Hutchinson on Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode
Hutchinson on Halloween & Laurie Strode
2008 is shaping up to be quite a year for writer Stefan Hutchinson and his work on Halloween: Nightdance and the H30 special; both released from Devil’s Due over the course of 2008. Well, he’s not quite finished yet—actually, he’s not done by a long shot. In September, Devil’s Due will release Halloween: The First Death of Laurie Strode; this 4 issue mini-series, written by Hutchinson with artwork by popular horror artist Jeff Zornow, focuses on the fallout of October, 31st 1978 and just what happened to poor Laurie Strode in the wake of Michael Myers’ murderous rampage in the quiet little town of Haddonfield, Illinois.Newsarama contacted Halloween writer Stefan Hutchinson to talk about why Halloween is coming to comics early this year in this upcoming direct sequel to the original two Halloween movies—and ‘the Shape’ of things to come for Laurie Strode as well as Dr. Sam Loomis. Newsarama: This story takes place after the events of the original Halloween movie correct? Or does this also embrace the second film as well? Where does 'The First Death of Laurie Strode' pick up? Stefan Hutchinson: ‘The First Death of Laurie Strode’ begins almost straight after Halloween II. Given that both of the first two films, regardless of their disparities, take place on the same night, it’s hard to separate them without confusing everybody! As with the previous series though, it’s been approached as a self-contained story in a lot of ways, so even if you’re not familiar with the films you’ll be able to jump on in and start there. NRAMA: What is Haddonfield, Illinois like after the events of October 31, 1978? SH: It’s a small town where normally, nothing happens. Then, Halloween 1978 rolls around and this monstrous serial killer butchers over ten people – many of them teenagers. He isn’t captured either – he’s presumed dead, but there’s no body. So, as a result, the town is devastated and in a real state of shock. The people simply don’t know how to deal with this because it’s so outside of their experience. So, in some ways they try to carry on as if nothing has happened, but when you repress something then it’s only going to grow and manifest itself in fear, uncertainty and unwanted emotions. The town itself is a really important character, and in a way it’s almost a metaphor for Laurie Strode herself – she’s trying to get better and trying to repair, but where do you even start after going through such horror? How do you even try to resume normality when you don’t know what that is anymore? Those themes basically formed the starting blocks for this story. NRAMA: How does Sam Loomis figure into the story? He's become somewhat of a fixture in Haddonfield at this point, correct? SH: This story shows him becoming one, and his presence in the town isn’t necessarily a welcome one for a lot of people. To many of the Haddonfield residents, he’s the man responsible for Michael Myers’ rampage, even though it couldn’t be further from the truth. Sam Loomis is a good man, and a man who knows what Michael is capable of. He’s perhaps more terrified of Michael than anyone else, but his conscience – and his obsessive tendencies – have locked him on a path he can never step away from. In many ways, his story is the most tragic. He’s perhaps the only person who will acknowledge that Michael is alive and out there – the bogeyman does not die. Perhaps other people in the town feel it too, but they’re so scared of that possibility they just want to pretend everything is going to be alright. A lot of their fear gets transferred onto Loomis – in both distrust and hate. NRAMA: Will there be any other familiar faces appearing in this new story from the original Halloween mythos? SH: Definitely. If we’re revisiting that era, then we need to feature the people from it, because they have all been affected in some way. There are several characters from the original film that make an appearance. NRAMA: Is Michael actually lurking about? Laurie Strode appears to be seeing 'the Shape' in the aftermath of their original confrontation--how prominent is he in this story? SH: There’s very much a guessing game going on in this story – Laurie sees Michael everywhere, but she is also aware that her mental condition is beginning to deteriorate. As readers, we know he’s alive, and we know he’s out there, but it’s never made explicitly clear if Michael is there, or it’s Laurie’s imagination. Events begin to happen, but she finds herself very much in a cry wolf scenario. As the story progresses, we do find out if Laurie is falling into the route of madness, or if Michael is actually stalking her again. Also, Michael is still very much ‘The Shape’ in my eyes. I’m referring to him as Michael here because a lot of this story will deal with Laurie’s – and Haddonfield’s – perception of him. The monster has a name to them – but it doesn’t help them understand him or his nature at all. NRAMA: Will Laurie be seeking an escape from the trauma of her run-in with Michael Myers? SH: The events are so raw and fresh in her mind that she’s not at the stage where she can escape from it. She’s in shock, still trying to grasp what’s happened. She’s barely escaped from Michael and he’s killed almost all of her friends, so she’s still in recovery. NRAMA: In your mind, and in the context of these stories, it is never revealed that she is Michael's sister, correct? SH: No, actually! Don’t get me wrong, I was never a fan of the whole sister angle - it took so much away from the simplicity and brilliance of the original film, and that still stands. However, the films that are in our continuity do have this as a plot element. However, we’re addressing that within this series somewhat – to the point where it becomes almost incidental that she’s his sister. My whole problem with it is how it became the bloodline plot of the middle sequels, and we’re not doing that. The more The Shape’s purposes and motivations are revealed to us, the less scary he is and the more specific he is. It’s why Laurie now thinks of him as ‘Michael’ – it gives him a name which makes it almost easier to grasp in some ways. What we’re doing here ties in with Nightdance in a lot of ways thematically, in that the villain’s motivations are deliberately obscure, so even though Laurie is still his ‘secret sister’, we try to seal over the plot holes there and also leave scope so that there are always going to be people in danger. It’s not necessarily just a family thing, and hopefully that will become clear through this series. NRAMA: In context of the body of films, it seems that Laurie faked her death to escape from Haddonfield--as a fan of the material, did that story point resonate with you? SH: Yeah, because it’s really interesting dramatically – the whole idea of creating a brand new identity is fascinating, especially when it’s something she has to do, because Laurie Strode, as a person, is disintegrating. She’s found out that she’s adopted, that she had a brother she never knew about who killed all of her friends, and for some reason, will not die. Everything she thought she knew is wrong, her past is a lie, so she has to find herself again, or at the very least, find somebody else. The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it’s not the faking of the death that’s interesting at all, but it’s the fall that leads to that happening. The faked death is just simple mechanics and can be covered in a sentence, but the state of mind and events leading to that are full of rich character and dramatic potential. NRAMA: Will 'the Shape' become active on more than just October 31st now? Is the idea of a killer only killing on one day a bit silly or does Halloween bear more significance in your mind other than the day his first murders took place? SH: He’ll be active and around outside of that date. In the recent free download story, ‘Sam’ (which can be downloaded free over at www.halloweencomics.com), he’s very much around even in February! The night of Halloween, however, will always be the main event. It’s significant in that it’s a night of evil. When the leaves start to fall, that’s when the monsters will be out – ghosts, goblins, witches… and The Shape NRAMA: You've mentioned in the past that you've mapped out a 5 year series of events that spawn off of the original Halloween film. If this is the first death of Laurie Strode--is there going to be a subsequent one to follow? SH: There are five arcs that I’ve plotted out, which, even though they can all be read individually, form one storyline covering about thirty years. We don’t tell them chronologically, so that keeps a nice balance between new and classic characters. The next arc will follow in January, and I’m working on that with a co-writer right now. This arc is a new storyline, and not one of the initial five arcs planned, so it’s an exciting addition that’s going to be quite a left-turn, and that’s important to keeping it fresh. We’ve made it harder for ourselves in a lot of ways by going down the ‘serious horror’ route rather than the campy spectaculars that a lot of other horror licenses unfortunately are. The storyline that follows The First Death of Laurie Strode will actually be series four – and the seeds of it have been plotted out already. In Halloween: 30 Years Of Terror, which will be out any time now, there are five short stories, some of which contain hints to future storylines and threads that will definitely be picked-up on. That’s the beauty of this being a comic book series. It opens up so many storytelling possibilities that you couldn’t use in the movies, and if there’s one thing I’m proud of is that our storytelling is very much for the comic book medium with all of its unique benefits, rather than just a weak imitation of a movie. It’s written for pages and frames, and it’s extremely satisfying when we hear from Halloween fans – or horror fans – who tell us that this is the first time they’ve picked up a comic book in twenty years. Hopefully, now that they are in the comic store, they’ll check out the thousands of other amazing titles waiting for them.