Actor & Bestselling Author Team For Vertigo Graphic Novel

Actor & Author Team For Vertigo OGN

Peter Straub
Peter Straub
Peter Straub

Michael Easton

As part of a growing trend toward actors and authors writing comics, an unlikely pair of celebrities have teamed up on a new graphic novel.

Best-selling horror novelist Peter Straub and actor Michael Easton united to write The Green Woman, a new graphic novel just released by publisher Vertigo. Featuring art by painter John Bolton, the story follows both a homicide detective and the seemingly reformed serial killer he's hunting.

It's not the first time either Straub or Easton has worked within the world of graphic novels, and they're part of a growing trend. From Stephen King's just-finished comic work on American Vampire to Kevin Smith's recent Batman comic, actors and novelists dabbling in comics is becoming a familiar occurrence. Names like Nicolas Cage, Milo Ventimiglia, Jodi Picoult, Brad Meltzer and Ian Rankin have turned up on the front of graphic novels and comics.

"Michael and I are both very fond of graphic novels," Straub told Newsarama of their choice to write in the medium. "I read all the way through the Preacher and the John Constantine books because Michael raved about them to me — and he was right about them, of course, they're great works of complex storytelling."

The two met when Straub was given a tour of the One Life to Live set, where Easton plays the popular character John McBain. Straub was dropping off some signed books for his favorite actors. "Michael soon wrote to me, telling me that he had already known and enjoyed the book Koko, which he had in fact read aloud to his mother in her last year of life," Straub said.

As the two began talking, Easton asked Straub to take a look at the graphic novel he was writing. "I said yes, of course, and a few days later he turned up at my house with a big folio of pages from Soul Stealer," Straub said. "It was a natural evolution of all this that we one day began to talk about doing a graphic novel of our own."

Although Easton's best known for his acting on shows like Ally McBeal and Mutant X, he's written several screenplays and even published a book of poetry, as well as his Soul Stealer graphic novels. But he recognized the benefit of getting to work with a writer like Straub.

"When you get the opportunity to write a horror story with one of the true masters of horror you jump at it," Easton said. "I'm a guy who's been pretty damn fortunate. And working with Peter you get an understanding of what a true writer is. I have a ways to go, but maybe I'm getting there. For now, I'm just trying to get the right words in the right order."

This is Straub's first graphic novel as a writer, although he's been overseeing the comic adaptation of The Talisman, a novel he co-wrote with Stephen King.

With The Green Woman, the two writers expand the story of Fielding "Fee" Bandolier, the serial killer who previously appeared in Straub's Blue Rose Trilogy. But this part of Bandolier's story doesn't rely on the novel — instead being self-contained — so the two decided to tell Fielding's new chapter in a graphic novel.

"Some words like pictures," Easton said of the decision to turn away from prose. "In this case, I think it allows for a bit of magic on the page."

"We liked the darkness, the potential for violence, the odd brooding

'poetry' that seemed to move through the story," Straub said.

The title, "The Green Woman," refers to the old, abandoned bar on the banks of the Milwaukee river that is Fielding Bandolier's sanctuary. "He lives there, brooding about his terrible history and thinking about new outrages," Straub said of the serial killer. "He wishes to be released from the obligation to kill, and he senses that his release is immanent.

"In the other half of the story, a brilliant young New York homicide detective of excessive habits and deep self-loathing, Bob Steele, gradually pieces together the facts of Bandolier's existence and sets out to arrest or murder him," Straub said.

The bar, "The Green Woman," gets its name from the figurehead of an old, evil ship called the Black Galleon.  The title echoes the story's theme and adds an eerie mystery of its own. "[The figurehead] is the source of the evil in the story," Straub explained. "In part, her evil comes from incompletion and the yearning for a restored wholeness: the figurehead  wants to be reunited with the timbers of the old Black Galleon, now long rebuilt into a pub in Belfast."

When the writers were working with Vertigo to choose an artist, they were attracted to John Bolton's painted images. "We considered the work of a lot of artists, and it just seemed to us that John Bolton really had the tools to do a great job with our material," Straub said. "He could be naturalistic and he could be grotesque. His touch, his line and use of color, had a great deal of power -- what he wound up giving us knocked us out. Bolton did a brilliant job with our story."

"We wanted something twisted and epic and John got that from the first page," Easton added. "You never have to ask him to push the boundaries with his art because he's already doing it. We were very fortunate that John responded to our story. Sometimes you shoot for the moon and you get it."

Both authors admitted the story is very dark and disturbing, which Vertigo is marketing in light of this month's Halloween focus. "It is a story about a kind of imprisonment and the need to break out of that confinement," Straub said.

"I like to think of it as more haunting than dark," Easton said. "Hopefully it sticks with you like your shadow."

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