Dept Of Monsterology, The Hardest Course On Campus

Monsterology_01_COVER_webThe Dept. Of Monsterology, a new four-issue mini-series coming from Renegade Entertainment is making its debut this October and is currently in the Previews catalogue for order. The series is about the Departments of Cryptozoology, Mythological Studies, Parapsychology and Fortean Pheonomena at Dunsany College and the teams from each that span the globe to study their subjects. Half Cthulu Mythos and half 70s cult horror, the first issue has the same feel you’d get from the early days of Hellboy.

I got a chance to speak with series creators Gordon Rennie (Writer) and P J Holden (Artist) about their new endeavor.

BLEEDING COOL: After reading the first issue I can see elements of Lovecraftian mythos and Chinese occult folklore and history. To bring both of those to the table in issue one I’m guessing you have quite a knowledge of historical horror. What were your major influences for this series?

GORDON RENNIE: The whole series is really a grab-bag of things I like and am interested in, and that includes everything from classic horror, films, video games and other comics to history, cryptozoology and parapsychology. So we’ve got stuff like Lovecraftian horror, hopping Chinese vampires, astral projection and Tibetan mysticism all running alongside each other.

BC: In the first issue alone you deal with creatures similar to the Deep Ones and a pair of Chinese vampires. Since the series seems to be focus on horror mythos, how much research do you do prior to designing the characters for the series?

PJ HOLDEN: Gordon usually gives me a couple of key phrases and then it’s off to the never-ending research department that is google image search. From there it’s basically filtering out the stuff that most appeals and figuring out ways to draw it that won’t back breaking work. I’m pretty sure, per page, we have the most monsters of any book out there!

BC: The two stories are kind of in different ends of the genre and dealt with by two separate teams. Does each team have their specialty relating to the areas you plan on exploring story wise and what other mythos will you be playing with?

RENNIE: There’s three field teams in the story, each named after a classic pulp fiction character related to their area of expertise. Team Challenger are the experts in Cryptozpology and Cryptogeography – they go looking for lost worlds and the things that live there. Team Carnacki are the experts in Parapsychology and the occult – they’re the ghost-hunters and demon-fighters. The third team is Carter, specialising in UFOlogy and Extraterrestrial Studies….and are the most mysterious team of the story.

BC: We see a world where a steampunk feeling trip to the bottom of the ocean matches with an almost 70’s monster/karate movie. How do you go about making these and whatever other creatures that we’ll see in the series feel like they exist in one cohesive universe?

HOLDEN: I’m hoping just simply me drawing the whole thing will keep a cohesive lid on it! For me, the Monsterology universe isn’t a set of discrete worlds where different types of monsters exist, though, that’s certainly how the “Department of Cryptozoology, Mythological Studies, Parapsychology and Fortean Phenomena” – aka the Dept of Monsterology, views the world. The Monsterology Universe is one big place where all of this stuff is going on and will intermingle. (And, btw, I’m choosing to use the word ‘Universe’ very deliberately here…)

BC: It’s obvious from the amount of set up we see in the first issue that your plans extend past the initial four issue story arc. What is the short term goal for the mini-series and where do you see the project going overall?

RENNIE: This initial mini-series is all about establishing the main characters in the two main teams of Challenger and Carnacki, and the ambience and richness of our universe, where the world is still full of hidden, secret places and the things that lurk there. There’s also a fairly considerable amount of backstory worked about – about some of the characters and their hidden motivations and agendas, about the history of the Department itself and the mysterious Hampton Foundation that funds it, and especially about the elusive Team Carter and where they are and what happened to then – that will be revealed in any further stories we do.

BC: Having already done humanoid sea-creatures and Asian undead, what are some of the upcoming creatures you are most exited to draw?

HOLDEN: Well, there’s the [REDACTED] clones of [REDACTED] who’ve been grafted to [REDACTED] and then the man-eating-[REDACTED] will be just a hoot to draw! But, primarily, I’m looking forward to exploring Team Carter – a team missing from this run of Monsterology (and one of the on-going mysteries of the book). It’s going to be enormous fun finding out what happened to them, and exactly what they’ve been dealing with in the deepest, darkest part of space…

The Dept. Of Monsterology is available for order now through the Previews Catalogue using the code AUG131432.

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