I’m not writing this under my Project: Monster banner. What follows is more a result of that project. When the time comes to properly share the fruits of the labor, I’ll have to come up with something else. Regardless, I’m rather proud of what’s been set into motion. I’m sharing it with all of you so that it’ll keep me honest and plowing ahead. Like with my Tolkien quest, this is something that can’t be done on whimsy. It requires planning and faithful execution.
You may recall that after seeing The Mummy, I declared that I could put together a monsterverse in my sleep better than what Universal’s currently doing, the condition being that first I had to get some sleep for that to really work. Well, that happened, and the more I thought about things, the more I decided this is something I really want to do. Yesterday, I sat with my friend and co-conspirator Alexsilverthorn to brainstorm and hash out our own takes on how the continuing stories of the famous monsters would unfold. I am beyond stunned at how well this turned out.
Of course, this is just the preliminary sketches at this point. The work ahead will truly tell if we’ve got truly got something worthy of publication, or if this is just an exercise in pulpy fan fiction. The other concern is that neither of us are entirely certain how to collaborate on the writing itself as we write in completely different styles, and writing is essentially a solitary pursuit. First world problems. lol. The important thing at the moment is that the ideas flowed freely, and I can honestly say we were respectful and mindful of the source material at every step.
Having said that, there are certain characters we cannot use due to being copyright to Universal (such as Dr. Pretorius or The Gill-Man). Likewise, we can’t use Quasimodo simply because he predates the era we’re working with by centuries. There are versions of the characters, such as The Wolf Man or The Mummy, that we’ve changed dramatically to more directly honor some cultural legacies. I think what we’ve come up with is far better than what we’ve seen on screen while being loyal to the ideas of the original legacies, especially in regards to The Mummy.
For us, the big three that we absolutely had to figure out were Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Phantom of the Opera, the latter of which is because he’s our personal favorite. The original novels were all-important bibles in this regard, and special care has been taken not to repeat (to the best of our knowledge) how previous incarnations have used these stories. The original stories are intact. We’re picking up where these left off. Obviously, the first two are the ones that any quality monsterverse is built around. Erik… that took some doing. We were convinced at the beginning that this wasn’t a character we’d be able to use, and all I can say is “wow.” Leroux gave us an interesting opening, and we’re running with it.
Anything — or anyone — else we add to this will absolutely have to work in the framework we’ve created. The rule we’ve got in place for ourselves is that we add nothing for the sake of gratuity. Everything has to work at the level of the individual character and within the larger scope of this conjoined world.
The next steps will involve brushing up on my history from the late Victorian era through to World War II and fully outlining the stories we’ve drawn up. A great many new characters are going to have to be created. After that… probably a self-inflicted NaNoWriMo session. Depending on how things play out, I’m looking at September for this, and possibly again in November. If that schedule works out, that gives me just over two months to prepare.
In other news, I found something on Friday that was so unexpected and delightfully bonkers, I have to share. I fell down this research rabbit hole, looking up some of the other actors in the Universal films, and I discovered something I never imagined. It turns out that Elsa Lanchester not only had a singing career, she even marketed herself on some of her albums as The Bride of Frankenstein. The albums are appropriately named for her style of music, such as Songs for a Smoke Filled Room, or Bawdy Cockney Songs. I can’t make this up. Even better, I discovered a three-album set on Amazon for $6.99. So now this will sit in my music collection alongside the works of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Lynda Carter, and Christopher Lee. Why not, right?