Halloween is the perfect time to indulge in Monster cereals, as well as sarcastic, allegorical versions of the classic breakfast time monsters.
Prolific writer Mark Russel continues his “Monster Serials” story with Peter Snejbjerg in the latest issue of Ahoy Comics Poe-inspired comedy anthology, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death, delivering the gallows humor and poignancy that the series is known for. We got a chance to discuss the Marquis de Cocoa, Second Coming, Fantastic Four: Life Story, and his upcoming Justice League spin-off, One Star Squadron, in this exclusive interview.
Marquis de Cocoa has classic elements of the vampire, but what sets him apart from other creatures of the night and his fellow Serial Monsters?
Mark Russell: I think he has a deep sense of his own hypocrisy. Being a vampire who, as the local lord, used to hunt vampires and bring them to justice. He also seems to realize that he is a coward. That he lacks the courage to end his own vampirism, to stop living the charade that he’s just some breakfast-loving Count. He is, I suppose like most of us, unwilling to give up his comfortable life to do what needs to be done to fix the world he inhabits. That’s probably why the story is built around him.
What does Peter Snejbjerg bring to the “Monster Serials” stories in terms of his art style?
Mark Russell: Great wit and humanity. You get to see these iconic and two-dimensional characters in human moments of vulnerability which is very difficult to pull off without seeming camp or missing the mark, but somehow, he does it.
You are just about to wrap up work on Second Coming: Only Begotten Son. Will fans get to see a third installment in the series?
Mark Russell: Yes. There will be a third season sometime in 2022.
You are also close to completing Fantastic Four: Life Story with Sean Izaakse and Francesco Manna. Was it difficult to narrow down the history and moments to a six issue series and how did you map the series out?
Mark Russell: Yes. So much ended up on the cutting room floor. Moments of history from those decades that didn’t fit with the story. Moments of the story that didn’t fit with the history. The whole series was a jigsaw puzzle of trying to figure out what could go in and what had to come out. At one point, I’d written a scene with Dr. Doom doing an interview with some hipster from a Vice News-like outfit. Sadly, it had to go. No room for it. But, when in doubt, keep what’s important to the narrative. And what’s important is usually the moments where the lives of your characters collide.
One Star Squadron is coming in December. What can you tell us about your approach to the series and working with Steve Lieber?
Mark Russell: Yeah. I wanted it to be about the superheroes who don’t normally get their own series. The ones who don’t get free coffee at the Hall of Justice. It’s like if you watch a biopic about some singer or musician, it’s usually someone who became rich and famous. You almost never see the story about the guy who played in a series of bands that went nowhere, who spent his thirties sleeping on couches before flaming out of the music business and becoming a UPS driver. I guess, to use a crude pitch device, it’s sort of Inside Llewyn Davis, but about superheroes.
Working with Steve is great. I always have good luck with Steves. I think we both agreed, right off the bat, that getting the tonality of this project, of these characters, was key. When we started, I think he was expecting something more slapstick and overtly satirical, but in a lot of ways, it’s a really sad story. So we got together, talked about the characters, about what kind of story this was, and he got it. Every page he’s sent me has just been superb and spot-on for the type of story I was hoping to tell.
Mark Russell: I just wanted to mention that the trade paperback for Second Coming: Only Begotten Son is coming out soon. Around Thanksgiving, I think. So everybody whose reading was interrupted by COVID or the delays can soon read it all in one convenient package. Also, I have another title with AHOY, co-written with Bryce Ingman with art by Peter Krause, called My Bad. It comes out in November and it’s sort of a spoof of superhero comics.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death and Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #6 are now in stores.
The Second Coming: Only Begotten Son collection will be in stores on November 3. Fantastic Four: Life Story #5 will be in stores on November 17, followed shortly by DC Comics’ One Star Squadron #1 on December 7.