Exclusive: Chris Monfette Talks Hellraiser

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Co-writer of Boom! Studios’ upcoming comic book

For Hellraiser, there’s only one place to go, and that is up. Fans of the series can attest to that, having witnessed over two decades horror’s beacon of counterculture cinema gradually descend from an experience in terror (with Clive Barker’s 1987 film Hellraiser) to a whimpering shadow of its former self thanks to a legacy of direct-to-DVD chapters. During this great decline, disciples of Pinhead were able to turn to the comic book medium for full-blooded tales of depravity and hell thanks to an anthology series by Epic Comics, but even here, Hellraiser took an arguable downturn as Pinhead leapt into mediocrity yet again with his own Marvel series and a slew of spins-offs (“Pinhead vs. Marshal Law,” “Hellraiser/Nightbreed: Jihad,” et al.).

While Hellraiser sorts itself out in Hollywood with a direct-to-DVD sequel on the way and a big budget remake, Boom! Studios is reinvigorating the brand with an all-new eight-part comic book series hitting shelves on March 23.

Co-writing this endeavor with Clive Barker himself is Chris Monfette, no stranger to the Barker-verse. Over the last six years, Monfette has penned screen adaptations of Barker’s “Books of Blood” stories “Down, Satan” and “Son of Celluloid” which are in development. The two also collaborated on “Seduth,” released by IDW Publishing in 3D.

“I came in with my own set of ideas separate from what I had read from Clive,” Monfette tells Shock of the “Hellraiser” creative process, adding he wanted to approach the project as far as, “what I would want to see as a fan of the series. I met with Clive and he had an outline that was different than what I had and different from what readers will see on the page. Clive’s story took place in another page of history, whereas the stuff I was bringing to the table was a real sense of using the series to close off what Clive had started with Hellraiser and Hellbound. Produce something that was a torch-passing. Change the game so we can move forward or lay the mythology to rest in a way the fans will be pleased with.”

Barker grooved with Monfette’s approach and applied the themes of his outline and included a blast from the past as well: The Harrowers, first introduced in the Epic comics. They’re mortals equipped with special powers to do battle with the Cenobites. Monfette says, “Readers will see a lot more of them throughout our series and it was really organic how the whole process came together.”

How did Barker’s upcoming “The Scarlet Gospels” – which features investigator Harry D’Amour and the demise of Pinhead – inform the comic series? “I had asked that question at the beginning of the project,” says Monfette. “We’re picking up something pretty definitive here in terms of how this first comic arc is going to end. This is something we’ll have to address and how we portray Pinhead, Kirsty and Hell. Clive has a feeling that the novels are his novels and the comics are the comics. They’ll have their own continuity. If and when ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ comes out, it’ll be its own beast. I’m not sure where it will fall in the continuity of the books, comics or films. Clive has seemed open to the idea of bringing Harry D’Amour into the comics, though, but we’re not sure if that will happen or where.”

Monfette is confident fans will respond to the series and the territory it explores, such as: What have Kirsty Cotton and Pinhead been up to the last 20 years? “One of the jump-off points for me is we’ve had 20 plus years of terrible Hellraiser films. It was important for me to address that. It was cinematically and culturally tired. That got me thinking, 25 years trapped in hell, you’ve got this character with human ambitions – would Pinhead start seeing Hell as a trap? Would he have grander ambitions inside or outside of the box? Let’s use the sense of time and tiredness for him. And let’s also apply that to Kirsty. How has she spent the last 25 years? If in order to get out of hell, Pinhead needs to confront the person who bested him, it only made sense for me to address how she gets back into hell. How is she scarred through two decades of living after the events of Hellraiser and Hellbound?”

“I hope it feels like a logical end to the mythology. If we never told another Hellraiser story after the final page of this series, you will get a sense of completion. We didn’t want to leave the reader dissatisfied or leave them hanging. We talked about where the series could go after the eight issues, but it’s really about if the readers respond to this first series. We’ll keep creating if they do. In my own mind, I have some ideas as to where the story could go. We didn’t want to write ourselves into a corner.”

Boom! Studios will be re-printing Epic’s original “Hellraiser” comics as well. Check back Wednesday, March 23 for a special preview of the new series.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor