Local Haunts is a comics anthology that collects small town legends, family ghost stories, and fears that span across cultures. The full-color, 120+ page collection contains 32 stories from nearly 50 comics writers and artists. The Kickstarter is live now with two weeks left to go.
Where does your spooky story originate?
Kara Love: My story, with art by Ana Longoria, comes from my hometown of Topeka, Kansas. The oldest cemetery in the city, Rochester Cemetery, is said to be haunted by the ghost of an albino woman who was viciously mocked during her life for being different.
Rochester is the place to go if you're a teen wanting to scare yourself/your friends by looking for ghosts. It is very old, and the grounds are covered in large, lush trees that provide so much coverage that it kind of makes you feel cut off from the rest of the world.
Emily Riesbeck: Our spooky story, "You Have Witchcraft On Your Lips," originates from Woodstock, Illinois! You might know us as the town where Groundhog Day was filmed. Or maybe as the place where Chester Gould lived for over half his life.
Warren Belfield: Richmond, Virginia. More specifically the W.W. Pool mausoleum in Hollywood Cemetery as well as an area of the city known as Church Hill.
Melissa J Massey: From the Revolutionary War, perfect for Pennsylvania. There's a lot of history in this area, and it's very distinct, so it felt like the perfect fit for a local tale to represent the Philly area.
Dillon Gilbertson: The story I contributed to the Local Haunts Anthology, "There is a Bridge", comes from my home town of Prineville, Oregon. Every local in town over the age of 30 knows this bridge but nobody openly talks about it. Rumors are that in the 18-1900's it was used for capital punishment (hangings) which, on its own, made it super spooky and was a common place for my friends and I to visit and try to scare each other.
But the reason everyone knows it, and the reason nobody likes to talk about it, is because it was the site of a real local tragedy when a child went missing for several days and was found under that very same bridge. I think this is what really solidified people's unsettling perception of the bridge. Kids in town tell a few different versions about what happens on the bridge at night but, in every iteration of the legend, you needed to remain silent in order to see any ghosts. And once you saw them, if you made any noise, they would kill you.
Melissa Capriglione: I went to a haunted middle school in northwest Indiana! It's a small middle school in Dyer, Indiana and there is a graveyard located about 50 feet from it. I will be the artist drawing the story written by Brogan Luke Bouwhuis.
Ray Nadine: Outside of St. Louis Missouri is a small town, Collinsville, IL, where there are seven decommissioned train underpasses. The myth is that if you drive through them in the correct order and pass through the final one at exactly midnight, a portal to hell opens and Hell Hounds drag you to Hell.
Dino Caruso: Mine takes place in my hometown, Hamilton, Ontario. The setting is a now-demolished movie theater called The Tivoli, that I used to go to frequently in my youth.
What made you want to tell this particular spooky story?
KL: There are so many creepy tales from Topeka and the surrounding area, like the rumor that one of the seven gates to Hell is located in Stull, KS.
When I moved to Kansas City (about an hour away,) I guess I just assumed people everyone would know the same stories I did. To my surprise, NO ONE who wasn't a Topeka native knew of Rochester or its resident ghost.
I have so many memories of exchanging experiences of visiting Rochester with friends, it felt really sad that none of my new friends could share in that. So I decided to tell them - and the world.
ER: Woodstock and its surrounding area has a surprising amount of good ghost stories, such as the supposedly haunted mansion-turned-small-police-station. But the opera house is part of the Woodstock square which is by far the most iconic part of my hometown. I couldn't resist picking the story of the ghost that haunts it.
WB: Honestly, I was really spoiled for choice, Richmond is a city with no shortage of ghost stories and odd characters attached to it, so it was cool to be able to step back for a second and try and think about them with fresh eyes.
In the end the story of the Hollywood Vampire, felt like the one that most fit the prompt of the anthology for me. Locals can all pick out Pool's tomb as "the Vampire" even if they may not know anything more about the story than that.
One version or another of the story has been told and retold for over ninety years at this point, so I doubt Richmonders are likely to let it go anytime soon. Even if Pool never gained the kind of infamy outside of the city, that you'd assume would come along with being accused of vampirism.
MJM: My husband's love of Halloween inspired me to do a story that was local to our current home as a way to pay tribute to us. He supports me a lot through my comics journey, and it seemed fitting given the theme to do a story that would mean something to both of us. We have driven Rt. 322 a few times on our trips to visit friends and my parents, so being able to draw on a familiar setting was another plus for me.
DG: I had 2 options for what to write about from Prineville; one was the bridge and the other was legend of Skull Hollow, which has a lot of documented history about battles between cowboys and Native Americans and got its name after a large number of human skulls were excavated there. But the bridge has almost no documentation at all. Everyone seems to agree that the capital punishments actually happened there and I remember seeing the missing child story on the news when I was in elementary school, but there is very little written evidence today and the town doesn't seem to outwardly knowledge it. The only way to learn much about it is by straight up asking one of the locals who lived there at the time and that makes the whole thing seem way more spooky to me.
MC: My older siblings all went to the same middle school and would tell me all the spooky stories that were circulated during their days. Stories such as janitors leaving classrooms sparkling clean only to come back moments later to find desks stacked upon each other, or stories of footprints in the snow made by an unseen entity. One of the most famous ghosts there is the ghost of Agnes Kahler, who is buried in the graveyard next to the school. There's a photo of her in the main entrance and people swear they can see her eyes following you as you pass through. From what I can tell, she's a harmless entity that just wants to protect the school, and I wanted to draw a story to show that.
RN: I grew up in the small towns neighboring St Louis on the Illinois side of the river, so of course this was a story I learned of when I was a teen. And of course me and some friends would go out driving at night to try and find them all. We never were able to at the time, though. It's really not hard to anymore, there are plenty of articles online that tell you exactly where all of them are, but dial-up was still a thing back then for me so we never considered the locations would be online (most articles didn't crop up anyway until the mid aughts anyway, well past my teenage years).
There were lots of local haunts in the area, but this one in particular was always my favorite; everyone I knew from the area were familiar with it, and it was so commonplace for teens to try and find all of the Gates. Even as an adult I'll go out of my way to drive through them when I'm in the neighborhood. And driving through that small country town at night through the Gates was genuinely creepy. I loved it. I just wanna capture that feeling again in my comic, of being scared over urban myths with friends in a beat up car on a country road at midnight.
DC: I've lived here all my life, and this was the first I'd ever heard of this particular ghost story. I did a bit of research, and it really captured my imagination. I have a personal memory of The Tivoli that connects really nicely to this tale that Haley Boros and I are putting together.
Haley Boros: Dino reached out after I posted on twitter than I was looking for a writer to partner with on this anthology. I was immediately drawn to this story because in my hometown, I too had a spooky movie theatre that I frequented until it was torn down some years later. Dino's story is rich in a history of a place that mirrors my own childhood home and I'm looking forward to elevating that story through my art.
What attracted you to this campfire-style anthology?
KL: Both of my parents were really into horror movies and books when I was a kid. They'd let me watch Tales From The Crypt, read books by Stephen King, and of course I owned the whole series of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. I was surrounded by this kind of stuff.
As I grew older, I became distanced from a lot of that genre (I hate most slasher films and jump scares, for example.) But the one thing I've always loved is the more personal side of these stories. I absolutely love the connections that are formed by sharing scary stories.
For instance, Sunny Go has a short in this collection about the batibat - a demon from the Phillipines that sits on your chest while you're sleeping. While I had never heard of the batibat before reading Sunny's pitch, I've known of sleep paralysis and the "old hag" some sufferers claim to see. It was so exciting to see this same phenomenon was not only experienced in another part of the world, but the explanation behind it was so similar to the one I had heard in the US.
For me, sharing the favorite local legends of people from around the world just makes sense. My hope is that readers will find a story in this book that reminds them of their own hometown's tales.
ER: For me, the idea of a hometown is a very conflicted one. My hometown is a source of comfort for me, but it's also a place that I felt was stifling to me, and one that I eventually moved away from. This dichotomy, to me, is a really interesting one to explore, so the fact that all of the stories in Local Haunts are from our hometowns is very exciting to me. But on top of that, I really just like local ghost stories and urban legends. How and why they're started and spread, and what they tell us about our local culture.
WB: From a storytelling point of view, I felt like the prompt was a really smart one. It's specific enough that all the stories should feel like they're tied into one another, but it's also broad enough that it shouldn't feel like there's any limitation to the variety of stories you could tell with the theme.
It probably doesn't hurt that I've always been a sucker for old horror comics and monster movies either.
MJM: Since we started dating, my husband has reinvigorated my love for the Halloween season, and has introduced me to all the classic monster movies. I like the older, black and white movies because they're so story driven, like a lot of ghost stories. Even though I'm terrified of ghosts, I love a good ghost story--they scare you in a different way than modern horror typically does, and they can be very personal and give a place a lot of identity. It's like bragging about the best diner in your neighborhood--it's hometown pride.
I went to a college with it's share of ghost stories, and every year I went to the annual "ghost night", even though I'd be too scared to sleep afterwards! But those stories were such a rich part of the campus's tradition and history, being a part of that was really special. I was even "lucky" enough to have my own run in with one of the college ghosts. (I never did go in that building alone again!)
DG: One of my favorite books growing up was Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Alvin apparently based all those stories on real legends from across the United States and did a ton of research on them while writing it. Then, when I saw what Kara was doing with the Local Haunts Anthology, my first thought was "This is kinda like Scary Stories but more wide-spread and personal". This book is collecting first hand accounts of real spooky legends from all over the world; legends that might not have gotten much, if any, media attention. These stories feel more like spooky secrets that the rest of the world doesn't know and who better to tell them than those who grew up with them and helped shape them? Once I saw that, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this.
MC: The fact that it deals with local haunted stories is what attracted me to the idea. I've always used the story of my haunted middle school as a "fun fact about me" kind of thing. Being able to tell it in comic format seems like a very fitting way for me to immortalize the story!
RN: This was always a comic I wanted to draw for myself, so when I saw the call-for-creators, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to have my story published. I love that it being a collection of local horror stories feels like those old Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books or urban legends you tell to new friends.
DC: The theme is really original and Kara did a great job of advertising and promoting it. I'm a big fan of anthologies and short comic stories, so I was eager to throw my hat in the ring. But the biggest motivator to participate is the opportunity to work with Haley. She's a great artist and super-enthusiastic. I'm excited about the prospect of collaborating with her and making a fun comic.
HB: The paranormal has always interested me and getting the opportunity to be part of an eclectic mix of stories from many different people is always a delight. There is something so special sitting around a campfire, telling spooky stories for fun and frights, especially with close friends.
To check out the Kickstarter click here.