Midtown Comics recently had the chance to interview Keith Davidsen on his new Re-Animator series coming out via Dynamite Comics this April! Dynamite will present H.P Lovecraft’s notorious mad scientist, in a fear-fraught four-issue miniseries!  Take what you love best about the television shows “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead”, throw in Cthulhu tentacle terror and backwater Louisianan superstition, and you have the all-new horror comic hit of 2015! Read on for the entire interview below!

Midtown: “Reanimator focuses on Dr. Herbert West, a notorious mad scientist. What other mad scientists drew inspiration for you when writing this character?”

Keith: “The inspiration for the new REANIMATOR comic book series largely came from the source material, as well as the other writings of H.P. Lovecraft.  The original Herbert West, Reanimator is a very intimate exploration of one man’s mania, and I wanted this new project to be faithful to the classic tale.

Thankfully, for those new readers who haven’t experienced Lovecraft before, I think they’ll find that REANIMATOR feels familiar simply because the mad scientist concept is ubiquitous in our culture.  They’re prevalent in cartoons, comic books, novels, comedies, and horror films.  Dexter’s Laboratory, Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau, the wild-eyed scientist from Robot Chicken, Dr. Mindbender from G.I. Joe, Dr. Doom… we know them well.

I’ll admit that there’s a hint of BREAKING BAD thrown into the mix, too — if you can consider meth-manufacturing Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg) to be a mad scientist.  In our REANIMATOR storyline, Herbert West funds his research by selling zombie brain fluid as a narcotic… and chaos ensues.”

Midtown: “Is Dr. Herbert West a hero or a villian? Or a classic anti-hero? Do you think fans will be rooting for him when reading this series?”

Keith: “Great question!  The very first thing I came up with when writing REANIMATOR was the tag line: “Good. Evil. Such storybook notions are beneath Herbert West. He is a Man of Science. He is… the Reanimator.” He operates outside the moral boundaries of other people, which will present something of a mystery for Susan Greene, the young woman we’re introducing as West’s new assistant. While she accepts that he performs unorthodox and illegal experiments, she’ll discover that he’s keeping a secret from her… and solving that mystery will determine his role as either hero or villain.

Will fans roots for the Reanimator? I hope so! Regardless of his morality, he’s still the central figure in the story, and we’re going to see him face off against some pretty formidable opponents over the course of the series. Right from the start, West’s scientific pursuits will be upsetting the balance of power between two rival organizations in New Orleans – one aligned with Elder Gods, the other with Louisiana Voodoo. Tentacle monsters, zombies, colorful hitmen, cultists… West will have his hands full.”

Midtown: “What’s it been like working on this series? Were you inspired by classic horror stories?”

Keith: “As I mentioned above, the many works of H.P. Lovecraft were a huge influence on the new story.  Aside from reading Herbert West, Reanimator dozens of times over, I delved into The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Rats in the Walls, and many more terror tales. Several concepts specifically from The Call of Cthulhu — including the squid-faced Elder God himself — will take shape in the comic book series in one ghastly form or another. It’s my hope that Lovecraft fans will see many parallels in characterization, atmosphere, and language when comparing the comic to the prose.”

Midtown: “What’s been your favorite part of working on this new series?”

Keith: “I’m a continuity buff, so contributing to the larger Dynamite landscape is quite a thrill. Herbert West had previously appeared in crossovers with Ash Williams (of Army of Darkness fame), and as part of the far-reaching Prophecy event (which counted Vampirella, Red Sonja, Dracula, Athena, Pantha, and more among its cast), so he already exists against a colorful backdrop of characters. When I first proposed the REANIMATOR project, I not only wanted to give the mad doctor a chance to meet his untapped potential, but also to introduce a host of new villains which — if they survive the Reanimator’s machinations — could make future appearances in other Dynamite titles.”

Midtown: “The artwork by Randy Valiante looks incredible. Was it what you imagined when writing the series?”

Keith: “I’ve been delighted whenever Randy turns in a batch of pencils or inks. He’s got a lot of love for the genre, and it shows. There are panels that are downright creepy, and he brings a great sense of tension to the story. As I write scripts, I keep trying to toss more blood and guts, more eerie ambiance his way.

It’s funny that you ask, “Was is what you imagined?” Years ago, when I first started writing comics, I had very distinct impressions of what would appear on the comic page, and would frequently freak out when an artist turned in work that looked completely different. It was a very valuable comic-writing lesson to learn: unless you’re a rare talent who can both write and draw, you’re just going to have let go. There’s no single way to tell the story; toss out any expectations, and trust the artists. Getting to that place of zen was a struggle at first, but I’ve never been let down since. In fact, more often than not, I’m blown away by what artists like Randy bring to the table, the sheer level of detail and skillful composition.”

Midtown: “What are you most excited to show your fans in this new series? What can they look forward to?”

Keith: “I can’t wait for fans to reach each of the twists and turns as the series progresses. Herbert West has a wicked genius; he’s always up to something. As he’s challenged by powerful supernatural forces, he’s going to respond in some really mind-blowing ways.  This is a character who spits in the face of Mother Nature, who builds inhuman abominations and raises the dead. Even when some enemy thinks they’ve got him backed into a corner, you’d better believe he’s got unanticipated schemes in play.  The only question is, in true Lovecraftian fashion, will the Reanimator or his assistant Susan Greene be able to survive what they unleash?”

 

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