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W.Va. professor becomes graphic novelist

August 31, 2013
  • Martinsburg, W.Va., native Daniel Boyd is a college professor in Institute, W.Va., but has forayed into graphic novel writing with his Chillers series.
Submitted photo

Name: Daniel Boyd

Age: 56

City in which you reside: Charleston, W.Va.

Hometown: Martinsburg, W.Va.

Day job: Professor at West Virginia State University in Institute, W.Va.

Book title: “Chillers” book one and two

Genre: Horror graphic novel, anthology

Synopsis of book: Inspired by Boyd’s orignial 1998 film feature “Chillers,” the graphic novel is a series of stories of the format of the stories of people on their final bus destination.

Publisher: Transfuzion

Price: $12.99 each 

Website: DanielBoyd.com

Facebook: Daniel Boyd Charleston, W.Va.

College professor, wrestler, author, filmmaker, now graphic novelist? How were you introduced to graphic novel writing? In 2008 you cowrote the illustrated novel “Death Falcon Zero Vs. the Zombie Slug Lord.” How did that lead you to write for graphic novels?

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It happened about six years, I was working on the film “Death Falcon Zero” with my good friend and partner on that project, William Bitner, who was also (my wrestling) tagteam partner. We shot the international scenes in east Africia, Europe and Prague and it wasn’t just coming together.

It just wasn’t the type of movie I wanted to make. Bill had kept up with comics over the years, where I hadn’t read one in 30 years. I said, ‘Do you think we can adapt this as an illustrated novel? Do they still make those?’, and he said, ‘Why not?’ So that’s what we decided to do. During that production of that illustrated novel, I started researching what I missed over 30 years and fell in love with the graphic narrative format.

I decided I was getting burned out on film and I decided this was a way for me to tell stories and tell stories quicker. At this point in my life, that’s what’s important, telling the story. 

How did the idea come about to focus the book on your movie “Chillers”?

It was inspired by my youth of reading comics in the 1960s, reading the “Creepy & Eerie” horror comics, which were the most popular horror comics. They were all anthology. They were short stories with a storyteller, there was Uncle Creepy, the Eerie character. They were standalone, individual horror stories. And I was also most inspired by Rod Serling “The Twilight Zone.” All of that was sort of the inspiration behind my first feature film “Chillers.”

In both “Chillers” you have a cowriter, while other stories are written by other teams. How does the collaboration between you and the artist work?

It’s really an interesting process. It’s actually a pretty standard (collaboration). Much like Rod Serling did, you put together a group of sort of like-minded writers. The writers are all my friends and some of the best of the comic writers in the country. With film, I have intimate relationships with every member of my crews in the past for 30-some years. For the artists, I’ve never met a one of them. It’s all of the Internet and all over the world. It’s been a very interesting process for me. We send them the scripts with instructions and we go back and forth. And the work all comes through this magic box we have in our homes. 

Tell me about Peterr Jesus, the driver of Babylon Bus Line, and his role in the series.

Peterr Jesus was the stage name of Norman Jordan who is one of the most respected poets of West Virginia. He actually played the bus driver under his psydenom of Peterr Jesus in the original “Chillers” film. He’s not a big part. He only shows up at the end and only has one line. When I was reinventing “Chillers” as a book, I realized I needed a more direct storyteller. It became paramount. Who else to tell the story then the guy who drives the bus? Norman’s still around and working and participates sometimes in  the shows we do. That photo (in the novel) is reallly him.

“Chillers” tackles a lot of controversial topics. Is that typical of graphic novels?

I don’t think it’s typical. I think it was typical of Rod Serling, again my influence. He was the master at entertaining us, but bringing delicate issues in with the packet of the fantastic that sometimes made them a little easy to digest. Every story in there, there’s something we writers have to say. And we try to do it not in a CNN, nonfiction manner, but more in a package of the fantastic.  

You’ve done other types of writing. How do those projects differ from writing for graphic novels?

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