Ollie Masters Interview

by Nick Devonald on May 22, 2020

Hi Ollie, thanks for taking the time out to talk with Comics: The Gathering. The first issue of Old Haunts was incredible.

So where did the inspiration for Old Haunts come from?
I can’t remember if there was an initial Old Haunts inspiration, any single thing that sparked the idea.

Rob and I had been trying figure out something to co-write for a while and when we were discussing ideas we realised we’d both independently been working on ideas mixing crime and horror.

So we figured rather than both be pitching competing ideas we should join them together. We both threw almost all of our original ideas out and came up with something new.

Gangsters and hauntings are two genres we don’t usually see together against the backdrop of Los Angeles. Why did you and Rob Williams decide on Los Angeles to be the setting for Old Haunts? Wouldn’t it have made sense to base it in the UK since you’re both British?
I guess it would of saved time on research...
My original idea was actually set in 1950s New Orleans. But two of our big influences for this story were Mann and Lynch so it just made sense for it to be in LA.

How does the collaboration process work between two writers? Do you hash out an idea between you then one of you write the script?
We did this long, but ultimately more creatively fulfilling, process where we worked out the entire series together. Then we took each issue and broke it down page by page. Then we each wrote half the issue, then rewrote each other’s work, then put it together and smoothed it out.
It took a while but by the end it meant the story had one single coherent voice.

AWA have produced a fantastic line-up of comics since their debut in March. Is it intimidating to release a new comic when the standards have been set so high by that first wave?
Yeah, of course.

You currently have some TV projects in the works. Can you share anything about them?
Honestly, I don’t know how much I can and can’t say about the tv stuff.

I’m writing two pilot scripts right now and have other stuff in various stages of development.

There must be some similarities between writing comics and TV. Both involve writing a script for something which will look wildly different when it finishes. Do you have a preference?
Outside of how much they pay I don’t have any real preference. There’s definitely similarities, the one you mentioned, also that they’re both visual mediums. But they also have their own distinct grammar, which you have to keep in mind when you’re switching between the two.
One of your comics was turned into a movie last year, The Kitchen, how did it feel watching your work being adapted onto the big screen? And how involved in the adaptation were you?
It was surreal as fuck. Really excited but strange at the same time. You see your name on a movie screen and you created it and you’re proud as hell, but it’s not yours anymore. It’s the filmmaker’s.

And that’s a good thing. My approach to my work being adapted is if I’m not creatively involved in the adaptation, then whoever’s adapting it needs to make it theirs. If that means changing all my work then so be it. I just want them to make a good film or tv show, something I’d want to watch.
I wasn’t involved in the creative process for The Kitchen. I had dinner with Andrea before and she gave me her directorial pitch and I saw the script early on and visited the set and stuff like that but I didn’t have any creative input.

What upcoming comics do you have in the works at the moment?
Nothing at the moment, other than Old Haunts. I should probably do something about that soon...

How has COVID-19 impacted on your work?
One of the hardest parts is the tiredness. Just feeling tired all the time and trying to find the motivation to work.

With very few new comics being available at the moment lots of comic fans are using the opportunity to catch up on comics they’ve otherwise missed. Have you been doing this and if so are there any highlights you can recommend?
Not so much, my local comic shop is still closed so haven’t been able to catch up on anything. I’ve reread some stuff, some Darwyn Cooke, some of Moon and Ba’s comics. I just finished this great crime comic Write It In Blood, which came out digitally. Some other things that I can’t remember now. All the days are just merging into one and it’s hard to remember anything.

If you could recommend just one of your pieces of work which would it be and why?
Oh, that’s hard.... obviously other than Old Haunts... hmm

Of the stuff that’s mine, not someone else’s characters. Probably Snow Blind. The Kitchen is great but it’ll always be my first thing, and there’s stuff I’d love to change in it because I didn’t know how to write back then. Killer Groove, that’s something I’m really proud of, but it’s too recent and I’m too close to it to see it objectively. But I recently went back and reread Snow Blind and other than a couple of things I’d change, I think it’s pretty good.
How did you break into the world of comics?
I’ve told this story a million times so I’ll keep it short.

It was a lucky break. I met Will Dennis (the  editor at Vertigo) randomly at a con in London. We got along, I pitched him the kitchen and he immediately got interested. The rest, as they say, is history.

Thanks Ollie for taking the time out to talk to Comics: The Gathering.