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SUPERNATURAL fans are in for a treat with the spring
publication of SUPERNATURAL: JOHN WINCHESTER’S JOURNAL (It Books), a trade
paperback companion book to the hit CW TV series. Written by Alex Irvine
(author of a previous SUPERNATURAL tie-in), JOHN WINCHESTER’S JOURNAL takes us
through Sam and Dean’s rocky childhoods, ending with their father’s
disappearance—the starting point of SUPERNATURAL’s pilot episode. The
illustrated paperback reveals such tidbits as: John’s single-minded pursuit of
a growing and deadly evil; John’s notes on everything from shapeshifters to
Samuel Colt’s demon-halting pistol; the exorcism Sam and Dean used in “Phantom
Traveler”; Dean’s first hunt; Sam’s peewee soccer team (!) and much more. Fango
spoke with Irvine about JOHN WINCHESTER’S JOURNAL and his love of the show. The
author of seven novels, Irvine has also written two collections of short
stories and a Marvel Comics series, HELLSTORM: SON OF SATAN.
FANGORIA: How did this book come together?
ALEX IRVINE: I had written the SUPERNATURAL BOOK OF
MONSTERS, DEMONS, SPIRITS, AND GHOULS a year or so before. While I was working
on that, there was talk of maybe doing John’s journal some day. (I think I said
to [comics writer/author] Chris Cerasi one time, “Man, it sure would be fun to
write John’s journal.”) Then when the monster book did well, they came back to
me and asked if I wanted to do John’s journal. And I said something along the
lines of, “Hell, yes, that sounds great.”
FANG: What was your pitch to the show’s creators and
IRVINE: Well, it wasn’t really a pitch. Since they came to
me, all I had to do was start putting something together that made sense in the
context of the show. And promise that I would try to iron out some of the
continuity ripples between the journal as originally posted online, the journal
as seen on the show and the journal as quoted in the comics. I did try to do
that, but where there were conflicts, I usually went with what had been on the
FANG: What kind of input did the show’s creative team and
creator Eric Kripke have on the JOURNAL?
IRVINE: Eric and I talked two or three times before I really
dove in and started writing, and then he saw a draft of the book along with Cat
Humphris and Rebecca Dessertine and a couple of other people. They didn’t have
big edits, which was nice, but they did give the manuscript a careful read and
ask me a bunch of questions—which was also nice. Writers like having attentive
FANG: Was it a challenge to fill in all that backstory?
IRVINE: No, it was a blast. We meet John in the show as a
guy who has already been through this long crucible of discovering evil,
fighting it, and making a conscious decision to force his boys to follow in his
footsteps—at the cost of a normal life for all of them. The reason I wanted to
do this book was to get at what that might have been like early on. What’s it
like to but a gun in a 9-year-old’s hand and tell him he might have to use it?
What’s it like to not be there on Christmas because you’re hunting monsters and
hoping for a lead on the demon that killed your boys’ mother? I have three kids
(two when I was writing the book), and that complex of dilemmas fascinates me.
When do you put your kids through hardship because you think it’s good for
them? How much is it OK to ask a kid to sacrifice?
And then, of course, there was all the great monster stuff
and John’s esoteric research. I had a great time reading through grimoires and
folkloric accounts of various beasties throughout American history. That’s been
an interest of mine all along—check out my novels THE NARROWS or A SCATTERING
OF JADES, for example—and this was a way to indulge it again!
FANG: This is not your first SUPERNATURAL book. What appeals
to you about the show?
IRVINE: I think that American folklore gets short shrift in
this culture. Until recently, writers spent all their time looting British and
Irish folklore. That’s a generalization, but by and large fantasy and horror
fiction in the U.S. has been a colonial literature. Only more recently has
American folklore gotten its literary due. SUPERNATURAL has been part of that
phenomenon. The show did a good job from the beginning of trying to integrate
various immigrant folklores into a broader American narrative.
FANG: What do you think of the SUPERNATURAL’s evolution over
the years, from season one’s “Monster of the Week” to the rich mythos and epic
arcs of later seasons?
IRVINE: I loved the monster of the week shows, just like I
loved the same storytelling devices on the X-FILES (and [producer/director] Kim
Manners, of course, had a lot to do with both). But, yeah, the show kept
reaching and reaching for grander and grander stakes, which was the only way it
could go. Once you invoke demons, eventually you have to face down the
questions of hell and damnation, etc. To do otherwise would be to quit on the
fundamental mythology of the series, literally from its first shots. It would
have been easy to hand-wave around that problem, but it wouldn’t have been
honest, and I give Eric, Sera [Gamble] and the rest of the gang an A-plus for
not bailing out on the narrative consequences demanded by the show’s origin.
FANG: Considering that the series’ leads no longer use their
dad’s journal, is your book still relevant?
IRVINE: Is the Old Testament relevant to Christians? (Was
that lightning outside?) Yeah, I think it still is. The boys aren’t still
hunting the same way, but the show is drawing new fans in all the time, and
they’ve got those first five seasons to go through to catch up. So they’re all
going to need JOHN WINCHESTER’S JOURNAL to keep up, of course!
FANG: Some fans think SUPERNATURAL should have ended last
year, with the departure of Kripke and big Apocalypse arc?
IRVINE: The fans who think the show should have ended don’t
need to watch it, right? They can change the channel and for them it will have
been over last year. But if you’re going to watch season six, just watch it and
enjoy it! Don’t spend all your time second-guessing whether it should exist.
Where does that get you?
FANG: The latest season has had a lot of trouble finding its
footing this year (well, how could you top the Apocalypse?) Do you agree, and
if so, how can it get back on track?
IRVINE: I don’t think they’re trying to top the Apocalypse,
because as you said, how can you? The interesting question is, well, once the
Apocalypse is over, what then? Life goes on, right? But how can you go on with
regular normal life when you’ve lived through the Apocalypse!? The question of
Castiel and Crowley and free will has made for some good stuff.
FANG: What’s next for you, SUPERNATURAL or otherwise?
IRVINE: There is occasionally talk of an updated monster
book. We’ll see about that. On the non-SUPERNATURAL front, I just finished the
second of what look to be three TRANSFORMERS novels; I’m diving into revisions
on a STAR WARS novel; I just finished a novelization of an upcoming film that I
can’t talk about, but wish I could; and I’m writing a Facebook game that
everyone in the world is going to want to play. Really. Plus working on a
couple of original novels and some comics. I’m on Twitter @alexirvine if you
want to hear more.
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