something in the story for everyone to make it a worthwhile read. I have had a lot of people say they just want to know how my statement that having the power to create lemurs would make you the most powerful person in the universe is true. I hope they are still reading…? (Because the answer is in issue #9)”
Lillie-Paetz is thankful for the many readers who have stuck with the book and he urges knew readers to give “Elsinore” a try. He said, “Knowing how to prevent the Apocalypse may be just the thing you need to list in your skills section on a resume.”
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