Ron Chaney Talks New ‘London After Midnight’ And ‘Curse of the Wolf Man’ Comics
Guess who has a special treat for you, Blood Babes? It’s me… I have the treat. Anyway, as you may have heard, last Halloween the news broke that not only were we getting a graphic novel adaptation of the infamous lost silent film London After Midnight, but also a comic book sequel to 1941’s The Wolf Man, titled Curse of the Wolf Man!
Now, yours truly is bringing the inside scoop on these tales of terror! Rights owner Ron Chaney, familiar face Dirk Manning, and writer Josh Werner were kind enough to answer a few questions I’ve thrown their way. Before we get to the blood and guts, though, let’s get everyone on the same page in this grimoire.
London After Midnight is a lost film starring Lon Chaney Sr.—Ron Chaney’s grandfather—as a very unpunctual vampire stalking the foggy streets of London. Unfortunately, the last known prints of the films were destroyed in the 1965 MGM vault fire, and, like so many other classics, it’s been lost ever since.
Curse of the Wolfman originates from the mind of Ron Chaney himself, wanting to make a sequel to his father’s (Lon Chaney Jr.) breakout feature, The Wolf Man. Other than that, I know just as much about it as you do, but I hear… and keep this under your hat… that it has a Wolf Man in it. Between you and me, okay?
With all that said, let’s see what the gang has to say!
Dread Central: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk about these projects! I’ve been a huge fan of classic monster films starring actors such as the Chaneys since I was a kid. How does it feel to be working with these properties?
Dirk Manning: As a horror fan, to say that this is a dream come true doesn’t even do this justice. It’s really like a fantasy come true. Like many, I’ve always hoped that someday, somehow, someone would find a lost print of London After Midnight… but now we’re going to get a full graphic novel adaptation based directly on the film script itself, adapted by me and fully illustrated by Marianna Pescosta, a Ringo Award-nominated illustrator! It’s a fantasy come true but also an honor that I take very seriously.
Josh Werner: It feels absolutely incredible, almost impossible to describe. I am a massive fan of classic monster films, with 1941’s The Wolf Man amongst my top favorites. Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal of this character is iconic and truly unmatched. I feel honored to be adapting Curse of the Wolf Man into a graphic novel with artist Stan Yak and colorist Colin Johnson. I’m over the moon! A very full moon.
DC: How did these projects come about? Who’s idea was it to go this route?
Ron Chaney: I was contacted by George Vlahakis of Majik Ninja Entertainment through email about getting a license on some products. George lives in Michigan, and I was heading there for the premier of our musical stage play A Thousand Faces. We met at the hotel I was staying at, and he showed me some products that were created for the band—Twiztid—he represents. He also gave me a copy of Twiztid Haunted High-Ons: The Curse of the Green Book comic book. I liked the art and style, and he also stated the guys at Source Point Press were great to work with. I had considered this avenue previously, as I had several scripts that my grandfather created and some of my own that were never produced, and I thought this would be a great medium for getting them out there.
Well, George introduced me to Dirk Manning, then Josh Werner, and we all hit it off. They were big fans of my family and excited about the possibilities. I wasn’t sure if they’d even like them, so I said to read them first. They did, and here we are. I truly hope the fans will enjoy them as well.
DC: Chaney Entertainment has a huge library of stories and properties under their name. Why did you choose London After Midnight and Curse of the Wolf Man to start with?
DM: As I was discussing with Ron about what projects to start with, London After Midnight was pretty high on my list… for obvious reasons – it’s a lost classic that fans have wanted a true full adaptation of for decades! Then, literally in passing, Ron happened to mention that he had a script for Curse of the Wolf Man on hand too, and I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… what?!?” I knew that Source Point Press Editor-in-Chief Josh Werner is a huge Wolf Man fan… and given that it’s also a legacy character, well, it seemed like an obvious direction to go in for our first two books.
JW: Coming out the gate with such strong, recognizable characters is such a great way to grab the attention of all the monster fans out there. But there is no doubt more to come from this partnership with Chaney Entertainment. What a great match we are!
RC: I initially sent a Western horror script titled Phantom Rider that I thought would make a cool graphic novel and mentioned my grandfather’s scripts that I have in the Chaney Archives. In our conversation, I also mentioned London After Midnight and Curse of the Wolf Man that I had written. Dirk seemed very interested in the latter two, being prominent Chaney films and characters, and decided to start with them.
London After Midnight came to me when I, like so many others, would have loved to see the lost original film. So I decided to recreate it by using the original script, some parts from two earlier drafts by Tod Browning and incorporating parts of the novel, then writing new scenes to tie it all together. The original film left many aspects of the story out and was confusing to audiences as a silent film in 1927. My intent was to leave all the original scenes in and add elements from the novel to flush out the overall story. Then extract all the original scenes in post, convert them to B&W, add title cards and score it with the original music composed for the film, thereby creating two films: One a silent film for historic purposes and the second version for a modern audience. The second version using this script would be for a talking color recreation with the complete storyline and a new score.
DC: Are these going to be direct scene-by-scene adaptations of the screenplays, or are you going to take some liberties with these stories?
DM: As Special Projects Manager at Source Point Press, I have a very specific policy when working with our partners on projects like this: “Nothing about you without you.” That is to say, Ron will be approving everything every step of the way, and it’s my intention to honor the script provided as directly as possible. My job, as I see it, is to faithfully adapt this script… with illustrator Marianna Pescosta and editor Drena Jo assisting in making it an extremely “definitive” adaptation with Ron’s final approval.
JW: I’m very big on accuracy and staying true to the source material. I will no doubt enjoy finding ways to bring my own voice to this in small manners that I feel it will benefit from, but it’s important to me that Ron be on board every step of the way!
DC: So, I was aware of London After Midnight—many classic horror fans are—but I haven’t heard of Curse of the Wolf Man. What can you tell me about it story-wise?
RC: Curse of the Wolf Man came from my imagination… the story came to me when I picked up a reproduction of the Wolf Man Cane. I’m not sure how others come up with stories, but I tend to see a vision I think is cool and then adapt a story to get to that particular scene. Connecting it to the original story was my intent, but also making it contemporary for a new audience was essential. We actually shot a teaser for the film but, like so many others, ran out of money, and there was no crowdfunding at the time.
I revisited COTWM after Dirk and Josh showed interest in the script… Knowing I didn’t have budget restrictions, I started writing new scenes… Story-wise, it’s about a biologist in America who is involved with Wolf Reintroduction and Restoration programs, and ranchers who are bent on eradicating them. In the midst of chaos, the biologist discovers a dark secret about his lineage.
DC: I was told that these two adaptations are part of a plan to preserve older horror media. Could you tell me more about that?
JW: I’m personally very big on preserving the past, and creating bridges from it to the present generation, primarily our readership. There is so much great content in the past to enjoy and be inspired by, and so many creatives that built the foundation for horror as a genre. The Chaney family is a part of that legacy, and telling these stories is a way for us to do our part.
DC: Can we expect y’all to tackle other “lost” horror titles in the future?
RC: Most everything I do entertainment-wise is inspired by my grandfather’s work in film. By creating new productions, I would fulfill the mission statement of Chaney Entertainment which is to preserve and perpetuate my family’s legacy and heritage. I have many projects I’ve worked on over the years, always with the hope that if one goes, I will have enough work to keep me busy doing what I love for the rest of my life. If these graphic novels do well, there will be more to come!
JW: I most definitely want to tell more lost horror stories here at Source Point Press. There’s a lot out there that needs to be brought to the fans in a way that is handled with the utmost respect, care, and passion.
DC: When can we expect these graphic novels to be released?
DM: We plan on launching the first of the two graphic novel adaptations via Kickstarter in Spring 2023… which will be here before we know it… and the second before the end of 2023.
Thank you to Chaney, Manning, and Werner for giving us some insight to these upcoming ventures of classic horror! Once the Kickstarters drop, you can bet that’ll keep you posted.
Until next time…
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