Interview: Sedgwick & Taylor Hunt Monsters with SCARLETT HART

Who doesn’t love a good monster hunt? Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor do, and they’re giving readers one of the most fun monster hunts in recent memory with Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter. Scarlett is a fun, spunky character and Sedgwick and Taylor were kind enough to talk about this OGN, in stores April 3!

Aaron Long: Can you talk me through how the Scarlett Hart project came together? Have you two been looking to collaborate for a while? 

Marcus Sedgwick: It’s been a long process, so long in fact, that the details are now somewhat hazy. But, as far as I can recall, sometime in the late eighteenth century, Thomas and I worked together in the finest children’s bookshop in England. By the early nineteenth century we were on speaking terms (Englishmen can be cautious when forming friendships) and after another century or so we had begun to discuss plans to make a comic strip. These early plans formed around the side of various swimming pools in the South of France, on holiday, and tended to involve two would be detectives called Launay and Sprick, who were, by a huge coincidence, also swimming pool maintenance men in the South of France. I think we knocked around a range of ideas after that, but it was when we hit upon the fact that Herge’s Tintin would have been way cooler if it had been Gothic, that things took off. Thomas, what’s your recollection?

Thomas Taylor: Marcus, that’s exactly how it happened, right down to the bowl of peanuts. Sometimes, when you’ve been saying “we really must work on something together” for years and years, the Universe gets tired of hearing it and moves the stars to make it happen. Or something.

 

AL: In your own words, who is the mighty Scarlett Hart?

MS: Scarlett is a never-say-die kind of heroine who just won’t quit (apart from when she’s feeling majorly sulky). She’s got the perfect back-up squad in Mr. and Mrs. White, and a mansion full of monster-bashing gadgets to nail those beasties with. All in all, she represents something I guess lots of us would like to be: an under-age, under-the-radar, against-all-odds monster hunter, living in an H.P. Lovecraft-meets-P.G. Wodehouse 1920s kind of world that never really existed. Or is that just me?

TT: Ah, it’s not just you. When everyone else is running for the hills, Scarlett is the kind of girl who stands her ground, straps on her sword, and gets ready to fight back.

 

AL: Other than having the most epic name ever, who are The Royal Academy For The Pursuit And Eradication Of Zoological Eccentricities? 

MS: There’s a lot of archive material about the origins of TRAPEZE, but since their archives are off-limits to everyone but the inner circle of this mysterious organization, much of what we know is guess-work. What we do know is that they were founded by royal charter a few hundred years ago when one of the princes (and heirs to the throne) was sucked down the royal toilet bowl by some sewer-dwelling fiend. At this point, the royal personage of the day, Queen Edith, decided something had to be done, and the first bounties for monstrosities were issued not long after. From there, their importance, status, and power in the city has grown. Like many once noble organizations, it’s rumored that something is deeply amiss in the halls of power now. Someone ought to do something, because that kind of things really gets my goat.

AL: Scarlett and Napoleon have a kind of Bruce/Alfred thing going on. Can you elaborate on their relationship? 

MS: Theirs is a good relationship, on the whole, but there’s certainly an element of guilt on Napoleon’s part. He was Scarlett’s parents’ right-hand-man too, and though in no way responsible for their deaths, he inevitably feels he should or could have done something to prevent this awful formative moment in Scarlett’s life. This is why, although he’s super-cautious and quite a fraidy-cat, he sometimes lets Scarlett get away with more than he ought to, as her guardian. I like him a lot, and his taste in hats is exemplary. Style is everything when monster hunting. Any old fool can stick a stake through a vampire’s heart, it takes class to do it in a Homburg.

TT: Homburgs, like bow ties, are cool. Napoleon wears a bowler for much of this book, though his collection of head gear is extensive. Napoleon believes in the old monster hunter’s maxim that: “if you want to get ahead of a beast, get a hat.”

 

AL: Thomas, the aesthetic of this book is fabulous. What was your favorite part of building this world, and what was your favorite monster to design? 

TT: Thank you! The whole process of creating a comic book was new to me, though I’ve wanted to work on something like this since I was a child. I wanted to capture the mood of a 1920s that never-quite-was with a muted color palette (I even considered doing a lot of the book in sepia at one point) that would act as a counterpoint to the lighter elements in the story. A lot of my inspiration comes from European (especially French) bandes-dessinées. The gargoyles were a particular favorite to design and draw, but it turns out there’s something oddly compelling about drawing tentacles. Tentacles are horrible. And yet…

AL: Are there any future plans for Scarlett? Surely, there are more monsters to hunt…?

MS: There are always more monsters to hunt. This is very, very true, and I think we need to get to the bottom of the corruption evident behind the closed doors of TRAPEZE, so we’ll see. Personally I loved every step of making this comic, so I hope we get to do it again.

TT: I felt genuinely sad the last time I drew Scarlett and Napoleon for this book, and hope to find myself drawing them again one day. I also felt a strange desire to go out and buy a bowler hat of my own.

AL: Any final words about Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter

MS: Enjoy the romp! It’s breezy and fun, the jokes are fast and terrible, and the good guys win. Just as it all ought to be.

TT: Don’t forget, if you are reading this book at night, by torchlight and under the covers, that the strange scratching sound you can hear at the window is probably nothing at all to worry about. Probably…

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter hits stores April 3, 2018 from First Second.

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