We first learned about Larime Taylor during the Kickstarter campaign for A Voice in the Dark Volume 1. In typical Outhouse style, after reading about Larime on his Kickstarter page and on various articles promoting it, we used his story to make fun of Rob Liefeld. Because that's how we roll. Taylor saw our article and he thought it was funny (or at least he humored us and pretended he did). Because that's how he rolls. Literally. And so began our sweet, sweet love affair with Larime Taylor and A Voice in the Dark.
I've read the first volume of A Voice in the Dark, and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, it's a great comic book. I honestly can't think of anything bad to say about it, and this is coming from a guy who once called Avengers vs. X-Men "a malevolent plot to destroy the X-Men franchise forever." But you can read all my shameless gushing in my reviews of A Voice in the Dark #1 and #2. Today, we sat down with Larime Taylor to talk about the next volume of A Voice in the Dark and the future of the series.
Hi Larime. Thanks for joining us.
Explain the entire essence of A Voice in the Dark in one sentence or less. Go.
Terry Moore described it as "Strangers in Paradise meets Dexter." I think that's a pretty good summary on a meta level. My description of the story would be:
Zoey Aarons was born with a compulsion to kill, and this is the story of her struggle with that compulsion.
What inspired you to write this story. Have you ever killed anyone?
It started out as a parody of the 80's slasher flicks I grew up on, with some Heathers style sarcastic wit thrown in. The ethnic girl always dies first, so I made the main character biracial. Then I decided that, if she's the one who survives to the end, maybe she's the killer. It was originally going to be very campy, very over-the-top. Then I started realizing the real potential that the premise has.
Now it's more of a psychological horror and noir book, more gritty and slow-burn. It's a character piece. Some issues take place over one hour of time, others can gloss over weeks in a few pages. I'm more interested in exploring the human condition and Zoey's internal struggle than I am in 'having stuff happen'.
As for myself, my lawyer advises me not to comment on whether or not I may have done such things, though I will point out that, being in a wheelchair, I wear a seat belt that would prove to be no small obstacle to any such activities.
You ran a very successful Kickstarter for A Voice in the Dark Volume 1 - six times the goal, if I recall. Of course, I'm a very important internet comics personality, so I've read these issues. Can you tell our readers how it's going getting these out there into the market?
It's going well, actually. Things were honestly a bit slow when I was submitting via email, through the 'proper channels'. That changed drastically when I went to Wonder Con and made my pitch directly. Nothing can be officially announced yet, but I'm close to signing a contract with a pretty well-known publisher. I can't risk that one of your eight or nine readers might say something, though, so for now I can't say who. Hopefully the book will be hitting comic shops everywhere in the coming months.
What did you learn from producing that book with Kickstarter that you plan to apply to future projects or to eventual world domination?
Communication is key. It hasn't always been a smooth or easy process, but I've kept my backers informed with regular updates.
What do you have in store for Volume 2?
Lots! The first story took place shortly after her very first kill, and looked at how she's coping (or not). At its core, the next 5-issue story is about the how and why of Zoey falling off the wagon and killing again. It jumps forward and back in the timeline, like parts 1 and 3 did of the first 3-parter, but it spans over several months, where the first story was all within about a week and a day.
It brings her roommates into the story as supporting characters, looks in on her classes from time to time, and reveals a lot more about the city and the school. I'm playing with more than one plotline now, and while the main one is the circumstances that lead her to kill again, I've got more going on in the background. For instance, another killer in town crosses paths with Zoey, and it'll have real consequences for her down the line. Plus there'll be something of another twist near the end.
You've got some really cool people contributing rewards to the latest Kickstarter. Can you rank them in order of importance?
I don't think I can rank them, especially since they're all more important than me in the world of comics! But yeah, I've got some really great things lined up, including guest sketches by Terry Moore, Jimmie Robinson, Amanda Conner, Blair Shedd, and Chandra Free. The digital trade will have a cover drawn by Tim Bradstreet. It'll also include backup stories written by Joe Illidge, B Clay Moore, Vince Hernandez, and Michael Moreci.
There's a TON of stuff that will ONLY be in the digital trade, and NOT in the individual digital issues. (With a publishing deal on the horizon, there are no plans to offer a printed trade of Vol. 2 as I did with Vol. 1.)
I've read the first three issues (and loved them). It's a great story that seems really open to a lot of expansion. How far ahead have you thought about the stories of Zoey, her friends, her family, and the people of Cutter's Circle? Do you have it all mapped out?
I have the next 5-part story completely outlined and partly written. I have solid ideas for another two stories beyond that, each in the 6-8 issue range, and rough ideas for several more beyond even that. I could write this story for quite a while. I will note that at present I DO NOT have an ending in mind. Not even I know where it's all headed!
One of the things I really like about A Voice in the Dark is the diversity of the characters, and the nonchalant way they're used. The characters in your book are real people, just like in real life. Is it crazy to think that people of different races, genders, sexualities, and body types can be represented in a comic without it being a publicity stunt?
I really hope so. Beyond a few people in particular - Gail Simone and Terry Moore immediately come to mind - there's not a ton of it going on. You hardly ever see heavy people, or even just chunky people, really, in most comics, except as comic relief. Minorities are often minimal, and you only get one or two at most. It's not a very accurate reflection of real life. But, if you're dealing with superheroes especially, I guess real life isn't to be expected, anyway.
I want to tell more relatable stories. I write very naturalistic dialogue, so I like diversity of character.
Everyone imagines killing someone at some point. It's not just me, right? Does Zoey's dark side represent something that's inside all human beings?
I think anyone CAN be capable of anything. That's a big question in the story, though: what went wrong? She's not a psychopath or sociopath by clinical definitions, she's not possessed, she's not 'evil', she wasn't abused... She was just born that way. Is it something she can overcome? Should she? Is it acceptable to kill in certain circumstances? I don't have the answer, but I want to ask those questions and let the reader decide.
Zoey is the protagonist of your story. She's relatable. I think she's likable. But she's a murderer. Is she a hero, a villain, or something in between?
I think that's something that will be different for every reader. In some moments, she can be very heroic. In others she's a monster. It's something I want to explore. I'm trying to avoid having her only kill 'evil' people, especially other killers, because it's too easy and it's been done before. I want Zoey to have a good reason to HER mind as to why she does what she does, but we might not agree with her.
Will Zoey need to pay for what she's done before the story is finished?
I really don't know yet. I don't necessarily agree that she has to eventually 'pay for what she's done' by the end. Life rarely works that way. Tons of great people never find happiness or success, and tons of horrible people get rich and live long, happy lives. I certainly don't think she needs to be punished at the end to send the message that murder is bad. Of course it's bad. No one needs me to tell them that.
How famous do you think you'll have to get before you it becomes prudent to distance yourself from The Outhouse? Have any industry people warned you to stay away from us yet?
So far they just stare blankly at me when I mention you guys. Except Liefeld. He goes into spastic fits.
When the day finally arrives when you have to disown us for the good of your career, don't hesitate. We'll understand.
Thanks Larime. I know you've got big things in the works for the book and you deserve it. I can't wait to pick up a hard copy of A Voice in the Dark in my local comic shop.
Thanks! Anyone who wants to get in early and read the stories BEFORE they get published can jump on the bandwagon right now at http://kck.st/XLmeHS. If you didn't read Vol. 1, you can choose any of the 'Newcomer' rewards, and it'll include issues #1-#3.
I hope to have a big announcement about publishing soon!