At a recent signing at Dark Delicacies, I was able to sit down with Lance Henriksen and speak for a few moments. I thought we would be talking about his recent western/supernatural graphic novel project with Joe Maddrey entitled To Hell You Ride, but, as you'll soon encounter like I did in this multi-part interview, the conversation soon took on a life of its own.
FEARNET: I hear that you and Joe Maddrey have been working on the graphic novel To Hell You Ride for a couple of years.
HENRIKSEN: Yeah. Tom Mandrake lives in New Jersey and Joe and I live out here [in California]. What started all of this is that I wrote a script 20-25 years ago called Telluride.
It was this story. I was down at Comic-Con and Mike Richardson [of Dark Horse Comics] shook my hand and said, "Do you want to do a comic? I just shook your hand, so it's a deal." We didn't have a deal, but he said it's a deal. I said, "Yeah, I'll do one." Of course the script was lost; the only copy I had of it was lost during a divorce and got thrown into a dumpster or something. But whatever happened to it, nobody was interested in it back then because I was a young actor. I didn't have any pull at all. I never forgot it. It was such a good idea, so when he said that, I said "Yeah." I wanted Tom Mandrake for the art; Joe Maddrey and I both wanted Tom Mandrake. I love his artwork. Dark Horse said, "We can't afford him." I said, "Well, I'll tell you what, man. You give Joe and my monies as the writers to Mandrake. Now you can afford it. Just give us a dollar, so that we'll close the contract. That's what we did.
Are you collecting residuals or what?
Nothing. From the very beginning it was to have a film made.
Now you've got it storyboarded.
Well, yeah... a movie that nobody was interested in, and now we do the comic, and now we'll have a movie, and it's like Alice in Wonderland, for God's sake!
Has somebody taken out an option on it?
Joe Maddrey and I own half, and they [Dark Horse] own the other half.
Did you find any challenges you weren't anticipating in writing it as a comic?
Oh, shit. It was such a learning process because… I always hated bubbles. As a kid I was hooked on Tales From the Crypt and lots of comics. Those were so artistic, so beautiful and they're horror. Later on we did [the HBO series] Tales From the Crypt as little movies with Walter Hill and Robert Zemeckis. I did a couple of those. The education came fast and furious doing this... if you can imagine that two years' work is fast and furious. But I had to go do movies, and Mandrake had to go do stuff.
It wasn't a solid two years.
But wherever I was on location, I would text and call in and all of us would Skype. We'd Skype three times a week. It was a labor of love. We were using a process they don't normally use in comics; normally a comic book guy writes it and hands you that, and that's it; you never talk to him. Then the artist does it and sends the pencils. But we were working hand in glove.
Steve Niles told me the most important thing is to communicate with your artist, no matter what script format you're using.
Steve Niles is a generous guy. He put his name on my autobiography Not Bad For a Human as a publisher. I got them printed and all that. But the miracle that he did was that he got all of these comic book artists to do drawings for it. He just said to them, "Do you want to do it?" and they all said "Yeah!" That was it. I didn't want to use movie stills, because then it would become like "Look at me. Look at who I'm sitting with" and all that kind of stuff. Rather then it being available with the same kind of imaginary feel that the writing was.
When you read your book, do you hear your own voice?
Joe did a lot of the framework, so he would ask me about something and I would go into the story in great detail. No, it's almost like having a dinner with people. Dylan Thomas said a great thing one night: he said, "Tell me about your childhood, but be quick, or I'll be telling you about mine." I think that Joe and my deal was that if we get halfway through my autobiography and it's full of shit, we'll just throw it in a trashcan and never look back. We both agreed on that. But it was building a relationship towards future things, future projects, for sure.
Was Not Bad For a Human your first project together?
No, Joe did a documentary called Nightmares in Red, White and Blue and I narrated it. That's how we first met. From that point on we started talking about the autobiography. He was interested in doing that, and it has just been a working relationship ever since.
Any more books in the works?
Well, he's writing his stuff. I'm going to try to get a movie off the ground right from the start. If I have to raise the money for it, I'll do it.
From a script you wrote?
No, it's something I want to put together. It's really about a guy who lived in Biloxi, Mississippi back in the 1800s. It's a great story and I want to do it. I want to play the guy. That's down the road. We also want to do a blasphemous television show like on History Channel or something about pottery and it's called Lick My Bowls.
Del Howison is a journalist, writer and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor. He is also the co-founder and owner of Dark Delicacies, “The Home of Horror,” in Burbank, CA. He can be reached at Del@darkdel.com.