Steve Niles and Damien Worm's progressive family of monster hunters are moving to a new address this week: Netflix. The duo's three-volume IDW Publishing series October Faction has been adapted for TV, and will debut January 23.
But this isn’t your average monster hunting show according to showrunner Damian Kindler.
"I really thought that there was a very powerful and compelling family drama that centered around supernatural element as opposed to being a straight up supernatural show about humans fighting monsters," he said. "From the beginning, I wanted to the show because I have a lot to say about the world and we touch on pieces, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, a history of white privilege, and a lot."
Actor J.C. MacKenzie, who plays the father in the monster hunting family, Fred Allen, adds to that.
"It's a supernatural thriller combined with a character driven family drama about marriage, homophobia, and racism. And we're in the small town, so our children are biracial and my son is gay. It’s all about political corollary," MacKenzie said. "The monsters are like metaphors for the xenophobic paranoia that's happening all over the world, particularly in the United States right now due to Trump. It's political, it's topical, it's got monsters."
MacKenzie went to explain his character and how the series opens.
"Fred Allen. He's an international spy hunter, of course, typecasting. His children don’t know he's an international monster hunter. He's trying to hide that from his children with his wife who he's in business with," the actor explains.
"The show opens up in Osaka, Japan. We're on mission. I receive a text telling me my father has just passed away, a man I didn't really get along with, but it's my father. So, we take the kids, 17-ear-old twins, go to upstate New York. Through a series of incidents, wind up staying the year and this very small town in this very large mansion filled with horrors and secrets that I grew up with. Shenanigans ensue, monsters come out of the woodwork and we have to keep them from the children. The children have their own secrets, which I can’t reveal.”
Kindler comes to October Faction as showrunner after working on the genre shows American Gods and Krypton, and said this series was greenlit and put into production relatively fast compared to his other experiences.
"It happened with incredible speed, which was unexpected," Kindler says. "I ended up having a meeting with the executives at IDW and they mentioned this property, October Faction. They were very excited about it. I read it - and I read a lot of graphic novels, and other things for the potential of adapting. I was very immediately passionate about it and saw immense potential in it and loved the world - it’s very timber mask that there was a real heart and soul within that."
"I immediately wanted to find a way to adopt it to TV and make it not the obvious 'monster of the week' type of show," he continues. "We have dozens of those shows – the Supernaturals, the Buffys, and so and so on. I thought there was something unexpected and against convention to be done with it.
"I very quickly pitched what I would want to do with it to IDW who liked it and, of course, to Steve. And then we very quickly went to Netflix. I initially expected that they’d like what I was pitching - we would probably write and then produce a pilot, but instead they just green-lit the show for 10 episodes.”
Kindler said that he worked with directly with October Faction's co-creator/writer Seve Niles to ensure authenticity.
"I loved the comic book a lot and I love Steve Niles a lot. One of the things that was very important to me was that whichever creative direction we took the show that Steve Niles was okay with it," Kindler explains. " I think there's no greater sin than taking an author's work and just shredding it beyond recognition. I had some very bold ideas to deepen the characters and mythology of his book, but I wouldn't have gone there if Steve hadn't approved.
"Once I had these ideas organized and was going to go to Netflix, I spoke with him extensively and he was really excited by it. And he’s stayed in the process - he’s read the scripts, spent a bit of time in the writer's room. He's a good dude and he really embraced everything that we're doing and was incredibly generous to work with. Steve and I spoke often."
Given there are some changes from the source material (albiet Niles-approved), Kindler still thinks fans of the October Faction comic books will be on-board with the show.
"I think comic fans will enjoy the fact that we tremendously deepened the mythologies behind October Faction," Kindler says. "We’ve really given a depth and history and a name to the monster hunting organization called Presidio that has existed for hundreds and hundreds of years - predates the American Revolution."
"We tell the backstory of how Fred and Dolores met, why they joined Presidio, and traded I think a much richer family dynamic that Steven didn’t have a chance to put in the book at the time I got my hands on it," the showrunner continues. "So those are the things that Steve loved. So, I'm going to assume that if he liked them, that his audience will also like it because he was really deeply appreciative of what we were doing. There was nothing he bumped on. He thought it was just all taking what he had done and going even deeper."
Speaking of deep, Kindler already has a second season mapped out in case the first season is successful enough to warrant it.
"I have a giant plan in my head of what happens next. The irony is, if we're lucky enough to get a season two that would be the first real October Faction season because there'd be an actual October Faction," Kindler says. "What the October Faction really is, is yet to be completely defined. You get a sense of it by the end that there's a group of people who are coming together for a very specific purpose, but they don't really necessarily come together in that fashion until the end of season one."
"And then you realize - oh, this group of people could do a lot of damage and have a lot of fun," he continues. "I'd love a chance to really start to tell those stories because season one was really - it would be like the way Captain America: The First Avenger works. I can't wait to get to Winter Soldier. That would be season two for me."