Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Lou Mougin?
Lou Mougin: Me. Texan, Christian, writer of comics and New Pulp, and managing to get by. Comics fanatic for virtually all my life, which means just about 60 years. Writer of historical comics articles, interviewer of comics pros, and generally a pest.
DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
LM: Abilene, Texas. Customer service and sales from home.
DF: Give us some of your background info, if you please.
LM: Born in Iowa in 1954, and getting born there is virtually all the time I spent there. All my memories are in Texas. Parents and brother passed on. Worked in radio about 20 years.
DF: How long have you been writing?
LM: Probably before school and ever since then. Mom told me stories (she could have been a writer). I told her stories. I wrote and never stopped. Had my own universe of heroes when I was in junior high. Tried submitting scripts to the Big Two when I was in high school, to no avail. Many years later, circa 1978, was invited by George Olshevsky to submit articles for COLLECTOR'S DREAM. They ended up in COMIC READER in 1981 and I made my fandom bones then. Many more articles followed, along with interviews w/ pros for COMICS INTERVIEW and others.
When pro work dried up, I wrote a ton of fanfic, which is what brought us together, and many thanks for your kind reviews. A year or two back, Tommy Hancock of Pro Se was looking for contributors to an upcoming anthology. I applied. Turned out he knew my fanfic, and he liked my contribution. We've been pals and he's been my main prose market since then. I have a lot of stuff in the hopper with Pro Se, which hopefully, will start coming out later on. Also, my first prose short story, featuring a hardboiled detective computer, came out earlier in LEGENDS OF NEW PULP FICTION.
DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
LM: Keep it interesting, keep it moving, wed action and characterization together, know pacing, write something you'd like to read, and listen to your editor. The best friend you have is an editor who will not let you put out crap.
DF: Do you write for yourself or for the reader?
LM: I'd assume for both! But I never assume the reader knows as much about the characters as I do. You have to give 'em enough info about the characters to let the readers know them and care about them.
DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Lou Mougin?
LM: Anybody who wants to read them! I guess anyone who likes a good action yarn.
DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?
LM: That's ALL you've got. Sometimes they play you false, but you learn from it.
DF: You wrote comic books for many years. Tell us how you got into the business.
LM: I was friends with Mark Gruenwald from afar. He gave me the opportunity to script some Inhumans stories for Marvel (which came out, many years later, as INHUMANS SPECIAL #1). Also did the Swordsman origin story for AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT. Wrote some articles for Eclipse's AIRBOY, which led to me plotting 3 Heap stories. Then I hooked up with Dennis Mallonee, for whom I wrote the three-issue SPARKPLUG mini-series and tales of the League of Champions, Flare, and Icicle. I have some new stuff coming out from Heroic even as we speak.
Also I got acquainted with Roger McKenzie on Facebook, which led to my gig with CHARLTON ARROW. I've met others thru him.
Also have comic stories in at Empire Comics and another outfit, and I'm always working on other stuff.
DF: What’s the biggest difference you see in the comic book industry when you were active in it and now?
LM: A lack of heroism. We used to have characters that inspired us, who would do the right thing no matter what the cost. Now, we mostly have "heroes" who do the most expedient thing, written by people who just don't believe in heroes. I would not have Green Lantern or the Scarlet Witch go nuts and start killing people, or get Elongated Man's wife raped. Spawn was uber-popular, but how can you root for a hero who's powered by the Devil?
Decompressed storytelling, of course, is a bugaboo. So is the difficulty in keeping up with storylines these days. Of course, the generation that's the primary target ain't me, so there is that. I hope I'm not coming off as C.C. Beck.
DF: You’ve been writing for so many years…why now did you decide to write a novel?
LM: In a way, I was writing novels way back in my fanfic days. Before I did the present work, I wrote a couple of books for Pro Se that were novel length but adapted from unpublished scripts. Writing a novel wasn't too much of a jump.
DF: Tell us about MONSTER IN THE MANSIONS and how you ever got the idea to bring together two such unlikely characters.
LM: Great question, and I'm not exactly sure! What I do know is that I've long been a fan of Frankenstein by Shelley and of Green Mansions by Hudson. Loved Rima. I like the idea of crossovers if you can make them work. Also I have a habit of asking myself, "What if?", and following from there.
I wanted to see where we could go if we picked up with Frank from the end of Shelley's book, kept him in more or less the real world, and had him try to find a way of coexisting with men of his time. All of which, of course, led him to various adventures. Frank's appeal is that he is not truly evil, but a grotesque...one who would probably be content to live in peace, if others would let him do so. But he attracts trouble. And God help you if you make trouble for him.
Frank also has to deal with "the Beast", which is a rage that can be triggered by extreme anger. This may sound like the Hulk, but he's a lot deadlier than ol' Greenskin when he gets riled. And he usually doesn't know what he's done during it until the rage subsides.
The biggest problem with the book was the timeline, trying to fit the end of Frankenstein into the era of Green Mansions. Don Glut helped with the Frankenstein time period. I had to do some research on the 19th Century world and on Rima's timeline as well. Reread the Hudson book, of course, and watched the Audrey Hepburn movie, which helped. I rejected several plotlines because they wouldn't work chronologically, but ended up, thankfully, with one that worked. I hope.
DF: Do you have plans for a sequel?
LM: Yup. I left a lot of gaps in this one, some of which Frank mentions in passing. He had to work his way from the northeastern U.S. thru Mexico, Central America, and finally to South America. That took years and he did have adventures along the way. I've got ideas for a story that takes place during that gap time.
Also, there are stories that can be set after the end of this one. I'm pretty sure Frank fought in the Great War, but we'll have to see.
DF: Do you have any other novels in the works?
LM: I've got two superhero novels turned in to Pro Se.We'll have to see when those come out.
DF: Tell us about your involvement with the CHARLTON ARROW.
LM: Serendipity is the word. Roger McKenzie had been out of comics for a long time until recently. I got to be a pal of his on FB during a time in which I was really down, and he helped me out. Around that time Mark Knox started up the Charlton Arrow fanpage on FB and there were enough pros and wannabes involved for the concept of CHARLTON ARROW, the comic, to coalesce. I thought it was marvelous because it could contain all the genres of comics that aren't being treated so much by other companies...westerns, war, funny stuff, etc. Charlton had a zillion horror hosts for their books, and I've always wondered what happens to such characters after their books die. Thanks to Mort Todd, who did a great job on the story, we got a chance to find out!
The second ARROW story, "Day of Decision" stems from an idea I explored in an old fanfic: what happens when kid comics characters find out they can't stay kids anymore? Jack Snider did an exemplary job with the art. It's still one of my favorite stories and seems to have gone over okay with the readers.
I have another story slated for a future ARROW and I'm pushing another at them as we speak.
DF: Any other projects we should know about?
LM: In prose, at Pro Se, I have the two superhero books, plus short stories in three upcoming anthologies. In comics, I have two stories in CEMETARY PLOTS, one of which, "Red Need", will be in a Free Comic Book Day version. Andy Shaggy Korty drew that one and Eric Bowen's drawing another. They're also doing a magician hero of mine who should be in an action hero anthology. For another publisher, I've got an anti-ISIS story that I'm pretty proud of. For yet another, I've scripted a retro style story of a team of 1950's heroes, which should be fun. Got more stuff coming out at Heroic, of course.
Also, I have what should be a three-volume history of Golden Age superheroes in the editing stage. Haven't heard much on that lately, but hoping to.
Derrick Ferguson: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Lou Mougin like?
Lou Mougin: If it's a work day, I get out of bed, turn on my work computer, and do my job for about 8 hours. Then I turn it off, turn on my home computer, and get busy writing and doing other stuff I like. Weekends are for more writing and catching up with stuff that needs to be done. Jaune Tom, my cat, serves as my batman.