EC & DC Horror Houses Revisited In IDW's DIABLO HOUSE (With A Unique WILDSTORM Connection)

"Diablo House" preview
Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)
Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

IDW Publishing is home to a number of licensed titles, but this week the publisher himself is opening the doors to something in-house - a classic EC Comics' style horror house.

On stands now, Diablo House #1 by Ted Adams and Santipérez takes the conceit from titles like House of Mystery and Tales from the Crypt and reimagines it as a house whose owner and host can make your dreams come true.

(But yes, there's some fine print.)

Newsarama talked with Adams about this, his first creator-owned series, the inspiration from comic books, movies, and elsewhere, and of course, the story itself.

Newsarama: Ted, tell us about Diablo House – the book and the house itself.

Ted Adams: Diablo House is my first creator-owned comic book - after working in comics for 27 years. It’s currently scheduled for four issues, and is drawn by Santipérez, an extraordinary artist I met in Barcelona last year.

The house itself is a homage to the Joe Orlando-edited House of Mystery and House of Secrets comics from the 1970s. I asked Santi to model it after the work of Gaudi – the Spanish architect whose works include Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Instead of the Catholic religious iconography found in Sagrada Familia, Diablo House is influenced by the ocean - which is only a couple of blocks away - and the Aztec religion.

Diablo House has a host - Riley - like all good horror comics should. People come to Diablo House to change their fortune and - because there’s no such thing as a free lunch - things don’t always turn out they way they hope.

Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

Nrama: How did the concept come about?

Adams: When I met Santi, his work reminded me of the early work of Bernie Wrightson and Michael Kaluta - two artists I greatly admire and have had the good fortune to publish at IDW. Both Wrightson and Kaluta got a lot of early work from DC on their horror titles, including House of Mystery and House of Secrets, comics that stand the test of time in a way that many 70s comics don’t.

Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

I knew I wanted to find work for Santi at IDW - he’s going to be a star - and I want to see him grow his career at IDW in the way that Ash Wood, Ben Templesmith, Gabriel Rodriguez, and many others have done.

On the flight home from Spain, I started thinking about a modern-day version of the one-and-done horror stories, and realized that Santi would be perfect for them.

I should say that I obviously realize that these kinds of horror stories have been told in comics for almost as long as there have been comics. Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni publish their Haunted Horror comics and collected editions with us, and those feature horror stories from the early days of comics publishing. We’ve also published a number of Artist’s Editions featuring the artists who worked on the classic EC comics, probably the best-known horror comics of all time.

Nrama: What made you want to write this concept yourself?

Adams: I’ve written a number of comics over the years, but they’ve always been adaptations of literary works - like the stories that appear in Doomed and The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson - or are based in worlds that have been created by others- primarily video game-based titles like Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat.

I have a lot of jobs at IDW - I’m the CEO of our public company, IDW Media Holdings; the operational CEO and Publisher of IDW Publishing ( which includes our comics and games); and I’m a producer on the shows we’re doing through IDW Entertainment – currently Wynonna Earp on Syfy and Dirk Gently on BBC America, with Locke & Key on Hulu next up.

So, I get to participate creatively in a lot of projects, but I’ve been itching to create something of my own for a long time. I’m a very slow writer - and I only have time to do it on weekends - but I’m enjoying it, and I love working with Santi.

Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

Nrama: Speaking of Santi, what's it like working with him, and what makes him an ideal collaborator for the book?

Adams: Santi is a dream collaborator. He takes what I write and makes it better. There hasn’t been a single page he’s drawn that I haven’t loved.

He pitched me an idea for the third issue that I’m using. Diablo House is located in San Diego - it’s actually in the same location as Jim Lee’s old WildStorm office, a place where I worked for four years - and the stories all revolve around real places or things in the city.

Santi did a little research and found out there was a hot rod car-racing scene in the 1950s in San Diego, and our story spins out of that. He just turned in the cover for this issue, and I liked it so much I bought a case for my phone with the image.

I also want to mention that our colors are by Jay Fotos. Like many of our creators, Jay has worked for a long time at IDW - most notably as the colorist for Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key - and he’s an integral part of our team. The book is also edited and lettered by fellow IDW co-founder, Robbie Robbins. So, this one’s a nice mix of old-school IDW folks with the brand-new talents of Santi.

I’ve also been fortunate to have two great friends do the variant covers for the first two issues – Gabriel Rodriguez on #1 and Ashley Wood on #2 - and Troy Little (who adapted Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for IDW) contributes a really fun two-page story to the first issue.

Nrama: The house is described as an evolving piece of architecture, but I'm curious as to how thoroughly it's laid out -- that is, if you and Santi have some floor plans, and know how the pieces connect together

Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

Adams: The idea for an ever-evolving house comes from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, the Basicilia in Barcelona that he started working on in 1883, and that’s still being constructed today.

Santi and I haven’t discussed it, but I don’t believe he’s created floor plans for it. I see it as similar to Doctor Who’s Tardis, where the inside is bigger than it appears from the outside.

Nrama: Not trying to troll, but in terms of evil houses, IDW's had Locke & Key and adapted Richard Matheson's Hell House. What makes Diablo House distinct from places like those, or Hill House, or the House on the Borderland, or the House of Mystery or the House of Secrets or the Winchester House and sorry I just really like evil house stories. Also, curious as to what your favorite evil houses are, fictional or otherwise.

Adams: Ha, I hadn’t really thought about the other evil house we’ve published. I don’t really think of Locke & Key as a haunted house, because most of the magic comes from the keys and not the house, and Hell House is a haunted house and Diablo House isn’t. People come to Diablo House to change their fortunes, but the house itself isn’t haunted.

We do share some similarity with the Winchester House because, as we’ve discussed, Diablo House is always changing in the same way Winchester House was always under construction, but that was a Gaudi influence and not a Winchester one.

As I mentioned, the real evil houses that are the influence on Diablo House are House of Mystery and House of Secrets. My hope is that if Joe Orlando were alive today, he’d like what we’re doing.

Credit: Santipérez (IDW Publishing)

Nrama: Why should readers check out Diablo House?

Adams: The primary draw for Diablo House is Santi’s art, but I’m hoping readers will like the twisty tales I’ve come up with for the book. There aren’t a lot of comics out there that can be completely enjoyed as a one-and-done reading experience. Our host, Riley, will be in each issue but the actual story has a complete beginning, middle and end every time.

Nrama: What else do you have coming up?

Adams: The only other book I have coming out is a hardcover collection of the Ash Wood comic book stories that Chris Ryall and I adapted from stories by Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch. It’s called Doomed - which was the title of the magazine where the stories first appeared - and it will launch at San Diego Comic Con.

Credit: Ash Wood (IDW Publishing)

That’s it for me personally, but IDW has a number of exciting books coming out later this year, led by our all-new, all-ages Star Wars Adventures.

I’m also excited about the Shelly Bond-edited line of books we’ll be publishing under the Black Crown imprint. The first comic - Kid Lobotomy by Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler - hits stores later this year and is going to get a lot of well-deserved attention.

We’ll also be premiering the first comic by Gabriel Rodriguez that he’s both written and drawn. It’s called Sword of Ages, and I’ve been fortunate to see Gabe’s creative process as he’s been working on it this year, and it’s flat-out spectacular. I can’t wait for other people to be able to read it.

I should also mention that we’ll be publishing an Artist’s Edition that features some of the work Bernie Wrightson did for DC Comics. It breaks my heart that Bernie won’t be with us to enjoy the book, but I hope it’ll help introduce this classic work to a new generation of creators and readers who may not have seen it before.

Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?

Adams:Although it has nothing to do with Diablo House, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Wynonna Earp’s second season is running right now on Friday nights on Syfy. The show is, of course, based on Beau Smith’s comic of the same name and show-runner Emily Andras is absolutely killing it. We are really lucky to have her at the helm. As we’re talking now, the fourth episode just aired, and it’s got a mighty twist that fans are going crazy about. If you haven’t checked it out, I think you’ll like it.

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