Halloween is right about the corner and writer/editor Rachel Deering has just the treat. Though, it won't be arriving til about Spring of next year to those that funded it, but In The Dark: A Horror Anthology is looking to take an old school horror approach with some of today's top talents and some independent fan-favorites in comics. Already funded within a week, Deering is looking to take readers back to a time where comics like Tales From The Crypt, Creepy, and Haunt of Horror were flying off the shelves and giving horror fans something to dive into.
While those days are far past us, Deering is still a horror enthusiast and writer having already done a horror/fantasy Kickstarter two years ago, Anathema, and having learned a few things from her mistakes is ready to make In The Dark a reality. Newsarama sat down with Deering and spoke to her about her love for the horror genre, her inspirations outside of horror comics, and a little bit about her own fears.
Newsarma: Rachel, this isn't your first foray into horror comics, but what made you want to gather such a collection of names for this anthology? Why is this project important to you?
Rachel Deering: I wanted a diverse group of writers to each give me their interpretation of horror. I really wanted to push that diversity, so I recruited writers who were no-brainers in the horror genre, and then some writers who had never written a horror story in their life. The effect this created was absolutely amazing, and I could not be happier with how everything turned out. Some of the artists came with the writers, and the rest I recruited from friends I had either worked with in the past, or really admired.
The first comics I ever read were old Warren and Skywald horror anthology mags from the 70s, and I was instantly hooked on them. There was a time in comics history where you could walk up to any newsstand or grocery store and find a huge selection of different horror anthologies, but the shelves in comic shops are pretty well lacking in diversity these days, so I decided to do my part to resurrect those great old terror tomes from my childhood. I sincerely hope this book gives horror comic fans heaps of entertainment, and maybe hold them over until I can put together the next book.
Nrama: How did you approach each of the talent on the list? What was the initial pitch?
Deering: I came to all of the creators on this book in the same way. I told them about my passion for old horror comics, told them I wanted to put together an anthology of my own, told them they could write a story about anything they wanted, as long as it fit their idea of horror, and told them I had no money. [laughs] I made it clear that I wanted to take the project to Kickstarter in order to raise money for the production of the book, and that if we raised anything beyond the production costs, I would split the money with all of them. Thankfully, everyone showed faith in my vision, and I didn't have anyone turn me down.
Nrama: You seemed to have reach the goal super quickly. Were you surprised by the feedback?
Deering: I was extremely thankful for the support, but I cannot say that I was surprised. With a list of talent like we have on this book, I knew a good number of people would want in on the ground floor. The one thing I am surprised about is how many people are going for the digital copy only. Something like this, to me, just screams collector's item, but I come from a different school of thought than most modern readers, I think.
Nrama: Who is the artist you're working with on your story and can you tell us a little bit about it?
Deering: His name is Marc Laming, and he's absolutely amazing! He and I both share a love of classic horror comics, and artists like Bernie Wrightson and Gene Colan, so having him on my story was an absolute must. Our story is called Swan Song, and it's about a shopkeeper who is walking home through the lonely, empty streets of his town one night when he hears the most beautiful voice you can imagine. The trouble comes when he realizes that the voice is coming from a sealed coffin, being dragged behind a gypsy wagon, headed for the darkness of the forest beyond the town. The voice is so beautiful, he has no choice but to follow...
Nrama: You're working with IDW to assist with the printing and distribution, what has the relationship been like so far concerning that?
Deering: The whole experience has been beyond perfect. I couldn't ask for a more supportive and enthusiastic group of folks to have on my side for this book. Every idea I throw at them is met with "That sounds awesome! We can make that happen!" I can't begin to express how much I love the experience of bringing this book to life with the IDW crew.
Nrama: You had some problematic situations last time with your Kickstarter for Anathema. Do you feel like you learned anything from your previous go at it?
Deering: I learned so many valuable lessons from the Anathema kickstarter. First of all, international shipping is way more than you would think. It's unreasonable how much it costs to ship even a single issue book to Australia or Sweden. I also learned that storing books and shipping supplies in my tiny office is problematic, to say the least. It was those harsh lessons that lead me to involving IDW in the production end of this campaign. They will have plenty of space to store the books, deals with shipping companies to make shipping reasonable, and the know-how and manpower to get books out on time, and in a professional manner.
Nrama: Aside from horror comics, what else continues to inspire your creative style?
Deering: Hammer horror movies play a big part in how I set up scenes, and how I visualize panel layouts to maximize the drama and effectiveness of page turns. The way Hammer studios set up stages in levels, the whole atmosphere they created with color, and the costume design all carries over to my scripts. Heavy metal and occult rock also help to drive my 1970s-esque sensibilities and give me the creative charge I need to create truly awful antagonists. I just put a really heavy record on my turntable, and let the music work its magic on my brain.
Nrama: Now you're also the editor on the project, did you ever feel like it was overwhelming at times to keep control and oversee such a range of talent?
Deering: For the most part, it was pretty stress free. I gave the writers plenty of time to write a short story and didn't put a lot of pressure on them. I wanted to get the best story from them possible, and I didn't want to compromise their creativity with tight deadlines. That said, there are a few folks who had incredibly tight schedules on other projects, and so I had to work with them to get their script completed around those other deadlines, and that got fairly hectic in some instances. As far as controlling the creators, I didn't really have to do any of that. These folks are all professionals, and most have been working in the industry for a long while. They know what is expected of them, and they followed suit and played by the rules. I couldn't have asked for a better group of creators on this book, honestly.
Nrama: If this project goes smoothly enough for you, would you want to launch another one for next Halloween?
Deering: It is my hope that this project goes so smoothly that I can use my portion of the funds raised in excess of the goal to make the next book. If this book sells really well, I'm hoping it will give IDW some faith in my vision, and they will want me to do a second volume without having to go to kickstarter. If that's not the case, and I have to return to crowdfunding to make the next book, I will. This time, though, I will run the campaign earlier in the year so that I can deliver the book by Halloween, instead of Easter. There are so many creators I still want to work with, so I know I have to continue this series, one way or another. I'm hoping to get at least a three volume collection, maybe with a nice slipcase when all three books have released. It's all a dream right now, but I tend to see my dreams through.
Nrama: Will this project take all of your time or do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Deering: Oh no, I stress myself to death with work. I don't know what I'd do with myself if I only had one book going at a time. I have In The Dark, obviously, as well as Anathema #5, Relic #0 for Monkeybrain, a secret thing I'm working on to pitch to a company that shall go unnamed, and all the various lettering jobs on my plate. And that's not even counting the projects that have had to be put to the side for the time being. I like to keep busy.
Nrama: Lastly, Rachel, what are you afraid of?
Deering: The dark, religious zealots, heights, needles, and dying alone.