“Have you ever been touched by a Demon? It’s like being touched by the back-hand of God.”
And that, gentlemen and ladies, is Penny Dreadful in a nutshell. A penny dreadful is defined as a generally Victorian lurid fiction publication, often fantasy or horror or some marvelous combination of both, sold for an old-fashioned penny. The Showtime show Penny Dreadful is literally those old-timey stories, part science fiction, part fantasy, part horror, brought to life on the small screen, and don’t think we fans aren’t grateful.
Show creator John Logan appeared at the San Diego Comic-Con panel, along with stars Josh Hartnett, who plays our beloved Ethan, Reeve Carney who is Dorian Grey on the show, and Harry Treadway, who is Doctor Victor Frankenstein! Aisha Tyler, who professed herself a huge fan of the show, moderated!
John Logan is a native of San Diego, and spoke of how he had been roiling around the idea of Penny Dreadful for 10+ years in his head, inspired by the works of William Wordsworth and of course Shelley’s original Frankenstein, and how he used to walk the back-ways of San Diego and see the coyotes and wolves, which became his inspiration for the werewolves on the show as well.
The show is also inspired by the second generation of Universal Horror monsters, many of whom have appeared on the show already in its first season. Logan talked passionately of the acceptance that he lovingly found from the show and its fans, which truly aided him after the less-than-stellar reception he received earlier from friends and loved ones, as an openly gay man.
All of the show’s stars talked about reading the books that inspired their respective characters: Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, and Logan spoke of using the book Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet as a sort of bible for the show. Treadway stated he actually consulted with Cambridge University about period medical practices, and arranged to get period-accurate surgical gear for him to use as Dr. Frankenstein on the show; he’s a bit of a stickler for it now and enjoys good-natured ribbing about such from even the shows creator Logan himself.
Logan talked about how many seem to be of the opinion that Victorian-era people were stilted and in-the-closet, so to speak, about matters of sexuality, and how the show bursts those corset strings of superstition with gusto and joy. Reeve Carney laughingly informed the crowd that he did at least ask for a hot guy to be chosen to play Ethan, for those amazing male-male love scenes if nothing else, and was perfectly satisfied when Josh Hartnett was chosen for the pivotal role!
Logan dropped a few very juicy tidbits in hot anticipation of Season 2 of Penny Dreadful: in Season 2, Dr. Frankenstein’s creature will choose a name for himself; we will see Dorian’s portrait at some point; and Season 2 will bring in another highly recognizable character from Dracula! Penny Dreadful will return to us drooling fans in 2015!