As the graphic novel Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? is released today we are joined by the co-writer and true-crime writer Harold Schechter.
Hi Harold, we are delighted and so happy to have you here with us today. We are so excited that we can chat with you about your new graphic novel with Eric Powell.
Thanks for inviting me.
As some of our readers may not be familiar with your work, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Until my recent retirement I was a professor of 19th-century American literature at Queens College City University of New York, for 42 years. I also taught classes in myth and folklore. To supplement my meager academic salary, I started writing commercial books back in the late 70s, basically on whatever subject interested me at the moment. I was working on a book about movie special effects when I encountered the fact–unknown to me at the time–that both PSYCHO and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE were inspired by the same real-life criminal, the “Wisconsin Ghoul,” Ed Gein. I began looking into the case and that became my first true crime book, DEVIANT. Since then, I’ve written a bunch of historical true crime books, along with encyclopedic works like THE SERIAL KILLER FILES.
When did you first hear about Eddie Gein?
As mentioned above, it was while researching the horror chapter in my book, FILM TRICKS: SPECIAL EFFECTS IN THE MOVIES.
Could you tell us about the origin of Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?
One day, my agent called to say that he had heard from a comic book artist, Eric Powell, about the possibility of collaborating on a graphic novel about Gein. As it happens, I’ve been a lifelong comic book fan and, at one point, a serious collector. I was familiar with THE GOON and have always regarded Eric as arguably the finest draftsmen working in comics today. So I leapt at the opportunity.
How did you go about researching Eddie Gein?
I wrote my book DEVIANT before the internet age so I had to do a lot of digging in archives. I went to Wisconsin, interviewed Gein’s neighbors in Plainfield, psychiatrists who treated him, the judge who presided at his hearing. I corresponded with Robert Bloch, the author of the novel PSYCHO. All in all, I assembled hundreds of pages of legal, psychiatric and other documents, along with xeroxes of the local papers that covered the case before embarking on the actual writing of the book.
Why did you want to tell this story?
Because of the undying fascination with Gein, who–thanks to his influence on twentieth-century American horror–stands as a significant cultural figure.
How would you describe Eddie Gein?
People think of him as a serial killer but he doesn’t really fit that profile. He wasn’t a sadistic sex-killer like Bundy, Gacy, Kemperer, etc. Essentially he was a necrophile, driven to exhume the corpses of elderly women who reminded him of his mother, take them back to his farmhouse, dissect them, and make grotesque artifacts out of their body parts. To be sure, he murdered two women but (without minimizing those crimes) he was not interested in torture-murder but in acquiring the raw material for his bizarre rituals.
Has it been difficult working on this graphic novel?
Not for me. It’s been a terrific experience, one I hope to repeat.
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
If you’re interested in the Ed Gein story, our book will shed new light on the inner workings of his deranged psychology. And if you’re a lover of amazing comic book art, this is the book for you.
We would like to say a big thank you to Harold for talking to us.