Mike Raicht is showing off his range. The writer made his mark on the industry with the amazing all-age's story The Stuff Of Legend and went on to do the pulpy sci-fi Wild Blue Yonder with IDW at the same time he's been doing the horror classic Dark Shadows for Dynamite. Nancy Collins caught up with the talented Mr. Raicht to talk about the world of Barnabus Collins (no relation?).
NANCY COLLINS: Were you familiar with the DARK SHADOWS TV series before you signed on as writer for the series? Have you seen the original series, featuring Jonathan Frid, or the 1990s reboot starring Ben Cross as Barnabas?
MIKE RAICHT: I enjoyed the TV series and had begun to watch it on Netflix before I was asked to write the series for Dynamite. When I got the call, it was one of those happy coincidences that work out from time to time. A show like Dark Shadows is a lot of fun to watch so research for a book like this is a blast.
I am not as familiar with the reboot. I've tried my best to focus on the older series and work in that reality as best I can. For the most part, we were using the world as a starting point and trying to tell some stories fans of the series and new fans could get into.
NC: Are you interested in horror fiction and movies? If so, what authors or films helped to inspire your take on the gothic goings-on at Collinwood?
MR: I love all things horror. I grew up reading Stephen King and watching VHS movies I clearly should not be watching. You could say I've been preparing for writing horror my whole life.
With Dark Shadows I've tried my best to instill a bit of a gritty 70's vibe. I think both artists I've worked with, Guiu Vilanova and Nacho Tenorio, have done an amazing job channeling that dark world. We get away with some more intense violence in our book witch is always cool, but I wanted to still have the soap opera vibe combined with a more intense set of consequences for the characters.
I tried to incorporated the over the top nature of things like Evil Dead (the original) for the more demonic moments we've been encountering. I focused on channeling a bit of my love for Stephen King, especially Salem's Lot in this specific case, as well as the new Fright Night and Near Dark, into a big vampire stew. Mostly I wanted to give the world a creepy vibe and to bring David and his girlfriend, Emma, to the forefront in an effort to give readers a different connection point. I think teens in peril is always a great anchor and introducing them to a world they did not realize existed is a good entry point for everyone involved.
NC: Did you experience any culture shock switching gears from superhero titles like Wolverine & Deadpool to a horror comic such as DARK SHADOWS?
MR: With books like Wolverine and Deadpool I was working in more of an editorial capacity so that was a different skill set, but to me the characters are the key. Whether Barnabas is dealing with a creepy house or Deadpool is fighting the Hulk, the drama of their struggle and relationships is what I love to focus on.
NC: What do you think is the appeal of vampires to modern audiences?
MR: I think there is a romantic aspect to vampires along with a sexual element that people embrace. Barnabas is not a teenage heartthrob, but he is fighting to keep his evil side at bay. People find that to be heroic. Battling your inner demons and prevailing more often than not gives people hope they can defeat their own issues.
Most importantly, people want to see and experience tragedy on a large scale. Whether it is set in a local high school or on the cliffs of Maine, Vampire stories deliver large, sweeping epic tales of loves lost and horror unleashed. Everyone wants to read about that. At least I know I do.
NC: Do you have any upcoming releases fans should keep an eye out for in 2014?
MR: I have a few books I'm currently working on. Wild Blue Yonder, with Zach Howard, Austin Harrison and colorist Nelson Daniel, is coming out through IDW. Our 3rd issue hit the stands last week and I hope people will continue to give it a shot. We will be finishing up our initial 6 issues next year and then continuing on with some more stories to follow up the initial story arc.
Brian Smith, Charles Paul Wilson III, the guys at Th3rd World and I are planning on getting Volume 5 of Stuff of Legend out next year as well. We all love working on that book and are planning on wrapping the series up with Volume 6.
Click here for more on Dark Shadows #23.
Nancy A. Collins is the author of numerous novels, short stories, and comic books, including DC Comics' Swamp Thing. A recipient of the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award, The British Fantasy Society's Icarus Award, as well as a nominee for the International Horror Guild, John W. Campbell, James Tiptree, Eisner & World Fantasy Awards, her works include Sunglasses After Dark, Lynch: A Gothik Western, and Knuckles And Tales. Legends of Red Sonja #1 marks her return to comics, and her newest novel is Magic And Loss, the 3rd book in the Golgotham series, scheduled to be released November 5th .