Load up your Doombuggy and don’t forget your death certificate, foolish mortals, as Marvel teams up with Disney’s Imagineers to bring the Haunted Mansion to the world of comics.
The popular Disney attraction debuted in 1969 at Disneyland, and its 999 happy haunts eventually spread their thrills and chills to other Disney parks around the world. Joshua Williamson and Jorge Coelho will bring the excitement of the ride to Marvel’s Disney Kingdom imprint next March with covers by E.M. Gist.
Williamson and Coelho share their histories with the attraction, their inspirations for the series, and more.
Marvel.com: Josh, I understand you’re a pretty big fan of this ride. Do you remember your first time riding the Haunted Mansion, and if so, what did you think at the time? Also, which park were you visiting when you were first exposed to it?
Josh Williamson: I grew up in Southern California, and we’d go to [Disneyland] at least once a year. I’d go almost once a month once I had my own car. I’m not sure of the first time I went on it, as I went a lot when I was really young. One of my earliest memories was when we went on Christmas day.
Even when I was a kid, I was amazed by the Haunted Mansion ride. It’s always been my favorite. I became a bit more obsessed with it when I was in my teens; [I was] a little more into horror, macabre, and black humor. It’s where my obsession with haunted houses started. But really the Haunted Mansion is the best. What other [theme] park ride has a dead body hanging from the ceiling?
Marvel.com: How did the two of you end up working on this book, and what was the big attraction for each of you?
Josh Williamson: Wow, well, I had actually talked to Disney years ago about doing a Haunted Mansion all-ages book, or a picture book, and a little bit about a comic book. So they knew I was interested. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time.
In fact it was my interest in it that lead to me writing Ghosted, which is also a haunted house book, and then that lead to Nailbiter, then Birthright, and those jobs lead to me getting Marvel work, which put me in the place to do HAUNTED MANSION.
A few months ago, I was talking with [Marvel PR’s] Chris D’Lando about the Haunted Mansion. He knows I have a bunch of Haunted Mansion merchandise in my office. And so we started to talk about how rad it would be to make a HAUNTED MANSION comic. Little did I know, it was already in the works.
For me the biggest attraction to the book was an opportunity to add to the mythology of something I’ve loved since I was a kid—to tell a story within a large story that Disney has already built.
Jorge Coelho: I’ve been wishing to work on something for a bit longer at the House of Ideas, as I believe that spending at least one arc with readers is the thing to aim for. When Marvel talked to me about the idea, I couldn’t pass as it’s so right up my alley that it’s scary.
Marvel.com: The Haunted Mansion itself is made up of several different areas: the “stretching” room, the séance area, the ballroom, the attic with the bride—are there any particular story elements from the ride you’re looking forward to tackling in the comic?
Josh Williamson: All of the above? We’re really making an effort to include a bit of everything. I want to make sure that each scene, story element and classic sight gag is included.
But I think the balance that the ride strikes between horror and humor is my goal. The first half of the ride has a scarier feel to it, and then halfway through it becomes a more whimsical experience. Getting that feeling in a comic will be a challenge, but it’ll be fun.
Marvel.com: In terms of characters, you have a wide range of ghosts and spirits to choose from—999 to be exact. Which ones are your favorites from the ride, and which are you planning to feature in the comic?
Josh Williamson: The new Hatbox Ghost, for sure. Constance the Bride. The Hitchhiking Ghosts, the singing busts, I’m going to get the drinking and laughing mummy in there from the Graveyard scene. And y’know, there are 999, so we’re going to be exploring a bunch of new and little-known ghosts as well.
Marvel.com: I believe this is the first time the two of you have teamed up on a comic. Were you familiar with each other’s work before this?
Josh Williamson: I’ve been following Jorge’s work for a bit now online. I actually have a copy of Café Racer next to my desk. He’s done some great work on the Sleepy Hollow comic and John Floor with BOOM!.
Jorge is a great fit for the series as he nails the horror we need for the series.
Jorge Coelho: I have seen previews about Josh’s Birthright and thought it looked damn fine and appealing, but truth be told, [I] never got around to sink in; reading right now!
Marvel.com: Finally, what sort of research are you two doing to capture the sights and ambiance of the Haunted Mansion? This seems like the perfect opportunity for a trip to a Disney park for “research purposes.”
Jorge Coelho: Man oh man, it sure does. I’m summoning mighty Tim Burton, “The Crow,” Hitchcock, Poe, and Wrightson as muses for inspiration. Mood is very important; that mysterious and heavy feelings are two important moods to convey and a chance to explore more [in the comic].
Josh Williamson: I go to Disneyland about every six months. I know the ride like the back of my hand. I have multiple books on the history of the ride and the mythology. Like I said…I’m a bit obsessed. I was actually at Disneyland when I found out we were for sure doing the book and I was walking toward the Haunted Mansion ride. The ride was currently all set up for the holiday season with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” decor, but it was still cool to be able to go into the ride right before starting work on the comic. There are so many designs, reference and art made for the ride by the Disney Imagineers that we have no shortage of inspiration.
Accept an invitation from Joshua Williamson and Jorge Coelho to THE HAUNTED MANSION in March 2016!
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