|"Hellboy: The All-Seeing Eye" on sale October 22|
The supernatural is running wild in London, with demons on the subways, poltergeists in the suburbs, and undead in the funeral parlors. While Hellboy has his hands full dealing with these supernatural threats, fellow Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense agents Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien are tasked to investigate a series of “torso murders,” victims found sans head and limbs, and completely drained of blood. Author Morris likened these murders to South African Muti murders, the ritual removal of human body parts for use in witchcraft. Liz and Abe uncover a sack of decapitated heads, as well as a black magic wellspring, under the streets of London, and Hellboy is dispatched to investigate. The demons Hellboy encounters in London’s underground prophesize the coming of a plague and the opening of an Eye to the otherworld which promises to spread death and destruction across the Earth.
Morris was recruited by “Hellboy” novel editor Chris Golden, who met the author at the World Fantasy Convention several years ago. “Chris read some of my work, liked it, and eventually asked me whether I'd be interested in writing a Hellboy novel,” Morris told CBR News. “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola did have to approve Morris’ story, but the novelist had no direct contact with Mignola during the process.
This is not Morris’ first foray into writing novels for an existing franchise: the author has penned a number of “Doctor Who” books. But while Morris has been a “Doctor Who” fan since he was four years old, the author admitted that his only exposure to “Hellboy” prior to landing this job was the first “Hellboy” film. Morris quickly realized that if he was going to stay true to the “Hellboy” mythos, he was going to have to spend some time with the source material. “Dark Horse sent me a bunch of ‘Hellboy’ and ‘B.P.R.D.’ graphic novels, and I just sat down and read them in order, making notes along the way,” Morris explained. “I also read the other ‘Hellboy’ novels -- by Chris, Tim Lebbon, Brian Hodge, etc. -- and made notes from them too.
“I was fairly fresh to Hellboy's world, and admittedly made lots of mistakes,” Morris continued. “The secret with something like this is not to be intimidated. You should just be bold and go for it, and so that was what I did, knowing full well that at the end of the day Chris would be there to act as a safety net. And sure enough, once the novel was finished, he looked it over and made notes -- lots of notes -- on things that needed changing. Chris is a great friend, but he's also a great editor. Tough, but absolutely spot on.”
Morris has read a few comics staples like “Watchmen” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” but aside from that, his comics experience is decidedly limited. “But as for writing comics, I'd certainly give it a go, if offered the opportunity,” Morris said. “I make a point of never turning down work that interests me, even if it takes me right out of my comfort zone. I like a challenge!”
It's too early to tell if he’ll be trying his hand at Hellboy again, but Morris said that it definitely isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Look for the 256-page original paperback “Hellboy: The All-Seeing Eye” on October 22.
Now discuss this story in CBR’s Independents forum.