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Submerged in story: Dan Watters and Ram V revive a legend in 'Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives!'

Comic Books

Submerged in story: Dan Watters and Ram V revive a legend in ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives!’

The debut issue of ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives’ launches this week!

It’s a safe bet that writers Dan Watters and Ram V are some of the most innovative minds in contemporary comics. Be it their work on Detective Comics, or the incredible The Six Fingers/The One Hand dual mystery series, the pair are as inventive as they are generally talented. Now, they’re once again bringing their talents together with the latest Universal Monsters project, The Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives!

Joined by artist Matthew Roberts and colorist Dave Stewart, the duo breathes new life into the classic monster story, intertwining their unique narrative flair with the original’s timeless appeal. It’s a direct continuation of the classic film and just so happens to debut 70 years after its initial release. While we won’t spoil too much what lies ahead, this take on Creature from the Black Lagoon is a tale of revenge and also a white-hot mystery story, something that honors the film’s legacy and clearly blazes a trail forward.

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Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives! #1 debuts this week (April 25) via Image Comics/Skybound. Read on as we delve into the writers’ collaborative process, discover what makes the Creature truly scary, and uncover the depths of creativity and horror in The Creature of the Black Lagoon Lives.

Next movie monster series ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ coming April 24

Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: Creature of the Black Lagoon Lives exists in a world where the classic film exists. Why was that important to the story?

Dan Watters: It’s pretty central to the story. We are considering this kind of a direct sequel to the film set sort of 30 years on. We have at least one recurring character from the film and the events of the film, even though it’s 30 years later. There’s some direct causation, but there’s also just a catalyst for the things that happen in this story.

Ram V: The story works in reflection of what the creature was in that first film.

AIPT: The Creature is like this humanoid animal, which, to me, is one of the reasons why it’s so scary. It’s not Jaws. It’s something that thinks potentially. Does your version have any threatening powers or abilities we may not be aware of?

Ram V: The ability to stare into your soul <laugh>

DW: To reflect yourself right back at you. Honestly, I think what we were interested in doing with the creature was using it as this kind of reflective surface. So yes, it has its own thoughts, it has its own motivations, but those aren’t things that we necessarily understand or need to delve into because the unknowability of the creature is what’s so interesting about it. That lets the characters in our story kind of, project onto it. Everyone thinks the Creature is exactly what they need from the world. There are people who envy it and people who are just fascinated by it. That’s the powder keg that brings all these characters together and into the reach of its claws.

Submerged in story: Dan Watters and Ram V revive a legend in 'Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives!'

Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: What is your writing collaboration like on this project? Because I know you guys worked together before. I mean, you are right now with the One Hand and Six Fingers. Amazing work, by the way. Love it.

DW: Thank you.

Ram V: Yeah, the process on this book was a little bit different. Originally, when these books were being discussed, I believe, Skybound was talking to both of us separately about what we were interested in. And Creature was one of the things that I’d gone on to very early on. I had this idea, I had this concept, and I had made my pitch, and then, unfortunately, for scheduling reasons and other moves that I had made while I was shepherding my writing career, I couldn’t follow through and actually work on the book. It was Alex Anton who had the idea of approaching Dan as well because he said, ‘Hey, we were talking to Dan on a different book, and I know Dan loves the Universal Monsters stuff, and would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Well, let me go ask Dan. ‘ And then I said, ‘We’re doing Creature from the Black Lagoon, but we’re doing existential True Detective dread with it. Would you be interested?’

DW: That sort of elevator pitch really lit up my brain, with a lot of potential and stuff. All the scripting’s been on my end, but it was Ram’s initial…

Ram V: Bigger picture idea and some measure of problem solving.

DW: Somewhere, somewhere in between the, the usual writing thing where we are in the same studio, and we bounced ideas back and forth, to begin with, and One Hand, Six Fingers. This was, this was somewhere in the middle.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: You were working on these projects at the same time?

DW: As we’ve been coming to the end of them both, we’ve realized there’s a fair bit of thematic overlap, at least.

Ram V: <laugh>. I think Dan was the one who pointed out to me, I can’t remember the specifics of it, but I think [Grant] Morrison had done some work, one title at DC and then some work at one title at Marvel. And I think they were coming out around the same time, and you could see from reading both books that they were preoccupied with this idea. So it had just manifested itself across both series at the same time.

DW: It was New X-Men and something else, but I can’t remember what it was.

AIPT: The first line in the first issue reads, “They say it’s the most peaceful way to die.” And I’m curious, do you tend to agonize over the first line in one of your stories?

DW: Thank you. It can go either way. Either it flows immediately, and that’s the best. Obviously, this was a bit of that. It just seemed like a good opening place. It’s very much the sort of alchemical magical thinking part of writing. It’s either going to be really easy or it’s going to be something you’re really going to have to agonize over.

Ram V: I don’t know that I quite agree with the use of the word agonize. I think “obsess over” is more interesting. I think, in general, it’s a good thing to obsess over either an opening line or something about the opening of a book. Opening line, opening visual, opening scene, opening on a character. Something in that opening should immediately promise interesting things to come.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Courtesy of Skybound.

AIPT: Why was artist Matthew Roberts such a great pick for this?

Ram V: As someone who has, unusually, in this case, had the opportunity to witness just the pages coming in. And not had to do the whole, like, “Oh, I’ve scripted now I’m gonna participate on, on what you’re doing with the layout.” It’s been a joy to watch. Just be kind of surprised by the art.

I think Matthew’s art in this case, like certainly has that sort of very comic book, a slightly cartooning aesthetic to it, which I think does wonders for a book like this. Because as we’ve said, a lot of the horror in this book is entirely dependent on encouraging you to imagine parts of it. If you wanna scare yourself, if you want to leave readers the room to do that. And I think Matthew’s art certainly does that. It’s effective. You can see the acting, but it’s not, it’s not trying to emulate reality. It’s not trying to solidify itself as a thing in your hand, you know?

DW: Between Matthew and Dave [Stewart], they particularly really nailed the underwater stuff, which I think can always be a really tough thing comic book art. Make the water feel kind of corporeal and make it feel like it has actual depth rather than just sort of being a big blue block. When you’re asking artists for something quite abstract, like, you know, sort of something like a shadow in a dark pool, which there’s a few panel descriptions like that in this book. I think that can be a really hard thing to sort of pull off both in terms of depth.

AIPT: If you had a crack at another Universal Monster, what would it be and why?

Ram V: I’m pretty sure I know what Dan’s answer to this is.

DW: I’ve got a werewolf tattoo on my shoulder, so that might be it.

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