Many people know and love Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books. But there are so many books in the universe that, for readers who are unfamiliar with the series, it feels impossible to get started without feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, here’s your chance now: Derek Landy is here with the first graphic novel in the universe, Bad Magic, and it serves as a splendid introduction to the world. And with that many bestselling books + some Marvel experience under his belt, you know Derek Landy knows how to tell his stories right. We are incredibly honoured to have him here today to chat about why he decided to tell this story in graphic novel form:
When did you first have the idea of creating a graphic novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant universe?
I’ve had this need to expand the Skulduggery stories into a graphic novel format since practically the beginning — the only problem was that I didn’t have a clue how to go about it. I love comics, but I’d never written one, and just when I was thinking it would never happen I started writing for Marvel, which renewed my enthusiasm for the idea. Suddenly I knew what I was doing! More or less.
Do you expect the target audience for Bad Magic to be different from your usual audience?
I expect it to be ever-so-slightly broader. I reckon a lot of the Skulduggery readers will be open to reading the graphic novel, but I’m hoping this will also appeal to those folks out there who’ve never picked up one of my books. It’s definitely intended to work for both sets of readers.
While this is a standalone, with that many books in the universe, how did you decide what info readers would need to understand what’s going on?
That was the tricky part. Originally, the story was going to be pretty intertwined with the book series, but then it shifted to, essentially, a monster movie where innocent people are being killed in this small Irish town. Once that change occurred, I realised we don’t need a crash course in the world or the lore or the rules of the world. It’s largely told from the point of view of an ordinary teenager, so we get to encounter the horror and the monsters as he does, and then we get to meet Skulduggery Pleasant and Valkyrie Cain when they arrive to, hopefully, save the day.
For those who are new to your work, is the story in Bad Magic any different from your usual fiction? And why did you choose to tell this particular story in graphic novel form?
Every so often I get to tell a Skulduggery Pleasant story that isn’t from Valkyrie’s point of view — which allows the readers to, almost, experience it all for the first time. Bad Magic is one of the purest examples of this approach, and so I allowed myself to strip it all back to its bare essentials: monsters are killing teenagers in a quiet, conservative little town. The good guys arrive. Things are not quite what they seem. Chaos ensues.
What was the most difficult part in telling this story in graphic novel form?
Giving up the level of control I usually exert over all things Skulduggery…! With the novels, I’m in charge, and it’s one hundred percent my vision. With Bad Magic, I’m suddenly working as part of a team. PJ interprets my storytelling through HIS storytelling. His storytelling is then amplified by the colours and the flow of the story is guided by the letters.
Please share with us the process of working with PJ Holden, Matt Soffe, Rob Jones and Pye Parr.
It’s been great! The hardest part is giving up total control of the story: the easiest part is giving up total control of the story! Suddenly I’m part of a team where I send off the script, I get the rough thumbnails, I give the occasional note, and then I get the inked artwork! PJ drew this digitally so if there were any little changes to make he could go back and adjust if necessary (although I tried not to ask him to do that too often…!)
Then Matt’s colours were added to the mix which gives the artwork such depth and atmosphere, and Rob’s letters come in to direct the eye in each panel. All overseen by the wonderful Pye Parr!
How is the experience different from when you write comics for Marvel?
With Marvel, I’m very much the novice, and I’m trying to learn as much as possible and not bug my editors with stupid questions. But because Bad Magic was, essentially, the first graphic novel my publisher has worked on, I’ve had to take all those lessons I’ve learned and pass them on. It’s been a very weird journey to go from novice to expert, depending on who I’m talking to…
What’s next for the graphic novel series? Would it develop as an independent series or would you bring in more characters and elements from the Skulduggery universe?
I’d like the graphic novels to be their own thing, though obviously existing within the book series. If I get my way, readers who love comics will be able to just read the graphic novels if that’s what they’re into, and they won’t feel like they’re missing out. But certain familiar themes will start to pop up in those panels and, hopefully, some familiar faces…