Charlie Huston Interview

Charlie Huston is the popular author of such hard boiled novels as Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things. This month, he turns his attention to comics and pens new adventures of Marvel's Moon Knight. Westfield's Roger Ash recently contacted Huston to learn more about the book.

Westfield: How did the Moon Knight project come about? Are you a comics fan?

Charlie Huston: I was contacted by Marvel's Director of Development, Publishing, Ruwan Jayatilleke. He took me by the neck, forced my mouth open, poured some kind of mind altering substance down my throat and tossed me in a room containing nothing but the complete Moon Knight oeuvre and a reading lamp. After that we signed a contract.

Yes, I like comics.

Westfield: What appeals to you about the character?

Huston: I'm a fan of all his crazy. Marc Spector has more crazy in his mask than most super heroes have in their whole costume. Nutso. I like the idea of a man who's so traumatized by his past as a mercenary that he feels compelled to put on a mask and a cowl and go beat people up to atone for it. Which, when you think about it, is really, really f***ed up. "I can't live with the thought of all the people I killed and hurt. I know, I'll go hurt people and it will make me feel better." Don't know what you call that particular pathology, except bats***.

Westfield: Moon Knight has been both like a pulp hero such as the Shadow with multiple identities with helpers like Marlene and Frenchie, and more of a mystical hero. What is your approach to the character?

Huston: I'll be hewing pretty close to the original conception as set down by Moon Knight's creator Doug Moench. I'm trying to approach this with the idea that he's been both those things in the past, that all that continuity (or as much of it as I can handle) is a part of his life, but now he's starting a new chapter that requires a kind of re-grounding.

On a kind of side note, one of the things I think is cool about Moon Knight is that he can really support both concepts. You know, in his first appearance he was fighting a Goddamn werewolf. After that he spent most of his time dealing with street crime and gangsters. But even when Moench was writing the book there'd still be the occasional supernatural threat or traditional costumed super villain. One of the things I'd like to do is have Moon Knight be in a position where he can still be used to tell several different kinds of stories.

Westfield: Will the supporting cast such as Frenchie & Marlene be appearing in the series?

Huston: Frenchie: check. Marlene: check. I'll also be bringing in some of the other members of his original posse. He really did have a pretty vast entourage when he first hit the scene. Various writers pared it down from time to time, but I met those characters when I was fourteen or fifteen and they're as much a part of the Moon Knight story to me as Marc Spector is. They can also give readers a great perspectives on who Moon Knight is now and where he's been. These are the people he loves, you don't just kick them loose because they get in the way.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the story? What can people look forward to in upcoming issues?

Huston: I can tell you everything, I will tell you nothing. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Sorry, that one got away from me. I'll give you the basics: The story will start with Moon Knight out of the super hero game. He's had some problems, a couple years have passed, and he's in baaaad shape. The first six issues are all about how he's gonna dig himself out of a hole he dropped himself into.

Westfield: You're working with artist David Finch on the book. What do you think he brings to the book?

Huston: Talent, experience, passion, intelligence, taste, excellent fashion sense, a good throwing arm, quick feet, a lovely tenor voice, impeccable rhythm, brilliant comic timing, low gas mileage, and pretty eyes. Talent, you will notice, is first on the list. David is a real gift for me. To get someone with his stature and ability on my first book is an unbelievable blessing. Anything I wrote that I was happy with, he makes better. The stuff I felt I could never get right, he fixes. I'm a lucky f***er and I know it. Man's also got a sweet a**.

Westfield: This started as a mini-series and it's now an ongoing book. Why the change?

Huston: You'd have to ask someone at Marvel to get an accurate answer to that. If I were to surmise, I'd guess that it was a combination of their being pleased with the scripts I wrote, blown away by Finch's art, and the sense that the audience has been very receptive to the early previews and discussions of the book. At some point they must have felt it was a viable option to premier the book as a monthly, but I'm not sure how that calculus works. For me it was a matter of their asking if I'd like to stay on board and my schedule making it feasible for the near future. I know I'll do another six issues, after that I'll have to see where my work is taking me.

Westfield: Would you like to do more comics work in the future?

Huston: I would, but my first job is as a novelist. When I'm taking on other projects I have to give my books precedent and then fit other stuff around them. Also, I've only done the one story so far, time will tell if I'm any good at doing this as a monthly gig. Realistically, I can't imagine doing more than the one comic, and I may not even be able to sustain that over more than a few months.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Huston: There are a few novels out there right now. Caught Stealing and Six Bad Things are the first two books in my Henry Thompson crime trilogy. And Del Rey just published Already Dead, a contemporary horror noir about a vampire detective named Jow Pitt. All my stuff is very pulpy and violent and profane. I curse a f***ing ton. So buyer beware. I also have a website with samples from all my books. I update weekly with whatever seems like news, whether it's comics or novels. You can find that at pulpnoir.com.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Huston: Yeah. Hey, Ruwan, don't think I forgot what you did to me, man. You'll get yours, don't you worry, you'll get yours. You, an empty room, a TV, and nothing but Transformer DVDs. Bwahahahahahahahahahaha! Crap, did I do that again?