When a family of deep space explorers discovers a planet capable of being a new home for their people, they aren’t ready for hostile alien creatures, murder, hauntings, and other mysteries of the universe. Created by writer Jeffrey Burandt and artist/colorist/letterer Sean Von Gorman, the new graphic novel from Scout Comics is set to debut this month with a cover by Mike Allred.
The Beat chatted with Burandt and Von Gorman, who not only discussed the sci-fi horror series but also shared an exclusive preview of the book.
Deanna Destito: This tale is clearly sci-fi but definitely has some horror elements to it. How do you find that balance when mixing genres?
Jeffrey Burandt: I’d say that it’s the science fiction story itself from which the horror elements emerge. The in-story mechanism of the plot (i.e., the mystery of Ghost Planet) requires a sci-fi premise with specific visuals, which then leads us to the subgenre of, “body horror,” which has its own visual language, where we’re drawing from the works of filmmakers like John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. Which is all to say that it just came naturally once I cracked the story. So it’s not about thinking, “we need some horror elements here in this part of the story,” but, “this scene is happening as a result of the story, and boy wouldn’t this be gory and horrific in real life,” so then Sean gets to really amp up that gory and horrific scene.
Sean Von Gorman: I think being trapped in the house during the Pandemic was pretty scary. We were able to use some of that real-life fear to motivate, and I feel it seeped into the pages as we were working on it.
Destito: What inspired this saga?
Burandt: It all started with the title. When I heard the term, “Ghost Planet,” I thought it was the perfect title for a pulpy, sci-fi novel. I just wrote down the words, and immediately drew a planet with continents that formed a skull. This was back when I was mainly writing prose, and it took me a while to crack the concept (by watching nature documentaries). Once I figured out the premise, I worked on a prose short story that I never completed. But I at least had a beginning, an end, and some scenes from the middle, all about a family of deep space explorers, searching for a home for their people, who lose one of their own at the beginning of their adventure, and then begin to see his ghostly visage on the ship. So it was a story about a family, isolated from the rest of their community, who suffer death, disease, and dementia…and then New York City shuts down in March of 2020, and Sean and I start making a comic together.
Von Gorman: This was really an unprecedented time to focus on a project to help distract from the horror of life outside our apartments.
Destito: How has it been working with this creative team?
Burandt: I love working with Sean! We’ve been making comics together for a while now, and our tastes and goals are a good match.
Von Gorman: Jef and I have worked before on a few shorts over the years, most notably the Rainbow Boy short for DC/IDW’s Love is Love Anthology. I think we have a solid working dynamic and are already working on a new project at the moment.
Destito: Any plans to work in this universe again?
Von Gorman: We are happy with where we leave these characters in this story. There is potential to explore this world in more detail. If readers dig this book and demand more, we will find a way to make it happen!
Burandt: Definitely. If Ghost Planet is a success, we have plenty of story elements for a sequel
Check out an exclusive preview of Ghost Planet below!