Rik Hoskin, writer of Frankenstein: Storm Surge # 5, talks with writer Erik Mona about Pathfinder: Hollow Mountain #4, both on sale now from Dynamite. Cover is by Jeremy Saliba. Interiors by Tom Garcia and Mohan.
ERIK MONA: From the very start of the series, the Pathfinder heroes have explored the wild frontier region of Varisia, where they've faced off against goblin hordes, wicked cults and even a mighty acid-spewing dragon. But it's been a long time since we've seen them in their proper environment: A dungeon. And when it comes to dungeons in Varisia, there's none more imposing than Hollow Mountain, ancient fastness of the mystical Runelords. We've explored Hollow Mountain a bit in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventures and sourcebooks, and the new comic series allows us to delve even deeper into the mysteries of the place. With issues written by Pathfinder's publisher (yours truly), Executive Editor (James L. Sutter) and Editor-in-Chief (F. Wesley Schneider), Pathfinder: Hollow Mountain is the most Pathfinder-est series we've done to date, with its setting and much of the lore surrounding it directly inspired by the game line, written by the people in charge of it.
RH: The Pathfinder world is peopled with many different races. Do you have a favorite fantasy race, and why?
EM: If I'm being completely honest, my favorite fantasy race is probably human. I tend to play human characters more than members of other races, and most of my favorite fantasy stories feature humans as the main characters, and fairytale creatures like elves and dwarves appear as seldom as possible. I'm much more a Robert E. Howard/Conan sort of guy than I am a cosplayer at the Council of Elrond. In a world like Pathfinder, with elves, dwarves, gnomes and the like, I most appreciate humans for being the relatable lens through which we see all of the weirder stuff. And Pathfinder's races can get pretty weird. My favorite of the odd Pathfinder races is probably the ghorans, succulent plants who developed sentience and humanlike bodies as defense mechanisms against the predations of the wizard-ruled city state that designed and harvested them as food. Ghorans have a racial trait called "Delicious," which makes them more susceptible to an enemy's bite attacks. Yum!
RH: What are your influences, comic book or otherwise, as a writer?
EM: I read science fiction and fantasy extensively, with a significant emphasis on the pulp magazine era of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. I appreciate the ways in which science fiction and fantasy were not as codified back then as they sometimes seem to be now. It was a golden age of fantasy and sword and sorcery in particular, and my favorite writers of the era essentially founded the genre: Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Clark Ashton Smith, A. Merritt, C. L. Moore and Leigh Brackett.
I've been reading comics my whole life, from the day I discovered a stack of old Brave & the Bolds and 100-Page Super-Spectaculars as a little kid. A crazy quilt of obscure DC characters like Sgt. Rock, Wildcat and the Creeper invaded my young mind, and by the time I finally got to the classic Archie Goodwin/Walt Simonson Manhunter/Batman team-up, my fate was forever sealed. The comics writers I most admire are Warren Ellis for his scope, storytelling and fearlessness, Grant Morrison for his ability to mix mind-melting creativity with reverence for shared-world characters, James Robinson for the 90s Starman and his ability to write heroes you really grow to care about as people, and Alan Moore for, you know, being Alan Moore.
RH: What was it like working with artist Tom Garcia?
EM: This is my third Pathfinder issue with Tom, and I'm always delighted to work with him. I was an early admirer of his work on Mercy Thompson (perhaps you've heard of it, Mr. Hoskin?), and I really appreciate the way he's taken to the Pathfinder characters. This issue in particular had some very complex dungeon architecture to navigate, and Tom was fantastic about getting the details right. You can follow the action from page to page and get a fluid sense of the heroes' journey from corridor to corridor. I also gave Tom the chance to draw some amazing giants and some utterly disgusting spider creatures this time around, and he met both challenges with a deft pen.
RH: There's plenty of magic on show in Pathfinder, from flying spells to the ability to hypnotize people into doing whatever you want. What ability would you choose?