Ronilson Freire on his haunting art for Hammer Comics' The Mummy #1

Looking for the perfect Halloween comic preview?  Check out this sensational foray into the Egyptian legend of dusty, wrapped pharaohs in Titan Comics and Hammer Comics' The Mummy #1, unravelling in comic shops on Nov. 9.  Hammer Studios is well known for its impressive roster of vintage technicolor horror films, like Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Curse of the Werewolf and is a storied brand name that conjures up instant images of foggy Olde London and moonlit castles.

Partnered with mini-major Titan Comics, Hammer is making a serious charge into comics with illustrated titles loosely based on its vast library of screen stories and properties.  Their first horror title out of the gate is The Mummy, a new miniseries written by Peter Milligan (Hellblazer, X-Men), with art by Ronilson Freire and variant covers from John McCrea, Tom Mandrake & M.D. Penman, Felix Ruiz and Jeff Zornow.

Here's the official synopsis:

For 2000 years the Sect of Anubis have prolonged their life spans through human sacrifice and the enslavement of an Egyptian High Priestess cursed to walk the afterlife for all eternity. On one night every 30 years the Sect must offer up a human vessel to house the spirit of the priestess Nebetah so that they can kill her and drink her blood, thus granting them immortality.

But this year they have chosen the wrong vessel, and she’s not going willingly

Brazillian artist Ronilson Freire (Justice, Inc., The Green Hornet) provided the striking, evocative artwork for The Mummy, infused with the deep understanding of the genre, a talented hand and an impressive cinematic eye for composition.  Freire was gracious enough to provide us with an exclusive interview, taking us into his historically-steeped pages and the process behind unwrapping The Mummy for Titan Comics.

How did this project for The Mummy shuffle into your creative pyramid?

This is the first Hammer project in partnership with Titan, so the only decision was to choose the artist with the design and style that fits. From the beginning, the Hammer producers and writer Peter Milligan wanted something obscure, to refer to the atmosphere of the classic old Hammer films. Until then, my only work published in Europe had been an issue of Doctor Who. I was hired in a hurry to replace Daniel Indro in the art of editing issue #14, who was overwhelmed. Of the 11 pages I was hired to draw I ended up doing all the pages. It made my agent send my portfolio in hopes of getting a longer project in ediora .. Months later we were contacted to design The Mummy. Coincidentally, the sample pages that surprised Hammer and Milligan were two pages of an authorial horror project called "Eye Faceless," a collection of horror stories that I'm doing for an independent publisher in Brazil.

Can you take us through the storyline of this ancient Egyptian evil?

Angel is our heroine of the series, if we can call it that, after all, there is no room for heroes in the Hammer universe and Titan follows an editorial catalog full of anti-heroes. So the idea is to make the reader peek into the shadowy world of old horror movies. Since the beginning, they told me to make sketches of the most realistic and human characters. Try to show your soul and essence, personality defects and deviations. Seeking inspiration in German expressionism to draw the pages of the Mummy, using more dramatic frames to show a dark world. Angel and Nebetah are the essence of this dimension of terror.

What were some of the obstacles and challenges in creating the mood and tone of the pages?

Conceiving the central character as the mummy was a more difficult task. That was a question much discussed between myself, the editor and writer. We did not want the classic image of a man wrapped in bandages. The idea was for skin and tissue to merge. We had the same care when developing the  Ammit creature, a demigod crocodile. It was remade several times, drawing until exhaustion until we got a really scary picture. It's an important character in the series. We decided to get away from the stereotype of the images found in the history books. Our Ammit is misshapen and rotten!

What research was required to inject the art with such authenticity and detail?

The research is important in a story with historical elements. I've always been in love with Egyptian culture. I have an Eye of Horus and an Ankh tattooed on my arms! I felt comfortable in this project by a personal passion for Egyptian culture and it made the most fun job search. I just re-read a few chapters of "Book of the Dead" the old buzz to get in the mood of the story. Still I do not strictly follow these references. I sought to incorporate futuristic elements when designing the clothes, but without losing the original features.

How was it working with British writer Peter Milligan?

Contact with the writer is discreet. All this work is done by my agent, Paulo Teles, at Glass House Graphics in Brazil. Because of the distance between Brazil and England and the tight deadlines, I try to worry only with the production of the page. So we do not lose much time and maximize production. It is an organized system so that everything works.

What was your gateway into the horror genre growing up?

To conclude, I have been inspired a lot by the dusty and gloomy atmosphere of the old movies of Hammer and other producers' films of the '80s I remember having seen in childhood and adolescence. Movies like "The Brides of Dracula," "Dracula - Prince of Darkness," "Vampire Circus," "Devil Dog - Hound of Hell" and many others that were essential to my designer training for horror stories.

Have a peek at our 4-page preview and variant covers in the main gallery below and tell us if this terrifying tale of The Mummy might be something you could get wrapped up in. Hammer's The Mummy #1 arrives November 9th.

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