Lucy Chaplin: Hell Hole

Werewolves, monsters, and scientists, oh my! Drew Edwards has given us story after story centered on things that go bump in the night, as well as the heroes that keep us safe from them. In his newest run, LUCY CHAPLIN: HELL HOLE! Part 1, we have Lucy fighting a gang of femme fatale werewolves!

ComicsVerse was lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Edwards about his newest work. This sponsored interview covers character development, strong female leads, and a little insight to what Lucy’s future may hold!

Lucy Chaplin: Hell Hole
Image courtesy of Evan Quiring & April Guadiana

ComicsVerse (CV): LUCY CHAPLIN SCIENCE STARLET has a new run in Hell Hole Part 1. Can you tell us a little on what the story is about?

Drew Edwards (DE): The plot involves an all-female crew of bikers called the Cerberus Gang, who have invented a paranormal drug called “Warg.” Warg gives you abilities of a werewolf. They run up against our mercenary friend Bella, who enlists Lucy to help take them down. If the first Lucy Chaplin comic was meant as political satire, this one is more of B-movie inspired adventure. In particular, I was very much inspired by FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! so much so that we even dressed Lucy up like Tura Satana from that film. Praise be to Russ Meyer!

CV: You introduce a character that I don’t believe we’ve seen before, Bella. It seems that with every Halloween Man or Lucy Chaplin story, we get a bag of new characters. What is character development like for you?

DE: Well, Bella has appeared two times before, in HALLOWEEN MAN #6 and #12. So, while not specifically a new character, she’s still pretty fresh. Bella is a very important character to me, because she is inspired by my own twin, who was killed in a car accident when I was in my early 20’s. My twin was also transgender and was in the process of starting to transition at the time of their death. I was driving the vehicle. The accident and loss of my sibling and best friend has had a profound effect on my life.

Since I will never know what kind of adult my twin might have become, Bella has sort of become this perfect embodiment of teenaged rebellion. Very rock ‘n’ roll, but also leaning into a specific point in time, which would be the 1990’s, because that’s when we were teenagers. So Bella’s fashion sense bounces around from grunge to goth to pop-punk. Her personality is very brash and almost snotty at times, but there’s a lot of heart underneath. If you can get through Bella’s damage, she’s a very loyal friend.

I think, like a lot of writers, I use my characters to hold on to those I am close to. So, in the long run, this character exists to give my lost sibling a sort of life beyond their tragically short one. Some might call that indulgent, but it’s been a very useful way for me to cope and I hope readers find something to love about Bella. Because that would be deeply meaningful for me.

CV: Speaking of Bella being transgender, is it safe to say that LGBTQ+ representation in comics is an important issue for you?

DE: Absolutely! While I am straight, I have many friends in that community and I really try to be an ally. So, even though Bella’s gender identity doesn’t play heavily into the story itself, I think having a queer-identifying character in the comic helps open up discussion about LGBTQ+ issues and possibly gives a segment of fandom a character they can see themselves in. Because trans characters are far and few between in comics.

Bella is also a character I created with spin-off potential in mind and one I hope to explore in her own comic down the line. I think there’s a lot to say there and the character is ripe for it.

Lucy Chaplin: Hell Hole
Image courtesy of Andrea Montano & April Guadiana

CV: How would you describe the dynamic between Lucy and Bella?

DE: Bella is a “shoot first, ask questions later, then shoot some more” type personality. A true thrill junkie in many ways. While Lucy loves getting in on the action, she typically defeats her enemies with her brains as much her brawn.

Lucy is certainly more classically heroic, which often puts her at ends with Bella, who is really just there to collect a paycheck. So, the two of them clash a lot, but I think they’re fun together. As much as they’re like oil and water, there is the start of a friendship there.

CV: Andrea Montano does an amazing job with art in this issue. What was it like working with Montano?

DE: Andrea was a delight to work with. Quick, professional, and extremely creative. I hope to collaborate with her many more times. Hopefully before one of the majors snatches her up, because she is a talent! She gives the characters just a lot of personality.

CV: The characters in your Lucy Chaplin comics are always very dynamic and strong. In this issue in particular, we have a lot of strong and diverse women. What advice would you have for other writers who may struggle with making their female leads dynamic?

DE: The way a woman experiences the world is going to be slightly different than how my life as a man has gone. So, I couldn’t just shallowly fit my experience as a man around a female character. Therefore, I always start there by observing the women in my life and trying to capture that voice. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of strong women in my life. My wife is a musician and is in an all-female band called “Danger*Cakes.” She is also executive director of Girls Rock Austin. Because of this, for a good chunk of the last decade I’ve been surrounded by amazing women. I think it’s helped me tremendously not only as a writer, but as a person, because it often challenges my own world view.

Secondly, one thing I always say to young writers is to worry about emotional truth over literal truth. What I mean by that is the world you build might not be filled with realistic things, but you need your character to emote in realistic ways. My world might be one of monsters and mad science, but I try to really aim to make the characters relate-able. This is true of writing characters from all walks of life.

CV: Bella’s character design is interesting. Generally, when we see demon-esque people, they have darker, warmer tones. Instead, it seems you (or Montano) decided to go with purple. What was the basis for this decision?

DE: The purple skin was a decision I made early on because I wanted to avoid red skin like Hellboy or other, more famous demonic characters. Bella is at times a humorous figure and I feel like the purple skin adds a touch of whimsy. Though if you look back towards the middle ages, purple also has associations with death and the supernatural. And even in contemporary times, we think of purple being tied to villainous characters like the Joker. Since Bella is something of an anti-hero, I think all of this is fitting and it also makes her stand out.

Lucy Chaplin: Hell Hole
Image courtesy of Andrea Montano & April Guadiana

CV: I don’t want to give anything away, but I have questions about werewolves and teeth. The idea of using teeth to house the powers of werewolves is particularly interesting. How did this idea come about?

DE: Well, in most films and a lot of literature you become a werewolf after being bit by one. So, the concept of the Warg drug being ground up werewolf teeth was one of the first ideas that I hit upon when brainstorming this story. It’s equal parts humorous and sadistic, very fitting for the somewhat seedy, B-movie aesthetic I was going for. Also, one of my writing rules is “go weird or go home,” and this is certainly a strange take on werewolf lore.

CV: The werewolves in the story have a very “throwback” kind of look to them. Very Universal Monsters. Was that your idea or did it come up from Montano?

DE: As with most things in comics, the look of the werewolves was a collaboration between myself and the rest of the creative team. Movies like THE WOLF MAN and CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF were certainly the starting point for me and I gave pictures from those movies as visual reference to Andrea. I wanted the look of the werewolves to fit the vintage movie vibe I was aiming for. She took that and put her own spin on it.

We spent the most time on the Cerberus Gang because they had to look more distinct in both werewolf and human form. Plus, they had to work as a gang of “bad girls” and not just monsters. They needed to be stylish and kind of glamorous as well as scary. Their faces were somewhat modeled on different women who were famous during the mid 20th-century. The different catsuits giving them a sort of Russ Meyer or Batman ’66 kind of look. Sex on wheels in the most literal sense.

CV: Let’s cut to something important: When is Part 2 set to drop?

DE: Well, as everyone who follows me on social media knows, I’ve had some medical issues in recent months that have slowed issue 2 down some. But I think we’ll likely get it within the next two months. April Guadiana has been working hard on coloring the second issue and what I’ve seen looks great.

CV: Is there anything you can tell us about Part 2?

DE: In keeping with the Drive-In movie aesthetic, I think the second issue features some of the most intensely violent fight scenes I’ve ever written. And I don’t mean violent as in gore, like over in the Halloween Man comic. I mean a kind of choreographed, stylish fight scenes. Lucy is this highly-skilled athlete, so I gave her a real fighting style. I really thought about what her moves might be. Andrea took that and really ran with her and just made Lucy look like a real bad ass.

We’re also working on some “special features” which includes a look into Lucy’s family tree. Should be fun for long time readers.

Sugar Skull Media
Image courtesy of Andrea Montano & April Guadiana

CV: Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Halloween Man, how tough is it to do an Indie Comic for this long?

DE: Very tough. When I started out I was a punk kid barely out of high school and my career certainly hasn’t gone as expected. The thing is about doing an indie comic is that you have to really believe in what you’re doing. Because you’re constantly fighting for every fan and every scrap of press you can manage. The whole industry is “Marvel” this and “DC” that, which has always made it tough, but in recent years with the explosion of Marvel/DC adaptations, it’s even tougher.

But I really do love what I do. Working in comics has given me some of the most lasting friendships in my life. It’s given me an outlet to express myself when I feel like my world is crumbling. I really do believe it’s worth doing and hopefully, for others, worth reading.

CV: Are there any upcoming works you have readers should keep their eyes open for?

DE: With the new Lucy mini-series wrapping up, we’re going to be hard at work putting together both the long-gestating Halloween Man political special entitled “Ugly American” and getting the Halloween Man ongoing series back on track for the big 20th anniversary run next year. As mentioned earlier, my recent bouts with my health have slowed me down some, but it certainly hasn’t curbed my ambitions long term. Lots of groovy stuff down the pipeline.

Lucky for us, LUCY CHAPLIN: HELL HOLE! Part 1 dropped April 24th! Be sure to pick up your issue here before Part 2 comes out!

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