Locke & Key co-creator Joe Hill is making a big return to comics with House Hill Comics, a pop-up imprint from DC. House Hill Comics will launch with five miniseries this fall, according to Entertainment Weekly.
“I’ve always been a comic book writer first,” Hill told EW. “When I started writing comics, I felt almost instantly that I had discovered my element. It was the version of writing I liked best. I felt, when I worked in comics, that my strengths were amplified, and the stuff I struggled with as a writer almost completely vanished. Working on Locke & Key was one of the most satisfying creative experiences of my life. But it’s tremendously exciting to get back into it: scripting again, working with artists, working with other writers. Working in comics is the closest you can get as a storyteller to feeling like what it must be like to be in the Rolling Stones.”
The five titles are:
A mysterious plague is afflicting the small mining town of Shudder to Think, Pennsylvania. It strikes seemingly at random, eating away at the memories of those suffering from it. From tales of rabbits with human eyes, to deer women who come to the windows of hungry girls at night, this town is one of those places where strange things are always happening. But no one ever seems to question why…
THE LOW, LOW WOODS is a gruesome coming-of-age body-horror mystery series about two teenage women trying to uncover the truth about the mysterious memory-devouring illness affecting them and the people of the small mining town they call home—and the more they discover, the more disturbing the truth becomes.
The Dollhouse Family, written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross, the creative team behind High House, Lucifer and The Unwritten. Covers by Jessica Dalva.
On Alice’s sixth birthday, her dying great-aunt sends her the birthday gift she didn’t know she always wanted: a big, beautiful 19th-century dollhouse, complete with a family of antique dolls. In hardly any time at all, the dollhouse isn’t just Alice’s favorite toy…it’s her whole world.
Soon young Alice learns she can enter the house, to visit a new group of friends, straight out of a heartwarming children’s novel: the Dollhouse family. As the years pass, Alice finds herself visiting their world more frequently, slowly losing track of where reality ends and make-believe begins. What starts as play concludes in an eruption of madness and violence.
Childhood ends—but that little house casts a long shadow over Alice’s adult life. When the world becomes too much for her to bear, Alice finds herself returning to the dollhouse and the little folk within. The house can offer her a shelter from all her sorrows…but only if she gives it what it wants, and god help her if she tries to walk away again…
Plunge by Hill and an unrevealed artist. Covers by Jeremy Wilson.
In 1983 the Derleth disappeared, wiped out in a storm on the edge of the Arctic circle—the world’s most advanced research vessel in the hunt for oil, lost in the aftermath of a tsunami.
Almost 40 years later, the Derleth begins to transmit its distress signal once again, calling in to Alaska’s remote Attu Station from the most forlorn place on earth, a desolate ring island in the icy faraway. A US salvage team made up of experts, scientists, and mercenaries helicopter in just ahead of a storm—and the Russian competition—to find the abandoned wreck hung up on the island shores of the atoll. As a wintry blizzard clamps down, anomalies begin to surface: first the samples of an oil with unlikely properties, and then the sonar readings of a sunken prehistoric civilization just offshore. Still, nothing could prepare the salvage team for the reappearance of the Derleth’s crew from the island cave, no older than they were four decades ago, every one of them struck blind by an inexplicable infection…and yet capable of seeing in new ways, possessed of extraordinary powers and stripped of all but their last vestiges of humanity…
Daphne Byrne, written by Laura Marks and illustrated by Kelley Jones. Covers by Piotr Jabłoński.
In the gaslit splendor of late 19th-century New York, rage builds inside 14-year-old Daphne. The sudden death of her father has left her alone with her irresponsible, grief-stricken mother—who becomes easy prey for a group of occultists promising to contact her dead husband.
While fighting to disentangle her mother from these charlatans, Daphne begins to sense a strange, insidious presence in her own body…an entity with unspeakable appetites. And as she learns to wield this brutal, terrifying power, she wages a revenge-fueled crusade against the secret underworld that destroyed her life.
Basketful of Heads, written by Hill and illustrated by Leomacs; covers by Reiko Murakami.
The rain lashes the grassy dunes of Brody Island, and seagulls scream above the bay. A slender figure in a raincoat carries a large wicker basket, which looks like it might be full of melons…covered by a bloodstained scrap of the American flag.
This is the story of June Branch, a young woman trapped with four cunning criminals who have snatched her boyfriend for deranged reasons of their own. Now she must fight for her life with the help of an impossible 8th-century Viking axe that can pass through a man’s neck in a single swipe—and leave the severed head still conscious and capable of supernatural speech.
Each disembodied head has a malevolent story of its own to tell, and it isn’t long before June finds herself in a desperate struggle to hack through their lies and manipulations…racing to save the man she loves before time runs out.
“I’ve drawn a lot of horror in my career, and I think the key to getting it right is to find the humanity in it,” Leomacs told EW. “Horror works when the readers are scared for the characters and for themselves. The artist, I think, needs to find that face, that pose, that set up that conveys the horror in a way that touches a nerve. This story will keep you on your toes. My job is to make sure that the readers feel on their skin what the heroine feels. That’s both the challenge and the fun part of it.”
Each comic will also come with two-page installments of a back-up feature called Sea Dogs, written by Hill. Sea Dogs is set during the American Revolution, with the British Navy dominant on the seas and the revolution in danger of collapsing. “The naval fleet is run by this 90-gun ship, and there’s just nothing Americans could throw at it to destroy it,” Hill said. “So they hit on this desperate plan: Allow three American werewolves to be impressed on board, and then eat the ship from the inside out.”
Update: DC has issued their official press release on the line, which includes quotes from editorial and the descriptions you can find above for each title.
“Bringing horror to the forefront of our publishing plan has been a huge initiative for DC and a passion project of mine, but it was always about finding the right time and voice to mastermind it—and there is no one better than Joe Hill,” said DC Executive Editor Mark Doyle. “Joe is a modern master; his ability to blend visceral, high-concept horror with heartfelt characters is what has grabbed the attention (and throats!) of millions of readers. His vision and taste are unparalleled; you can see it in the incredible talent he’s assembled here, and the stories they’re crafting are bringing the next generation of horror to DC.”
And here’s the quote from Hill included in the release:
“Anyone who’s paying attention knows we’re in the middle of a new golden age of horror: films like Get Out, Hereditary, It Follows and plain old It have raised the bar higher and higher,” said Hill. “Meanwhile, ongoing shows like AMC’s The Terror and Netflix’s Stranger Things have shattered preconceived notions about what’s possible in episodic terror TV. There’s great stuff happening in comics, of course—in a field of unbounded creativity and wacko visionaries, there’s always great stuff happening—but greedy me wants more.
“At Hill House Comics we aim to shock the senses and soak the page in red, with new, hooky horror from seasoned old hands and young masters of the field, all set free to share their most disturbing nightmares…for your pleasure! The books are backed by DC’s second-to-none comic book craftsmanship, and we’re working with the very best editors on parole from Arkham Asylum to craft unputdownable tales of menace and madness. I can’t wait to share some fresh scares with comic book readers everywhere. It’s going to be fun.”