Writer Jody Houser has been making her mark on comics for years, but 2018 is a year where her footprint has gotten bigger, stronger and stranger.
This week, Dark Horse Comics released Stranger Things #1 from Houser and artist Stefano Martino while also announcing StarCraft: Soldiers – a follow-up to her popular Scavengers series set in the video game universe. The writer has made a name for herself delivering expansive stories of horror and action in licensed comics, and Stranger Things is the highest profile example yet with a story that reveals what happened to Will Byers during his entrapment in the Upside Down.
CBR spoke with Houser about what it takes to make the comic version of Netflix's biggest series feel like it's straight out of the '80s, how she approaches licensed titles for fans new and old and why StarCraft's expansion delivers her scariest work yet.
CBR: Stranger Things as comics seems like a really obvious thing from a commercial standpoint, but it also must be a challenge because the show wants to keep as many of its big secrets close to the vest as possible. What kind of marching orders did you have going in for the kinds of stories you could tell?
Jody Houser: Originally my editor at Dark Horse Spencer Cushing – I'd worked with him on Halo prior – said "Are you interested in doing Stranger Things comics?" And I said, "YES. A lot." [Laughter] I've done a lot of licensed books before this, and I've gotten very used to work with licensors and publishers and navigating what everyone wants the comic to be. In this case, we did have a bit of free range to decide what we wanted this to be. We had a couple of options sent to us by Netflix, one of them being Will's experience of the events of Season 1. That seemed like a great thing to add value to what fans already know of the show without taking too much of what they want to do away from the show in the future. I always feel a good way to navigate a licensed book like this is to get perspective on things that might be known to a certain extent but not fully.