I’m fortunate to have become friends with Tom several years ago, and I’m not only impressed with his continual creativity and talent, but also that he is one of the nicest guys in the entire world. And I’m not the only one who thinks it. No less than Mike Mignola and Jeff Smith have turned to Tom on more than one occasion to tell stories in the Mignolaverse and Bonesville, respectively.
Tom reunites with Hellboy/BPRD creator Mike Mignola on their latest project, a tremendously entertaining love letter to the pulp genre, Grim Death and Bill The Electrocuted Criminal.
The esteemed Mr. Sniegoski took some time out of his busy schedule of worshiping his French Bulldog, Kirby, to discuss his latest project.
* * * * *
FOG!: You’ve collaborated with Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola on a BPRD comic book limited series and you also wrote both a Hellboy novel and the Lobster Johnson novel. This is your first solo collaboration with just Mike. Did he pitch you on the idea, or did you develop it together?
Tom Sniegoski: It was a little of both. Mike reached out to me one weekend, saying that he wanted to talk about an idea that he thought that only I could do something with . . . which was incredibly flattering. I called him that next week and he told me idea, which wasn’t all that developed, more like a title, and a series of images. He asked what I might do with that and I told him that I’d get back to him. A few weeks later I had a basic concept which I then ran by him. We tweaked the idea together and he told me to go away, write up a pitch and try to sell it. And I did.
You’ve written comics which is a collaborative process and in prose you’ve collaborated several times with Chris Golden and now with Mike. What do you enjoy about the collaborative process? Compared to writing your solo work, do you find co-writing liberating or restrictive?
Co-writing is a very different animal. With co-writing a novel there’s–of course—far more collaboration. You need to speak with the person you’re working with to get their take on certain things.
The fun thing with collaboration is that get to try to top the other person. You’re sitting there, reading their next section and you’re like . . . “Crap! How do I follow this??!”
But that’s where fun comes in, you rub your hands together and hopefully the next section you write does the exact same thing to the other guy when you send it to them.
It’s a fun game of, can you top this!
What is the premise of Grim Death and Bill The Electrocuted Criminal?
Grim Death is the story of Bentley Hawthorne, the sickly child of wealthy parents who would do anything to make their child well. It is the disturbing decision that they make—to trap death itself and prevent their child from dying—that dooms them, and transforms Bentley into something unnatural . . . a servant of death, an avatar . . . a Grim Death.
There’s more to it then that, but I don’t want to give too much away. Let’s just say that Mike and I are HUGE fans of the old time Pulp characters—The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, etc.
Although the book isn’t connected to any of Mike’s other works, the novel definitely feels like it’s a part of the Mignolaverse. Was there any sequence or character that you were especially excited to write?
I really loved how quickly all the characters came together in my head. I could hear their voices perfectly clear, as well as knowing exactly what they would do in the given situations.
The character of Bentley Hawthorne/Grim Death was REALLY fun to write, but combining him with his manservant, Pym, and then the fireworks started.
Any plans for a second volume of Grim Death and Bill The Electrocuted Criminal?
Would LOVE to do more. It’s all up to the sales, and what the folks over at St. Martin’s Press have to say. I could see Mike and I doing many Grim Death adventures if folks wanted.
What do you have coming up?
Right now I’m working on this amazing, all ages book which combines traditional prose, with comic book storytelling to create this strange hybrid of a book. I can’t give the title away yet because it hasn’t been announced yet by the publisher Insight Editions. I’m writing it with artist, Tom McWeeney and it’s based loosely on my nasty little French bulldog and his attempts to conquer the world. I think it’s going to be an absolute blast!