For twenty years, Drew Edwards has been writing the adventures of Solomon Hitch, aka Halloween Man; a hero cut from the same cloth as Ben “The Thing” Grimm and Cliff “Robotman” Steele. Possessing the power of the sequel (like every good movie monster, he keeps coming back), Solomon uses the abilities he possess as a semi-undead individual to protect Solar City, Texas from those threats more flashy superheroes would rather not dirty their hands with. It’s not a pretty existence, but Solomon gets by with a little help from his friends, his pet dinosaur/familiar Elvis and the love of his afterlife, super-scientist Lucy Chaplin.
Recently, Kaboooom Editor-in-Chief Matt Morrison sat down with Edwards to ask him about his career, his recent nomination for the 2020 Ringo Award for Best Writer and what’s next for him and Halloween Man.
How long have you been reading comics?
Drew: Almost my whole life. I grew up in a rural Texas town and there wasn’t much to do. But the local library had these massive hardbound books of Golden and Silver Age comics. I loved jumping on my bike and heading up there to read them. Those old comics had this kind of unsavory, weird vibe to them. It felt like anything could happen. That really kicked off my love of comics, and to this day I remain a Silver Age devotee.
If you can, describe your series Halloween Man in one sentence.
Drew: The weird adventures of an undead superhero and his sexy mad-scientist girlfriend.
The horror genre is obviously a major influence on your work. Were there any particular works that inspired Halloween Man?
Drew: My relationship with horror might be the longest one in my life. My first memory is watching the movie THEM with my father. Outside of 1980’s cult classics like the Friday the 13th franchise, Ghostbusters, and Evil Dead II, my favorites are the classic monster movies. Bride of Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. Creature from the Black Lagoon. That’s just off the top of my head. The original Universal Monsters just have so much depth of character that it’s hard to top those movies.
There’s also a lot of sci-fi stuff that people never think about. Specifically, things that influenced the design of Halloween Man. The end of Terminator II when Arnold has half his face blown off, for example. And I don’t think I’ve said this enough, but also Sam Raimi’s Darkman, who really nailed the concept of a Universal-style monster as a superhero.
What made you decide to start writing your own comics?
Drew: When I was a kid, my twin and I used to make comics together. They’d draw them and I’d write the dialogue. At first, it was typically about Godzilla or Jason Voorhees or some other pop culture character, but, as we got older, we started dreaming up original characters. And then, of course, when I became a teenager, I learned it was an actual job. It was at that point when every teenager is trying to figure themselves out. I was this weird mixture of being super into comics, horror, and punk rock but also being deeply religious at that time. Believe it or not, prior to that, I had considered a career as a preacher, but I found my true calling in comics. I haven’t looked back since.
Are there any comic writers you would name as a major influence on your work or whom you would cite as an inspiration?
Drew: I know this will likely seem an odd thing to say in 2020, but Stan Lee’s dialogue is probably the strongest influence on my own dialogue. I think the crafting of his dialogue is underrated, actually. It isn’t naturalistic in a way we’re used to, but it is memorable. Besides, for me, naturalism is never the point. At best, I’m creating the illusion of an alternate reality. I don’t want my characters to sound like people from our world; I want them to make sense for the world they live in.
I also worship at the altar of Steve Gerber and think his name should be up there alongside Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore as one of the giants of our field. He created the modern style of writing for comics, and he gets almost no credit for it.
Leaning in to more modern creators, it’s not a secret that I’m a huge Grant Morrison fan. His run on Doom Patrol is a MASSIVE influence on Halloween Man. The way he filtered Silver Age weirdness through a modern sensibility, to perfectly blend horror and superheroics, has never been matched. But I’ll keep trying.
What is your work schedule like when you write?
Drew: For most of my life, appropriately enough, I’ve kept vampire hours for writing. For many years, my day job was in the meat industry, and I’d come home from that, eat dinner and then get to it. I was burning the midnight oil most of the time, but if you love something you make time for it. Recently (and certainly even more true since the pandemic started), I’ve tried to keep a more traditional eight-hour work schedule. Typically, I get up in the morning, brew my morning coffee, and then try to work on writing for at least six hours of an eight hour day. The other two hours are spent doing more mundane, administrative stuff since I am now my own boss. Of course, that’s not set in stone.
In more specific terms, like most writers, I have to do things to get myself in the right headspace. I’m a pretty big rock ‘n’ roll fan, so most of the time that means listening to music. Specific characters lean more into certain types of music. For example, if I’m writing Solomon/Halloween Man, I lean more into roots rock/Americana. Lucy tends to be either Jazz or Synthpop or, these days, Electro-Swing. You get the idea. I think most writers follow habits like this. We have to, in order to immerse ourselves into the little worlds that are trapped in our minds.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned writing comics?
Drew: When I first started writing comic scripts, I wanted to write flowery dialogue like Chris Claremont. I quickly learned that was something that annoyed the heck out of a lot of artists. I don’t know how Claremont makes it work, but I never quite mastered it. Thus, I’ve switched to shorter, snappier, more economic dialogue if at all possible.
Do you have a favorite story among all the comics you’ve written or one that you are particularly proud of?
Drew: This is kind of a tough question. You love all of your children, even the ugly ones. I will say this — I don’t know about “favorite,” but I do think the two-part Hallowtide mini-series cuts very close to what I think the comic is about, thematically. If someone were to adapt the comic to film, it’s the story I’d tell the screenwriters to draw from. I also think Halloween Man vs. the Invisible Man is criminally underrated by readers. It came out relatively close to the Hack/Slash crossover, and I think it got lost in the shuffle.
Do you get a lot of feedback directly from your readers? Do you encourage them to reach out to you on social media?
Drew: Yes, but not as much as you’d think. It’s gotten a little better since I’ve become more active on Twitter. I LOVE getting feedback from people. Everyone involved works really hard making these comics, so it’s nice hearing people were affected by them.
You found some fame for turning your main heroine, Dr. Lucy Chaplin, into a plus-sized model in defiance of most of the conventional wisdom regarding womens’ bodies in comics. What prompted the change?
Drew: Kind of a mixture of things. Firstly, I originally envisioned the character as a full figured woman. For various reasons, that idea never quite came to life the way I wanted it to. But when DC unveiled their waifish “New 52” versions of Amanda Waller and Power Girl, I knew the scales needed to be balanced, so to speak.
The thing is, I love humanity and the various forms it takes, but this body diversity is seldom represented in our iconic heroes. I’ve often said that many of the mainstream superheroes and heroines would look exactly the same if it wasn’t for costume and hair color/style. The homogeneity of that gives me the creeps. There isn’t one way to be beautiful or handsome or sexy or heroic. So, in Lucy, we have an empowered, sex positive alternative to conventional wisdom. And it’s an example I intend on following as much as I can when creating new characters.
Did you receive any fallout from that choice? Trolls saying they would never read your comic again, etc?
Certainly, but thankfully they were very much in the minority. The overwhelming reaction was a positive one. The comic certainly has been more successful with the new version of Lucy than the old one. So, I guess that’s proof that it’s always best to follow your true north.
Let’s say DC Comics wants to give you a chance to write a book for them. One character. Solo series. Anything you want. Who do you pick and why?
Drew: Read this aloud and tell me you wouldn’t buy it: “Guy Gardner: Social Justice Warrior.” Those of you rolling your eyes, I swear I can make it work and not break Guy as a character. The bottom line is that I love the whole JLI era of the Justice League as well as the Green Lantern mythos. I love the character as well. I think it could inject a lot of humor and heart into the DCU. And after 2020, doesn’t everyone think 2021 needs some “Bwah-ha-ha’s?”
Marvel Comics. Same deal. One character. Solo series. Anything you want. Who do you pick and why?
Drew: Speaking as someone living with a dissociative disorder, I’d like to write the Hulk. Which is funny, because as a fan, I actually have far more affinity for Ben Grimm than Bruce Banner. But the character is possibly the best known fictional representation of DID, and yet his portrayal is such a mixed bag for those of us actually living with the real disorder. I don’t know if Marvel has ever knowingly hired a writer from our community, but I’d love to be the first to handle Ol’ Jade Jaws. I think I could add the unique perspective of lived experience.
Let’s say you get the chance to write any other fictional franchise apart from comics in any medium. Which one do you pick and why?
Drew: It’s probably impossible due to ongoing legal battles over the franchise rights at the moment, but I’d like to take a stab (heh) at writing something related to the Friday the 13th series . I am a massive fan, I even have an image of Jason Voorhees tattooed on my forearm. I know I could deliver a project that respects the history of the films while injecting some fresh ideas into Camp Blood.
For years I’ve had a pitch for a Dark Knight Returns-style story about an elderly Leatherface entitled the Last Days of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The short version is that it’s about how urban sprawl keeps growing into the rural parts of Texas. It’s something I’ve been noticing for close to two decades now. and I think the potential to say something meaningful is there. I feel so strongly about that one that I’ve actively tried to find out who has the comic book rights to the franchise several times on social media.
I also wouldn’t mind doing an outright reboot of Clive Barker’s Rawhead Rex. That’s a character who still has tons of potential.
Were you surprised when you were nominated for the 2020 Ringo Award for Best Writer?
Drew: I say with no false humility, I’m always surprised when I’m nominated for anything. Of course you hope for acknowledgement like that, but let’s face it…I’m the underdog. I have no mainstream credits and my comic has a largely underground, cult following. But I am deeply honored to have my name listed alongside so many successful and talented people.
How did you find out you were nominated for the Ringo?
Drew: It seemed like everyone in the world knew before me. I was still half asleep, and my phone started blowing up with messages from social media. Talk about a crazy morning. I had done a social media campaign during the voting process, but I honestly didn’t expect to get a nomination. My jaw hit the floor and is still there.
Can you give us a hint about what’s in the future for Solomon Hitch in one word?
Any movies you’d recommend to our readers for a Halloween scary movie marathon?
Drew: I watch horror movies all year long, so in October I always look for a certain…shall we say flavor that fits the season. Either spooky or nostalgic. So, below, is a movie marathon that hits all these things. These are best viewed in order, starting the marathon earlier in the day, so the movies get scarier as the marathon goes on. If done right, this could keep you up all the way to All Saints Day. Caffeine might be needed, or, better yet, break it up over the entire Hallowtide.
Monster Squad (1987)
The Invisible Man (1933)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)
Night of the Demon (1957)
The Haunting (1963)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Exorcist (1973)
I understand you have a big on-line event planned for your fans for Halloween 2020. Can you tell us about that?
Drew: That would be a Texas-sized ten-four. The anniversary issue was only the start of our Halloween fun! On Oct. 28th, we’re releasing Halloween Man vs. the Mummy on ComiXology, which is filled with seasonally-appropriate monster mash goodness!
Then on October 30th, we’re having a Zoom 20th Anniversary Q&A Panel with many of the creators involved with both Beyond October and Halloween Man vs. the Mummy on deck to answer questions, including the wonderful Nicola Scott, all the way from Australia. It’s going to be an amazing time. You should RVSP and get some socially-distanced Halloween fun in.
Finally, if you could leave our readers with any message, what would it be?
We’re in the finish line of 2020; I only have two bits of homework for y’all. Support indie comics and be kind to each other. ‘Nuff said.
The adventures of Halloween Man are available through Sugar Skull Media on Comixology.