Hello and welcome to Comical-Musings and “Interviews With The Industry.” This monthly post seeks to get you a different look at the people who make comic books work through interviewing some of it’s most interesting people. We have been enjoying and reviewing the Legends Of The Night series and now we get to interview it’s creator! Today, we are pleased to talk with Karl White.
Karl is a dedicated indie comic book writer/creator as well as a TV producer, his work has been featured on Spike,
NFL Network, ESPN, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish Network, Fight Network as well as Sky1 and Bravo in the United Kingdom.
He holds a BFA in Film Directing from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, TN.
Scott: What is your official place in comic-dom?
Karl: That’s a great question and one that I’m still trying to figure out. Like all outlets for entertainment and media, the landscape of the comic book industry is changing. The independent voice is beginning to become recognized and accepted, so I suppose I’m part of that. I’m an independent comic-book creator and proud to be one.
Scott: How long have you been creating?
Karl: That’s kind of a loaded question for me. We all create, as kids, drawing, writing, playing, using our imaginations. Some never stop doing it, and that’s me. I had a wildly active imagination as a kid and it became an escape that just continued to grow. My parents did all they could to support and strengthen that, although I don’t necessarily think they did it for any other reason, than to keep me occupied. And by high school, I noticed myself being drawn to classes and activities that allowed me to be creative and use my imagination. By that time I was writing more and my short stories were turning into substantial pieces of interaction. There were some bumps in the road, but I eventually decided to go to film school. That was a very important time, putting all of the parts of my creativity and my imagination together. From it I learned the importance of story, the visual, the visceral, style, tone, pacing, editing, re-editing. Now I make a living doing that.
Scott: Legends Of The Night is a very rich and expansive story/world. Can you briefly explain it?
Karl: Sure, it’s a series of interwoven stories, methodically pieced together to reveal a dark history of the world and a predestined end to mankind. Legends of the Night, is, at its essence, a story of humanity – an attempt to keep it, the fight for it, the challenging of it and the eventual extinction of it. That’s it in a nutshell, but there are so many layers to it. The main story consists of over 200 tales and four connective storylines, it’s massive. I could easily do about 10 pages just to synopsize the story and the characters and only scratch the surface. I have a big bible that I work out of, just so I can keep everything straight. It’s funny, I’ve had this conversation a few times with various people, when trying to define what LOTN is. If you were ever to ask George Lucas what Star Wars is about, I’m sure it wouldn’t be as easy for him to simply say it’s a story about the Rebel Alliance attempting to defeat the evil Galactic Empire. He could probably go on for days talking about layers of the Universe and I feel the same way.
Scott: That’s a lot of story. Did that all come to you at once, or is Legends Of The Night something that’s been developed slowly?
Karl: I first started writing it in 1996 or 97…as a horror film. I sat down and began putting ideas to paper and before I knew it there was something much larger in front of me. I spent about 10 years building the world and the characters, trying to figure out how it all connected together, the intention of it then was to do it as a TV show. Fast-forward to 2011 and I began taking pitches with networks and production companies. Things were going well; had a lot of interest, but kept running into the whole “you need to build an audience” thing, which is the new mantra in Hollywood. Since the writer’s strike in 2007 and the whole financial crisis a few years later, Hollywood is very reluctant to not have a hit, so they really only want to deal in established properties. I was forced to go back to the drawing board and that’s when I decided to really focus on the comic book series as a way to build the brand.
Scott: Beyond the intricate scale, Legends of The Night is terribly dark and creepy. Where did all of this darkness inside of you come from? Where/when did you cultivate your appreciation of the scary?
Karl: One year on Halloween, I think I was like 7 or 8, my mom got a movie projector from the public library along with some 16mm film versions of Dracula, Frankenstein and Creature From the Black Lagoon. She hung a bed sheet on the wall and we watched one after another. It’s one of my fondest memories as a child and one that cemented my love for monster movies. I remember being truly scared and it’s something that stuck with me. As I got older, the scares wore off. For me, horror movies became kind of over the top or too cheesy – the good true scares were gone. That’s something that pushed me in the first place to write horror. Really wanting to recapture the fright I felt as a kid. Along the way, I realized that the best horror, doesn’t just involve scares, but are grounded in drama (which all good stories are) and then built around suspense and tension. I also read a lot of Richard Matheson, he had an amazing sensibility in building horror out of drama.
Scott: What do you like writing more, vampires or werewolves?
Karl: That’s a tough one. Obviously Legends of the Night is about a lot more than just Vampires and Werewolves, but those are two of the most iconic monsters in popular culture. Since I am retelling a dark history of the world, I couldn’t ignore the existence of either in my Universe. I’ve really tried to approach each with a maturity, meaning if either one did truly exist, how would they? It is kind of like the realistic way that Christopher Nolan finally approached Batman. This is the real world, so how would it work. Within Legends of the Night, the Vampire story is extremely epic, spanning over 3 million years. I really strived to have a good, plausible origin for them and I feel like I succeeded. But they are the killers that move in the shadows, and while they are sympathetic characters, they are more or less in control of their own destinies. With the Werewolves, while still being epic in timeframe, the stories are much smaller in scale and more personal. Each character has to hide what they are because they are still half human and are in some way forced to remain a part of society. Inside of them is an overpowering lust for blood that can’t be ignored. That speaks to me more, to struggle is human.
Scott: Do you read any mainstream comics?
Karl: I spend my time reading a lot of older comics for some reason. There’s a great comic shop near where I live that has one of the best back issue sections I’ve ever seen, I mean 80’s and 90’s good. Legends of the Dark Knight, Marvels (Alex Ross),Sandman, Midnight Sons, etc. Currently, I keep up or am trying to catch up on Walking Dead, Saga, Hawkeye, Before Watchmen and I’m liking Guardians of the Galaxy.
Scott: Do you see everything that you produce being under the Legends of The Night brand or do you have some different kinds of stories bouncing around in your head?
Karl: Legends of the Night is and always has been a way for me to get my foot in the door. But I have tons of other projects/stories I am interested in doing. When I have time, which is rare, I try to work ahead on outlines for stories outside of LOTN. I’ve found it is a good way to think about something else and kind of refresh my creativity.
Scott: Are you currently working on anything cool that you’d like to share?
Karl: Well I am actually happy to announce that I am moving forward with a LOTN feature film. Really involved with that at the moment. Can’t say too much else, but hoping to be in production sometime next year.
Scott: Where do you see Karl White in three years’ time?
Karl: I would love to see LOTN on TV, where I originally intended it, with me as the showrunner. That has always kind of been the goal. But the comic would certainly continue, I have too many stories to tell.
Scott: Well, we hope the best for you. Thank you for letting us review some of your comics and conduct this interview.
You can purchase Karl’s books at www.legendsofthenight.com and if you like spooky stuff, we recommend it. We here at Comical Musings wish Karl luck and we thank you for reading with us. Stay tuned next month for when we will bring you an interview from another interesting personality in the world of comics…it might be Ron Richards…might.
~ Scott Deaux ~