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"So there's this guy, okay?"
For "Salem: Queen of Thorns" writers Chris Morgan and Kevin Walsh, that's how all their story ideas start out -- and their current action-adventure miniseries set in one of the most infamous periods in American history is no exception. The "guy" in question this time around eventually became Elias Hooke, a sickle-wielding action hero who once fanned the flames of Salem's notorious Witch Trials, but now attempts to make up for his sins by destroying an evil creature known as "The Queen of Thorns."
"He is so close to being a bad guy, so close to being a supervillain," said Morgan, who counts the screenplay for "Wanted," the big-screen adaptation of Mark Millar's 2003 series, among his previous projects. "I'm always like, 'Thank God he's one of the good guys, because if he ever turns, we're f---ed."
While Hooke's primary nemesis in "Queen of Thorns" derives its abilities from a "relic of power" created during Jesus' crucifixion, the creative team hinted that this particular "witch" could be the first of many if things go well for the series.
"There's not just one element of the crucifixion that was born out of God's wrath, but multiple ones -- of which the Queen of Thorns is the first one we're meeting," explained Walsh. "As is often the case with witches, they tend to have a coven. And since they've been around since the crucifixion, we have stories that take place outside of the time of pointy, buckled shoes."
For "Queen of Thorns," however, the duo said the setting of the series was as important a character as Hooke himself.
"When you think of Salem, it's a very evocative word -- a very evocative time period in American history," explained Morgan. "It's the last time, really, that we had mythology. There aren't streetlights on every corner, it's dark, and there are boogeymen in the bogs and the shadows and dark spaces."
"It's a unique cultural touchstone for us here in America," added Walsh. "We wanted to deal with the concepts of the "Witch Hunt" and people on the right side and wrong side and where those sides blur."
Morgan told MTV that the setting of the series has particularly personal connection, too -- in the form of an old family legend.
"Apparently, my mom and dad were tracking their ancestry back and found that in Springfield, on my mom's side, her great-great-great-grandmother -- I'm not sure how many 'greats' it was -- she was accused of being a witch," said Morgan. "And on my father's side was the judge who was trying her for witchcraft and ultimately ended up letting her go. So generations down the road, their siblings ended up getting together."
"That very well may have had a lot to do with the genesis of this story idea," he added.
Of course, having an industry veteran like Boom Studios Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid around to help put that idea on the page doesn't hurt, either.
"We had [Waid] telling us how to structure the story and telling us why we couldn't storyboard every action moment," said Walsh. "Initially, we were going to have a 20-page action scene for one issue,"
"Which would have been awesome, by the way," laughed Morgan.
Considering Morgan's considerable work in the film world (he's currently working on a screenplay for the "Wanted" sequel and a "Gears of War" film based on the popular video game), we had to ask: have they given any thought to a "Salem" movie?
"We've thought about it, and are totally open to it," said Morgan. "But with the comic book, we didn't set out with that in mind. For a movie, the story would end up being very different. It was a great experience for me to break away from studio notes and to write what we think is the appropriate journey for that character."
Even though the pair was hesitant to address the series' film potential, they were quick to drop some names when asked about potential casting for a "Salem" movie.
"Clearly for this one, there was a Clint Eastwood 'Man With No Name' vibe to it," said Morgan of their initial concept of Elias Hooke. "But in terms of modern actors, my thoughts immediately go to a Viggo Mortensen or Russell Crowe..."
"What we need is a young Clint Eastwood," laughed Walsh. "We need his son to get a little older so he can be Elias Hooke."
Want more "Salem"? Check out a sneak peek at "Salem: Queen of Thorns" #3 continuing the story by Chris Morgan and Kevin Walsh, scheduled for release in November.
What do you think about "Salem: Queen of Thorns"? Want to see more stories with Elias Hooke? Think "Salem" would make a good movie? Let us know in the comments!