Comics Interview: Cole Haddon, writer of The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde

Following my review of the complete series (issues 1-4) the writer of The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde, Cole Haddon, kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

The following contains no direct plot spoilers but does hint at some of the happenings of this Dark Horse series.

I mentioned in my review that I could see some similarities to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell and in the story you deal with characters drawn from both fiction and history, however the book doesn’t feel derivative, how on earth did you manage that?

CH: First off, that’s a huge compliment. If only because, from the start, I knew there would be inevitable comparisons to Alan Moore’s work. Mr. Hyde and Jack the Ripper have both been famously used by him, as you cite. As for how I managed it? Hard to say specifically, as I try not to analyze why something I do works or doesn’t work. I know when I was pitching this, the general concern at the time was, “It’s going to be too dark. We don’t want From Hell.” “Pitching,” in this case, refers to pitching to movie studios. Dark Horse and I have since sold the comic book, and I was hired to write the adaptation. Anyways, everyone we pitched it to didn’t want something as oppressively dark as the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell. I kept saying, “No, no, no, this is going to be fun.” I would then get incredulous looks, like I was some sort of moron who didn’t understand the subject matter. But the fact is, I think blood, when used correctly, is ridiculously fun. Just look at all the monster films that Hammer produced in the late-50s and 60s. I wanted to write something as cool and stylized as that, but also take it as seriously as the filmmakers behind those projects, like Terry Fischer, did. Hence, you get lots of bright red blood in The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde, lots of black humor that Peter Cushing might have uttered, and, to ground the camp, lots of heady philosophy. I hope it works. I know it was a blast writing it.

One thing that struck me in the book is your approach to the character of Hyde, who doesn’t undergo any massive physical transformation, a fact you play with in the story when Jekyll sees a mannequin which matches very closely his popular portrayal. Instead during his introduction he’s almost shockingly “normal”, what led you to treat him this way?

CH: The original pitch went something like, “The inspector creeps forward through the dungeon, scared to death about the monster he’s about to confront…turns the corner…and finds Hugh Jackman smiling at him.” I know that Robert Louis Stevenson originally described Hyde as a gnomish villain, but I didn’t find that approach, or the one used in cinema over the years, especially scary. Scary, I think, is the guy you think is normal, that you find yourself liking and wanting to be like, who could skip rope with your esophagus and not lose a wink of sleep.

The book blurs the boundaries between morality, amorality and immorality. At times I felt unsure as to whether Hyde was seeking to redeem or corrupt Adye and without spoiling I think it’s fair to say that Adye’s actions step both side of moral and legal boundaries at times. What’s the attraction of this sort of “shades of grey” story to you?

CH: Adye makes a choice, and that’s what matters. That’s all that Jekyll ever asked of him: think for yourself. As for my attraction to “shades of grey,” that was required by the story, in order to engage readers, to challenge them in the same way that Jekyll challenges Adye. If everything was presented as black and white, it would be easier to choose a side without thinking, to just fall back on what we were taught to believe rather than ask questions about why we believe what we do.

Any plans for more stories of Inspector Adye?

CH: Absolutely, if Dark Horse asks me to. The last page of Issue #4 tips off what “strange case” would come next for the good inspector and Issue #1 features, if you caught it, a cameo by a mad scientist also slated to return. Adye will be dealing with the repercussions of his encounter with Hyde for a long time, both personally and professionally, and I can’t wait to tell more of his stories!

Check out The Strange Case of Mr. Hyde in your local comic shop, via Dark Horse Digital or Pre-order the TPB on Amazon. And don’t forget to follow Cole on Twitter 

GS Reporter: Dave W

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