After years away, Dan Brereton’s Nocturnals are back – and they’ve brought some new friends with them.
On New Years Day, Brereton and the boutique publisher Big Wow! Art launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund an all-new graphic novel titled Nocturnals: The Sinister Past with a Fall 2015 release date. Brereton returns to his signature creation with a fully-painted 64 page story that concerns the classic characters such as Halloween Girl, Gunwitch and Doc Horror as they discover that there’s an older breed of Nocturnals in Pacific City that are looking to make a comeback.
Originally created back in 1994, the Nocturnals return here in what will be the first new original comics material for these supernatural characters in nearly a decade and a return Brereton has been working on for years. The Eisner-winning creator is looking to raise $30,000 to fund this publication, and in less than a day on Kickstarter he’s nearly to the halfway mark. Newsarama spoke with the artist about this new graphic novel, bringing about the Nocturnals return in this way, as well as the extra rewards people can get above and beyond a copy of the book.
Newsarama: Dan, what can you tell us about Nocturnals: The Sinister Path?
Dan Brereton: The main thrust of the story is Evening ( AKA Halloween Girl) and how her powers and abilities are changing now that she’s a bit older. She has a part to play in the over-arching stories to come, but the question is, does she want to go down that road or remain a kid? She cant play with her haunted toys forever- or can she? I’m also exploring the idea that being a Nocturnal didn’t start with Doc Horror and Eve coming to town.
There have always been night creatures and monsters in Pacific City and its environs, for hundreds of years. Nocturnals: The Sinister Path introduces some of those creatures, very destructive and angry monster folk with plenty of axes to grind. There is of course a criminal underworld component as always, which feeds into the monster scene going on there. In these stories, the two things are always wedded. The Nocturnals’ undead bodyguard, the Gunwitch, is another one of those original Nocturnals, and he’s tied into all of it. I think of all the books I’ve done, the villains in the story are the most interesting. They’re members of a fallen dynasty, the hidden children of an important figure in town. Very gothic, a bit darker than I’ve gone before, possibly. They might have been sympathetic at one time, maybe even likable, but now they are twisted from decades of abuse and betrayal.
Nrama: For those that aren't familiar with Evening, can you tell us about her?
Brereton: Evening is a spooky, clairvoyant and adventurous pre-adolescent, but not a dark figure, despite the tragedy in her past. She is a bit different from many pre-adolescent teenage characters in today's fiction , in that she doesn't have a sour attitude, very little snark (except a bit for the bad guys). Bright, without being more mature than the adults, Eve is still a child at heart. She's a positive kid, fun-loving, living in a scary and harsh nighttime world. Her daily life stands in sharp contrast to the way most kids grow up. She lives in an underground fortress with a host of creatures allied to her mysterious father, all older than she is. She spends much of her time in the company of her possessed toys and dolls. She's adopted Halloween as her symbol, in the way other heroic characters have taken on the mantle of the Bat or the Stars and Stripes. At heart she's the youthful hero we all like to think we carry inside us.
Nrama: So Evening and Gunwitch is a shoe-in for this, but what other familiar Nocturnals will we see here?
Brereton: Most of the gang; Doc Horror and Evening, the Gunwitch. Also, Starfish and Firelion, as well as Polychrome. All of these main characters are essential to the story. The Raccoon is another important cog in the machinery here- he’s always a bit of a wild card, a chaotic element. In this story we don’t have a clear handle on what he’s about for a good long time- he gets some bad news in the beginning of the book, which sends him into a spiral. No one in this story comes through without scars and bruises.
Nrama: For those that haven’t read Nocturnals before and are excited about this, there’s still nearly a year to wait before this new OGN is complete. What’s the easiest book for them to pick up that’s available now for them to get to know the Nocturnals before Nocturnals: The Sinister Path?
Brereton: My best suggestions are the brand new hardcover retrospective art book Nocturnals: Legend that Big Wow! Art just put out, as its text is a potent and intimate introduction to the Nocturnals. As for graphic storytelling ,Nocturnals: The Dark Forever & Other Tales hardcover collection published by Image, or the 64-page softcover Nocturnals: Carnival of Beasts.
Nrama: The promise of Nocturnals: The Sinister Path however is that of all-new Nocturnals. What can you tell us about these new additions to the Nocturnals world?
Brereton: The Children of the Judge. They’re this monster brood, some of them imprisoned for decades, other living in the forest, some hidden in secret places. They’re so much fun. I don’t want to spoil anything. Part of what makes this story even more fun for me is the quality of mystery and pulp weirdness it has. It’ll be the eeriest thing I’ve done.
Nrama: I know you don't want to reveal too much about the Children of the Judge, but the thought of you designing a whole new group of Nocturnals is greatly enticing. Can you talk about your inspiration for this crew, and what you were aiming for with the finished designs?
Brereton: The idea came when I was thinking about this powerful man, a rich and influential member of the day time world, seduced by a night creature from the woods- and what would their brood be like? As the story built around them, the history of this secret family, I began to think of them as the flip side of the Nocturnals, a darker clan of night creatures with a completely different story, but sharing one or two very important links. The idea took strong hold in my imagination, and I saw the parallels and interesting contrasts between them and protagonists. This prompted " The Sinister Path" title, and the idea of diverging ideals and motivations between the two groups. And since I haven’t appointed a number to the children sired by the Judge, it's wide open. There's a whole big creepy backstory the graphic novel will delve into, so I can't say much more. Except that I'm really anxious to roll up my sleeves and get to it!
Nrama: The Nocturnals first debuted as a miniseries back in the mid-90s – so what led you to do this as a graphic novel?
Brereton: Comics are and always will be great- printed single issues books are so classic. But I wanted to try an original hardcover. In the 90’s DC and Marvel used to do them and I never got to see my work in a format like that: painted comics with superior paper stock, a single volume graphic novel- how cool is that? I’ll miss doing multiple covers, but I may do them in the form of chapter breaks or splash pages. And at a price that won’t break the bank. I’ve yet to do a single hardcover book that was more than 40$ retail, and this one won’t even be close to that- we’ll keep the price low as can be. It’s our desire to give you the best product we can, in the best form of presentation. A book to cherish, I hope.
Nrama: This isn’t the first Kickstarter for you or Big Wow! Art, as you’ve funded several art books this way. What’s that been like for you?
Brereton: The plan is to gain support and backing from those fans who want to see the book happen, who are as excited as we are. The anticipation for an exciting project fuels its production. It works that way for me as I’m in the studio producing it. The question I’m most asked at shows and by readers isn’t “what do you have out now?” but “ what are you working on- what’s next?” I feel this way, too, a lot of the time. When I hear a new film or novel is coming soon or in the works, I never want it more than at that moment when it’s at its most golden. I think folks want to be in on that ground floor, and Kickstarter is a way to do it.
The funds will help us finish the graphic novel: pay the “artist” and the letterer, designer, printer, and make sure shipping is covered to everyone. It will also insure the book will be in stores as well through Diamond. If it’s wildly successful, it could increase the page count and scope of the story- something I hope transpires.