INTERVIEW: Dwight L. MacPherson on Hocus Pocus Comics and Edgar Allan Poe
"It was like being a Bedlam Asylum patient in the 18th century!"
Hocus Pocus Comics was created in the winter of 2016, and is an independent comics publisher that boasts such titles as Elevator, Lovecraft’s Typewriter and The Imaginary Adventures of Edgar Allan Poe. I chatted with Harvey-nominated co-founder Dwight L. MacPherson about comics, careers and the creative process.
“My wife, Rebecca, and I started Hocus Pocus Comics in January of 2017 to self-publish my comic stories,” he explained. The comics power couple quickly found a lot of success in the venture, and Hocus Pocus has proved to be the perfect vessel for getting the MacPhersons’ stories out in the wider world: “The reason for self-publishing was simple: I went the “old way” of breaking into comics, publishing creator-owned books at Image and various traditional publishers, but that experience–while certainly wonderful–left me without any compensation for my work, aside from the original digital series, SIDEWISE, that I created for DC Comics,” Dwight revealed.
“So we decided to give it a go on our own since we obviously had nothing to lose. And it was a wise decision. I’ve already made more money in one year of self-publishing than I made in the previous 10 years of using traditional publishers,” he continues, this revelation not surprising me as much as it probably should, “of course, I don’t want to make it sound like it’s only about the money, because that’s totally not the biggest reason for self-publishing. What I love most is the freedom it gives me. I tell the stories I want to tell, the way I want to tell them. I have complete control over what we publish, what is included in each book, and how we go about promoting and selling the books. It is a wonderful feeling to watch a book “come to life” from script to finished pages to printed/digital comic book. While it is certainly more labor-intensive and time-consuming than using traditional publishers, it is so much more rewarding. The sense of accomplishment is unlike any other I’ve ever felt in my time in this crazy, awesome industry.”
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Most people who know the name MacPherson or Hocus Pocus probably know them from “The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe”, a comic series that sees Poe “haunted by his wife’s ghost and his many literary failures…tumbl[ing] into a fantastical world created by his genius…and his madness.”
Dwight L. MacPherson described to me how he was first introduced to Poe, and what made him want to create the comics in the first place: “I first saw the name “Edgar Allan Poe” on my television screen in the 1970s thanks to filmmaker Roger Corman. My Dad and I watched a lot of monster movies together when I was young and impressionable, and Corman’s adaptations of Poe’s work really stuck with me. When I found a copy of “Eight Tales of Terror” by Edgar Allan Poe in the school library a couple of years later, I remembered the films and knew the book contained tales of terror, indeed. And that was just the type of stories I wanted to read. I’ve been a fan of Poe’s work ever since. Many years later I began researching the man’s life in earnest, comparing notes with Poe scholars, authors, and fellow layman researchers. This led to not just an appreciation of the great author’s work, but a metaphysical connection with the man himself. Because of this connection, I decided to tell a story that attempted to capture–in some small way–the complexity, struggles, and creative genius of the man we know as Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve referred to this book as my “thank you letter” to Poe, and I think that is an apt description. I can only hope that he would be pleased with my creation.”
“The first two issues of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe were crowdfunded successfully via Kickstarter, a platform that more indie comics creators are utilising to fund their work. “It was like being a Bedlam Asylum patient in the 18th century!”, MacPherson joked when I asked him about the campaigns, a quip I’d expect from someone who boasts comics featuring Lovecraft and Poe, “…okay… perhaps not really that bad, but crowdfunding is not for the faint of heart. Success requires a ton of research, a clear and simple plan, and non-stop promotion. Having an established fan base or tons of friends and family who support you is huge as well. The more, the better. Getting them to pledge early and help spread the word is essential to a successful campaign.”
“It’s not all hard work and shilling, though. Not entirely. We have met some awesome Poe fans and made quite a few new friends along the way. We have 10 more issues to Kickstart, so we are excited about the prospect of engaging new readers and making many new friends in 2018. That makes it worth all the time and effort.”
But Hocus Pocus is a busy publisher, and there’s a lot more in the pipeline than Poe alone: “I have several comic projects in various states of production. A couple of my upcoming stories are listed on hpcomics.net and we’ll be updating with new titles in the very near future. Next up, though, is Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits. Issue 1 is currently being colors by the uber-talented Simon Robins, so it will be available on ComiXology and Amazon Kindle soon. I can’t wait for readers to see the brilliant line work of newcomer Pablo Fernandez. We are creating something very special! I am so excited for readers to delve into this magical story! Here is the official synopsis for the 4-issue mini-series:
“Orphan Drake Smith and his ragtag friends are being chased by the world’s most powerful secret organization. In a race against time, they must gather clues and find out why. Harry Potter meets Gravity Falls in this stunning fantasy adventure.”
“After that we’ll be releasing a three-issue horror mini-series titled Lovecraft’s Typewriter. My old friend, Dave Youkovich, is providing the art, and I can’t wait to share this weird tale with readers! Like Poe, Lovecraft’s work has been extremely influential in my writing journey. Whereas the Howard Lovecraft trilogy (published by Arcana Comics) I co-wrote with Bruce Brown is for the young ones, Lovecraft’s Typewriter is for the “great old ones.” Here is the official synopsis for Lovecraft’s Typewriter:
“Alex Bosch is a small-time writer who dreams of becoming the next H.P. Lovecraft. When he discovers an ancient typewriter in the middle of nowhere, his dreams devolve into a nightmare that threatens to destroy his life and our world.”
A final word from MacPherson urged potential readers and existing fans to check out the campaign for the third issue of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe when it launches next month: “Our Kickstarter campaign for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #3 will kick off February 2nd, and issues 1 and 2 will be available for pre-order in one of our tiers, so there is plenty of room for new friends who wish to join us on this amazing journey!”
You can find out more about Hocus Pocus Comics by clicking here. Thanks to Dwight for taking the time to chat with us!