The first three issues of MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER written by Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs has a unique sense of horror when teamed up with Hayden Sherman’s artwork. The creators have put together a brilliant combination of grit and tension, one which has become a definite must read.
Glass and Cuartero-Briggs spoke with Monkeys Fighting Robots about their writing process and how Mary Shelley’s story is more relevant today in the current political climate. Check out the full interview below.
MFR: Both of you work in television. How has your experience in TV helped you as a comic book writer?
GLASS: It’s all storytelling at the end of the day. But tv shows, much like comics is truncated storytelling, you must hook your audience fast and leave them with a cliff hanger to come back for more. I started on TV but found the writing approach in graphic novels very similar.
CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Agreed, storytelling is storytelling, so working in any medium will help inform another, especially when it’s visual, like both comic books and television are. I would say where TV helps the most is the necessity that cliff hanger at the end of every act. It gets your mind thinking big, which is very useful when writing comics.
MFR: In film and TV, you can build tension with a musical score. MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER is very tense; I could almost hear the music in my head as I read the first three issues. What are the elements you use to build tension?
GLASS: I feel as writers we’re always tapping into our own worse fears and putting ourselves into our characters head. So everything you see is how Olivia and I feel like we’d see it. I know I spend way to much time thinking about how to kill people in interesting ways then I should.
CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Adam and I agreed early on that this had to be a character-driven comic book. The central characters, Mary, Percy, Byron, Claire and Victoria had to be dynamic and psychologically complex to really make this story work the way we wanted it to. With that focus, we were able to slow down the plot a bit and really build suspense, not just through the situations they find themselves in and the frightening occurrences that build on one another, but through exploring their personalities, desires, and relationships as well.
MFR: Gender equality is a huge political topic right now, and as a society, it seems like we have lost our ability to have a civil debate. Do you think comic books can sneak into a political conversation and open up a few minds?
GLASS: What I’ve always loved about genre writing is it’s the perfect place to speak about societies woes without being preachy. Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter has this in spades because at the foundation of our story is the real-life journey of Mary Shelley, who was a feminist way before anyone even knew what the word meant. So, yes, just like the X-Men helped people accept race and differences I feel like our story can open a few eyes on feminism.
CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Yes. And with everything that’s going on right now in Middle America and the continual chipping away of women’s rights to healthcare, it is so important that we remind ourselves where we came from. Women like Mary Shelley – not to mention her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft – fought like hell for the rights we now enjoy. It’s crazy that we’re seeing similarities in the treatment of women from 1815 to today. We should be well past that kind of oppression, and the fact that we’re not should disturb people. Perhaps the reminder we’re giving folks in Mary Shelley Monster Hunter will inspire more people to stand up and fight.
MFR: What does Hayden Sherman bring to the table as an artist? His panel designs amped up the fear and had me hesitantly turning the page.
GLASS: Hayden was the perfect artist for this book because he understands the horror and how to pace it out so it has maximum effect.
CUARTERO-BRIGGS: From the moment Adam and I first saw his work, we knew he was the guy. His work has an elegance and creep factor all its own, and it has really helped to enhance the books. Thanks, Hayden!
MFR: The pacing of the book is solid, as it had me wanting to read the next issue immediately. Since you are a writing duo, what’re the conversations like when it comes to pacing and how you want to end each comic?
GLASS: Olivia and I are friends and have worked together on TV so we have a real shorthand when it comes to writing. But I think we talk about what we’d like to see and what we think is cool and then we just do that.
CUARTERO-BRIGGS: Absolutely. I’ve been really fortunate to work with Adam and benefit from his years of experience and talent, not just in comics, but in TV as well. He’s amazing at pacing, building to cliffhangers, and crafting those fun, impactful openings. So, while we definitely have a shorthand – and a lot of fun coming up with ideas together – I have to admit that I’ve learned a lot through this process that I will certainly take with me as I continue on in this crazy business.
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MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER #4 hits your local comic book store on July 17, with final orders due on June 24, so bug your comic shop to order copies.
About MARY SHELLEY: MONSTER HUNTER from AfterShock Comics
For nearly two centuries, scholars have wondered how on earth Mary Shelley, a nineteen-year-old girl, was able to conjure one of the most frightening and enduring horror stories of all-time: Frankenstein. But with the recent discovery of Mary Shelley’s secret memoir, the truth is finally revealed: Mary Shelley didn’t just write Frankenstein, she lived it. Traveling back to that historic Geneva winter of 1816, Mary, her fiancé Percy, sisters Claire and Fanny, and the celebrated poet Lord Byron, find themselves guests of the eerie Frankenstein Estate. The macabre and frightening events that follow lead Mary to both a gruesome and shocking discovery. Their mysterious host is not at all what they expected, and their intentions will change the course of Mary’s life forever.