MONSTER ISLAND -- Captain FrankenPirate, also known as Michael Hanna in the human world, is a monster maker/pirate/magician/card reader/fortune teller/ghost detector -- a sort of jack-o’-lantern of all trades, as he says. He’s a Frankenstein monster in his own right, a concoction of many parts . . . and talents, too.
His ship, the Blarney Hanna, pulled into Pirate Harbor late last night, and Jack-o’-Lantern Press got the opportunity to sit down with him at his favorite table in his favorite tavern for some of his favorite rum to talk about his work, how he got into what he’s into, and about how you can check out some of the spooky and kooky stuff he’s doing.
Jack-o’-Lantern Press: How was your voyage?
Captain FrankenPirate (Michael Hanna): Choppy.
JLP: So, we know you make monsters and we know some of the monsters you’ve made, but what kind of monster are you? Were you made in a lab, created from black magic, hatched from an egg or were you just born?
MH: The evolution of my many personalities comes from years of being exposed to glow-in-the dark toys from the 1960s, eating lots of Boo-Berry, Franken Berry and Count Chocula cereals, and being a loyal Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine subscriber.
JLP: How long have you made monsters, and what got you started?
MH: I started making monsters in my lab about 30 years ago . . . because I had all these ideas in my brain and I needed to share them with others like myself -- and there are plenty of other Halloween/Monster/things-that-go-bump-in-the-night enthusiasts like myself. The pirates are my first love. There’s something about that time period I just really enjoy. It just seems to click with me, and creating the characters is never ending while building them.
JLP: Tell us about some of the monsters you make. We know you’ve made skeleton pirates, werewolves and vampires. What else? And what’s your scariest creation?
MH: Yes, I’ve made skeleton pirates, werewolves and vampires . . . I’d probably say my scariest creation was a family of life-sized zombies, though. As I created each one -- there were five of them -- I had no place to put them, so I set them around my kitchen table. It looked like I had a family of five zombies sitting at my table for dinner every night.
JLP: As a captain and creator of your own pirates, does that mean you sail with a crew, or do you sail solo?
MH: I hang with a crew of the most amazing pirate characters that ever sailed the seven seas. They’re a very large group of pirate re-enactors, kind of like the Renaissance Fair folk, but a lot more rowdy and a lot more fun. This group of wonderful colorful pirates can be found all over the country. Believe it or not, there are hundreds and hundreds of pirates all over the world, and not just in the monster world. There are hundreds and hundreds in the human world, too. I sail with them all.
JLP: Have you ever harnessed energy from lightning to create any of your monsters?
MH: No, but I drink a lot of rum, which gives the same of effect.
MH: No, but I drink a lot of rum, which gives the same of effect.
JLP: What types of monsters, wizards, mad scientists, evil warlords or other haunters buy your work? Do plain old ordinary people buy your work, too?
MH: People and things who think outside the box . . . march to their own drum . . . have fun with creative, crazy, wild ideas . . . You get the idea. People who have a pirate room or bar in their homes buy my creations to decorate or enhance their dwellings. Then there are collectors of unusual things. Ordinary people? What is that?
JLP: Once you release your horrors into the world, do you have separation anxiety? If so, well, lucky you. Do you ever check in on your creations, see what kind of terror they’re up to?
MH: Do I have separation anxiety? What father wouldn’t?! Looking at your children after you’ve created them and then having to part with them, all you can hope for is that they go to a good home and that you raised them properly before they go to represent you elsewhere. Unfortunately, once they leave my lab, I have no way of checking on them since it’s against the monster code. Hopefully, one might pop up in the news or on the Internet doing what they do best . . . scaring people!
JLP: Can you tell us about your lab? I’ll bet it’s filled with body parts, bones, spell books, operating tables, flasks of colored liquid, levers and control panels, Tesla coils and large machinery, death rays, and dusty piles of failed experiments, right?
MH: Well, from your description, it sounds like big brother is watching, but aside from all the cliché things like the ones you mention, you’ll also find a refrigerator, a stove, the television, my terrible children’s stacks of vampire girls magazines . . . Oops, scratch that last comment.
JLP: What types of body parts for your work are most difficult to find?
MH: I would probably have to say dragon eyes. Hard to come by and the damn dragon always seems to want to keep them.
JLP: So tell us, honestly, have you ever concocted a plan to take over the world?
MH: No, probably just Pittsburgh.
MH: No, probably just Pittsburgh.
JLP: We understand you’re also a magician. What kind of magic do you do -- black magic, evil sorcery, voodoo or just the regular kind?
MH: Yes, I am a magician. I’ve performed magic since I was 7 years old. Still can’t seem to get the “sawing the woman in half” trick down to a science yet, though I’ve created lots of twins because of it.
JLP: Were you born with magic? If not, what evil magician taught you what you know now?
MH: No, birth is magic itself, but I was self-taught and learned from books in the library. There were no DVDs or videotapes back when I was learning.
JLP: What’s the evilest spell or act of magic you’ve ever performed? How’d it go and did kids take off screaming?
MH: The evilest spell is probably the one I cast on the woman I married. And do kids run out screaming? Only if I’m wearing shorts when I’m performing.
JLP: You also find ghosts. We’ve had many of our good friends in the ghost realm go missing. Can you find them? How? Can you call on ghosts to just appear? Did you know I’m part ghost? Can you call me? Whoa, here I am.
MH: (Laughs) Yes, I’ve been known to be sensitive enough to find spirits. But then again, I could find Waldo. I don’t use a Ouija board and I don’t do a ghost-to-ghost broadcast. I’m just able to sense the force around all of us, and I know how to tune in better than most people, but not as good as some.
JLP: Can you actually communicate with ghosts? I mean, other than me. Can you play in their world?
MH: Sometimes. I walk with them and talk with them, but when it comes to solid walls, they keep going and I stay where I am.
JLP: How long have you been reading others’ misfortunes? Do you go in for that more light-hearted “fortune” telling stuff, too?
MH: Reading others’ Miss-fortunes, Mr.-fortunes . . . it doesn't matter. It’s all good. But I'm not really a fortuneteller. I’m more of an advisor, so I connect with people and try to give them a good direction as to which way they’re supposed to go with their lives.
JLP: What is your biggest challenge in all that you do? Or is it all that you do that’s the challenge?
MH: I would have to say . . . walking. My feet hurt a lot, otherwise there’s no challenge too big and nothing I can’t create if I put my mind to it.
JLP: What do you do for evil in your spare time?
MH: I still eat Count Chocula.
JLP: Is there a special ghoul in your life? What type of monster is she?
MH: My main squeeze? Yep. And because I’m all-over-the-place crazy, she keeps a lid on my coffin when I get too out of control. I guess you could call her the Bride of FrankenPirate.
JLP: Any skeletons in your closet?
MH: Just the ones that are being made into pirates. Oh, and the ones that I feed the dog when I run out of milk bones.
JLP: What other things would you want monsters, ghosts, magicians, mad scientists, pirates, haunters and even people to know about you and what you do?
MH: We covered most of the stuff that makes up my crazy life. My dead -- I mean my dad -- was a stuntman in movie westerns. My mummy is a stay-at-home type of mum. But to expand a little more, Skullywags is a company I built from the ground up about 20 years ago. I create these pirates, I sew all the clothing on them, and I make all the boots, hats and all the accessories that are on them. As for my magic, I mainly do theme magic like Harry Potter and pirate magic, and I even did a “My Little Pony” show not that long ago. Regarding my tarot card/channeling abilities, I’ve been involved in connecting with the “spirit world” since I was very young. I do readings/channeling for people who are trying to find good direction in their life. I also work with two paranormal groups as their sensitive investigator, doing work in houses that are reputed to have spirit activity.
JLP: How can people find you or contact you?
JLP: OK, so, at the end of these interviews, we like to fire off some questions like James Lipton from “Inside the Actor’s Studio” does. So here we go: What’s your favorite shade of blood and guts?
MH: Purple. It’s my favorite color, too.
JLP: What’s your favorite type of victim?
MH: Probably victim of love.
JLP: If you could be any other monster, what would it be?
MH: An agent for the IRS.
JLP: What kind of scream or cry of terror do you love most?
MH: The one from my kids when they find out I ate all the donuts.
JLP: What kind of scream or cry of terror do you love least?
MH: The one from me when I find out my kids ate all the donuts.
JLP: What’s your favorite torture device?
MH: I think it’s a toss-up between the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine.
JLP: If The Elevator that goes down to The Fire Caves exists (and it does), what would you want the Red Devil to say to you when you arrive?
MH: I’ve got these two glasses here. Did you bring the rum?