Horror writer Rachel Deering, creator of new comic book Anathema, stops by for a special two-part interview with Outhouse writers BlueStreak and J.M. Hunter!
Boy, do we have a treat for you! The Outhouse's very own BlueStreak and Indy Hunter join forces to give you a one-two punch-drunk donkey kick of awesomeness with our interview of Rachel Deering and her Kickstarter project, a book called Anathema! Rachel's not your typical comic book writer, or woman for that matter (she actually admits that girls use the toilet), and like all honest inspired comic creators she even reads some cool books to get her creativity flowing! So let me first turn it over to BlueStreak for the first part of our interview with Mz. Deering.
OH: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you first become involved in small press comics?
RD: I am a freelance writer from the backwoods of northeastern Kentucky, but I've been living in central Ohio since 2005. I developed a love for comics when I discovered my uncle's collection at the tender young age of about eight or so. He mostly had Heavy Metal and The Savage Sword of Conan magazines, but the few issues of EC's Tales From the Crypt and Warren's Creepy were what really drew me in. After reading through his meager collection until my eyes bled, I decided to make some comics of my own.
Throughout my school years, I produced some primitive funny books featuring my friends as characters, or The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons being abducted by aliens and having a pizza party aboard the UFO. You know, classy stuff for the highbrow types. And that's basically what I'm still doing to this day, except I pay people to illustrate my lunacy, and people pay me to get a peek at the finished product.
OH: What is the basic story of Anathema? What inspired you to want to create this book?
RD: The story focuses on a huntress named Mercy Barlowe, who falls in love with the daughter of a local reverend. When the romantic nature of their relationship is discovered, the reverend cries heresy and vows to see both women tried as witches. Mercy manages to escape, but the reverend's daughter is sentenced to burn. The agony and torment of the burning lures wicked creatures from the darkness, who attack the village and steal the souls of the dying women. Mercy vows to track the evil beings to the ends of the earth and vanquish them to reclaim her lover's soul, even if it means taking on dark powers of her own.
The basic drive for me in wanting to tell the story of Anathema is really nothing more than my intense longing for the return of classic horror stories. I guess I'm just a huge nerd, but I miss monsters. I've seen enough of the madmen with sharp implements, hacking up pretty young women and their boyfriends. I'm fairly sick of the viral outbreaks and reanimated humans. I want some good old-fashioned creatures of the night! I guess, maybe, some people could say that my subconscious political and moral views seep into the story, but that was never a motivation for me.
OH: What response have you gotten from the book so far?
RD: Overwhelming positivity, thankfully! I've had a lot of people comment that they're really glad to see my passion for the classic horror feel and, rightfully so, they're completely stoked on the art. I feel like I've put together a fantastic creative team for Anathema, and I hope that the overall package can satiate those with a hunger for the terror tales of yore!
OH: What have been the benefits to using Kickstarter to fund your book? What costs would the Kickstarter funds subsidize?
RD: Kickstarter has been a great avenue for getting the book to people outside the realms of my small social network. Asking for cash on facebook is fine, and granny might slip me a fiver to further the cause, but most of the people in my life just don't understand my passion for comics. With the financial support I receive from Kickstarter, I'll be able to pay my artists a fair wage and put the rest toward the printing of the book.
Now on to the Indy Hunter 5-Ohh! Part of the interview! I let Blue ask the easy questions, when my turn came up to talk to Rachel, I wasn't going to let her off the hook with easy stuff! You'll get no easy questions from, nope, no ma'am!
First question...What's your favorite color? (Okay, my copy-editor is either wrinkling her nose at me or is the second coming of Bewitched!) Let's ask a serious question.
[Copy-editor's note: I actually giggled.]
IH: Tell us about your creative team. What were some of the challenges at first of putting together such a diverse group of people and getting them to see and feel your vision?
RD: I honestly couldn't have asked for a better creative team. Alan Quah, an artist from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, is handling the pencils and the colors are coming from a fantastic painter in Monterrey, Mexico named Jorge Maese. The biggest challenge for me in putting this team together was sending rejection emails to all those fine people who didn't make the cut. I posted an advertisement on Digital Webbing announcing my search for artists, and the emails just started pouring in. From the 200 or so emails I received, I chose Alan and Jorge.
It wasn't really any issue getting these guys into the story and having them share my vision. Both of them were taken by the script right away, and had no qualms about letting me know. Jorge said that mine was the first full script he'd ever read, whereas he would usually just skim the text, looking for colorist notes. Both of the guys are anxious to get back to working on the story, and didn't like the fact that we had to take a break while waiting for the Kickstarter to finish.
IH: You're the writer, takes us through your day to day approach. An obvious question is: do you ever get writer's block? If so, how do you combat it? I like to kick hobbit ninjas personally, but what's your cure?
RD: I typically wake up at the crack of noon, use the potty, grab a drink from the fridge, and plop down at the computer to answer emails and see to my social networking jibber jabber. That usually allows the caffeine enough time to work through me and get my brain juices flowing. For the bulk of the daytime hours, I'll usually just do some editing on the material I'd written the night before, then once night falls I really come alive and start banging out new ideas.
I am certainly not immune to writer's block! I will usually throw some concepts at my girlfriend and she'll ask me questions about them. In answering these questions, I will almost always get a clearer idea of what I'm trying to write and where the story should go. She's my savior. If that doesn't work, I go sit on the toilet with a Creepy magazine.
IH: So why werewolves? I'm a big fan of them, they're my all time favorites when it comes the classic horror monsters. How would you rate the other ones and will any make appearances in the upcoming books?
RD: Werewolves have always been my favorite supernatural creature. I love the idea that a monster lays dormant inside a person, waiting to tear free and stalk the night. You would never know a werewolf if you met them by day, and you could never tell a werewolf's true identity if you saw them by night. I love the power behind that. I prefer the werewolves who are drunk on their power over the "woe is me, for I am cursed" type. That makes me sound creepy, doesn't it?
I'd rate the other classic monsters FAR below the werewolf, but the list would look something like this:
The Gill-man (Creature from the Black Lagoon)
Yes, it's true, I greatly dislike most vampires. Fright Night and The Lost Boys are my exceptions. I don't plan to add any more classic monsters to Anathema, but you will certainly be treated to some of the most twisted and vile creatures you'll likely ever see.
IH: Give us the breakdown for your Kickstarter project. What are just some of the awards you're giving to people who donate? What was the toughest challenge of doing a Kickstarter project?
RD: First of all, it's a completely rad project, and totally worth your contributions! I am offering things like signed copies of the book, your name in the acknowledgments section, posters, t-shirts, messenger bags, and painted portraits of your choosing from Jorge. All of the original page art is sold out, fortunately for me.
The most difficult thing about running a Kickstarter campaign is getting the word out about it. A lot of people get offended when you tell them about your Kickstarter. I've actually been treated like a street bum because of it, believe it or not. Then you have the people who don't know what Kickstarter is, and they approach it with flaming torch in hand like it's going to steal their soul or rape their loved ones.
IH: Last, what can we expect from you in the future? What are your long term goals?
RD: You can expect at least 10 issues of Anathema, for starters. I have a 5-page story coming out in Nix Comics Quarterly this month, so be on the lookout for that. I also plan to adapt a very old and little known legend into comic format, but I can't really say too much about it right now, for fear that someone with more time on their hands would get to it first. I plan to continue making horror comics for as long as I have an audience.
Alright folks, that concludes our two part interview with Rachel Deering! Be sure to check out her upcoming book Anathema and don't forget to donate to an awesome book at her Kickstarter site: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/theironrachel/anathema-a-return-to-classic-horror-in-comics-0/posts
And as for us? He's a Streak of Blue, what're you gonna do, I'm always Indy Huntin', that's gotta count for somethin'. Form of water, and shape of a beer, we are outta here! Thanks for reading.
Written or Contributed by: Indy Hunter and Christian Hoffer