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JODY HOUSER TALKS STRANGER THINGS

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

Stranger Things has expanded outside of Netflix and into comics in a couple of mini-series from Dark Horse Comics. Two have been published so far, including the recently wrapped up Stranger Things: Six, which introduces us to other characters in Hawkins Laboratory. A third series is on the way, adding to this universe and exploring new areas not seen in the TV series. I caught up with writer Jody Houser about these projects and how she tackles working on a property like this.

James Ferguson: I will admit that I'm a little behind on Stranger Things, as I haven't seen the latest season, so I don't know if Six makes an appearance or not. Is she only in the comics?

Jody Houser: Yes, she was conceived specifically for this mini-series. Netflix and the Stranger Things team gave me a lot of free reign to create new kids because it's not just kids. There's also Three, Nine, and Control (aka Nine Point Five). I had a lot of fun playing with new kids and new powers. Obviously no one is as powerful as Eleven, as she was the best product of the Hawkins Lab. These kids are coming from different places, so we see how they fit or didn't fit into the lab and why they maybe wanted to leave.

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JF: Did you have a set of powers that you got to choose from?

JH: It basically all came from me. I pulled from things like Firestarter. We already know a lot of the DNA that goes into Stranger Things, so I looked at some of those classic novels and movies that have influenced it. I looked at some of those as well as my own favorites, including the writer William Slater, who wrote a lot of sci-fi and horror stuff for kids back in the '70s and '80s. I tried to keep it as close to the core influences of the show and keep that consistent feel going through the comic.

JF: The comic bounces back and forth between the present and the past, or depending on how you look at it, the past and the further past. How did you decide to use that as a storytelling mechanism? It is very powerful to see how the two time periods mirror each other in Francine's life.

JH: The first mini-series, The Other Side, I looked very much towards the Chris Claremont X-Men era with very descriptive narrative captions and a lot of thought bubbles. For Six, I went a little bit more to Alan Moore in, say, The Killing Joke, where he used those mirroring panels to transition between past and present. I try to bring different '80s comic influences if I can. I wanted to play with framing between the past and the present mirroring each other, but maybe the facial expression has changed because she's not as happy as she once was. I've always really admired that storytelling technique that Moore worked with. That was one of the first comics I read where I felt like I had a good grasp as to what the medium could do in terms of storytelling.

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JF: Being that this is a TV tie-in, is there a chance that these characters could show up there?

JH: It's always a really cool thing to see characters you created in one medium appear in another. I had that happen with Orphan Black. That's sort of what working on a project like this is. It's about being a part of a larger storytelling universe. You're pulling threads from them and maybe they're doing the same back at you.

JF: With two Stranger Things mini-series under your belt, is there more to come?

JH: The next mini-series is called Into the Fire and the first issue launches January 8th, 2020. If you liked Stranger Things: Six, check that out.

Stranger Things: The Other Side and Stranger Things: Six from Dark Horse Comics are currently available. Horror DNA would like to thank Jody Houser for taking the time to speak with us.

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About The Author
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Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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