Writer Todd Casey gives SHOCK the scoop on TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD and his work on KRAMPUS.
TRICK ‘R TREAT is the classic rags-to-riches movie. A limited release after a two year delay almost sucked this movie into obscurity, but thanks to a few determined horror fans and an overall solid critic rating, it now sits comfortably on the cult collectors market. With its hard times behind it, the TRICK ‘R TREAT franchise has nothing but good times to look forward to, beginning with the new TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD comic.Helmed by TRICK ‘R TREAT writer/director Michael Dougherty, with writing by Todd Casey and Zach Shields, the word brings together a collection of unique talent from all across the comic world, each adding a strand to the TRICK ‘R TREAT mythos.
Todd Casey was kind enough to sit with us at SHOCK and talk about his contribution to the soon-to-be-classic comic.
SHOCK: What attracted you to the project?
CASEY: Sam is actually the reason I met Mike a little over ten years ago. I was working in development at Cartoon Network and we brought him in for a general meeting after seeing his short “Season’s Greetings.” We became friends from there and didn’t collaborate on anything until KRAMPUS. When the comic book came up, Mike invited me to write on it and, as a fan of the film, I jumped at the chance.
SHOCK: Why set each story in different time period instead of the one town/one night that was popular for the movie?
CASEY: There’s an economy in shrinking the story to a single location that’s hugely helpful in film, but wasn’t a necessary constraint here. We got a little wide-eyed at the realization we could go anywhere and do anything and really wanted to take full advantage of the comic book medium. The stories are connected thematically and by a framing device, but don’t criss-cross the way the stories in the film did. That’s one of my favorite parts of the film and we had to work a little harder to create a sense of cohesion between these disparate tales so as not to lose that. There’s also a bit of us simply not being able to pick a flavor of ice cream and deciding to have one scoop of each.
SHOCK: Did you do a lot of Halloween research, (i.e traditions, folklore) or just kind of jump into it blind?
CASEY: If you live by the beach, you can’t help but get a tan. And if you spend enough time with Mike Dougherty, you can’t help but absorb arcane Halloween secrets. In terms of the historical periods, we started with what we all knew and didn’t delve into anything that was too unfamiliar. We then did some rough fact checking to make sure we weren’t going to embarrass ourselves. The stories grew out of legends we already knew or things that interested us — like the Red Scare in Hollywood, Native American folklore, Celtic traditions, and our own childhoods in 1980s suburban America.
SHOCK: Why did you choose the graphic novel route instead of doing single issues?
CASEY: To be honest, I’m not sure how that came about, but I’m happy about it. From trying to force comics into the hands of people that don’t read them, I’ve found it’s easier to do so if it’s all in one book. Covers are really what I love most about single issues (and the suspense, I suppose), so I’m pleased that we have a cover for each new story at the start of the chapter. Plus some bonus covers in the back.
SHOCK: Sam seemed to be more ingrained in the backgrounds of the story than really a part of them, was that intentional?
CASEY: Sam doesn’t take a lot of direct action — like lollipoping someone’s throat open – but his magic is at work in every story. We wanted to deepen the overall Sam mythology and give some further insight into what his “code of ethics” (for lack of a better term) is. One of the most surprising things about Sam is that he (stop reading if you haven’t seen TRICK ‘R TREAT and go watch it) doesn’t kill Kreeg in the end. So we know he has some kind of operating system more complex than just binary killing. He has an agenda and a purpose and these stories explore that. The less academic reason is that Mike has a really good Sam story and it’s TRICK ‘R TREAT 2.
SHOCK: Both Fiona Staples and Marc Andreyko have both come back to work on this second installment of the TRICK ‘R TREAT comic line. How did it come about that those two came back?
CASEY: I love Fiona’s work and am friends with Marc, but that decision was all Mike. I tracked Fiona down at Comic Con and shoved a copy of Saga in front of her.
SHOCK: Will this tie into the second movie?
CASEY: At this point I can’t say, partly from lack of information and partly from fear that dispensing the information I do have will result in some painful and ironic death.
SHOCK: You two are also tied to the KRAMPUS project (both comic and movie) out later this year. What can you tell us about it? Whats the story?
CASEY: It’s about a dysfunctional family trying to get through the holidays… while an ancient Christmas demon picks them off one by one. Max (Emjay Anthony) is just a bit too old to believe in Santa, but he won’t let go. He’s been watching his family deteriorating around him and, in Christmas, he sees a chance to call upon supernatural aid to fix the problems he’s powerless to solve. But he gives up a moment too soon and essentially dials the wrong number, summoning KRAMPUS instead. It’s not quite a “horror comedy,” but more of a dark Christmas fairy tale with a sense of humor, which sounds like an overly specific Netflix category. If it was in Netflix category, it’s safe to say “Gremlins” would be right alongside it.
SHOCK: The idea of KRAMPUS has been very popular this year, especially with comics. Are you worried about competition?
CASEY: No, I think we can only help each other. From comics and horror, we know that fans are more than happy to read vampire or Batman or Batman-vampire stories from different creators across different mediums. If nothing else, it’ll really fill out those “You might also like” suggestions on Amazon. From what little I know of the other projects, they are all very, very different, which I think is testament to how broad the Krampus legend is.
SHOCK: Any more comic (or film) works in the future we can look forward to?
CASEY: It’s a ways off, but I’m writing a long-form graphic novel with Noelle Stevenson that’s due in 2017 from HarperCollins. It’s called 4 WIZARDS and, while it’s not without its demons and magic, it’s decidedly more “whimsical” than TRICK ‘R TREAT!
You can order TRICK ‘R TREAT: DAYS OF THE DEAD HERE.