Horror AnthologyHOTELL Returns For Volume 2 This December

The series started as one of several bold ideas launched as part of AWA'S Upshot comic line-up, but after delivering an unforgettable horror anthology in its debut run, the team behind Hotell is back for another round of skin-crawling, supernatural terror in Hotell Vol. 2.

The first four issues of Hotell welcomed readers to the otherworldly Pierrot Courts, the Route 66 roadside motel where walls between the normal world and the demonic and supernatural dissolve and overlap. Where the guests for whom the motel appears are able to check out... but can (almost) never really leave. And where readers are forced to watch as the guests' interconnecting stories are unraveled one by one--resulting in subtle glimpses and clues only to be explained in issues yet to come. Now, Screen Rant is pleased to announce that Hotell Vol. 2 is going to keep the scares coming, with the creative team back for a new five-issue series starting this December.

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Writer John Lees offers the first look and first details at the return, made possible through support by retailers and readers, resulting in a new five issue volume with artist Dalibor Talajic. Five more interconnected stories chronicle another harrowing week at Pierrot Courts, the mysterious roadside motel where lost souls make their last stand with the demons that haunt them. A family, desperate and destitute after being evicted from their home. A struggling artist, yearning for inspiration. A lonely bachelor, tending to his beloved, ailing dog. A brutal motorcycle gang, hunting for a runaway initiated... when all these haunted souls check into Pierrot Courts, who will survive to check out? Readers can enjoy our full interview with Lees below:

Screen Rant: First I want to ask you about the reception to the first four issues of Hotell that you saw and heard, and just how quickly your ideas for more stories became actual issues you had the green light to start creating?

John Lees: There were ideas running through my head for more stories to tell in the world of Pierrot Courts even while I was writing the first volume of Hotell. If you look at that first volume, it’s filled with little bits and pieces that aren’t fully resolved, little threads left dangling where you might go, “Huh, I wonder what’s happening there?” That was absolutely me leaving little breadcrumbs to pick up on for potential future volumes. But at the same time, I did try to give that first volume a satisfying ending, and didn’t want to get too concrete in planning anything more, as we didn’t know for sure if there was going to be more. That was always going to be dependent on the response from readers.

Thankfully, that response was overwhelming! Hotell ended up being one of the highest-selling titles in AWA”s initial wave of releases, the reviews were really strong, and it really struck a chord with readers. I of course was proud of our work on the first volume, but I don’t think even I anticipated just how passionate readers were going to get about our series. I genuinely believe a big part of why I’m here today talking to you about Hotell 2 is because of how persistent people were on social media about tagging the creative team and tagging AWA letting them know how much they loved Hotell, and asking for more. Once we got the greenlight, there was a little back-and-forth on the development end. I had a pretty clear idea of what individual stories I wanted to do, but the challenge came from nailing down the right framing device to bring it altogether. But I’m very happy with our end result.

SR: The 'anthology' format giving way to what turned out to be interconnected and overlapping stories became a defining feature of Hotell Vol. 1, adding some really fun value for re-reading. I would assume that will continue in some way, but do you adjust that strategy, knowing that NOW readers are going to be looking for those clues in every page?

John Lees: In this second volume, there are definitely plenty more little narrative Easter Eggs to be found, lots of sneaky things set up in our first issue that will pay off later on. I’m aware that it may be harder to shock people now that they know to expect the unexpected, but looking at the stories collected here, I do believe we’ll be able to effectively wrong-foot some expectations by coming at things from different angles. But I also believe that there is a pleasure to be had in seeing something coming in a story, looking forward to it, then getting exactly what you want. Rather than necessarily trying to outsmart the reader, I look at it as letting the reader feel in on the joke if they can see where a story is getting before we get there!

SR: There are some very overt references in the first issue, to other guests, a motorcycle gang, and even an 'off-screen' discovery or two. But the first volume was specifically the events surrounding a solar eclipse. Is there an overarching idea at work here, too?

John Lees: There is definitely an overarching thing at play here. The solar eclipse was a neat framing device for us in the first volume: simple, straightforward, a clear marker point on which all the various story threads could converge, a visually dynamic climax to build to. But for this second volume, I didn’t want to just do “another solar eclipse” or “another weekend with a special event that we see from different perspectives.” I wanted to be more ambitious with it.

This might seem like a weird comparison at first, but I think one of the greatest sequels of recent years was The Raid 2. Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen it, but early in the movie, it’s set up so that the main character ends up a marked man incarcerated in a maximum-security prison. So, we have another contained setting the protagonist is trapped in, replicating the formula of the first film, but on a bigger scale. I’m sure Gareth Evans could have done a full film in that location and fans of the first film would have been satisfied. Instead, we’ve broken out of that prison within the first half hour, and the film becomes this expansive crime epic sprawling all over the city, adding more to the mythology. Similarly, for Hotell 2, I wanted to probe deeper and do more.

SR: Your host for this horror anthology, Jack Lynch, was an added layer - - not just narratively, but as a character who had feelings about what was transpiring at Pierrot Courts. Are you happy with how Jack came across in that first volume, and what he quietly and subtly adds to the whole story?

John Lees: I’m glad you brought that up, as Jack Lynch is one of my favorite aspects of the book. I know the easy comparison to make is that he’s like our Crypt-Keeper, introducing the stories. But I do like that frisson of him being our host and narrator, but also, he’s interacting with this world and these characters. And while he has yet to be an active participant, we wanted to convey the sense that even as an observer, he wasn’t totally impartial or impassive, that he had feelings about what these characters were going through, or the ordeals they were set to face. I think that speaks to the fact that, more than a Tales from the Crypt or a Creepshow, Hotell encourages readers to care about these characters and what they are going through, as opposed to watching with a kind of detached, fly-under-the-magnifying-glass glee.

SR: You said Jack's past, his nature, and his role were parts of the story you had removed from the first volume, but this next issue starts with a BIG hint that Jack is going to have a more active role in the next nightmares unfolding at Pierrot Courts. What can you tease?

John Lees: I can say that while Jack Lynch may have been strictly an observer in our first volume, this this second volume there will be moments where he falls more into that active participant role. We’ll see more of him, and he’ll be more directly interacting with characters and their paths through this particular narrative.

SR: The first issue opened with one heck of a haymaker: the breastfeeding demon baby. It almost seems like Jack's realization that children are arriving at the motel will mirror the readers', too, but did you aim for the same kinds of horror this time around: skin crawling, but without being overly gory or gruesome? The lore behind this motel seems to make almost anything possible.

John Lees: One of the things that’s most fun about writing Hotell is that variety, how the anthology format frees us up to tell different kinds of stories. Thus far, we’ve been able to run the gamut from blackly comic to harrowing and horrifying. This time round, I think the stories are even more diverse. There are moments that are scary. There are moments that are funny. And this time round, there are even some moments that I believe are emotional and moving.

SR: Because it's going to be a major question on readers' minds, especially given one figure roaming the grounds of the Pierrot: beyond Jack, is there a chance of seeing characters return in future issues, with perhaps some not-so-final fates?

John Lees: I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say that we’re aware of a few fan favorite characters, and have made a note of who people have talked about wanting to see more of. If there are characters who were still checked into Pierrot Courts at the end of the first volume, odds are they’ll still be there now, in one form or another. Whether or not we actually see them… well, you’ll just have to keep reading!

SR: Obviously you know more about this place, the forces at work, and its purpose than readers have learned already. So how much more is revealed in this next batch of tales, and how much are you still keeping close to your chest? 

John Lees: Over the course of this volume, you will definitely see more of Pierrot Courts. I was playing that Resident Evil 2 remake not too long ago, and I see Pierrot Courts a little like the police station, or any of the maps in a Resident Evil game. You have this contained location, but the more time we spend there, the more you find secret passages and hidden depths, the more you realize there’s a lot more to this place than first appears. Some of those hidden depths will be revealed in Hotell 2. But I’ll also be leaving more little threads dangling!

Dalibor Talajić: Getting the news of HOTELL coming back on popular demand was huge. I was particularly happy because my daughter is a big fan and she was harassing me all the time about the next time I'll be drawing Pierrot. And for me, it was like getting the band back together. HOTELL was my first AWA entry and it'll always, have a special place in my heart. But things are different now, the readers now expect things from us. John upped the game, of course, and so must I. Again, this really is an honor but also is a responsibility. But hey... I'm having the time of my life!”

Hotell Vol.2 #1 will arrive in December 2021.

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