Jessika: Just wait until I upload my sentience somewhere, then I will rule everything. Well, hello. Welcome to Ten Cent Takes, the a podcast where we ask, what's your pleasure, sir? One issue at a time. My name is Jessica Fraser, and I'm joined by my co host, the Secret Cenobite, mike Thompson.
Mike: God, what kind of cenobite would I be?
Jessika: That's only for you to know and for us to find out in some really grotesque way.
Mike: Probably a bunch of comic book pages just like embedded in me.
Jessika: Oh, my gosh, yes. I love that already. Well, if you haven't figured it out already, the purpose of this podcast is to study comic books in ways that are both fun and informative. We want to look at their coolest, weirdest and silliest moments, as well as examine how they're woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history. And if you're enjoying the show so far and want to help us grow, it would be a huge help if you'd rate and or review us on Apple podcasts, because that really helps with Discoverability Now. I'm incredibly excited. For this episode. And I know Mike and I have kind of been teasing it without really teasing it on the show for quite a few reasons, but one of which is because today we're going to be talking about a property that has intrigued me since childhood. We'll be discussing the Hellraiser franchise chronicle. I know it sounds very strange, but we'll be discussing the Hell Razor franchise chronologically. The films, the comics, and the book that started it all. But the main reason I'm so absolutely stoked is that we are joined today by our friend and returning guest, Dan DG. Chychester. Dan, would you give our listeners a quick introduction, please?
Dan: Sure. Uh, and I should have really thought about this, uh, in terms of comics, and we'll stick with that for the moment. I'm probably best known as a long term writer on Daredevil, having done a number of big stories that were involved with there the Fall of the Kingpin and Fall from Grace Jermaine to our specific down below conversation. Today, though I was one of the principal editors at Epic Comics, which was a division of Marvel at one point in the the in 80s into the was somewhat instrumental in the formation of the Hellraiser comic, the Clive Barker's Hell Razor comic, the anthology. I had been bugging Archie Goodwin, my boss, the editor in chief of Epic Comics, that we should get into horror in some way. And then one day this guy, Clive Barker comes walking in and I got to become, uh, the editor and the driver of what would become that anthology, which we'll get into more detail, so I won't give away too much beyond that.
Mike: And we also had you on episode 18 to talk about Terror Incorporated, which was our Halloween episode of last year.
Dan: Yes, which was a terrific, fun conversation. And I owe you guys these little terror buttons, which are made up. So I'm going to send you these. I know I said I'd send them, and I'm, um, lax in my mail, but I have them right here for you.
Jessika: That's amazing. We are definitely excited to pick, as it were, pick your brain about this amazing franchise. And not to brag, but in one of the comic forwards, clive Barker calls Dan one of the Godfathers of Hellraiser, which is a pretty cool title. So we'll we'll definitely be asking, uh, him some questions and trying to get some more insider scoops about the, uh, franchise, if we can. But before we get into that, let's chat a little bit about what we've been reading or, uh, watching lately, outside of all of our hell raiser goodness. And I'm sure we've been just chewing into. Mike, why don't you go first?
Mike: Yeah, sure. I recently picked up a few issues of Route Six Six from Cross Gen. So that is a series from, I think, the early Aughts. CrossGen was this publisher that kind of exploded onto the scene and did some really cool stuff. And then they wound up, I think, folding under bankruptcy. And they've since been acquired by Disney. And so some of the properties been brought back by Marvel. But this was their stab at a horror comic. Crostian had this multiverse built in. Like, all of their different comics took place on different worlds. And so this one takes place on this planet called Arabis. And it's in a country that is basically the 1950s United States, but it's called the United States of Imperion. And it it kind of has that sort of innocent feel and like, lifestyle and technology of 1950s, you know, Americana. And the lead character is named Cassie, and she has the ability to see and interact with the spirits of dead people. She basically was presumed to be crazy as a kid, and she kind of repressed her ability. But when she gets to college, her roommate is killed in in a kind of like, horrific Rube Goldberg of accidents that Cassie accidentally triggers. And she ends up finding out that there are these dark spirits taking the souls of people that have died violent deaths. And they're all tied to this being called the adversary. And they are disguising themselves as kind of like creatures out of folklore and mythology and movie monsters as well. Kind of like D level movie monsters.
Dan: Very cool.
Mike: Yeah, it's really neat. It's cool. And the other thing, though, is that nobody else can see these things. And so when they're killing people around her, people are assuming it's her. So she's on the run trying to fight these creatures, but everybody thinks that she is this kind of psychotic serial killer.
Jessika: Right? Oh my gosh.
Mike: And it's really solid. I like the art a lot. I like the vibe in general. Uh, the thing about Cross Gen is they did really cool books at the time and you can find them very cheap these days. They're all over the dollar bins.
Jessika: I love that. Well, what about you, Dan? Reading anything cool right now?
Dan: Yes, but I paid full price. Uh, which was fine because it worked out really well. It was a complete surprise because I didn't know anything about it, which was the Department of Truth. So, um, James, uh, Tinian, and, uh, I think Martin Simons or Simmons is the artist, which was a real trip. The Department of Truth is essentially a secret government organization which, uh, is trying to return the status quo of the world while their opposition is basically trying to unleash every conspiracy theory in the world. So sort of like if the conspiracy theories that are rife and around us everything from Sasquatch to fake big air quotes around that school shootings, if they get enough momentum behind them, enough people believe in them, they become real. The conspiracies become real. So the Department of Truth is trying to downplay this or correct it. When these things start to materialize and the main character gets dragged into this and then you don't really know after a certain point. Well, is the Department of Truth the heroes or is the other side who's trying to unleash these things the heroes? It's really well done. And that kind of creates a terrific moral gray ground as, uh, you go through. But the research that Tinyan, uh, put into this is extraordinary. I love conspiracy theories and I love mysteries and the paranormal. So in pulling through these things, he's really obviously dove quite deep into these different topics which comes through in a really elegant way. It doesn't feel like, oh, here's the exposition about bigfoot or false flags or whatever to integrate it really well. It's a great read, a lot of fun. Didn't enjoy the second part of it quite so much, but the first run really caught me and, uh, I totally, totally dug it.
Mike: Who's publishing that?
Dan: I believe it's image.
Dan: Which obviously, Image does a lot of great things because creators come in with great ideas and this is definitely one of them.
Mike: Yeah, we've talked about the nice house on the lake, which is one that he is doing for DC's Black Lady. That's very good.
Dan: Do you do you think you I want to ask you guys this. Uh, I've noticed something with comics, you know, of late like this. They all have novel like titles. Now, you know, there's nothing like Route 666, you know, is a very classic title for a comic. But these nice houses on the lake or something is wrong with the children. Or the Department of Truth all are getting these chunky novel like titles and even the logo designs. It's interesting, isn't it?
Mike: Yeah. There's, uh, another one from Image called what's the furthest place from here? Or the furthest place we can get from here, I think. Yeah.
Dan: Right. But I wonder if this has like a strategic thing. I'm trying to see what drives it, but my own conspiracy.
Jessika: Yeah, well, I have been reading uh, and I just dove back into it. And this is more for like some palate cleanser because I have just been in the world of Hellraiser. I was like getting a tattoo for like 4 hours yesterday. Like reading hell. Razor comics.
Dan: I was going to say, did you get the lamont configuration? Let me see what you got. Like 4 hours of pinhead looking at longingly from your arm or something.
Jessika: Oh my gosh. Yeah. No, I did get a cool little, uh, wicked character on my leg, but uh, not a lament configuration, sadly. Although she might come out of one. I could see that happening. But I was reading just today to kind of palette cleanse and last night when I got home, uh, with just some classic Sabrina, the teenage witch. Just the classic.
Dan: Not the hail Satan Sabrina, but the classic Sabrina.
Jessika: The classic? Yeah, the classic. Actually it's black and white comics. Just a nice palette cleanser from kind of the chaos of just like, oh, we'll have a nice little story that's going to wrap into a bow and ding, the end. Um, so yeah, that's just been a fun little light. That's something I actually jump into every once in a while just to have some fun with comics.
Dan: Especially if you've been investing yourself into um, hellraiser that definitely needs a pallet cleanser as a certain point.
Jessika: Exactly. I know there aren't going to be any chains hooking. It like Sabrina out of the screen or pulling her skin off or anything.
Jessika: Well, you know what, let's actually shift into our main topic though. The reason that we are all here. Hellraiser. So, like I said, we will be going through the timeline of the Hellraiser franchise. We will ask our amazing guests to fill in some of the details of the comic side of the franchise, hopefully as well as some other places that you can find more puzzle bacchus action, including some new upcoming projects slated to come out soon. So let's begin at the beginning because Clive Barker published his novella The Hellbound Heart in Dark Harvest third annual of its Night Visions anthology in November of 1986. And the story follows Frank Cotton, whose endless search for self gratification led him to be in possession of a mysterious puzzle box called the Lament Configuration, which pulled him into a life of pleasure and pain that he thought he would never escape. That is, until he is able to manipulate and kill his way back into existence when his brother and his brother's wife move into the house where he was killed. So the cenobites mutilated and tortured creatures who were once human come back and pull Frank and potentially others back with them into the depths of Hell. Or is it heaven?
Mike: I mean, they are angels to some. Um, they are.
Jessika: So production of the film, because there was a film, of course, actually got started around the same time as it was published, which I think is wildly quick timing. This was also Barker's directing debut. After being unhappy with prior cinematic adaptations of his works, christopher Fig agreed to produce and the film was funded by New World Pictures for $900,000. The film was set to be shot in a seven week time period at the end of 1986. But New World pushed it to ten weeks, which seems like a really quick turnaround. Although it was kind of shot in one place, which is nice, really. Um, it was shot in the house.
Mike: Yeah, it was kind of like a bottle episode made into a movie.
Jessika: Yeah, exactly. And while it was kind of extended and made from, uh, novella into kind of a fulllength feature film kind of style, there was one big change, which I thought was interesting. And I would love to know why this was the case. But in the book, one of the main characters, Kirsty, was played as having unrequited feelings for the brother who moves into the house, frank's brother. However, they ended up changing that relationship to being his daughter in the film. Which makes it even creepier because Frank is definitely hitting on Kirsty. So it's like a whole Uncle Gross vibe thing. So I mean, why the change? I'm not sure. Make it more yucky. Yeah, maybe.
Dan: Guess that. Yeah, I would definitely say why not? Let's double down on it.
Jessika: Okay. Yeah. No, I can see that. I can see that. They're like, we're already headed in this direction. Let's just roll the whole way down. So the film started with a working title of Sadomasocus From Beyond the Grave.
Mike: It's so good.
Jessika: It's so good. And Barker did want to keep Hellbound, but Fig suggested Hellraiser, which, as you know, ultimately stuck. Hellraiser was first shown in the first Charles Cinema September 10 of 1987. So just shy of a year when the book was first published, it was, of course, starring Doug Bradley as the now infamous Pinhead and the main cenobite. And apparently, fun fact, he had trouble hitting his marks and moving on set due to the black contacts that basically made him unable to see. And in combination with that, he had these flowy, drapey roads. And he apparently was having trouble not tripping on them and was having trouble maneuver around and had some help getting to his marks. So it seemed like it was just the whole thing.
Mike: Well, I mean, if you look at the behind the scenes photos, too, they were wearing a lot of prosthetics. Oh, yeah, I can't imagine. They were easy to move around in general.
Jessika: Oh, no. Some of those big ones where they have the big frames around your head. Ah. You got to remember that when you go through a doorway, right.
Dan: Or poor Nick Vince wearing the Chatter Gear on top of his head. Uh, yes. Gosh, talk about not being able to see.
Jessika: Seriously. Ultimately, the film grossed $14.6 million and launched the franchise that we know and love today. Hellraiser mhm Two was released on December 23, 1988, this time directed by Tony Randall, and was somewhat of a continuation of the first film grossing $12.1 million at the box office. And this is where we reached the point where our amazing guest jumped into the picture. Because the comic started being published by Marvel's Epic imprint in 1989 with Dan's involvement. So Dan, as we mentioned, Clive Barker had amazing things to say about you as one of the bases of the Hell Raiser kind of overview. Which is pretty neat.
Dan: Yes, it is.
Jessika: That's so cool. You wrote it down and everything. It's in writing.
Dan: You can't say that, uh, quote enough as far as I'm concerned at this point.
Mike: Tattoos, I guess it's funny because I read that quote and I was like, oh hey, I know that guy, the Godfather and Hell Raiser.
Jessika: I was like, our Dan.
Dan: I'm going to the tattoo Paula right after this. And just kind of getting that right down here. It's like little like puzzle box on each end of it. So your question back to the Hellraiser, how did this thing come to be? I was working at Epic, uh, as an associate editor, which was kind of like almost an editor, except they don't pay me as an editor. And Archie Goodwin, who was my boss and just a great mentor and influence, was well known for his involvement with horror anthologies and Eerie and Creepy and the Warren publishing empire. And so I was always on Archie about we should do uh, a new horror comic, right? I love horror. You've done horror. Why don't we doing horror? Here's my chance to kind of connect things together. And Archie being Archie and very smart, knowing his business and the business was uh, like, it's not going to sell, kid. Horror doesn't sell. And a horror anthology especially is not going to sell. There's no hook, right? It's just not going to work. The hook though, would become Clive Barker. Because when Marvel at one point and being passed around was purchased by New World Pictures, which was the producers, you said, of Hellraiser, and there was a comics fan who would become a good friend of mine at New World in their international distribution, Eric Saltsgaper. Eric was friends with Clive as well. And so in talking to Clive and talking about comics, eric was the first one to sort of broach the introduction. Clive Barker would like to come in and talk about some comic ideas. Well, yeah, okay, that sounds great. So Clive Barker is going to come in this day. And this was my biggest, most awful, geek moment of all time because Mark Chiarello, uh, who would later become one of the main art editors at ah, DC Comics and a terrific guy and a terrific artist in his own right, was working as basically our receptionist in the Epic offices. Well below his capabilities, but he just wanted to be in the Marvel offices. This was like his easy in. So Mark would usually go out and meet guests that were coming in. That was part of his remit. But the minute I heard Clive was there, I literally pushed Mark out of the way and squeezed my way up the hallway to like, hi, Mr. Barker.
Jessika: I'm dance. Hi.
Dan: One of the editors at Epic.
Jessika: Let me take you back to meet.
Dan: Archie and Clive, being Clive, as I would later discover, utterly, uh, charming and cordial and it's great to meet you. And I'm not going to try to do a Clive accent, but could give a shit. He's there to meet Archie Goodwin. Right. Uh, um, clive is Clive, obviously. And Archie is bigger even than Clive in his own way from reputation. They go in the office and they close the door and I don't think I don't know what they're talking about. But afterwards, you know, Clive leaves without saying goodbye to me. I want to know. And, uh, that would that would be fine. Maya said goodbye to Mark, but our she comes in immediately afterwards and says, all right, kid, you get what you wish for. I hope that's going to work out for you. You get what you deserve. Because he said, we're going to do an anthology and it's going to be called Clive Barker's Hellraiser. So that was the impetus. Clive wanted to turn the Hellraiser mythology into comics. And the anthology was the idea that was going to drive it. And with Clive's name value at that point, right at this point, stephen King had defined him as I've seen the future of horror, and his name is Clive Barker. That was the quote on the books. That's probably what fueled the quick turnaround to some degree. Clive was everywhere. He was an incredible deal maker, as evidenced by coming into comics and other places. There wasn't a project he didn't have going in one place or the other. So he was hot stuff and it was a good catch for us. Other comic companies would be doing stuff. Eclipse, famously, we're doing some adaptations of his work at the time, eclipse comics. But by getting the Hellraiser mythology, this was our impetus to sort of bring it forward. Now all we had was the first movie, the Hellbound Heart novella. And we had the screenplay for the second movie, which was not yet out. Right. That was it. So, okay, what do you do with this, actually? Right. Because we knew we couldn't just be doing open a puzzle box and chains come out and rip you apart. There had to be a lot more to that. So we had to convene basically a brain trust to figure out what is the actual mythology. Of hell, right? What are the centabytes? Why are they there? What's the big diamond thing which is in the second movie?
Dan: What is the ins and outs of Hell? Why do they do what they do? And so there were a few sessions which would end up being myself, and I'm like nothing at this point. I remember I'm like 24, because you.
Mike: Had started working for Marvel in college, right?
Dan: Yeah. Ah, right before I graduated. And so here I am in a meeting with Clive Barker, Archie Goodwin, Eric Saltsgaver we brought in because Eric had a big creative jones. Even though he was selling international film rights, new world, he really wanted to write, he really wanted to ultimately direct. That was where he was coming at it to get into film. And then in some weird way, a horror author, an author named Philip Nutman, got involved as well. So Phil was creative in his own right. We had the misperception that he was a little bit more of Clive's total inner circle. So we had sort of invited, okay, well, I guess we'll bring him in. And he did contribute things, but it was kind of a weird thing. After the fact, we sort of found out that, oh, well, he's not really as connected, but it was just a weird mix. But we would discuss in these couple of sessions, what does it mean? And it wasn't just Clive Pontificating, well, it's this and it's this. He had a lot of that. Clearly he'd been thinking about this and living in this world, or maybe he originally came from there, for all I know. Um, in a very moist, dressed in black leather sort of way, which he was, not at all. And he had ideas, but it was a it was an incredible thinking about where he was at that point and who he was. He was one of the most giving, sharing, open, creative spirits I think anybody could want to work with. He was totally receptive to ideas, would build on, um, things you'd throw out, give things and say, what do you think of that? And so the output of that was these reams of notes of, well, the centabytes are about discipline, and this is their mandate. And Leviathan, the diamond god, is this, and all of these pieces which then had to be drew together. So then I became the author of that piece I sent you earlier this week, which was the Hellraiser Bible, which then took all those ideas, brought them together, and that was what we would send out to the creators, saying that we're doing a new anthology, it's based on Hellraiser. And while you may have seen the movie and you might see the new movie and you might have some ideas, this is all the stuff you've got to work with, actually. Well, beyond just a puzzle box and a ski uncle. You want to play with those too? Sure. That suddenly gave a lot of folks and us a mandate to expand this world much, uh, beyond the confines of the films. And I think in a lot of ways, even beyond where the films would go, we started to play with territory that they would not actually even go into, because Pinhead, I think, became jokier as time went on. He became more like sort of the quippy guy. And we kept it pretty moist and evil in the comics. That was the world we were occupying.
Mike: Yeah, well, the comics had just such it was just one heavyweight after another as I was reading through all these. And, um, the individual books aren't easily available digitally, but you can find a lot of them on hoopla collected under the Hellraiser Masterpiece collections.
Dan: Right. Some other company publish those, which, I might add, I got nothing out of, but, uh, hey, whatever.
Mike: I mean, they credit you. They sit there and they note it, uh, in the pages. They talk about the original editors. So there is that.
Dan: At least there is that.
Mike: But, I mean, it was you. It was Darwin Cook. It was Lana Wachowski before she transitioned. It was like mignola.
Dan: Mhm. Both Wachowski's. I think are in there.
Mike: Okay. I only saw Lana. And then, like Neil Gaiman and Dave McKeen.
Dan: Oh, yeah. I went after everybody. I swung that what stick I had pretty hard in terms of mailing those Bibles out mailing. We had to mail things in those days, uh, to everybody. The biggest name I could find. I mean, I had Archie's name on the COVID as well. Archie was mentioned in my cover letter and all that stuff, so he was a pretty good hook. Everybody wanted to work with Archie goodwill, so he was my my catch as well. As you get to play in Clive Barker's universe, you get to work with Archie, who's my boss, even though I was the editor and the driver. But we went after everybody, and we got a lot of folks, more than I probably had any right to expect. Some never responded, and there were a few that I never got. But we got some really great names based on that hook that we put.
Jessika: Out there, of course.
Dan: And some people, it may just not have been their thing, too. I mean, in reading the Bible, as you saw, and we'll have an offer for all listeners to get the Bible later, we didn't shy away from, this is some pretty evil shit. So that just may not have been people's thing, right? It may not have been I don't want to play in a world like that. I don't want to explore that world at that level. Um, that's not the type of story I want to be involved with. So that may have been part of it, too. To me, it was like, why wouldn't you? But in the retrospective many years, I'm like, yeah, I can see how that might have turned some people off.
Jessika: Well, thank you.
Mike: I think you sort of answered our next question.
Jessika: Yeah, exactly.
Dan: Oh, the familiarity.
Dan: Well, I'd seen the movie and I'd read the novel or the novella, um, because I was a big Stephen King fan and still am. So if he says somebody's the future of horror, I'm going to figure out what that is. Um, but you read it and then you go to the movie. Because the movie had that great poster, totally unusual looking character. Angel to some, demon to others. Didn't look like anything else and was not like anything else in the days of Friday the 13th. And after the first Freddie Kruger movie, again becoming joker as time goes on, here was something that was staking out a claim that was much, much different. So to see a movie like that while it had its ups and downs in terms of the rhythms, it's totally true to itself in the sense of, yeah, we're just going to yank you into this world and screw with you. But never any expectation of like that I would work in that world and be so involved that I would get a Godfather credit. Going to keep holding on to that, guys.
Jessika: Uh, well, what's everyone's favorite hellraiser movie and why?
Dan: Shy Star. Ah.
Jessika: Oh, yeah. Go ahead.
Dan: Um, I mean, I'm going to go with the first one just because it was so unexpected and I didn't know what it was beyond the poster and sort of reading the book, even if I read the book beforehand and I read the book afterwards. And I think it was just, you know, the darkness, the richness of it and the reveling in it. Right. Uh, there's a passion to those centabytes in the way that they operate and come in. While there's ostensibly good or protagonists, I guess you might think of them well, I hope they went out against the cenobites in a lot of ways. You're just being enriched in this world. Who are these characters? What are their rhythms? What are their rituals? And that's what it really is. Calling it sadomasochists from beyond the grave. There are obviously a lot of, uh, sadomasochist, uh, tenets to what the centabytes are and how they operate. And that was certainly part of my research as I went on to know more about that world. So that feeling of all that stuff coming up on the screen and pulling you in to me was, um, just magic.
Jessika: Yeah, I mean, I'm going to tack on there because I agree that the first one. I mean, it's just classic. And I remember being a kid, and I was always into spooky stuff, even as a kid. And even if my parents wouldn't let me rent the movies, it doesn't mean I wasn't like, staring at the covers of these movies, wanting to rent them. And then when I got old enough to use my. Own money to rent movies. My parents were like, you know what? Whatever. You're weirdo. Just watch what you're going to watch. Right? And so I would rent all those horror movies that I'd been staring at the covers of for years and was like, yes, this is what I wanted the whole time.
Jessika: But that first one, just like that introduction. You're right. It's just so different. It has just a different feel from so many other all of the other horror films. I mean, it's just like just introducing the sunbites. The whole concept of having to solve something to even get to that point is just such an interesting concept. And I mean everything about it. I loved the way that they did the makeup and just the fact that it was just centered at that one house. And it was like, you can find horror in one house. You don't have to have a whole world. You're going into hell, but you don't have to have a whole world. You can have just this one house and be terrorized within this one space.
Dan: Right? Yeah. Even the way it starts off right. It's that first line of what's your pleasure? Wait a minute, this is horrifying, but it's pleasure.
Mike: Which, I mean, at the Time was such a different take on both horror and sexuality. Which, I mean, that's exactly Clive in a nutshell.
Mike: I have read a lot of his books over the years and I love the way he writes. But he uses sexual violence and that oftentimes is kind of like, oh, I'm just going to skip a couple of pages. It's fine. M. It's a little outside my comfort zone. But like, he does things that are so fascinating and hell raiser, I feel like at the time was fascinating.
Dan: Oh, absolutely.
Mike: I love the first movie. I think the first movie is very much a lightning rod in that it just did something so different in the same way that like, Candyman also did something very different, you know, which absolutely barker creation. I've got a really soft spot for the fourth movie, Hellraiser Bloodline, though. Like, it's not it's not an objectively good movie. But I've realized that I tend to enjoy things that have a lot of potential, even if that potential doesn't quite work out in the end.
Mike: We've talked about this. Like, one of my favorite comics is the Armageddon 2001 crossover from DC, which is a fantastic setup. It's got all this potential and then it doesn't quite stick the landing. In fact, it does a face plan. It's fine. But I liked the idea of this one family being at war with immortal beings and then seeing the skirmishes and battles kind of unfold over the centuries. And then the conclusion of the war and what's basically hellraiser in space.
Dan: Uh, there we go.
Dan: Oh, look, it's Freddie in space.
Mike: Everybody's here Leprechaun. But I liked also the way that the movie fleshed out things like the history of the Lamont Configuration. I liked that there were things like a changing society in Hell. Like, there's the whole thing where Pinhead is talking to Angelique and when he confronts her, he says, things are different in Hell since you've left. They become more ordered now. And that, uh, there are obviously these different factions of Hell that don't necessarily get along. And I actually really enjoyed watching baby Adam Scott vamping it up as M, the weird corporate villain. Uh, and I like the idea at the end of creating kind of like an inverse Lamont Configuration that destroys the portal to Hell. I thought that was cool. It's not an objectively good movie, like I said, but it's interesting. Also weird cameo from the Polish brothers as security guards that get merged into a twin cenobite because they went on to be relatively successful movie directors for a while.
Dan: Mhm, it does introduce concepts, and probably that's part of the appeal, right. It's not playing it safe, necessarily. Maybe it's not sinking them all up. I think that may have been the last one I saw. I know there's been nine of them, I think, altogether, but ten, not including the newest one, or ten up to.
Jessika: This there are ten up to this point.
Dan: Ten up to this point. Okay.
Jessika: The newest one is the 11th, I think.
Dan: Ah. And so I don't know what they continue to do or if they've just gotten into, uh, same old, same old, but like leprechaun at a certain point, I just didn't know anymore.
Jessika: Oh, don't worry. We'll go through them.
Dan: Oh, good.
Mike: I don't know. I want to briefly don't worry.
Dan: I was going to say, what did.
Mike: I do to deserve this? Come on, man.
Dan: This is part of the sweet, sweet suffering of Hell.
Mike: I know.
Jessika: You did sign up for this. You solved the puzzle, and here we are.
Dan: Exactly. There you go.
Jessika: Sometimes the puzzle is just an email you answer. Uh huh. Well, there's a lot of Hellraiser comics from this era. So we asked you for some specific stories to read, and you recommended the following warm Red by Jason Strand and Bernie Wrightson, dance of the Fetus by Ted McKeever. And those were both in the first issue. And dead things wrought by you and Mike Minola and the Devil's Brigade storyline that you and Dwayne McDuffie ran. And what made you suggest those specific stories to us?
Dan: Probably the ones that were just top of mind. No, uh, especially the first two as an anthology. Once we had the go, I just started to kind of collect stories, and we'll get to the problem with that maybe in a little bit when you sort of ask the question about what? I might have done things differently. But an anthology has got to have enough stories to kind of roll with it. And so we needed an inventory of stories. So once uh, some creators just started to say, yeah, I want to play. It just started to kind of collect stories. So we didn't really know what was going to be in that first issue until we then start to evaluate. So Ted might have done that story a couple of months after something else. But it was then in mixing and matching and saying, what are our strongest things? And I think that he took such an unusual approach to it. A fetus that is not part of the solving of the puzzle, but is in existence to some extent and has some sentience to some extent as the mother has solved the puzzle and has had to pay the price for that. Well, then where does the fetus fit in? It's totally unusual question. Ted ran with the Bible and then wrote his own book of Revelations around that to kind of conjure up this idea. So that to me, was just that next level stuff that we really wanted. And so that's why it stands out to me. And the fact that it's in the first issue is just I want to go all guns out if they canceled this book after the first issue. I want to pack this with things that are really, really strong. And I think that was warm read by, um, Jay Stranad and Bernie, of course. Bernie writes in a god of any comics, but especially horror comics. That was a great get in there. And what Jay had done was create, I think, a total crystallization of the best of an expected Hellraiser story, right, sexuality, betrayal, uh, an incredibly new cenobite face that had reflections of Pinhead in it, but was new and had his own mandate and his own way of speaking. But it was almost like the next level. There was advancing sort of what we knew, but putting it in a new and fresh way. And, uh, I just felt it just felt so right. And it felt so horrifying. It felt so horrifying. In fact, that that was my big challenge with that first issue. The publisher actually said, no, you're not going to run this first issue with the story in it. It's too disturbing. At this day and age, of course that seems ridiculous. But back in whatever this was, 89, 90, they said, that's too disturbing, it's too sexual. Um, the nudity in it, the disturbing things about it. You got to pull this. You got to pull this from this book. We'll run it in another issue, but not in the first issue. And I made a couple of arguments. My back was up. I was young and full of piss and vinegar and said, well, the book is called Clive Barker's Hellraiser. It's not called just hell razor. It's called Clyde Barker's. Hell razor. This is exactly what this book should be delivering every issue are stories like this that disturb you. If you pull this from this issue, you will never run it, right? The excuse will always be that you will never come back to this story. So I dug my heels and I actually threatened to quit, as if they could care less, but but I did. I said, if you don't if you pull this out and I would quit soon after, but, you know, for my own reasons. But I said, if you pull this story, this book has been defanged, and I'll walk. Uh, which got me actually not meaning to use it in that way, but would then earn me some additional creative cred with the creator community. Because I'd stuck up. I was stuck up, but I stuck up, you know, for the story. So I think those two, for those reasons, really were dead Things Rot is self serving, right? That's a that's a story that I wrote with Mike McNeila.
Mike: Uh, it's so good, though. It's so good.
Dan: Thank you. Thank you. Uh, it is a creepy story. It's actually been called out a couple of times, as if you want a creepy story from comics, this is a good one. Mike had the idea for the clown. He might have had the idea for the cannibal. He was an unusual and great guy to work with, but he had like, pieces, and then I brought them together, and then I think I ended the Dead Things Rot twist at the end of it. But it just feels obviously working with somebody like him is terrific, but again, it feels like it has that wonderful awfulness to it that both delivers on a good twist. Not just some kind of EC comics twist, but a twist that comes out of the world. So that's why I called that out. And The Devil's Brigade was a, uh, you know, was a flawed, but I think rightly, ambitious project where while this was an anthology and would remain an anthology with a diversity of stories, you know, we had a thought at one point. This was by the point that Marcus McLaurin had taken over as the editor on the book, but I had attached myself, uh, I think, for all time as the consulting editor. And I would also write the intros and this type of thing, just so I'd stay associated with it. But he and I were talking angles, and we said, well, maybe if we had a persistent story that might play more into comics expectation of continuity. Right. The comics at that point were probably more ingrained in readers minds as something you follow from month to month for certain titles. So if we had a group of characters in a situational scenario that you could follow, maybe that would help boost the sales more or create a consistency of readership more. And so that's why we came up with this angle that there's a certain thing that Hell wants to achieve. It's assigned this to a certain number of centabytes, in a way. Leviathan has basically commanded that they must do this and they must trick certain humans into either solving or avoiding certain puzzles. And so that was a longer form story that we then parsed out amongst a group of creators and said, here's the through line. Dwayne McDuffie and I had come up with the main through line and then handed the pieces out to the different creative teams and said do what you want, have fun, but you got to be here by the end of the story. Right? The character has to have advanced to this point. This has to have happened. But how you do it is your creative charge. It just has to land here by the next thing. And then he and I had uh, were coauthors on um, I would say maybe the main story in some ways, to try to bring it all together and see if the sentiments achieve what they want. So I think it was a big, ambitious story, but uh, would probably ultimately end up working better if somebody brought all of them together into one collection on its own. I don't know if anybody ever has, but I think ambitious. There's a lot of really good stories in there, but ultimately it's kind of flawed when you think about that mixed in with the other anthology stories and the schedule that the book was on at that point, which was it might have been once every other month or something like that. Yeah. So it's just too drawn out to maintain the thrust. But I like the idea of it a lot.
Jessika: Yeah. Well what are each of your favorite stories from the.
Dan: Comics? Um, well, again, I can be self serving, like really.
Jessika: Quickly. We accept that here.
Dan: We accept that here. My absolute favorite story that I wrote would be Jihad, which was the Pell Razor night breed crossover, which is as bug fuck as any story could probably possibly be.
Mike: We actually found a copy of that recently at uh, one of our Dollar Bins.
Dan: It wasn't at the Dollar Bin at the Satanic Temple, um, but their um, basement sale. But, um I love that. I mean, I love it because I authored it, but I also just think it shouldn't have worked. And it does, I think. So it's just crazy and I think it hits all the ultimate notes on things. But there are a couple of others that stuck to my mind when you brought this up. One would be um and again, it ended up being, I think, in the first or second issue, just because it was done later, but I wanted to bring all our tools forward, which is a story called Dead Man's Hand by Charlie Fish and Dan Spiegel, which is a little kind of like western. So it's a different time period, mhm, and it's a tight little story. It goes places that you don't expect it to. And the thing that really stuck out in my mind, charlie was a nice guy. I didn't really know him that well at that point. And he came in and he started to pitch the story to me. And at first I'm like, I'm kind of rolling my eyes internally. I'm not being disrespectful, but I'm saying, uh, okay, this is the type of story I said, I don't want the Bible, right? It's going to go someplace. And he just surprised the shit out of me with where he did take it, which endeared it to me even more and endeared him to me anymore. And he would come back at least once or twice more with similar approaches. And then, um, Dwayne McDuffie did a story that I then assigned to Kevin, uh, O'Neill, who was just an insane British artist well known for many things, especially now the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But at that point, martial law. And Dwayne wrote this tight little story called The Writer's Lament, which is essentially that the puzzle that has been solved is a writer has written the perfect screenplay, I think it was. And that was the puzzle. How do you write the perfect screenplay? And so by doing that, he conjures a very particular hell, which, uh, Dwayne got in lots of digs about the whole creative process and the editorial process, hopefully not me as an editor. But, uh, it really stood out as a great combination of metaphor and fun and derangement, especially once Kevin got involved with his particular art.
Mike: For those who can't see the video feed, jessica was vigorously nodding when Dan brought this up.
Jessika: Yeah, m, I was really tied by so I'm just going to go into my own and we can move on to Mike. Because I'm rolling with this because yeah, no. Dead Man Hand was one of my favorites. And then my second favorite was Dear Diary, which was also by Charlie. And this one was so good because here's the thing. It wasn't violent at all. No, uh, not at all. It did not have any violence. But the whole time you're like, where's this going to go? Where's this going to go? And it goes a completely different direction than you think it is. And there's still the emotional devastation behind it. And this one, it's not physical devastation, it's emotional devastation, which, uh, you could feel on the page. When you got to that last page, you're like, holy shit, this is where we ended up.
Mike: Dear Diary has been living rent free in my head for a.
Dan: Couple of.
Mike: Jobs, but it's great.
Jessika: And even the way it was done, where all of the panels were, I'm looking at it again because it's just beautiful. All of the panels are written on actual diary pages that go with what's happening in the storyline, which is also so interesting and such a cool touch. So I think, all in all, that was a good one.
Dan: There was a lot of artistic freedom, I think, throughout all the stories. There's high caliber storytelling, and then we had the pinups that sort of scattered through, showing different scenes and cenobites. And, um, there was just some fabulous creative work at, uh, work in the book, I think.
Jessika: And I think it kept it really interesting because it was a totally different style. Like, the next story would be a totally different drawing style and writing style than the one before it, and the story would have a different vibe, but it all worked together.
Dan: That's great to hear. Yes.
Jessika: Mike, what was your what about you?
Mike: Yeah, okay. Um, this is not me, like, just blowing smoke, but I really did enjoy Dead Things Rod. I thought that was a great one because Manuela's art was so perfect for Hellraiser, and they've got that spread where it shows the guy who's, like, partially disassembled in Hell, which I thought was fantastic. And it's got all the elements of, like it's got the torture, it's got the villain. It just works really well. But the one that I actually found myself the most charmed by was called Taste the Darkness, and it's by John Rossam and Bohampton and Richard Starkings. And it's basically this photographer named Daphne who has come across the lamont configuration at a junk shop for 250 solves it because she's really good at puzzles. And the centibyte that shows up is, like, really demoralized at this news because he's like, well, I can't really take you back because you don't really want to go and you don't want anything. I can't grant you anything. M he's like, I can't go back empty handed. And so Daphne says, well, why don't you take some of my photography, because those come from my soul. And it's one of those ones where the cenobite doesn't actually seem all that enchanted at what he's doing. But it was this oddly funny little story. I liked the bit where he makes the configuration harder and he says, okay, so if you solve it this time, then I know you really want to come. And she looks at and she's like, it still doesn't look that hard. Um, I liked the power dynamic shift. I liked that the art was this beautiful watercolor style illustration, and it just felt kind of a little bit funny and refreshing and just kind of like, in the middle of all this darkness because it's again collected in one of the, uh, masterpiece collections. And it's in the middle of all these stories where after a while, you're like, I feel like I need to go watch Schindler's List for a pick me up. And it felt like kind of that necessary levity that you need.
Dan: Mhm. Mhm there was definitely a sense of trying to vary the tone of the stories within the book. And when we would start to do the mix and match, having the stories mhm assembled, there was a sense of trying to vary it. If you're going to do a really hardcore story here. Then here's maybe a more thoughtful one. If you're going to do a story in present day, do we have one that's in the future or the past or something like that? So that we could start to show the spread of what we're doing and make sure that we weren't just being this one note puzzles and chains type.
Jessika: Of riff on, um, that same vein. Dan, can you tell us about any ideas that ended up flopping and didn't wind up in the comics?
Dan: Um, anything that flopped just never went past the proposal stage. People had to pitch me beforehand, either written or in Shali's case, because he was in the office, he worked there, he came in and he said, can I pitch you on the story? But you had to pitch me before so nobody was doing something. So there would be people who would come in with what I would say would be the straight up, uh, EC comics. And I love EC comics, but the straight up, uh, here's the O. Henry twist, totally at the end. The morality play right here's the morality play. Or here's the uh, uh, I'm reveling in this. I'm reveling in the devils and the chains and I want to rip people apart. I want to rip some women apart to just walk down the hall and just don't ever come back here. So there were people who would sort of throw that at me and those would, I would say, preflops. They just never made it to it. There wasn't anything that moved past a certain point that didn't deserve or I didn't deserve it because I had approved it or maybe Marcus had approved it later. I think the things that flopped would be things that I bought and should have been harder on editorially that maybe were just not up to the par of that warm red or that dead man's hand, or that dance of the fetus or other high caliber ones, which is maybe a danger of anthologies. There's a great, uh, quote that's always stuck in my mind from Rod Sterling, who knew a few things about anthology series in The Twilight Zone, which he created and said, well, a third of them are really great, a third of them are okay, and a third of them are dogs. And so if Rod Sterling can say a third of his creations are dogs, then maybe not so bad. But in retrospect, I'm a little hard on myself to say that we should have been a little bit more choosy about how certain things were either purchased or how they were ultimately executed. There was one guy who did something, uh, he pitched a story and story was okay, but he came in with the most, and there's no other way to put it, the most racist illustrations I could possibly imagine. It was sort of um, african American characters with distorted features. And he was just I'm looking at it. And this is a much less enlightened era. But clearly there's nothing defensible about this. Like you're not doing this as a parody, quote, unquote, or creating this some kind of metaphor world and you're going to come around somewhere else. It was just this dude's way of drawing these type of people. And I was pointing it out to him saying, what is this? And he said, what? It's fun. Exactly. That's the expression. And I'm like, listen, this isn't going any further. If you can't change this up, I'm paying you a kill fee on it. We're walking away from the story. Which I think is what I ultimately did. Yeah. That's not the kind of scary I want to do.
Mike: Here's the thing. That shit was still going on.
Mike: At that point in time, it was still pretty prevalent because we've talked about continuity comics. They had a series called Crazy Man that we talked about a few episodes back. And the first issue is egregiously racist with how it draws people from this made up African country. Mhm. Okay, this is the other thing. Uh, in the Debbie Does Dallas comics, they actually had an artist who was really good. Mhm. But people of color were drawn in a way that were very they had very exaggerated features. Black people had like, big lips.
Dan: Exactly what this was. Yeah.
Mike: And it was really bad. The thing is, these were both being published after Hellraiser was.
Dan: Mhm. Yeah. That's not the type of scary I wanted to be in the business of. And so, ah, um, that would have been, ah, a flop.
Jessika: Well, good on you. Well, the initial run of the Hellraiser comics ran from 1989 to 1992 with a total of 20 issues. And during that time, other Hell Razor comics were published through Epic, including Clive Barker's Book of the Damned, Hellraiser Companion. And that spanned four issues from 91 to 93. There were two issues of Hellraiser versus Nightbreed, as you mentioned, uh, jihad. 1992 was a big year for, uh, Hellraiser Comics is. There were five different single issue comics published, including an Epic book, one Hellraiser Movie Adaptation, Hellraiser Three movies Adaptation, Hellraiser Summer Special, and Hellraiser Holiday Special, which.
Mike: You have sent us the COVID art for that before. Because I remember contacting you about Marvel's Holiday Comics. And we were just like, this is amazing.
Jessika: Yeah. So we may have to come back to that and just do a holiday holidays or holiday special episode because it's a good one.
Mike: Sorry, Dan. You're coming back?
Jessika: Oh, no. We're going to ask you to come back. Got to solve that email puzzle once again. Exactly. It was also a big year on the big screen for Hellraiser because in September of 1992, Hellraiser Three was released, grossing $12.5 million in the box office. This one was directed by Anthony Hickox with Clive Barker as one of the screenplay writers. And this film followed the creation of the most famous of the son of AZ, pinhead himself. 1993 to 94 brought us Pinhead in six issues. And during that time frame, we also saw Pinhead versus martial law, law in Hell in 1993. And that was published in two issues.
Mike: I didn't even know about that.
Jessika: Yeah, there's a lot of them. There's a ton of stuff. As I was going through here, I was like and I read a little bit of everything. It was all very interesting. It's been a lot I've been jumping right into it.
Dan: Not O'Neill is a brilliant writer and just takes the piss out of everything and hates everything in a way. He hated superheroes and I'm sure hated Pinhead.
Mike: I read a bunch of the old Marshall Law stuff too, because Marvel at the time had strip, which was like that magazine anthology thing that they were doing in the UK.
Dan: Yeah, Marshall was brilliant, I think.
Mike: Yeah, it was great.
Jessika: And then from 1993 to 94, we had Clive Barkers The Harrowers with six issues.
Dan: Right. Which was not specifically well, yeah, I guess it was Hell Razor ish, but yeah, it was The Harrowing of Hell.
Jessika: But its own thing. Yeah. And I think that was directly connected to another of Clive Burker's books, uh, the second book that he did, the Scarlet Gospel, where the group talks about them being the heroers and then ah, a film as well.
Mike: They're tied to The Last Illusion, which was the supernatural detective series Barker was doing. And that had a movie itself with Scott Bacula called The Lord of Illusions, which is okay.
Dan: Right. And there was a Barker verse that Marcus McLaurin was the editor on which the Harrowers um, there were several other.
Mike: Titles that were holmes and Hex, I think was one of them.
Dan: Yeah, holcomb and hex I can't remember the other ones, but there were several that were concepts he had developed and then were allowed the creative teams were allowed to then expand on those.
Mike: Jessica found me one because the first issue of uh I think it's hyperkind has like a foil cover and she was like, oh, this is going to Mike's.
Jessika: Collection. Well, and 1994 was effectively the end of the Hellraiser comics with Epic publishing clive Barker's Hell Breed in three issues and one issue of Hellraiser Spring Slaughter M. And while Hell razor slipped out of the comic scene, it dipped its toe back into the proverbial water once again in 1996 with the release of Hellraiser Bloodline on March 8. And this focuses on the Le Marchand box following the creator of this elaborate puzzle box back in the 18th century France, bringing the past to come face to face with the present. And this one only grossed 9.3 million in the box office. So we're dip it a little bit.
Mike: It was not well received at the time. It's kind of gotten more uh, favorable retrospective since then, but it's yeah.
Jessika: And then. It did take another four years. That being said. But in October of 2000, we were brought to home theaters, uh, fundraiser, Inferno, which uh huh, features a dirty cop, that's all you need to know.
Dan: The Bad lieutenant, you know, and parent, you know, basically.
Jessika: Yeah. So this film in the next few upcoming movies did not have theatrical releases, by the way, so no boxed office infos for them. Uh, October 15, 2002, brought us Hellraiser HealthSeeker, which follows Kirsty, who's somehow pretty much, probably good therapy, blocked and does not remember the trauma of the Hellish events at her father's home and in the asylum. And she's also getting married to the dude that plays Mayhem in those insurance commercials, who also ends up getting dragged into, of course, puzzle box shenanigans.
Dan: Well, that would be a great, like, wedding gift, right, for somebody who, if the wedding wasn't working out, it's sort of like, dear honey, I got this for our anniversary.
Jessika: The puzzle box is the cake topper.
Dan: Exactly. There's got to be a wedding cake with that, uh, theme somewhere.
Jessika: Oh, there has to be. So 2005 was interesting because it brought to us both hellraiser Debtor on June 7, about a reporter investigating a group that can somehow resurrect the dead, which, by the way, the Senate is not happy about. And Hellraiser Hell World on September 6 with Superman himself, Henry Cavill, playing a complete Chad. But it follows a group of video game kids who get an invite to play a special game strategy, which is, as you guessed, a ticket directly to a leviathan's Hell. And, guys, there's no other Hellraiser activity until 2011, when Boom Studios got a hold of the property. I always feel like I have to say it that way. They have. You do. And they started making new works with the franchise. It started with Hellraiser classic title. Got to stick with it when you get back into it. They did also release 20 issues harkening. Back to that first 20 issue run that you guys did, which I thought was kind of fun. And that was published 2011 to 2012, and then Hellraiser Masterpieces, which was what you were talking about, um, mike being published in twelve issues during 2011. Yeah.
Mike: And a lot of these are available on Hoopla, which is how we were.
Jessika: Able to read a lot of this. Yeah, exactly. And then in 2012, we got four issues of Hellraiser, the Road Below Hellraiser, the Dark Watch was printed from 2013 to 2014 over twelve issues. And picking up from 2014 to 2015, we got six issues of Hellraiser Beastiary. And finally, in 2017, Seraphim, Inc. Published a series of original graphic novels titled Hellraiser Anthology, and that was printed all in one year in two volumes.
Dan: Isn't seraphim m. Um, I think clive's imprint. I think I believe so. But I could be wrong.
Mike: I thought that was his, but I.
Dan: Took Google completely wrong to the Google.
Jessika: Cave yeah, I didn't know that, actually. That would make a lot of sense as to why they're doing an anthology.
Dan: Printing of these, but I could be wrong.
Jessika: So this seems to oh, Mike will investigate for us. I saw him pull his phone and I was like, we're good. He'll figure it out. He'll fact check us and let us know.
Mike: I'll move on. Uh, I think it is, yeah. Clive Barker. Graphic novels. Seraphims hellraiser anthology. Yeah, it looks like it's his thing.
Jessika: Okay. M, cool. We'll leave it in. We will leave it we fact check it. Don't worry. You're good. There were a slew of other canceled projects peppered throughout the years, including several video games that never made it past production or were instead turned into simple Bible games about Noah's arc. Uh, and that's Noah joke, did that one hurt? A little bit more than anything the.
Dan: Cenobites could do to you. If the chains didn't come sweeping out from the sides of your screen at that exact moment, you're probably pretty safe.
Mike: Pinhead, I think, did show up as a character in Dead by Daylight, though. I think that was pretty recently because Dead by Daylight is like a survival horror game where it's like it's a cooperative gameplay and then you have to fight against another player who's playing the monster. And they have original characters, but then they've had like Freddie Kruger, I think. I'm pretty sure Pinhead was a recent one.
Jessika: Okay, nice. Oh, I didn't see that.
Mike: They've also had Michael, uh, myers. Uh, they've gotten a lot of really good characters out of horror franchises. They haven't gotten Jason because he had his own game at the same time. And the legal rights for that are all complicated.
Jessika: Well, and what's interesting about that is that there were also reportedly talks of a crossover with Pinhead and Michael Myers and between Hell Raiser and Candyman, but neither of those concepts got off the ground.
Mike: He was supposed to show up at the end of Freddie versus Jason too, but they couldn't get the rights.
Jessika: Yeah. And part of what I was reading was they were worried that it was going to either not be the same vibe or not be the right vibe for that kind of horror style. Which, I mean, makes sense. They are kind of a little bit different in the way that they function, but also they didn't want to take away from the other two characters by also putting this other character in there from what I was reading online. So now that we've run through the vast array of Hellraiser media, uh, let's chat a little bit more with our guest here. Dan, what was your involvement, if any, in the later comics or movie adaptations?
Dan: I stayed pretty involved in the comics, uh, probably all the way through to, um, well, the Pinhead series, I guess. And that was like around where the crash of comics were. But uh, I remained the consulting editor on the anthology, which was just my shameless way of staying associated with my Godchild, I guess, uh, um, and allowing myself to have some say. And I had some cred with Clive and so that was a way to maintain that thrust. Um, and I think I know I did contribute stuff. Marcus and I had a great relationship, so I think I was a good sounding board and I could contribute other ideas or say what not. And then the ridiculousness, and let's be honest about it, I think the ridiculousness of, um, the holiday special, the summer special, they have these little branching stories that try to tie together the pieces. Those were also strategic things because we had so much inventory from having purchased way too much stuff earlier on to try to make sure that we were ahead of schedule, that we had to get rid of this stuff. And so those were ways to kind of then, all right, let's put this stuff out there in a different format that could complement the regular book, which was the same reason for the poster book and a couple of other things like that, which was we had commissioned a lot of single illustrations for those in between pages. That was, uh, always intentional with the initial comic design, was that you'd have a story, we'd have a filler illustration, we'd have another story, we'd have another pin up, but you ended up with a lot of pinups that didn't have a home because the book's frequency did not allow first to include everything. So that's why there was a Hellraiser poster book, which was actually pretty extraordinary because it had top notch illustrations of all these crazy cenobites. So I would stay involved with all of that in one form or another. And then the pinhead comic, which in retrospect was like, nah, that doesn't really make sense. But we tried to make it make sense as much as we could, and I think it kind of holds up was also a friendly baton pass for, uh, my friend Eric Saltzgaber, who wanted to get more involved in comics. So intentionally, I was going to take it through Cops or co writes with me, I believe, like those first five or six issues. And then I handed it off to him intentionally. That was always meant my quote unquote name value was going to carry it a little bit further and then it was going to become his thing. That was really probably the last thing that I worked on in the Hellraiser comics world that I can recall. I didn't do anything with the Hell Breed or the Spring Slaughter pieces.
Mike: Were there any Hellraiser stories you wanted to write but didn't get the chance to? And if so, what were they?
Dan: No, I mean, that's a bad answer, right? Uh, no, that's the end of the answer. I did appreciate it at the time, and I appreciate it even more now. I had pretty free reign and I had a lot of influence and I had a lot of direct line to Clive, direct line to Marcus. I was recognized within that world as being a dude, the Godfather, I guess, and, uh, a godfather. So if I wanted to write a story for the anthology, marcus would take my pitch and I pretty much knew the world enough to do a good pitch if I had wanted to go in and say, hey, uh, I got this idea for this offshoot thing, what do you say? I think there was a pretty good chance it would have been approved. And when you get to Jihad, the calories or Night Breed thing, which the genesis of, was once Clive had done Night Breed and then he gave us a Night Breed comic, it was sort of the natural genesis for the way his mind worked to say, okay, now what are you going to do with my two properties? Which was not even like a combination that we would have thought about, but he was able to manage the different companies and say, you're going to allow us to do something that crosses over these properties between New World and Morgan Creek. But he gave me free rein on that and that was probably one of the most fluid stories that I was able to just channel in a lot of ways. That was, um, an extraordinary experience to write because all these pieces just appeared on the page, and I felt more like I was doing almost spirit writing with that than I was having to actually plot it out, because we had so firmly positioned with that Bible that the centabytes were disciplined and the Night Breed were obviously off the leash trying to lead their lives. They were the personification of good chaos, right in their own way. So what better friction? And I pitched that back to them and I said, well, what about this? And that shouldn't really work. I kind of like, roll my eyes when you started to say, like, well, they were going to combine Pinhead with Gandhi, man, they're going to find Pinhead with Michael Myers. Probably those wouldn't have worked, but neither should Hellraiser and Night Breed. And I think that works pretty damn well.
Jessika: Pun, um, intended well, so question for everyone. There were quite a few versions of puzzles that led to the Cenobites Hell, and it's been established that puzzles can be made out of almost anything and found almost anywhere. M. So what was your favorite puzzle?
Dan: I'm going to go back to that Dwayne McDuffie one, even though that's a pretty silly story, intentionally. I just think the idea that you've completed something of your own making without any intention, that it then becomes a puzzle. Uh, you created the puzzle yourself was a pretty neat conceit in its own way, that you've been puzzling over this without expecting it. And your solving of this thing suddenly becomes the genesis for a very crazy little bit of exchange and not the traditional one. But that certainly was a, uh, neat bit for me.
Mike: Yeah, that's kind of like mine, too, because I like in songs of metal and Flesh, there's this music prodigy who he's crippled by another musician and he gets revenge by basically writing a concert whose music itself is the puzzle.
Mike: And what he does is he can't figure it out on his own. And so he kind of mutilates himself and then draws notes around the bloodstains that fall. And then the concert is the puzzle that is unlocked as it's being M played. And the cenobites show up and basically take the entire orchestra, his rival, and the audience. I thought that was really cool.
Jessika: I did, too, actually. That was a really good use of that. And maybe I'm a little basic, but I really like the idea that architecture and buildings can be a puzzle. Like, during one of the comics, there is the realization that the different elevator stops were giving the people a combination to unlock something. And so that was a really kind of fun thing as well.
Dan: Right. Yeah, I think both those are great, uh, examples and something we may need to have been more overt with, like in the stories or the explanations or such. But that the Lamont configuration was obviously the most iconic puzzle and remains so with the new movie based upon the Bible and the larger mythology was one puzzle type. Right. So there were other ways to solving puzzles in their own way becomes just a way into this particular hell.
Jessika: Yeah, exactly. An odd question, but do either of you have a.
Dan: Favorite cenobites? Um, I created a lot of them. Um, so, um, Atkins was fun. It was obviously named after Peter Atkins, director and the screenwriter. And he was sort of like this, um, gun fueled character. The face character from before, I think just had that power and that gravitas and that interesting aspect. Ah, jan had done a great job with that. And there was a librarian, Balboring, sort of like this. She was pretty twisted, but iconographically, I think. You get back to Pinhead and having met and been to a couple of parties with Doug Bradley, that was always a very weird one.
Jessika: I know. As my mouth opens and shops yeah.
Dan: Standing there, it's like having Christmas drinks with Doug, but sort of like you don't have any pins in your face. It probably stands out a little bit more many years ago. Uh, but I think Pinhead stands alone in terms of representing so much. Yeah.
Mike: I mean, I'm right there with you. He's just kind of like the most.
Jessika: Iconic mhm I really like. Especially in the films. The chatterer. I like him because you can hear him before you see him and you know he's coming and I'm just like and it's just he's such a grotesque character, too. His face is just all the way folded back. I mean, like, the inside of his skin is exposed.
Dan: It's like, yes, he's got it going on. Yeah. And nick Vince is such a handsome guy. Little torture on Clive's part there.
Jessika: Final, um, question for you guys, and be honest, please. If you found a random puzzle box somewhere, would you try to solve it?
Dan: No, that's a good question. Um, I think so. I think that's the inherent nature of the stories within here is that that intrigue is going to force you to oh, wait, if I twist this, something happens and something else. Uh, one more thing, and one thing leads to another. I don't think I go to solve the puzzle as we see it in many of these instances, where it's in the evil guy's basement lab with the dark lights and the loose sight and stuff, like, come solve this puzzle for me. Um, that might be a bit of a lead, but if you were to find this thing in an antique shop or a salvage yard or something like that uh oh, what's this? I think you could see the obsession developing, right? And the obsession leads to those qualities that the centabytes want and that the hell represents. So I think I would try, but I'm bad at puzzles, so I probably never get to hell.
Mike: That's literally what I wrote in my notes. I was like, yeah, I probably do it, but I also really wouldn't be very good at it. I've yet to solve a rubik's cube in my 40 years on this.
Jessika: Planet. Right. Uh, knowing me, I would go hard for, like, probably a few hours, but if I couldn't figure it out or if I couldn't get anywhere with it, I would set it down and it would collect dust in my house, just like all of my other ADHD fixations. Uh, well, dan, thank you so much for joining us.
Dan: Yeah, this is great.
Jessika: You've been posting on social media about how you're working on a new comic. Yes. What can you tell us about this project and how can we and our listeners support and buy it when it's available? Please buy it, everyone.
Dan: Well, I appreciate that, and I can't give away too much on it. It's a long gestating project, way too long. And, uh, I'd love to actually come back at some point when it's real and tell you the whole back story, but it is literally a for one reason or another, sort of 20 year in the making, you know, type of idea that came forward many years ago got derailed. I lost touch with the the artist Carl waller. You know, we reconnected a couple of years ago and almost immediately said to each other, hey, you remember that idea? And so I buy into this thought that I think it's elizabeth Gilbert had put forward in this book big magic, where ideas visit themselves onto you. And if you don't do something with them, they say fuck you, and they go to somebody else and that other person is going to end up doing something. So I think this is our chance to actually do something with what I think is a pretty great idea. It's a horror idea. It's got a fair amount of snark in it. It's got some devils, if you want to call them that. There's truckers. So it's a little bit of a damnation delivery service if you want. I've written about twelve issues of it so far. It's got multiple storylines and we'll probably do one storyline at a time, whether it's with a publisher or uh, a Kickstarter. Right now it's probably leaning more toward a spring Kickstarter type thing. That's what I'm trying to go on, but Carl needs to kind of get a, uh, massive art done that we can actually get to that point, but I've had it described by a couple of people who have read it. Uh, the best description I've heard so far is it's like the Good Place meets from Dusk till dawn, which I think would be a pretty great cover blurb.
Jessika: Say less, I'm there.
Dan: Yeah, Carl's art is pretty off the hook. The stuff you've seen so far that I've been posting, and I think I post once or twice a week, just little panels that's the normal stuff and the normal stuff already looks pretty crazy. So when he starts to kind of dial it up and get into the real meat and dementia of it, as it were, it's really, I think, uh, going to cook. So what I will do is as it gets closer, I don't want to just say to people, this is the title, this is what it's about, this is what it is. I want to hold, keep the powder dry, but I would definitely appreciate your guys support and getting the word out for people to either look for it from this publisher if we end up going that route, or here's where the Kickstarter is and we could use people's, uh, support. So I appreciate that.
Jessika: We will have to have you on.
Dan: Yeah, I would love to. There'd be a lot more to talk about it then and I think the back story is pretty cool about it.
Jessika: Well, thank you so much. Well listeners, that's been our Hell Raiser overview and from here I think we're going to mosey onto our, uh, brain Wrinkles. Yeah, we have found ourselves at Brain Wrinkles and that's one thing comics or comics adjacent that's been kind of rattling around in your brain this week or in the recent past. Mike, do you want to give us an example?
Mike: Yeah. So I have been thinking about the evolution of horror and sexuality because we have a new Hell Raiser movie coming out and according to Twitter, the director, David Bruckner, maybe made a comment at Fantastic Fest and it was basically BDSM is different now. My mom reads 50 Shades. So what if the cenobites were their own leather? And then along with that tweet, there were images of Pinhead and another cenobite that they're kind of noteworthy because they're not dressed in black leather. Instead, they're dressed in a mix of skin and exposed muscle mhm. But basically, that in itself becomes their own costume. And I keep thinking about how these concepts have really evolved since the original hell raiser debuted in the best horror stories I think are relevant reflections of what's currently going on in society. I remember reading somewhere that the slasher genre came about as a reflection of economic anxiety in society, basically. It's probably why I find myself charmed when I watch horror movies from more than a couple of years ago. Because, like, they feel they feel sort of quaint. And if you look at remakes of things like Nightmare and Elm, um, street or Friday the 13th or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, nobody's really talking about them after they come out because they don't really try to do anything new or really reflect anything societally on more than a surface level. But by comparison, last year's Candy Man was excellent because it, uh, not only delivered a solid slasher movie that continued the mythology, but it was also really relevant because it focused on things like societal racism and corrupt authority figures. And I think about how good horror has to continue to evolve because they end up serving as these interesting moments in amber that let us look back and kind of think about what was going on for us culturally at the time. And PS, I'm really excited about the new movie because the reviews are coming out and they're great, and it's dropping.
Dan: The day after this episode does. I, uh, love that. I love that whole thought. It's wrinkled my brain. And I think you're right. I mean, I think that's why Hellraiser set the tone. And I think this is what Clive really represented and probably still does represent in the work that he does. He went places that we weren't going, uh, that we weren't comfortable going, and he drug us along with him because he had an imprint and a name value and allowed us to sort of look at things. And and horror, especially, you know, dark fantasy, or whatever you want to call it. And I think hellraiser represents that dark fantasy as much as it does horror, because the centibites are okay with what they're doing. This is their mission, actually. Certainly in the comics, and I think of the movies, they're not the villains, right? They are what you want to interpret them on. What's your pleasure, sir? Maybe my pleasure is angels. Maybe my pleasure is demons. One way or another, you're going to get it. And, um, I think there's something to that. And I think horror, um, I love the quaint thing. I hadn't really thought about that, but that's so very true. Um, the two things I've seen recently, like Hereditary and Midsomer are both movies I'll never watch again. They're like, what the fuck did you just do to me? What did I just do to myself? Brilliant movies, right? But maybe five years. Yeah, yeah. But maybe five years from now, I'll watch it and I'm like, yeah, I'm okay with that telephone pole. No, not really. But, um but my brain wrinkle, aside from, you know, Mike building on yours, which is excellent. And this is, I guess, adjacent, maybe is just the stuff that's going on with artificial intelligence art. I don't know if you guys have been looking at things like Mid Journey, or Dolly Two Crayon, AI, and these type of things where people are creating art based upon textual prompts. Right? I write that I want to see a puzzle box in a green field surrounded by butterflies and having a picnic with Pinhead and something's going to be generated from that or something much more original. I think that's fascinating. These things that come out of it, the other side of it, are sometimes amazingly precise, and sometimes they're distorted fever dreams, which is interesting in its own right, but it's also interesting, okay, where does this go? Where does this stop scraping other people's artwork, which is a big, controversial thing right now, and where does it then start to generate its own thing? Does that take away from art, or does it empower people like me more who want to create something? But I don't have that ability. But I have this imagination. I could write you a description. And does that mean that it's any less if that machine does it for me than partnering with an artist and quote unquote, artist? I don't know. It's tough to think about.
Jessika: Yeah. Uh, that's all really super interesting. And mine is also a little kind of on the same vein of thought process as far as bringing Hellraiser into it. And I've been thinking about the way that we think about concepts, and I really like Hellraiser for the reason that I said before that the puzzle box isn't just a puzzle box. It's all of these different things. And it's a concept, the concept of a puzzle and thinking about other properties. Where can we take the bones of that property and make it into something different that still vibes in that same direction? I think Hellraiser did a really good job of that. But I feel like there are so many other concepts that could also, uh, again, think outside the box and go in different directions, like Hellraiser did conceptually. And I would love to see more of that. I don't think we get a lot of that in media. It's not thought provoking and it's not thoughtful in the way that it's produced. It's usually just a cash grab for being real.
Mike: I mean, a recent example of that would be the new Predator movie Prey that just came out on Who M. That was excellent. And it told a totally unique story while still adhering to the core Predator mythology. And, I mean, I'm also very lucky in that I have a partner who, as soon as I told her about it, I'm like, yeah, it's set in, like, the 1007 Hundreds, and it's starring a lakota young woman. And Sarah was just like, Fuck, I'm in.
Mike: And the other thing is, it is a great movie on its own because it is beautifully photographed. They do all these beautiful, sweeping landscapes. I keep thinking about stuff like that. Or, like I said, the new Candyman also came out, and that was solid. And I don't have a problem with revisiting old ideas and continuing to further them in ways that are meaningful.
Jessika: I like that, exactly. But not a, uh not a frame by frame duplication.
Mike: No, we don't need Gus Van Sant psycho again. That was not a thing we needed ever.
Dan: No, we didn't. No, we were really lucky with the comic. Just to go back to that, as we sort of wrap up just again, that giving spirit, uh, of Clive and I can't overemphasize that enough. Was very unique, I do not think is the ordinary sort of sense, especially from somebody who is the creator of a mythos in a world like that, to then expand it in that way with so many creative partners and to be so flexible about that. And I think comics were a perfect medium. You know, Mike, you were saying at the beginning, or maybe before we started, how much of the comics ends up getting referenced in some of these Hell Razor? Yeah, wikis. Because we did expand the world based upon that permission he gave us and his excitement about what other people would do with it. But it's mine. You can't only do this. It was the excitement. And I think he I know he trusted us. I know he trusted me. I know he trusted Marcus to be good stewards of his world, which was a responsibility we took really responsibly.
Mike: Yeah, it's really funny, because if you do go look at the Hellraiser Wikis, half of the citations are for various comics, but a lot of them are for the original epic series, which is really kind of cool, I think, like, you know, is that it's canon mythology.
Dan: I was a good godfather, apparently.
Mike: You love that title so much.
Dan: This will never get old.
Jessika: Oh, my gosh.
Mike: I'm so glad that Jessica could give that to you.
Dan: Give me a screen.
Jessika: I'm so glad you goodness gracious.
Jessika: You're just going to have to pull that first page out of his forward and frame it on the wall or something. I am. Well, Dan, thank you again so much for joining us. It's been such a pleasure, as always, to speak with you and to interact with you and you. Have such a good information to bring about some of these kind of back information that we don't know about the actual making of these comics. So that's really neat for us, at least for me. I'm not going to speak for Mike, but I think I can in this.
Mike: Case, I'll allow it.
Jessika: You'll allow it this time? Perfect. I normally wouldn't, and for the rest of you, we'll see you next week for another dollar bin discovery. But until then, we'll see you in.
Mike: The stacks. Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.
Jessika: This episode was hosted by Jessica Fraser, Mike Thompson and Dan Chechester. Written by Jessica Fraser and edited by Mike Thompson. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits and transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat. Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who email@example.com I invite folks to.
Dan: Stay in touch with me and see what I'm doing more recently, including more previews of the comic we talked about on my weekly newsletter, which is found at storymaze. Substat.com. And I have a lead in premium for new subscribers. It's a free subscription, and the new premium that will be active as you're listening to this will actually be that hellraiser Comic Bible. This was the original Bible and series guidelines that was sent out to creators back in 1989, so I'm releasing that out to the public for subscribers. So sign up for a free weekly subscription and you get a copy of the Bible to go along with your nightmares and puzzle solving guys.
Mike: It's so cool. If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to tencenttakes.com or shoot an email to tencent firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Twitter. The official podcast account is ten cent takes all one word. Jessica is Jessica witha and Jessica is spelled with a K and Mike is van Sau.
Jessika: Van Sau. If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen. Stay safe out there and support your local comic shop and comic.