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Holmes & Houdini: Writer Honor Vincent Teases Zenescope's Newest Dynamic Duo!

Holmes & Houdini: Writer Honor Vincent Teases Zenescope's Newest Dynamic Duo!

, by Jake Abbate, 9 min reading time

Welcome back, friends! Is it too late to say “Happy New Year” yet? In any case, I hope 2024 is off to a great start for all of you fine folks out there, especially if you were kind enough to pick up copies of Robyn Hood: Blood in the Water and Gretel: Dark Impulses in recent weeks. We still have a few more riveting adventures to share with you before January’s end, and although we try not to play favorites here at Zenescope HQ, there’s one issue hitting stores at the end of the month that we’re all particularly excited about. On January 31st, we'll finally release Holmes & Houdini #1, the start of a brand new limited series featuring one of our brightest new characters and co-starring an even fresher face making her Grimm Universe debut.

Holmes & Houdini #1 - Cover A (Art by Igor Vitorino & Ivan Nunes)

Anticipation for Holmes & Houdini has been growing ever since we announced the series at New York Comic Con last fall, mainly on account of the built-in name recognition afforded by its two leading ladies. From the moment she first showed up in 2023’s Grimm Tales of Terror Quarterly: Rise of Cthulhu, Spencer Holmes has been dazzling readers with her superhuman powers of clairvoyance, the origins of which were traced in her very own one-shot back in September. It goes without saying that having the world’s most famous detective as your ancestor comes with some big shoes to fill. But lucky for her, Spencer’s about to meet someone who can relate to this kind of pressure -- enter Erica Houdini, the great-great-granddaughter of master illusionist Harry Houdini. When the death of a loved one suddenly brings these two together, Spencer and Erica will unite against a common enemy over the course of three action-packed issues, encountering an ancient secret society and making shocking discoveries about their pasts along the way.

Spearheading this espionage thrill ride is Honor Vincent, whom some of you might know as the writer behind several Grimm Tales of Terror stories and, more recently, last month’s Hydra #1. Before the first issue drops later this month, I had the chance to talk with Honor about all things Holmes & Houdini, getting to the heart of what makes Spencer and Erica tick and, more importantly, how they’ll work together as the series progresses. You can check out what she had to say (along with some interior pages courtesy of artist Oliver Borges) below!


How were you pitched on joining the series' creative team?

Back in August, [editor-in-chief] David Wohl told me Zenescope was planning a new miniseries that'd be coming out early this year, centered on Spencer Holmes and a new character, who was the granddaughter of Houdini. He asked if I'd be interested in reading the concept they had and pitching an outline for three issues. I said yes, and I don't remember how many exclamation points I used in the email, but I think it was more than three.

Holmes & Houdini has a lot of sci-fi and fantasy elements, but because it’s a spy thriller at its core, it still feels more grounded than other Grimm Universe tales, including many of the issues that you’ve been involved with (Hydra, The Black Knight, etc.). Was it refreshing to tackle something more down-to-earth for a change?

Well, I did try to put an elephant conjuring in, but it was too much. But really, yes, it was fun -- having constraints on the characters and world you're working with gives the story some extra tension, which is always a good thing. And though it's Harry Houdini's granddaughter, she doesn't have magic powers. Something I learned about Houdini himself when I was doing some research for the book was that he hated "spiritualists" and séances and all of the supernatural stuff that was very popular in the 1920s -- he spoke in front of Congress to try to get psychics banned. So his kit, which Erica inherits, is not full of actual magic artifacts, but tools he invented to do his shows and his other work. Erica has to work pretty hard to understand how to use them! When she does, they become part of her tradecraft. And there's plenty in the bag of tricks that she hasn't even touched yet.


The series’ biggest draw is that it introduces readers to Erica Houdini. How does it feel to be the one handling her maiden voyage?

Pretty exciting! I've written for existing characters before, which is challenging, because you want to do them justice and get them right while developing them and giving the readers something new. Starting from scratch has its own set of challenges, because every decision feels heavy. The Zen universe is huge in the best way; there are so many beloved characters, and when someone new comes into the mix it always feels like it's done with a lot of care. To get to be part of that process from the early days feels amazing, and I'm grateful to have been trusted with her!

Did you have total freedom in fleshing out Erica’s backstory?

Not total -- in the brief I got there were notes on the beginning of her arc in this series, and I went from there. I think the coolest part of working on Erica was getting to give her her voice (and also her cat), and try out different versions of scenes to see what it made the most sense for her to do. Deep down she's hurt, but I wanted her to be wily and resilient and tussling with her own inner conflicts. She bends the rules, but deep down she is a good, optimistic person in a bad situation.

Spencer Holmes is another relatively new addition to the Grimm Universe, having made her own first appearance last year. Without giving too much away, were there any elements of her character that you were excited to put your own stamp on?

I think Spencer is super interesting. She's lost her family, but she has the precognition power she inherited, and she got her suit and power stone from Keres when she and Lovecraft went toe to toe with Cthulhu beasties. When we find her in issue #1, she's been setting up her life and is being advised by Watson, whose real identity is a mystery to her. If I were her, in that world, I would be hedging all of my bets. Easy come, easy go, right? She wants to make sure that even if her powers fail her or someone takes her suit away one day she'll have something to fall back on, so she's training hard and learning how to fight.

Before writing the script, you collaborated on the basic storyline with Joe, Ralph, and the Daves. What was that process like, and what did you bring to the table that the other guys didn’t?

I got the concept for the story from the team -- kind of the kick-off for everything. Then I wrote up an outline for the whole three-issue arc, and got a bunch of notes back on what was and wasn't working and thoughts for how to retool it. We went back and forth with the outline like that for a couple of rounds to make sure it was strong before I got going on the script. I learn plenty about storytelling with every comic I write, and getting to shape this with them was sort of a masterclass.

How will Spencer and Erica’s relationship evolve over the course of three issues? Obviously, they both have famous ancestors, but what sets them apart in terms of how they approach the mission at hand?

They definitely don't start off as friends. There's a moment in Issue #2 where they see in each other the same kind of hurt. There's definitely some trauma-bonding going on at first, but they learn how to work off of each other and develop a deeper respect for each other as time goes on. Their great-great-grandads would be proud!

Is there anything you can tease about the “ancient secret society” that brings the two heroes together?

Nice try. I don't want to disappear, so, no.

Ha! Fair enough. You’ve worked with Oliver Borges before, most recently on several pages of the Hydra one-shot. What was it like to work with him on a full miniseries?

I didn't realize it was Oliver initially, but I am so very glad it's him! He has a wonderful sense of humor. I always try not to over direct, and to leave space in my scripts for the artist to work -- they're the experts in layout and visual storytelling. Oliver just adds so much thoughtful detail to every page, stuff I never would have come up with. He drew in some glorious monster sea slugs in a fight in Hydra #1 that made me cackle. I was delighted when the inks started coming in for #1 -- Erica really looked just like I was imagining her.

What kind of a future do you see for Erica and Spencer beyond the series’ conclusion?

I see them as in each other's orbit no matter what -- fate is what first crosses their paths, but they find out they work pretty darn well together. I hope there are lots of outings ahead for them both!


You can find more information about Holmes & Houdini #1 by clicking here. Be sure to follow Honor on Twitter at @rhonorv.

Are you excited to read the first issue on January 31st? Let us know in the comment section below!

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