First Comics News: Who are the Ghoul Scouts?
Steve Bryant: The Ghoul Scouts are a group of misfit scouts who find themselves thrown together when their campsite turns out to be at the epicenter of a zombie outbreak.
1st: Let’s go over the cast…
Steve: We had some fun with the standard KidLit archetypes, but tried to change things up a bit, when possible. Trey is the brains of the team, but he’s not nerdy. In fact, in some ways, he’s the most confident and self-aware kid of the bunch.
Claudia is the jock archetype. We thought it would be a fun changeup from the usual kids’ fare where a boy is the best athlete of the group. This is a little awkward for her—not only is she better at sports than the boys she likes, she’s also taller than they are, too! …and we all know how boys that age can be insecure about stuff like that.
Chase is the leader, but not because he’s popular, smart, or charismatic. He’s new to town and has thrown himself into scouting, becoming a junior counsellor. Chase is one of those kids that’s not the best at anything, but is pretty good at everything. He ends up the group leader by almost by default.
Becky’s the pop culture savant of the group—think Hermione, but she’s plugged into Entertainment Weekly instead of magical tomes. And because she knows so much of how monsters are portrayed in pop culture, she’s an invaluable resource as the kids dive deeper into the mysteries surrounding their town.
At first glance, Peyton looks like the typical brooding wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid, but we tried to change things up a bit with him. I don’t want to give too much away…
1st: What is Full Moon Hollow?
Steve: Full Moon Hollow is the setting for the series. The town is the self-provlaimed “Paranormal Capital of the World” and home to weird occurrences and stranger things.
I’m a sucker for quirky TV towns: Twin Peaks, Cicely, Pawnee, Stars Hollow, Eerie, Arlen, Sunnydale, Neptune…and the way that Niagara Falls was portrayed in Wonderfalls. I love how the setting can provide an additional layer of atmosphere and character.
1st: How do you make all-ages, family friendly zombies?
Steve: It’s a delicate balancing act. I had a few rules in mind when I started writing the book: 1) The kids would never encounter anyone they know who’s been turned into a zombie, 2) No child zombies, 3) No on-panel gore/viscera. Mark (Stegbauer, artist/co-creator) understood the tone the instant he came on board. He creates a genuine sense of spookiness with the zombies, without making it so over-the-top as to scare off little kids.
1st: How do you keep the kids’ innocence in a world where they fight zombies?
Steve: Since the book is a coming-of-age story, there will be moments in this series, and subsequent ones, where the kids have to confront harsh realities. But they’re going through it together, so hopefully their optimism and innocence will prevail.
1st: What is planned after the Night of the Unliving Undead?
Steve: We’re already underway on season two, I Was a Tweenage Werewolf. That takes the scouts to the annual Hemlock County Labor Day Weekend Trip at Camp Lake Crystal. It’s a fun story for us, because we have all the relationships in place and now we get to build on them. Plus, Mark gets to draw a werewolf.
1st: Who is Athena Voltaire?
Steve: Athena Voltaire is a 1930s pilot for hire.
1st: How did she become an aviatrix in an era unfriendly to women’s empowerment?
Steve: She’s the daughter of a stage magician and grew up traveling with her father, booking additional shows all along the circuit—with circuses, Wild West shows, air races, whatever. Those events contributed to her varied skill set.
Fiction aside, the early 20th century is filled with interesting stories of aviatrixes: Katherine Stinson, Ruth Bancroft Law, Bessie Coleman, Pancho Barnes and, of course, Amelia Earhart…and plenty more! It’s always fascinating when I do more research on the subject!
1st: How did she begin fighting occult creatures?
Steve: During a job transporting a British S.I.S Agent to Nepal, Athena finds herself pulled into an ancient battle between darkness and light, as she’s recruited by a mysterious organization known as the Brotherhood of Shambalha. The Brotherhood is trying to keep the Nazis, through Hitler’s Thule Society, from gaining entrance to the Hollow Earth and wielding the power of the Vril-Ya, the mysterious super-race who resides there.
1st: Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess is up coming. When is the first issue scheduled?
Steve: The first issue is scheduled for a November release—it’s in the September issue of Previews.
1st: Who is the Volcano Goddess?
Steve: Pele, the volcano goddess, is the most passionate and violent of Hawaii’s gods. According to legend, she had many dalliances, but her greatest love was with a mortal. Upon his death, her lava tears decimated the mountainside. Once cooled, those tears were collected and made into a powerful amulet. That amulet is necessary to pass unharmed through the fires and enter the city of Agharta, in the Hollow Earth.
1st: Why is it up to Athena to stop her?
Steve: The amulet of Pele’s tears has recently come into the possession of Louis Voltaire, Athena’s father. And when interested parties step in to claim the amulet, Athena takes over for her dad.
1st: How many issue are you planning?
Steve: Athena Voltaire and the Volcano Goddess is a 3-issue mini-series. I have the next couple of mini-series plotted out and am looking forward to diving in on them next!