There’s an idea that’s sometimes floated about that imagination has a magical quality to it; that with imagination, anything is possible. On the whole, this is generally meant to be considered in the metaphorical sense, but what if there’s truth to that? What is imagination is magic—the font of all magic?
That’s the idea that writer Dwight L. MacPherson explores in Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits #1, out this Wednesday, August 15th from Hocus Pocus Comics. In Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits #1, a young man with no knowledge of his past before being abandoned at an orphanage as a baby becomes entwined in a world of magic and intrigue, much of it revolving around a magic coin that he was left as a child.
I spoke with Mr. MacPherson about the idea behind Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits, how Edgar Allen Poe has influenced his writing trajectory, and what we can expect to see in the series moving forward.
FreakSugar: For folks who are considering picking up the series, what is the conceit of Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits?
Dwight L. MacPherson: The hook of the story is that imagination is magical. It is the source of all magic and what gives it its power. In the case of our protagonist, Drake Smith, he has what appears to be a magical silver dollar necklace that was left with him on the doorstep of an orphanage when he was an infant. He grows up with no idea where he comes from. But events quickly unfold which force Drake to use his magic coin as he runs for his life with a few friends to solve the mystery of who he truly is.
FS: In the book, Houdini is mentioned, but what can you tell us about what the rest of the title is in reference to?
DLM: Drake has a magical silver dollar that he wears around his neck. Misfits refers to the friends he’s made in the orphanage and in the streets of New York City. As for how Houdini fits into the equation, that is a part of the mystery that readers will solve as the story unfolds.
FS: Drake is one of the main characters in the series and seems to have much intrigue and mystery revolving around him. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about Drake and his role in the larger scheme of Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits?
DLM: Everything revolves around Drake Smith. My logline for the series is, “Who is Drake Smith and why does the most powerful secret organization in the world want to kill him?” This mystery is the crux of the story, and readers will gather clues with Drake and his friends as they learn the truth. But, as we’ve seen on so many reality shows, sometimes the truth is something we’d never imagine.
FS: The concept of the book seems to be a novel mash up of sorcery, young adult sensibility, and a hint of an Edgar Allen Poe vibe. How did you come up with the idea and tone for the comic?
DLM: I wrote a book called Kid Houdini and the Silver Dollar Misfits that was published in 2008. It received a lot of Hollywood attention, but it eventually fell apart because it was labeled a “period piece.” In the ensuing years I wondered: how can I bring this story into the 21st century? So I began piecing together the story bone by bone, if you will, until I had written the entire first story. Obviously the characters and premises are quite different from Kid Houdini, but both involve mysteries, magic, and Harry Houdini. In one way or another. As for the Edgar Allan Poe vibe, he is my single greatest influence, so he pops up in some form or another in nearly everything I write.
FS: Following up on that, it’s clear you have a love of the horror and mystery genres from your work on this issue. Are there any particular works or creators who you feel have influenced your craft?
DLM: I’m not sure I’d be writing were it not for Edgar Allan Poe. And he is the door through which I discovered authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Algernon Blackwood, Robert W. Chambers, M.R. James, and Arthur Machen. Rod Serling’s brilliant work on The Twilight Zone, Mary Shelley, Washington Irving, George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Welles are also major influences. In comics, I draw inspiration from the work of Alan Moore, Chris Claremont, Kurt Busiek, and Mike Baron. I’ve been a voracious reader since childhood, so I’m certain there are many authors who have shaped my work, if only on a subconscious level, but I’ve shared only those who I believe have had the biggest impact.
FS: The art from Pablo Hernandez and Steven Legge is gorgeous and, at times, unnerving, with both the gray and black shades and facial characterization suggesting something menacing on each page. What was the collaboration process like between the three of you to decide on the look of the book?
DLM: We are a well-oiled machine. At the beginning I wrote down detailed characters descriptions that I emailed to Pablo. Pablo sent back perfect character designs. My scripts are extremely detailed, but since English is Pablo’s second language, I also included many links to images that he could see that further explained what I was talking about and made myself available to him nearly around the clock. Pablo then sent thumbnails of pages for me to approve or amend. This is Pablo’s first published work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but I was amazed to see that his thumbnails were perfect. As a result of this, Pablo goes directly to penciled pages. I very rarely have to ask for corrections and Pablo is a machine! I’m amazed how quickly he turns in pages. As far as the look of the book, Pablo and I share a love for manga, so I wanted to give the book a hint of darker manga flair in the vein of Death Note or Bleach. Steven Legge is the consummate professional, so after I told him that we were going for that particular look, his zip toned and lettered pages started coming in and they were spot on. Each of the remaining covers is an homage to some of our favorite manga, and I can’t wait for readers to see them!
FS: Is there anything you’d like to tease about what we can expect to see in the series going forward?
DLM: There is no way readers will see the end coming. Prepare to be shocked and entertained.
Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits, written by Dwight L. MacPherson, illustrated by Pablo Fernandez, colored and lettered by Steven Legge, and edited by Rebecca MacPherson, with a cover by Fernandez and Simon Robins, goes on sale Wednesday, August 15th, on comiXology and Kindle, from Hocus Pocus Comics.
From the official issue description:
Orphan Drake Smith and his ragtag friends are being chased by the world’s most powerful secret organization. In a race against time, they must gather clues and find out why. Harry Potter meets Gravity Falls in this stunning fantasy adventure.