Interviews > Cole Haddon
Cole Haddon
Interview by Athena Schaffer

You know how corvids are attracted to anything that sparkles? This brilliant gem definitely caught The Crowgrrl’s eye. Although not music related (other than the fact that I kept hearing The Young Werewolves’ “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” – especially the intro by Sid Haig – playing in my head when I was reading it), I’m pleased to bring you something a bit different.

The Dark Horse Comics miniseries “The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde” is currently on the fast track to become a full blown movie. Written by Cole Haddon and illustrated by M.S. Corley, this tale brings a fresh, chilling new twist to the well-known Robert Louis Stevenson classic “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde”.

This graphic novel pits two Victorian terrors against each other – the monstrous Mr. Hyde and the real-life terror Jack the Ripper. The story is not only an adrenaline rush from start to finish, it’s also fascinatingly stellar! The character development and surprises throughout are also laudable. In fact, The Crowgrrl loves this revisiting of the classic tale better than the original.

Is your interest sufficiently piqued?! Wait, there’s more! Told as a sequel to the Stevenson classic and filled with attention to detail bringing the realism to crystal clarity, this Hyde author Haddon will also be providing the script for the silver screen version. This will definitely be a Must-See!

The Crowgrrl recently caught up with Cole Haddon to find out more.

For readers who haven’t yet checked out your excellent “The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde”, what makes this story different from all the others that have been based on the Stevenson classic?

I think the fact that it’s a sequel sets it apart, for sure. Stevenson’s novella is a masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned, but, unlike many of the gothic horror stories of the 19th century, it doesn’t hold up especially well today. It’s extremely dated and, as a result, big-screen adaptations have always struggled to find ways to make modern audiences relate to it. When I began to discuss with film producers the possibility of tackling the Hyde again, a character that had received very little respect in Hollywood for the past 60 or so years, I kept this in mind. Going the sequel route, asking what would have happened if Hyde’s persona, which was very young in the novella, had the chance to evolve and develop a more nuanced, more sophisticated world view seemed like a better, less sacrilegious route. It also allowed me to make the story more topical without treading on sacred source material.

You include some interesting character cameos in there, like Dr. Moreau?

There are others, too. But yeah, I wanted this, as my Inspector Adye’s first “strange case,” to find himself in a world already populated by the characters I loved as a kid. These mad scientist types, I figured, would have all known each other or at least known of one another.

How much research did you have to do with the actual Jack the Ripper cases to bring your interpretation of him to life?

Aside from what I already knew, which was the result of some books I read growing up and some time spent in London, I relied heavily on a rather wonderful website for Ripperology called “Casebook: Jack the Ripper”.

The chilling conspiracy theory involving London’s elite was similar to conspiracy theories that have followed the Jack the Ripper case throughout history. Was it based on any of the actual theories surrounding the case?

Nope. It evolved out of the set-up that Jack the Ripper was using Dr. Jekyll’s serum and, later, the theme that the Powers That Be (London’s elite, in this case) define our morals so that they can cover up their own amorality.

Was Inspector Adye’s first encounter with Hyde in his cell inspired by “Silence of the Lambs”?

Absolutely. The Silence of the Lambs was the first film I ever saw that elevated the B-film to a work of art. I thought it deserved a little homage for that.

Same with the use of a serial killer hunting a serial killer – was that inspired by Hannibal Lecter or perhaps Dexter?

Not as much so. Definitely not with “Dexter,” which I’ve never seen. I know, I should have by now. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m mostly ignorant of it outside of some really amazing billboards over the years.

How did you analyze what the “Liberation” serum was made from?

I needed to find a way to justify the Ripper’s murders, what he was after, but also connect it with Dr. Jekyll’s own fall from grace.

In your end notes, you mention that “More Evil is done in the name of Good” – would you like to elaborate?

The Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Revolution, the Crusades, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, every single pogrom against Jews, a bunch of nutjobs flying two planes into the Twin Towers and another into the Pentagon, and… should I go on? Every one of these acts was condoned by allegedly moral, highly ethical individuals, groups, and, often, whole blocks of societies. Consequently, I’m left wondering why I should ever trust anyone who makes claims of moral superiority or righteousness.

Illustrations were done by M.S. Corley? How close did you two work together to bring your vision to the pages?

Very closely. Almost daily, in fact. Every panel was the result of collaboration between Mike Corley and I, and often our colorist Jim Campbell. We scoured books, the internet, and film for references for everything from costumes and set design to architecture and vehicles. I don’t think I could have found a better artist for this job.

Will we be seeing more of Inspector Thomas Adye in the future?

I hope so. Dark Horse and I are discussing his next “strange case” right now.

You wrote the script for the movie?

I did.

Where is the movie now, development-wise?

Unfortunately, I can’t go into much detail except to say that the project is moving forward and I’m very excited by its direction.

Has the casting been done yet?

Not yet.

"Hyde" was your first recognized foray into the world of comic books?

Indeed. I actually thought I was going to be a comic book illustrator when I was younger, but realized quite quickly that what others can draw in a month takes me two or three. My speed would have probably improved, but I didn’t have a passion for the art like I did the telling of the story. It’s great to have circled back, all these years later, to a medium I love so much.

Can you tell us about some of your “unrecognized” forays?

Bad. They were just bad. Whatever was good in the stuff I wrote when I was younger has long since been pilfered and plugged into screenplays and comic books in the past couple of years.

Please tell us we’re going to be seeing much more of your works in this medium in the future?

Oh, thank you for that. I hope so. I know Kickstart Entertainment is publishing a graphic novel I wrote later this year, called Space Gladiator. There will hopefully be many sequels to Strange Case and there are some other cool things in the works that I’m really excited about.

You’re a Poe fan? (It’s ironic that the press release about the movie came out on Jan. 19 – Poe’s birthday!) Have you ever been to the Poe Birthday Celebrations in Baltimore or visited the Poe House & Museum?

Yes, I am. But I haven’t been to either the celebration or museum. I’m very much aware of their existence, though, and, in fact, the celebration is on my things-to-do-in-life list along with about 1,000 other things. Hopefully I’ll get to it sooner rather than later.

You’re also a fan of classic Universal and Hammer horror classics? Any favorites that you still revisit from time to time?

I actually spent January re-watching a lot of these. I’m such a cinephile that I generally watch about 35 films a month. I find it’s better, these days, to do so according to a theme and January was “Monster Movies and Creature Features.” I watched about 30 in this category, including several Universal and Hammer horrors. Aside from the ones I was most familiar with, I was most amazed by Universal’s The Invisible Man Returns – which is, as far as I’m concerned, woefully underappreciated – and Hammer’s Dracula Has Risen from the Grave. Pretty much, you can’t go wrong with a Universal monster movie or anything by Hammer starring Peter Cushing and/or Christopher Lee. Except maybe The Gorgon. God, that was awful.

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you’d like to tell our readers?

I think you covered everything. Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde with me. I’ve been working on it for over two years now, and I never get tired of talking about it. In fact, if any readers want to chat Hyde or any other monsters and films of the like that they love, they can find me on Twitter under @colehaddon. Thanks again!