NYCC '10: Mignola, Golden Back to BALTIMORE in CURSE BELLS
Preview - BALTIMORE: THE PLAGUE SHIP #3
At New York Comic Con this weekend, Milwaukie-based publisher Dark Horse announced a second series for Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden’s one-man crusade against a vampire plague, Baltimore. With the first comic series, Baltimore: The Plague Ships only halfway complete, news of a second series, titled Baltimore: The Curse Bells shows tremendous support not only from the publisher but the readers who are buying the comics.
Set to launch in late 2011, the upcoming series Baltimore: The Curse Bells shows the wiry Lord Henry Baltimore as he takes his crusade against the plague into the Austrian mountains after hearing news that the vampire that bit him, and killed his family, is holed up in a convent. This creature, named Haigus, is said to have taken over the cloister and holds captive all of the nuns inside. So as Baltimore comes up to the steps of this subverted house of God, he must try to take on his nemesis without taking out everyone else inside.
For co-writer Christopher Golden, the success, which warranted a second series, is “a blast”. Golden and Mignola introduced the character of Lord Henry Baltimore in their 2007 prose novel Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. Since then, Mignola’s fans had been questioning an eventual comics tie-in, one that Mignola’s primary publisher Dark Horse took up with the launch of the 5-issue series Baltimore: The Plague Ships back in August. Later this month we’ll catch up on that series, but today we’ve got Christopher Golden here to talk about this new series and the success he’s seen for the character.
Newsarama: Where does Baltimore: The Curse Bells this fit into the Baltimore timeline – is it right after the first comic series?
Christopher Golden: I'd have to check the dates, but Baltimore: The Curse Bells takes place somewhere between a couple of weeks and a couple of months after the current series Baltimore: The Plague Ships. Not long after, but long enough that Baltimore has managed to close in on Haigus again. As people will have heard by now, there's a 14 page one shot Baltimore story that is part of Dark Horse's FCBD flipbook next year. That's called Baltimore: A Passing Stranger, and it takes place less than two months after the end of The Plague Ships. I suspect the new series, The Curse Bells, is either right after or right before.
Nrama: In The Curse Bells, the info I’ve got says Baltimore has a good lead that Haigus is holed up in an Austrian cloister. Can you give us a lay of the land here?
Golden: You just did. In his journeys in search of Haigus, he enters an Austrian city where an old convent sits like a monastery on a hill overlooking the city. The bells of the cloister haven't rung in a while. Rumor has it that an Austrian soldier has taken up residence there and somehow corrupted or enslaved the cloister nuns. Rumor also has it that if Haigus was here, that he may have also been up behind those walls on the hill. From there, it gets absolutely lunatic. There are a lot of enemies, a lot of different evils, that Baltimore has to face in The Curse Bells.
Nrama: This series is told primarily by following Baltimore's quest to kill Haigus. We know what Baltimore is doing – but Haigus can't just be sitting around waiting for him. What's Haigus doing at this point?
Golden: Haigus is exploring a world that has changed a lot since the last time he was able to think clearly enough to cast judgment upon it. Once upon a time, there were all sorts of evils in the world, and they worshipped his dark god, the Red King. He's getting the lay of the land, seeking out the dark places, trying to figure out why the Red King still sleeps and how to wake him up.
Nrama: It seems Haigus isn't alone – there's talk of the cloister nuns being held there, as well as an unidentified man there as well with talk of a cure for the plague. Who's in their with Haigus?
Golden: Tut tut. That would be telling.
Nrama: I’ll give you that; but what about on Baltimore’s side. When it comes to mounting this siege of an Austrian cloister, does Henry have anyone by his side?
Golden: We do meet a character that is his ally in this, an American journalist named Simon Hodge. But more than that, and what role Hodge may play now or in the future, I can't say.
Nrama: Although Mike has worked with other writers in the past, the Baltimore series is the first time I remember him brainstorming with someone on the ground floor of a new idea like this. How was that for you compared to coming in and writing Hellboy stories?
Golden: I've known Mike for a very long time, now. Since the first issue of Hellboy, really. Over the years, he told me a lot about what he then referred to as his "vampire graphic novel." That turned into the novel Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. The lion's share of the scenes in that book were part of Mike's original vision. Now, though, the comic book series is much more of a full collaboration. We saw only a sliver of this world in the novel. Now Mike and I are creating the world together. Fortunately, we share the same goals and a lot of the same influences and interests, and we know what we want from this dark, disturbing place.
Nrama: Lord Baltimore's story was first told in the novel, and then in the comic series coming out now. With news of this second series on the way, what's it like to be able to spin out and define more this life of Baltimore?
Golden: It's a blast, actually. It all feels very sinister, but at the same time, we take the character seriously. This is a guy who is, for all intents and purposes, damned. Not by God, but by circumstance, and the universe--or God, if you prefer--recognizes his damnation, the curse on him, and puts him to use. Right now we're focusing on building his story, and expanding the audience's view of what this world really is.
Nrama: With the novel out, this first comic series almost over and a 2nd comic series on the way, this looks to be a franchise. Any chance of a second novel down the pike, Christopher?
Golden: Mike and I are working on the first of a two book contract with St. Martin's Press right now. Neither of those books is a sequel to Baltimore. Right now we have no plans to do one, but I won't say it hasn't been discussed. I suppose you never know.* Above artwork is from The Plague Ships.