First Comics News: Where did the idea for “Malefic” come from?
Dan Schaffer: You know those Beverly Hills therapist types who treat Hollywood’s A-list? The therapists to the stars? I wondered what it would be like to be a therapist to evil – someone who treats the world’s most dangerous, violent, supernatural mass murderers. So, it’s a monster of the week story but in a therapy setting and every patient is like some kind of horror movie icon.
1st: Who is Doctor Evelyn Freust?
Dan: She’s a disgraced shrink who’s suspiciously amoral but gets a chance to save her career when she finds herself in a situation where a distinct lack of morals is a job requirement. She’s not a regular heroic protagonist, she comes up short in a lot of ways and she’s constantly daring you to judge her.
1st: The story does have lots of mystery to it is this on purpose?
Dan: In each issue, Freust unravels the psychology of a new inmate and uncovers secrets about the asylum so there’s a mystery element to the story. She’s also uncovering the mystery of herself, trying to find out if she’s good, evil, insane, or something else, and learning to come to terms with her true nature.
1st: Where does the story in “Malefic” take place?
Dan: In a creepy old asylum called The Pit. It’s in the middle of a swamp and home to a smorgasbord of supernaturally insane psychos and deviants.
1st: What do you think of David Miller’s art?
Dan: It’s brilliantly unhinged and a touch expressionistic, which is perfect for this story. His dynamic character drawings are a lot of fun and exist in a heightened, high-tempo reality which allows us to touch on serious ideas but in a fun, feverish kind of way.
1st: Why is this comic book in black and white?
Dan: It’s my favourite format but it seemed like a good choice for this story anyway. I think 1First Comics were originally going to do it in colour but when we saw David’s paint wash style, everyone agreed that was the way to go.
1st: What kind of patients does Doctor Freust treat?
Dan: The Inmates are all violent murderers with paranormal abilities. One of them has an alternative identity disorder that manifests like a demonic possession, another suffers from psychic schizophrenia that makes him hear voices in other people’s heads. Another one is a telekinetic time bomb. Its Freust’s job to figure out how to treat these inmates with her wacky fringe science.
1st: Any chance of “Malefic” continuing after the eight issues?
Dan: That all depends on the guys with the money, sir. There’s a lot more story to tell if anyone wants it.
1st: You created “Dogwitch” what did you like best about this comic series?
Dan: It was nice to have an indie hit right out the gate, that’s for sure. And I’m proud that I managed to find a way to satirize tits-and-ass comics back during a time when there was a lot of pressure to create an actual tits-and-ass comic. It was that kind of friction that fuelled the feminist undertones and themes in that story and made it pop the way it did, I think.
1st: Why is “White” a comic people should read?
Dan: ‘Cause everyone likes scary shark stories! And I had nightmares writing that one, so I want my sleepless nights to have been worthwhile. Also, it’s factually accurate in terms of shark conservation so, if you read it, you learn stuff too.
1st: You write, pencil, ink, color, and letter, do you prefer having others do some of the jobs or do you want to do it all?
Dan: It just depends on the job, the budget, and who’s paying. Right now, I’m on three separate projects as a writer only, working with artists David Miller, Vince Locke (who was the artist on HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) and Craig Cermak (who did RED TEAM with Garth Ennis). When you’re working with that kind of talent it kind of puts you off picking up a pencil! But I will probably get back to the art again sometime soon.
1st: So, would you make a better patient or doctor at the Pit asylum in “Malefic”?
Dan: Like Freust, I belong on both sides of the bars.
1st: Any last words for all the fans of your work?
Dan: Thanks for your continued support. I wrote MALEFIC for all the DOGWITCH readers, so I hope you wonderful bastards like it. Follow my Facebook or Twitter for extra info and behind the scenes stuff. @danschaf