What happens when you stick a bunch of monsters into a mansion? You get Monster Soup, a webcomic by Julie Devin, also known online as ‘Ghost.’ I’ve followed Monster Soup for a long time and I am also honored to say that Julie is a good friend of mine. Julie’s approach to horror is fresh, fun, and a good fit for readers at Haunted MTL, so, I asked her to talk about her core cast of monstrous personalities.
Alright Julie, before we get down to the characters, I need to know what horror stories are most influential to you.
I always have a hard time answering questions like these, but I would definitely say… Dracula, Frankenstein, An American Werewolf in London, The Craft, Hellraiser and Poltergeist.
It feels like some of these are obvious given the subject matter of the comic, but how do you feel Hellraiser might have influenced your work?
I think it’s more of a subtle influence as I watched those films when I was younger and most of the themes and visuals have stuck with me. Small bits seep into my work, whether it’s a costume/design idea or a sense of surrendering to something terrifying or becoming the thing that terrifies.
What appeals to you most about the horror genre?
I think it’s the sense of not being in control. In slasher films, it’s the fear of someone hellbent on killing you. In supernatural horror, it’s more about the unknown that can terrify. The horror genre reminds me of a roller coaster. There’s a thrill and fear while being safely secured in your seat. Horror allows the exploration of many themes and ideas while we remain in the safety of the real world.
So, how did you develop the idea of Monster Soup?
Monster Soup began as a simple idea; what if a group of monsters lived under the same roof? I wanted to keep the main cast as close to the classic monsters as seen in films and novels; zombie, witch, ghost, werewolf, vampire, and mad scientist. From there on out, anything goes.
Alright, so let’s walk through the characters then.
So, please tell me about Bo, who is a personal favorite character of mine.
I wanted Bo to be the antithesis of the stereotypical zombie. He was also shaped by the Twilight mania that was going on at the time. I wanted a James Dean/Luke Perry type who fights his urge to eat humans, but instead, eats animals. Even though Bo is dead, he is still an idea of a slow, deteriorating death. This element of the character is a reflection of my grandmother who has dementia. It may seem odd, but I find it a little therapeutic writing this character.
I really like how you have approach Amanita as the resident witch.
This story about monsters didn’t feel complete without a witch. Instead of the typical hag-n-rags, her initial design was genie inspired. I wanted this character to embrace her appearance: makeup, nice clothing, and jewelry, all things stereotypically feminine. Outward appearance aside, her personality can be abrasive, and forming long-term friendships is something she continues to struggle with.
I am particularly a fan of Jacklyn’s design, it evokes “ghosty” without being too transparent.
Inspired by Dr. René Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark, specifically regarding archaeology and clothing, Jacklyn is the ghost of the story. She also carries a common trope about ghosts– “ghost amnesia.” While she knows she is dead, she doesn’t remember how she died, and is not really concerned with knowing about her past or death.
How about the resident Werewolf, Pepper?
At the center of werewolf lore is the transformation from human to beast; from something we know to something frightening and unpredictable. The center of Pepper’s character lies within her inability to accept herself.
The Ginger Snaps films, especially the sequel, influenced the earliest ideas of who Pepper was; someone who is fighting a battle they have no chance of winning.
Luke, the vampire? He seems just moody enough…
For the vampire character, I originally planned for Luke to be Dracula. The plan didn’t last for long. While I wanted to keep some hints that perhaps he and Dracula were one in the same, I began to develop more of the story, and quickly, the two separated. I wanted Luke to be the opposite of the recent trend seen in vampire fiction. Where those vampires are brooding and filled with self-loathing, Luke has accepted what he is centuries ago. He also isn’t concerned with protecting humans.
What about Vengari, the mad scientist?
The castle that houses the main cast of supernatural criminals needed an owner. The easiest answer for me was a mad scientist, with influences from Frankenstein and Dr. Moreau. When it came to Vengari’s appearance, I knew I didn’t want him to be the typical white-haired eccentric surrounded by Tesla coils. The red hair he ended up with seemed like an odd choice, but it stuck. In some weird way, he still reminds me of a demented Beaker from The Muppets.
His madness, unlike his striking red hair, isn’t as prominent. He is someone who is fascinated by the supernatural world and seeks to explain its existence through science. Magic to him isn’t just magic. Everything has a scientific explanation. The supernatural world isn’t really “super” through his eyes.
Noni, the chef? She almost feels like the mascot of the series.
In a comic with a slight food theme, I knew the castle needed a chef. I personally have an inability to make cute characters, so I wanted this character to be cute and innocent on the outside, but a mess everywhere else. She is also a chimera created by Vengari in his attempt to design a satyr. Other creations live elsewhere on the island (similar to the Island of Doctor Moreau), however, Noni lives in the castle with her “father.” Noni is the part of me who lives without any inhibitions. She will say what she wants regardless of others’ feelings.
Momo, how about him?
Momo is the Frankenstein’s Monster of the cast. Unlike the violent criminals he was created from, Momo’s mind is an innocent one. I always liked the idea of a large, muscular man who is nothing more than a big ol’ teddy bear. As for his appearance, he is loosely based on Vin Diesel. Momo’s greatest passion is cooking and helping Noni who he sees as his sister and boss.
Now as for Toadie…
This character came from a previous webcomic I attempted to make, but it never made it past the first chapter. When compiling characters for Monster Soup, I was looking for my Igor and realized Toadie was the perfect fit. In some moments within the comic, he also takes on a more “Renfield” roll when around Luke.
Julie was very kind to share some recent pages from the comic, so please give them a read and then hop over to Monster Soup for more great reading.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.