Last month I wrote about my memories regarding the Puppet Master franchise. While researching some facts for that article, I discovered the new Puppet Master comic series from Action Lab Comics . I was wary of course as many licensed comics based on horror properties don’t always do the source material justice, nor are they respectful to the stories that came before. I am pleased to say that was not the case with the new Puppet Master series. Action Lab’s Puppet Master expands on the stories established in the film series, and gives many of the loose ends found there satisfying conclusions as well.
Much in the same way writer Stef Hutchinson’s series of Halloween comics are the best Michael Myers stories told since the original 2 films, this new Puppet Master series written by Action Lab’s Editor-in-chief Shawn Gabborin takes the franchise to uncharted territory and tells stories that not only compliment, but improve upon much of the mythology from the films. I ended up reading the entire current 14 issue run in one late night sitting, and I absolutely loved it. So much so that I felt compelled to reach out to Shawn and see if he would be interested in answering some questions for us about his stellar work that is breathing new life into the puppets and their story.
How did this series come about? Was it something you sought out and wanted to do or were you approached about it? What was it about Puppet Master that made you want to be involved with the property?
SG: I grew up on the Puppet Mast movies! I’ve said it before, but Full Moon was the first film company I would seek out films by at the video store as a kid. So when my wife bought me Puppet Master 10, and I watched through the full franchise in the course of a week or two, I had all sorts of Puppet Master stories swirling through my head, so I tracked down an email address and reached out asking if they would be interested in licensing the comic rights. Luckily, the guys at Full Moon were very receptive of the idea and the stories I wanted to tell!
The films mythology and story line can be very disjointed at times, your story however actually helped sort out and make sense of all the films. What was your approach to tackling this series that comes with a huge back story and mythos?
SG: I’m coming at my stories as a fan first. There are obviously questions that the films raised but didn’t answer, or times that one film seemed to contradict another (which is bound to happen with 10 films!). So, as a fan, I wanted answers to these questions, I wanted to see the contradictions cleared up. In my head I was always able to “fan theory” everything into making sense… and now I get the chance to insert some of that into the comics.
I feel the best stories or comics based on films are the ones that take a minor detail from the films and expand on it to make the world bigger, you have absolutely accomplished that here. How important was it for you to build off of these details to keep things close to canon as opposed to veering off into territory that may not be relatable or appealing to fans.
SG: As I said, I’m a huge fan of the movies, so it was very important to me to make sure the comics feel like they exist hand-in-hand with the films. I wanted to give people stories that, if you know the movies inside and out, would give you something new and fresh and not just retread what has already been made… but I also wanted to make sure it was accessible to people who have never even heard of Puppet Master (and I’ve met a few). So it’s a balancing act to give enough back story and context that new readers can enjoy the comic while not bogging down long-time Puppet Master fans.
One thing I really geeked out at was the inclusion of Miss Camille and how you expanded on the end of Puppet Master II, can you tell us a little bit about the decision or idea to incorporate that part of the story.
SG: Camille was one of those unanswered questions that drove us nuts as kids! We knew she took the puppets to the Bouldeston Institute, but what happened after that? Why did we never see her again? There was so much potential there that was just being left on the table, I had to do something with it! Besides, a mental hospital for children coupled with killer dolls running around was too great of a setting to pass up!
I really enjoyed the fact that the comics are not limited by an FX budget as the films are, so therefore the puppets can be front and center. This really helps the storytelling and allows you a great deal of creative freedom and storytelling opportunities, could you maybe tell us a bit about how you capitalize on this while writing the series?
SG: That was a big reason I felt Puppet Master would transition well into comics. We can do anything! I can have the puppets running around in full view of the panel. I can up the carnage! Such as Tunneler’s kill in the first issue of the series! It’s not the type of thing you could really do in a film without CG (and, really, who wants that??), but is a great extension of where the character should be. And I guess that’s the key thing I’m trying to do. I’m not pushing the gore for the sake of it, I’m upping these puppets to their natural unbudgeted potential.
Which is your favorite Puppet Master film and why?
SG: Puppet Master 3. Not only is it a solid horror film, but it (personally) is a well done movie in general. Great settings, solid acting, very well paced. And the puppets were very well handled in it.
Do you feel this series will go on for a while, or do you have a finite number of stories planned for it at the moment?
SG: I could keep going for as long as they’ll let me! Our current deal is for a finite number of issues, which I have fully planned out, but fan response has been good and both side (Action Lab and Full Moon) have been pleased with the comics, so hopefully we can make an extension happen!
Among all this Puppet Master hype, news broke about a new movie with the writer of Bone Tomahawk penning the script. What are your thoughts on this news?
SG: You know, in general, I’m not a fan of remakes. Some have been very good (I really dug the 2003 Texas Chainsaw and Hills Have Eyes remakes) but a lot are bad. But I think my main problem with remakes is more so the fact that, yes, the originals are still out there to be enjoyed, BUT the original continuity is now dead and (more than likely) won’t be returned to… that’s the part that I hate.
That being said, any info that’s been released on this new Puppet Master movie sounds almost like it could be viewed as a sequel, so I’m cool with that. Add to it that Full Moon is still working on Puppet Master: Axis Termination (a sequel to the existing franchise) and I’m a happy guy!
Lastly, who is your favorite Puppet and why?
SG: Growing up Blade was my favorite, but Pinhead has taken that spot within the last 10 years or so. Pinhead’s got such a great personality. In the first film when he’s shadow boxing while he stalks the White Witch. The way he acts as a big brother to the other puppets. Add to that his brute strength and it makes him a lot of fun to watch do his thing.
We want to thank Shawn for taking time out to talk with us about Puppet Master. We enjoyed hearing his thoughts and look forward to upcoming issues in the series. We highly recommend horror and die hard Puppet Master fans alike check out this new book. You won’t be disappointed. You can find all the available issues at the links below, as well as a link Shawn’s twitter profile. This new Puppet Master series is once again proof that all it takes is a talented writer with a passion for the subject matter to breathe new life into a franchise that has spanned decades.