Famed Goosebumps author R.L. Stine has joined the ranks of well-known writers turning to comics, with an upcoming five-issue comic for Marvel based on Marvel’s Man-Thing character. The first issue comes out in February, and the collected edition will be available in summer 2017.
Calling it a “lifelong dream” to write a comic book, Stine said that the series will feature his signature blend of humor and horror as Man-Thing, a monster-hero, faces a world of crazed wildlife, zombies, and interdimensional weirdness. Although Man-Thing was not able to talk in his previous appearances, he’s now regained the power of speech. The series will be rated T+ and is aimed at older readers, along the lines of Stine’s Fear Street series. Although Stine said that he hasn’t gone overboard with violence in the comic series, “the humor is more sophisticated.” Each issue will include a lead story by Stine and artist German Peralta, with a short back-up horror story drawn by different artists, including Daniel Johnson in the first issue.
In the comics, Man-Thing is the evolved form of scientist Ted Sallis, who has injected himself with a superhero serum that makes him into a shambling swamp horror, based in the Everglades, who can burn people with his touch. The comic’s most famous run came in the 1970s under writer Steve Gerber, who made the muck monster the nexus of clashes between various hippies and environmentalists fighting against industrialists and cults.
Stine said that in the series he’s playing off of Sallis’s past as a scientist and giving him back his human intellect, but with a sarcastic bent, as Sallis attempts to reconcile his humanity with his hideous form. “He can think and his mind is back,” Stine said, “but he’s struggling to get back to being a human.”
Stine is a longtime comics fan—he credits EC’s famed line of horror comics from the 1950s as inspiration for his storytelling style, which blends horror with darkly humorous endings. As a child, he wanted to be a cartoonist. “I drew and drew but had no talent whatsoever,” Stine said. “I was the worst in my class. I could see it wasn’t going to work out so I had to write.”
Highly prolific, Stine has written hundreds of books since, and his Goosebumps and Fear Street series have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. But writing comics was always something Stine wanted to do. “I can’t believe in all these years it’s something I’ve never done,” he said. “But no one ever asked me before.”
Stine said that a Marvel editor called him to make the offer. Stine briefly considered writing an original horror series, but decided that working on a Marvel character would be more fun. He chose Man-Thing from a list of characters that were available. “I’ve always liked swamp monsters,” Stine said, referring to his own Goosebumps title Here Comes the Shaggedy, published last year. “Swamp monsters are just a basic horror. What could be more basic than something rising up from the muck?”
Stine said that he has found writing comics to be a fairly easy process, similar to screenplays, and won’t rule out further comics projects if they are offered.