Ghoul Goblin #1Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files is one of the most popular supernatural prose thriller series on bookshelves today, and Butcher’s kinetic mix of fantasy and detective fiction has ignited the imaginations of millions of fans. In 2008, Butcher brought his prose novel series to comic with an adaptation of the first and second novels in the ongoing novel series, but now he’s bringing an original story straight to comics. In a partnership with Dynamite Entertainment, Butcher has created the four-issue series Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin, which was announced yesterday in the build-up to New York Comic Con.
Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin partners Butcher with his long-time comics adapter Mark Powers and Deadpool artist Joseph Cooper to tell this never-before-seen story that takes place between the first two novels in Butcher’s long-running series. Scheduled to launch in January of next year, Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin follows the supernatural P.I. as he goes into a small Missouri town to investigate a series of strange deaths that may, as you can assume, involve ghouls and/or goblins.
Newsarama spoke to both Butcher and Powers Wednesday after this new series was announced, and had a rollicking chat about the series’ story, how Butcher views goblins in fantasy, and also when and how to bring a gun to a magic fight.
Newsarama: What can you tell us about the story of Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin?
Jim Butcher: When I'm writing the novels, a whole lot of world-building gets done as background that never makes it into the books. Lots of stories happen in my head, between the events of the novels, and most of them are too small or too unconnected to fit into the overall events of the books. Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin is one of those stories.
Mark Powers: Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin takes place several months after the events of Fool Moon and before Grave Peril. The Harry we see in this story hasn’t attained all the powers and abilities we see him utilize in later stories—and he runs into some creatures he hasn’t yet encountered at this point in the continuity. (Not only Ghouls and Goblins.)
Nrama: So what is it about?
Powers: Harry, still reeling from the events of Fool Moon, is hired by a sheriff’s deputy from a small Missouri town to investigate a series of suspicious deaths. More specifically, deaths that the deputy – one Prescott Tremaine – believes may be supernatural in nature. As the series title suggests, the deaths do indeed involve more than one denizen of the Nevernever, and are centered around a single family with a rather tragic history.
As the story begins, Harry’s chief concern is that the killings might involve a werewolf – being that he barely averted a city-wide bloodbath in Fool Moon, he is pretty damn determined to stamp out any possible outbreaks of lycanthropy before they start. Of course, what he does run into turns out to be a lot more complicated.Nrama: I know this is early on in Dresden’s story from the novels, but will we see any other series stalwarts will be popping up in Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin?
Butchers: Relatively few, if any. Because the series is set subsequent to the events of Fool Moon, most of the series characters have yet to appear on stage.
Powers: As far as established characters, it’s mostly just Bob—this series introduces some new characters into the mythos, though some of Harry’s other confidantes make cameo appearances. The thing here is that he’s still somewhat on the outs with Murphy, and is still figuring things out with Susan. Marcone doesn’t figure into this story, as it mostly occurs outside Chicago.
Nrama: Goblins have shown up before in the Dresden series, but this time they’re taking the fore – at least in that subtitle. What can you tell us about the goblins in the series and then specifically in this book?
Butcher: I never really liked the Tolkien goblins. I mean, they were good in the books, but when they immigrated to Dungeons & Dragons, suddenly they were the whipping boys of every fighter with 3d6x10 GP to rub together, dying by the score. That's not really a monster. That's just... kind of a marginally weaponized cockroach. Poor goblins. Dying for the cheap entertainment of low level PCs.
Powers: Like most things in the Dresden-verse, the Goblins you’ll see here don’t at all conform to conventional portrayals—if there is such a thing, anyway. In other words, forget what you know from Dungeons & Dragons or J.R.R. Tolkein—as Jim put it to us, “These guys are serial-killing Hannibal-Lecter ninjas with frickin’ magic powers to help them cheat.”
Butcher: So when I put the goblins together for the Dresden Files, I kind of went back to the goblins of folklore in a number of traditions. These things are scary. Not because they're huge, and not because they're super-strong, but because they are literally wicked smart. They know how to kill, they like doing it, and they are fiendishly crafty about their process. Dresden Files goblins aren't footsoldiers. They're psycho killer ninjas with absolutely no inhibitions about inflicting harm and mayhem and they never, EVER play fair. You don't fight a group of goblins in the Dresden Files story world. It's a pretty good trick to go up against /one/ of them and come out alive. When you take them on in groups, everyone wonders what happened to you a generation later, but no one can find any evidence to explain it.
These are the guys who have made a drinking game based on episodes of Dexter while they MST3K his form.
Nrama: Jim, you launched Dresden Files into comics with an original prequel to Storm Front titled Welcome to the Jungle before doing adaptations of your first two prose novels. What brought you back to share another original story in comics and not in your native prose?
Butcher: They asked me to. [laughs]
I wish I had a romantic answer but at the end of the day, I write for a living. Also, I think Dynamite's folks enjoy the process of creating some original material, stuff that can exist without all of the boundaries of the novels. In these shorter stories, we can focus on story elements that are perhaps better suited to this format--plus they don't have to worry about stepping on my toes nearly so much.
Nrama: Mark, You’ve been the key figure in adapting the Dresden Files novels to comics, and now you’re not but working with Jim Butcher directly to get a new, original story out directly to comics. What’s that like for you?
Powers: It’s a huge honor and responsibility. Millions of readers around the world love Harry and his world, and for good reason. Jim’s created a complex, compelling tapestry and to have the opportunity to help weave something into that mythos is exciting.
Nrama: Two writers, one book – and one of the writers is the creator of the series. What’s the working relationship like between you two to write?
Powers: The story concept is Jim’s—his concepts and characters. He (and Dynamite) handed it off to me to build off of and expand upon. Jim’s guidance thus far has been to make sure what I’m writing conforms to continuity and the “rules” of the Dresdenverse. I’m not sure I can pinpoint out the type of story moment you allude to yet—I just keep reminding myself as I write that “in Jim’s books, it’s never as simple as it first looks. There’s always another layer, another angle, and each stage has to demand more of Harry, who’s a flesh and blood guy, despite his abilities.”
Butcher: If anything, I think Mark writes almost too loyally to the novels when he's creating a script for one of the stories in the written series. I've never had any serious problems with his translations, and about the only times I interfere is when I'm clarifying a detail of the story world, making sure that the rules for that world's magic remain consistent--and heck, half of the time I'm not the one who notices. A small group of fans of the novels have access to the work as its being created, and can provide feedback and identify inconsistencies. They are SO much better at it than me. I'm just the writer. [laughs]
For instance, the opening of this story pits Dresden against a bad guy under the surface of Lake Michigan. The original script called for some kind of magical slugfest, but in the Dresden universe, most people have a really hard time making magic work even on the surface of a body of water, much less while submerged in it. So we talked it out and instead of getting the wizard side of Dresden in that opening, you get his P.I. side. Because while magic is cool, sometimes there's just no replacement for a toting a gun in your pocket. [laughs]Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!