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‘Trick ‘r Treat’ director breaks out new Halloween tales in graphic novel form

‘Trick ‘r Treat’ director Michael Dougherty breaks out new Halloween tales in graphic novel form

A few panels from the “Days of the Dead” graphic novel coming from “Trick ‘r Treat” creator Michael Dougherty.

(Legendary Comics)

“Trick ‘r Treat” creator Michael Dougherty (director of the upcoming “Krampus” and “Trick ‘r Treat 2" and screenwriter of “X-Men 2" and “Superman Returns”) decided to break out his favorite character, Sam, for a few more tales in that world -- but this time told through a graphic novel.

“Days of the Dead” will take a trip through four stories on Halloween at different periods of time over the centuries and around the globe: Old World lovers whose romance takes a chilling turn, Western pioneers who discover the dark side of the frontier, 1950s Los Angeles for some noir horror, and small-town America to see some pranksters taught a lesson.

The creepy pumpkin-headed kid/being named Sam will be there to chronicle it all. We still don’t know who he is -- the spirit of Halloween? -- but we know that when he’s there, something horrible is bound to happen.

Doughtery assembled a team of writers and artists to tell these tales, which act as sort of a prequel for the anticipated sequel to the “Trick ‘r Treat” film. The talent on the four-part collection includes writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields (“Krampus” associates), Marc Andreyko (“Batwoman”) and artists Fiona Staples (“Saga”), Stephen Byrne (“Buffy” and “Angel”), Stuart Sayger (“Bram Stoker’s Death Ship”) and Zid (“Son of Merlin”).   

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Hero Complex caught up with Doughtery right before Halloween to ask a bit about the book and a few of his horror and Halloween favorites.

So, a “Trick ‘r Treat” graphic novel? You’ve assembled more short-story idea in that world.

The “Trick ‘r Treat” movie was really inspired by a lot of old horror comics I read when I was growing up.  I had a pretty steady diet of horror comics and superhero comics. The horror comics were fun because they felt like they broke all the rules. The superhero comics were pretty safe because they were designed for kids. So, the horror comics felt like they pushed the envelope a bit more. I really wanted to appeal to all of the “Creepy” and “Eerie” comics that I read growing up -- “Creepy” and “Eerie” by the way are the titles of the books.

So, it only made sense to come up with a batch of stories in the “Trick ‘r Treat” universe that also tipped the hat to the comics that inspired them. Also because I was getting ready to dive into “Krampus” and I knew that there was an audience who wanted a “Trick ‘r Treat” sequel and I hoped that this might tide them over until we actually get to make it.

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You have many different artists and writers on the project, each bringing their own sensibilities.

It was really important to take artists that match the tone of the story. There’s a great rich tradition in horror comics of using different artists and writers for different stories. It’s sort of like using a different director or DP if you’re doing it as a film or anthology. Fiona Staples was an artist that I had worked with previously on the “Trick or Treat” graphic novel; it was one of her first jobs actually. Since then she has blown up to become an amazingly talented and popular artist. It’s fun. It’s like gathering together a group of friends.

How will Sam integrate into the historical nature of the different tales being told -- the ‘50s, the pioneer days ... ?

I’ve always been fascinated with how people celebrate Halloween throughout the years. It’s celebrated differently depending on where you’re at and when you’re at. Something that I wanted to get across was the notion that Sam was a lot older than we think, that he’s sort of ever-present. So we tended to take stories that explored how Halloween has evolved over the years as it sort of migrated from ancient Europe to America -- to use that to show how Sam has evolved. Where ever the holiday tends to migrate, Sam came with it. It’s a fine line, though, because I’ve always had this rule that we can’t ever really reveal too much about the Sam character, otherwise you take way his mystery and his power.

So, there’ll never be a Sam origin story?

Never. I think that would just be character suicide.

Top three Halloween influences?

The easy answer is John Carpenter’s “Halloween” -- that’s a no-brainer. “Halloween,” “Poltergeist” and “Gremlins.”

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So, if a horror novice came to your house wanting to see a movie, are those what you’d show them?

It’s tough. There’s one that’s coming out, and I got a sneak peek of it. It’s become a new favorite of mine and it’s called “The Witch.” I think it’s coming out next year, but it’s fantastic. It’s probably one of the eeriest, most well-made horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Right behind that, I would say “Let the Right One In.”

What are you doing for Halloween?

I’m having a very small get-together with friends, and we’re going to be scaring the crap out of any trick-or-treaters that dare to come to my home. I make the kids earn their candy on Halloween.

Dougherty also talked a bit more about “X-Men Apocalypse,” which we’ll bring you later.


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