Former Marvel editor Mike Raicht likes classic '80s horror movies. But he also likes the '80s teen movies from director John Hughes.
So like any good comic book creator, Raicht decided to combine them in The Pack, a new three-issue horror series from indie publisher Th3rd World Studios that begins in October. Each issue is oversized, with more than 30 pages of story, and begins right before Halloween.
Described as Friday Night Lights meets werewolves, The Pack is Raicht's effort to do something new and unique with werewolves while still having fun with the horror genre.
"It's basically: What if werewolves hunted down Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, and Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club?" Raicht said. "It mostly came from my love of John Hughes-ish '80s teen movies and '80s horror movies like Halloween, Lost Boys and Nightmare on Elm Street.
"I'm tried to take those iconic kids we all knew in high school and see if they can survive high school with a werewolf being thrown into the mix," the writer said.
While the drama of high school plays a role, the tone of the comic is undoubtedly horror, thanks in part to the mood-setting style of artist Daniel Faccilongo, who's previously working on Hellboy and Batman.
"Daniel brings a dark mood and a sense of foreboding to the book with his scratchy inks and his strong character work," Raicht said. "He also draws a foreboding, scary, badass werewolf that feels like it can reach out of the book and tear you apart. I love his stuff. He has gotten better with each page and I hope we get to work on more stories together in the future."
Raicht, who's currently co-writer of the New York Times bestselling comic The Stuff of Legend, said he's trying to make The Pack more than just a slasher comic by really delving into the characters, despite their appearance as high school stereotypes."The thing we can sometimes forget is that regardless of how popular, pretty, or perfect a person's life may seem while looking at it from the outside, there is always way more going on within that person. We all have our issues," Raicht said. "That's something that I wanted to explore in this book. It's not easy for anyone and there are times social conventions can be turned on their head. The awkward kid can be the hero. The popular girl can feel left out. The jock can lose sometimes. I think in The Pack we ratchet those ideas up as high as we can and then throw in some werewolves. The results, from what I'm imagining at least, are poor for those involved."
And Raicht pointed out that a lot of the problems adults encounter throughout life are similar to high school experiences, but on a different scale.
"I think High School is a real world Petri dish on a smaller scale. All of the problems and conflicts in society can be found there, usually playing out in some back hallway or classroom in an increasingly humiliating fashion," he said. "We also know that drama in high school can be ramped up to a ridiculous level due to jealousy, hormones and the pressure to succeed.
High school stories also carry some expectations of societal roles and how people fill them."
One of the characters introduced in the first issue of The Pack ends up being central to the story -- but after he's dead. "Brian Foster was the local high school superstar athlete," Raicht explained. "His murder sets off not only the mystery of the book, but a drastic change in status quo for the school. With the alpha male gone, who will ascend into his place? Who will date his ex? Who will become the sports star? All positions waiting to be filled with Brian dead. Not a nice thing to think about but a fact of life.
"We also have a few guy main players who are actually alive. David Lassiter is really smart but weak and socially awkward teen. He seems to know a lot about werewolves," Raicht teased. "Greg Foster is the new kid in town and, much to his chagrin, he has been tapped to replace Brian Foster. Blake is the team's quarterback and the local Alpha Male in training."
Of course with all those male hormones running around, there's a few girls pulling the strings in the school too.
"Like any real high school, the girls are actually the ones who are in control," Raicht said. "Missi is the cheerleading captain and is in mourning over the death of her boyfriend Brian Foster. She is always at parties with her cheerleading sidekick, Julie. Nancy is the all around good girl, just biding her time until she can get out of this school. She likes Greg and befriends his younger sister Annie."While the series is three issues for now, Raicht said he'd love to do more with the series if the sales warrant it. "I think we have the makings of something that could continue on," he said. "This three-issue limited is a complete story though. Or as complete at any horror movie might be."
The October comic is available for ordering now, and while Raicht has experience at larger publishers like Marvel, he emphasized how important pre-ordering is for the future of indie studios like Th3rd World. "If this book, or any indie book for that matter, interests you, make sure to let your retailer know. It helps them get the books that you want into your hands and also helps us, and other smaller publishers like us, get more of our books out there," he said. "It's win-win for readers, retailers and publishers. You can't beat that."Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!