Ben McCool, writer of the Image horror miniseries Memoir, chats with the Outhouse about his career and his latest Image work.
Ben McCool is a name you will probably be hearing a lot of in 2011. A British writer first known for Choker, a collaberation with Ben Templesmith, McCool is not only the writer of Memoir, an Image horror miniseries that has drawn rave reviews, but has also been announced as the writer of the upcoming Marvel miniseries, Captain America and the Korvac Saga. Ben took time out of his busy schedule to talk about Memoir and his experiences in the industry.
The Outhouse: How did you first break into the writing industry?
Ben McCool: By being a bloody nuisance! I've always been a huge comic book fan, both in terms of the iconic characters and the medium itself being a wonderful platform for storytelling. And so when I finally set my heart on being a writer I identified comics as a prominent form of interest: one that I felt could help bring my visions and goals to life.
I started attending comic book conventions, meeting professionals (and buying them beer), hanging out with editors and publishers (and buying them even more beer), basically trying to get myself noticed. But of course, that only gets you so far: it's the work that really counts, and so I started writing like a maniac, trying to get as many people as possible reading it, and basically networked like a crazy person. I eventually got a short story published (illustrated by a good pal, John McCrea) and started working even harder. Eventually, a few more one shots came about, followed by my first mini-series, "Choker".
OH: For readers who haven't heard of your latest book, what is Memoir all about?
BM: I think the book's press release says it best:
The setting of MEMOIR, Lowesville, is a small town in the American Midwest, peaceful and quaint. But one morning the population awakens with no idea of who they are, where they are, or what's happened. The town's memory has been completely erased. All except for the mind of one man... He remembers everything.
It's like a weird amalgamation of "Twin Peaks" and "The Twilight Zone" – dysfunctional small town America with a sci-fi/horror twist, boasting some of the strangest characters you could possibly hope to meet...
OH: There's a very strong and creepy horror element in Memoir in the dark secrets that the residents of Lowesville are hiding. How do you think readers will enjoy how this element of the story unfolds?
BM: Well, for starters, me and Nikki both decided that creepiness was preferable to all-out gore, at least to begin with. We wanted to offer a dark, menacing ambience to capture readers' imaginations, and judging by the feedback, I think we've done OK so far! Truth be told, I've always been more of a psychological horror fan rather than OTT blood and guts; it's just so much spookier that way. But I'm not dismissive of big, crazy visual reveals; I just think they're so much more effective when built up with some tension and atmosphere.
OH: What do you think is the creepiest scene you've written so far in Memoir?
BM: Without giving too much away, there's a very eerie scene featuring Trent MacGowan, the book's protagonist, looking for someone—or something—out in Lowesville's "haunted" woods. I'm very pleased with this one!
OH: One of the more interesting facets of Memoir is its protagonist, Trent MacGowan. He doesn't seem to be a very good person at the beginning of the story. Why did you make Trent more unsavory than the typical horror "hero"?
BM: Ha, speak of the devil! Trent does indeed begin the story as something of a selfish, egotistical jerk—he's looking to exploit Lowesville in any way he can for his own personal gain. But as the story progresses his attitude changes somewhat... I won't say how or why, but a few of the town's mysteries offer him some very surprising perspective on the town and its unusual history!
OH: Do you have any plans on expanding on the world of Memoir after this miniseries is finished? Or is this a single, cohesive story that leaves no room for a sequel?
BM: It's funny you should ask, as there are indeed plans underway to expand the world of "Memoir"! Again, I'll have to keep these under wraps for now (sorry to be such a spoilsport) but watch this space for more news...
OH: Tell us about your illustrator, Nikki Cook. How would you say her art compliments your story? How have you enjoyed working with her?
BM: Nikki has done a superb job in bringing "Memoir" to life. Not only has she captured the bewildering cast of characters exactly as I imagined them, but also the mystifying town of Lowesville—it looks and feels exactly as it should. That is, creepy and weird!
OH: Do you have any other upcoming projects coming out soon?
BM: I do, but they're (as of yet) unannounced. More news soon!
OH: If you had to convince readers to pick up Memoir in thirty words or less, what would you tell them? (Bonus points if you do it in a haiku!)
BM: I'll have to pass on the haiku (last time I tried that it came out a little...odd) but in (less than) 30 words:
Town without a memory. Crazy people galore. Haunted forest. Ditch full of bodies. And the alleged appearance of the Daughter of God...
Memoir #1 can be found in a local comic book store near you. Click here to read a review of Memoir by The Outhouse's own Royal Nonesuch.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer
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About the Author - Christian Hoffer
Christian Hoffer is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Hoffer is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.
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