GlobalComix Exclusive: Unleash Your Inner Monster with Monster Forge’s Halloween Spectacle – gHosts #1!

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| October 28, 2023

Veterans of the comic book industry, Shannon Eric Denton, David Hartman, Cullen Bunn, and Kristen Fitzner Denton, have come together with  talented friends Rodney Barnes, David Dastmalchian, Vamp and Chynna Clugston Flores to bring us a special seasonal treat this Halloween with Ghosts! Check it now over at https://globalcomix.com/c/ghosts

GlobalComix Exclusive: Monster Forge Halloween Special: gHosts #1

When 5 kids go missing in Kansas City in 1975, it’s up to Nita Hawes to solve the mystery many years later when a mysterious VHS tape arrives in her mailbox. 

Images features characters from the comic with the words Ghosts across the front
Ghosts Comic Cover

Ghosts tickled my inner child’s heart as it taps into those beloved movies and shows such as IT, The Goonies, and even Stranger Things; The kind with kids on bikes exploring places in their hometowns that shouldn’t be exploring and dabbling in the not-to-be-dabbled-with. The explored place is an abandoned video store with a VHS tape that holds more secrets than just terrible picture quality! It is the key to another dimension featuring a ghoulish group of horror hosts! It’s a great throwback for those who remember the old horror and low-budget B-movies of yesteryear featuring the likes of Elvira and Svengoolie. Ghosts has its own versions brought to you by a gaggle of comic book creators… welcome Vamp, Uncle Monster, Count Crowley, Doctor Fearless, Desdemona, and Ms. Halloween as your hosts for this mystery…

A line up of the Ghosts in the story
Your GHosts for the evening

Fans of Monster Forge and Dark Horse Comics may notice some crossovers! Characters such as Rodney Barnes’s Nita Hawkes is taking a break from Killadelphia to be our lead investigator! Count Crowley from David Dastmalchian’s Count Crowleys: Reluctant Midnight Monster and Cullen Bunn’s Desdemona from ShockShop come to say hi on the pages, too! Chynna Clugston Flores and Vamp also lend characters to the lineup to make a full house of horrors! Read it for yourself here!

Nita Hawes from Killadelphia, Desdemona from ShockShop, and Count Crowley from Reluctant Midnight Monster Hunter

I read through Ghosts a few times because I didn’t want to miss any of the details! Although a relatively quick read, it is packed with a story that bounces from place to place, past to present,, and dimension to dimension in within 40 pages. This could be confusing to keep up with, but the experience of veteran writers like Shannon Eric Denton and Cullen Bunn shows as they expertly make decisions that keep the plot moving and maintain the story’s momentum. Combined with the clean and easy-to-navigate artwork by the legendary David Hartman, the story felt full but to the point all the way to its satisfying conclusion. 

Beyond the story, I was just fascinated by the epic collaboration that brought Ghosts to life… Or back from the dead… Or something. I just had to scoop some brains on the matter! Lucky for me (and you!) I spoke to one of the writers on the project and a friend of CouchSoup, Shannon Eric Denton! 

Maria: Hey Shannon! Thanks for chatting with us! To start, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in Ghosts.

Shannon: I’m the founder of Monster Forge Productions and my role on Ghosts was basically head cheerleader and organizer. I wrote the comic’s story and my buddy Cullen Bunn did the dialogue. David Hartman did the fantastic art and everyone involved contributed their characters and their insight. It started as I had this circle of friends who all liked monsters, spooky stuff, and especially this time of year. They didn’t all necessarily know each other, so I wanted to find a good excuse for us all to work on something together. That is how this came about.

Maria: When “making monsters” all year round, what excited you about making this Halloween special?

Shannon:  It’s Halloween all year round for most of us in this group, but we really get into it this time of year. I know Vamp and Dastmalchian are making appearances just nonstop all through October, so I think it was a great way to give some love back to a holiday that gave a lot to us in our youth and shaped a lot of who we are.   

Maria: I noticed a crossover with the Ghosts, such as Count Crowley and Uncle Monster, from different creators stepping into this comic. How did this collaboration/crossover come about? 

Shannon: Again, it was working with people that I wanted to work with and then basically pitching them the idea. Once they agreed to let us use their characters in the story, it was a pretty easy, collaborative process. We are all reading each other’s comics and all aware of each other’s characters, but finding a story that made sense for everyone involved was a challenge. Luckily the magic of Halloween was a good way to get us there. 

Maria: Can it be a little bit tricky working with so many other veteran creators on one project?

Shannon: Yes and No. Making sure everybody’s creation got a moment to shine and work within the page count, was a process but  the collaboration  was pretty seamless.. I think working during the pandemic, , a lot of us had gotten used to collaborating from afar so it went really well. 

Maria: That’s really good! I can understand sometimes, with egos and people wanting their characters to be at the forefront and the feeling that someone is being overshadowed by another character, so it’s good that you had a good mix. 

Shannon: If anything, it was me, on my end, wanting to make sure that the story was respectful to the characters and everyone was given the screen time that they deserved. but as far as my co-workers on this project, I couldn’t be more thrilled. We are all friends, so that makes it all the more enjoyable to make a thing together.  

Maria: I felt a lot of nostalgia for movies and shows such as IT, Tails from the Crypt Keeper, and, of course, the old-time Horror hosts… Were there any other inspirations you had when making GHosts?

Shannon: I think you just hit on it. It was those old horror movies, the stuff of our youth. The horror hosts who were showing us stuff from way before we were around, but we didn’t know any better. You know, I think a lot of us grew up wherever we were having our own regional horror hosts. Hosts like the great Svengoolie and Elvira. Dastmalchian has his Dr. Fearless character and  stories with Count Crowley… Cullen has Desdemona and Chynna and I have our Ms. Halloween. Vamp is a horror host! So there was a lot of love for the art form of being a horror host and the profession mixed in with all of us watching Spielberg movies growing up. Now I’m watching Stranger Things with my family, so it’s trying to tap into that nostalgia without it being locked in amber and make it new for the audience reading our book. 

Maria: Absolutely! As soon as I saw the first page, I saw the 5 kids in Kansas City on bikes exploring their hometown. I was like, this is just IT and Stranger Things, Goonies, and it just has that whole feel. The whole idea of going to the abandoned video store… I felt there was so much of it that just touched on the kid in me, and it felt acknowledged in a way. 

Shannon: David Dastmalchian, Cullen Bunn, and myself for a while lived in the Kansas/Missouri/Midwest. My dad was military, so I lived everywhere, but I lived in those places around the age those kids were, so we decided to pick that as our setting, not only because it felt like the middle of America but because it was our childhood. Same for Rodney and his character of Nita being from the East coast. So it was a lot easier to tap into that memory that’s distant and near all at the same time.

Maria: The comic (Ghosts) is really interesting. I read through it a few times just to take it all in because there was so much going on. It bounces around a bit. It starts off in Kansas City and then to the modern day, so I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what was going on because it does have four acts. It is definitely something I was more surprised that I enjoyed as much as I did.    

Shannon: It’s always a challenge, like, here is the story, and we have limited real estate (page count). It would have been nice, but it wouldn’t have worked with our schedules to do a 6 issue series with the whole journey from the East coast to Kansas. We could have done things happening on the road trip, but it was like, these are the moments we needed to have to make the story work so we concentrated on those.

Maria: I noticed there is a little easter egg in there where you guys have the stores, and you have your names on the top of them. I love little things like that. Being an artist, I do things like that myself where I will put stuff in so the more you look, the more you find, so when I started reading the comic book, I started looking in the background to see if I could notice any little bits in the background because there was so much in there that just made it interesting to look through. 

Shannon: It was for us, too. David Hartman is great at sneaking stuff like that in. You will be getting pages back from him and there would be those nice surprises. So, some of it was called for, and some of it was just him doing his part of the craft.

Maria: So what was the choice behind the art style you went with? It gave me kind of a Scooby-Doo vibe. I have seen some of the other artwork that the artist (David Hartman) does, and it differs a bit from his usual style. It has more of a webcomic feel to it.

Shannon: David is a force of nature when he draws. I’ve worked with him as a director and storyboard artist, and he’s done a lot of comics. He’s done so much work for Rob Zombie (he did the art for a Rob Zombie concert this week in fact). We just turned Dave loose, and we are all very happy with what we got back. 

Maria: I feel like a lot happens in this issue, but the story feels pretty contained and wrapped in the end. I loved the ending!! Is this going to be an ongoing series with recurring characters and crossovers? 

Shannon: There are going to be more specials. Everybody had a lot of fun, and we are really happy that people are enjoying it, so there is a plan for more Halloween specials and stuff along the way. We’re doing a ZOOP crowdfunder now for the print edition after all the demand. We built it to be self-constrained, but we also have been doing this for a while, so we did it in a way that there are ideas for future stuff. It will probably be some of the same creators, rotating in different ones…introducing more friends to other friends.  I think now that we have shown everybody how much fun we had, we have had a lot of other friends saying that they want to be a part of the next one… So I think it will be even bigger for the next one. 

Maria: That was one of the things I was kinda wondering because of the ghost hosts. Will it be characters coming back or a completely new story like a Tails of the Crypt type thing? 

Shannon: Yeah, I think it will be when we have the perfect story and collaborators; it will dictate the how of it!   

Maria: It’s kind of a short and sweet little package. It was really fun! Thank you for making that.

Shannon: Thank you! From all of us! They used to make annuals for comics that had importance in the history of the characters. They weren’t a throwaway. They were pivotal. I think all of us remembered those as kids and wanted this to have some meat to it despite it having a relatively short “run time”. 

Maria: And going back to the nostalgic vibe of it with the VHS store, I was like, would kids these days even know what a VHS store is? So I thought that even though this comic is focused more towards kids and young readers, it’s definitely for people our age that just have that tickled nostalgia and kinda want to go back to my childhood (laughs)

Shannon: (laughs) Ah, the video store!  Such a magic period in entertainment. We figured only people of a certain age would get that there was a video store that was going out of business because a newer video store was opening across the street. I think it’s fun now to see all the nostalgia for Blockbuster… For the longest time, they were the Starbucks going in and opening up across from the mom-and-pop shops and shutting them down. Anyhow, we’re hoping Stranger Things did some of the ground work for us and all of this stuff can be appreciated by audiences old and new.

Maria: And the whole horror host ghosts and such, kids wouldn’t really know about those and how cheesy it was, but they were icons of our youth, so it was a nice project to read. It tickled my heart.

Shannon: That’s good! I’ll tell everybody! They will be excited to hear that! 

Maria: You’re the co-founder of Monster Forge. Tell us a bit about Monster Forge and why you chose to exclusively focus on monsters.

Shannon: Yeah! When we launched the company, we wanted everyone to know we were very genre-forward. We were pretty clear in our original press release that, you know, Mandalorian features a lot of monsters; the Minions movie has monsters in it. It was our way of saying that if it’s fantasy and Sci-Fi or something along those lines, then it falls within our interests. Monsters are a very beloved and wide category as far as we’re concerned. I’ve always loved monsters since childhood, so if I’m going to be doing something, I want to be making the kinds of things I love to make with people I love to make things with, so that’s sort of how we got to here. 

Maria: Do you have anything else coming up at Monster Forge that you would like to tease with? 

Shannon: Yeah! We have Monster Born coming out from Dark Horse. That will be out in December, and we are excited about that. Some fantastic art by Tom Mandrake on that. The print edition gHosts will be crowdfunded through Zoop, so keep an eye out for that! Monster Forge has Kingdom Riders coming soon from IDW! We also have more comics coming after Monster Born that haven’t been announced yet, but Dave Hartman already has all the artwork done, so if you love this, you will love what he did on the other stuff. It will be announced soon.

Maria: Thanks, Shannon. This has been really fun!

Shannon: Thank you!

It was awesome talking with Shannon about his work and the work of everybody on this project. We thank all the creators for bringing us this special. Be sure to check them all out and give them your support!

You can read Ghosts now over at https://globalcomix.com/c/ghosts/chapters/en/1/1/1 with the option to download a PDF for less than a dollar or get a physical copy of Ghosts over at Zoop when the crowdfunding campaign starts. Make sure to sign up to get notified of its launch. 

Check out some other projects coming your way from Shannon and the team at the links below:

Kingdom Riders: https://www.cbr.com/idw-kingdom-riders-hunger-games-pokemon-fantasy-world/

Monster Born: https://www.dreadcentral.com/news/459758/monster-born-get-an-exclusive-look-at-steve-niles-and-shannon-eric-dentons-new-supernatural-graphic-novel/

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