Fanboy Comics Interviews Carl Boehm and Laura Bearl of ‘Skin Crawling Comics’

Skin Crawling ComicsThe following is an interview with the comic book writer/artist team of Carl Boehm and Laura Bearl, who will be contributing their short story, "The Appetite," to the upcoming horror-themed anthology Skin Crawling Comics.  In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Boehm and Bearl about the inspiration behind their horror short, what the horror genre means to them, and where readers can find other examples of their work in advance of the anthology's release.

This interview was conducted on February 18, 2013.

 

 

 



 

 

Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are both currently working on the horror short story “The Appetite,” which will be included in the upcoming horror anthology Skin Crawling Comics.  What drew each of you to work on the anthology?

Carl Boehm
: Rachel Pandich (the anthology's creator) and I both flew Y-Wings in the Yavin Campaign to blow up the Death Star. In all honesty, I joined a creative writer’s group in which Rachel was one of the participants.  When she provided insightful commentary on a script of mine, I recognized her acumen.  She dropped the word she was collecting stories for Skin Crawling, and I begged her to read my work.  When she gave in to my pleading, Rachel read “The Appetite.”  Then, she honored me by asking to include it in the collection.

Laura Bearl
: One of the many things on my to do list when moving back home was to reinstate my reserve list at my favorite comic shop. Rachel Pandich just happened to be dropping off the latest issue of her personal project, and we got to talking. She invited me to be a part of the anthology, and I was pleased to accept.

BD: How did you come to work together on this project?  Were the artist/writer pairs for the anthology assigned by an editor or did you choose to work with one another?


CB: I was without an illustrator.  Rachel gave me two options to consider.  When I saw Laura’s portfolio with her exceptional eye for the human form, I knew she would be the ideal artist for “The Appetite.”

LB: There was a meet-up at a local eatery, and I could not make it; I had to work. So, I emailed Rachel some sample images, and Carl chose amongst those.

BD: Carl, as the writer, what inspired you to tell this story, and what can you tell us about the premise?


CB: Body image and the sense of self have been so overly discussed that society has grown somewhat numb to it.  For all the talk, there seems to be no significant change or definitive information on the subject.  We want our models to be waifs, but then we allow some celebrities to be unhealthy.  With this story, I don’t give any opinion as to the argument of society’s issues with body weight, but I can at least (I hope) get people thinking again about the subject.

BD: Do you feel that the horror genre often allows writers to make social commentaries through their stories?


CB: Absolutely.  Horror, more than any other genre, is genuine.  The fear one gets from horror is pure.  When a writer can focus that fear, she or he has the ability to make a statement—whether one agrees with that statement or not is up to the reader.  When one examines the history of effective horror, one sees the lineage of social statements.  Be it Bram Stoker’s xenophobia and realization of the horrors of syphilis through Dracula, William Friedkin’s examination of the loss of youth in the post-Vietnam era America in The Exorcist, or Stephen King’s reflection on the horrors of alcoholism in The Shining, horror literature puts a mirror to society better than any other genre.

BD: Laura, did you have an idea in mind for the art style when you first read the script, or has the artwork developed as you have worked on the project?


LB: The story instantly reminded me of Tales from the Crypt comics, and I sought to emulate that kind of line work. In the end, though, my own way of handling the pen came through.

BD: Do you prefer working with a specific artistic medium (ie: pencils and ink, paint, charcoal, etc.), and what can you tell us about your artistic process for this project?


LB: This is my first venture into big-girl comics. I tried out some new software after seeing how fabulous Fiona Staples' work is in Saga. In the Q&A in the back of one of the issues, she explains that she uses Manga Studio for her pencils and inks, then Photoshop for color. It's really incredible. I hope I can get my stuff looking as good as hers one day.

BD: Will “The Appetite” be appropriate for readers of all ages, and would you recommend the story for both casual and hard-core horror fans?


CB: Literature should never be bound by age limits, only intelligent limits.  By that I mean some stories obviously should not be told to children until their minds are prepared; however, if we spent more time teaching children with honesty and opening their minds instead of sanitizing their stories with fluff that provides false realities, society would be wiser and more considerate.  So, I would hope that all ages would respond to the story with questions and comments.  Additionally, I would be content if seasoned horror fans would grin at the story, and the knockout illustrations Laura did to make “The Appetite” so creepy!

LB: There are some sexual themes and gore that I wouldn't deem appropriate for kids. But, I think the hardcore horror fans will think it's cute.

BD: What are your feelings on the horror genre as a whole, and what do you hope that this story will bring to the genre?


CB: Like all things, there’s good and bad in horror.  The best horror will give pause to reflect while also tapping into that nerve of fear.  Laura created some images that will have readers on edge, and so I hope I can deliver on my end with a story that will be fun, shocking, and thought provoking.

LB: Horror does its job well on me; I'm a huge sissy. I much prefer sci-fi and fantasy.  Horror comics are already so wonderfully successful! I hope this anthology works well with the present day horror narrative as a whole. Taste within a genre is infinitely varied, and I hope these tales suit someone's particular palate.

BD: Are there any specific horror genre creators or projects (movies, books, comics, etc.) that have inspired your work?


CB: I blame Guillermo del Toro, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, Tales from the Darkside, The Evil Dead, Richard Matheson, Charles Schulz, and Ray Bradbury for my shadowy view of this world.

LB: If you consider the Aliens and Terminator franchises mild horror, then yes, those. They've had a huge impact on how I write and even my worldview. I also loved the old Tales from the Crypt and the titles like it.

BD: Skin Crawling Comics is an independently produced project that features creators of all experience levels.  As readers await the finished anthology, are there any other projects on which you have previously worked that you would recommend to our readers?


CB: My novella, The Lincoln Division, takes the notion of the ghost story and makes it into an adventure tale.  The Division operates as an information-gathering branch of the US Government that uses ghosts to defend the country’s interests from any threat.  If you like scary, fun stories and want to read something cool about rogue psychics and world threatening madmen, check it out.  You can see a film based on the idea by clicking these words.

LB: I just hope (as a noob) that my work in this anthology will garner interest in my subsequent works. I hope to be very busy in 2013!

BD: What impact do you hope that Skin Crawling Comics will have on today’s comic book industry and its readers?


CB: I hope that readers will find stories that will make them feel empowered to talk about comics with non-comic readers.  Devoted comic readers should be given evidence to back up their belief that comics are worth reading, especially in a day and age when comic books cost close to five dollars. Great people have written and drawn frightening stories for this collection, and like Eric Powell’s The Goon, Skin Crawling will show that comics are fun AND literary.

LB: I want the amount of independent comic book creators to continue to rise. I've always wanted to make my own stories and have them available to people. The internet has solved nearly all of the problems I was faced with in the '90s in regard to printing, publishing, and distribution.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for readers to find out more about your work?


CB: For more from me, please check out my blog at The Info Zombie.  If you need something to listen to on the commute or treadmill, I have a podcast to entertain and astonish.

LB: I hope that someday soon, just googling my name will lead them straight to a dedicated webpage for all of my projects. I have a fine arts site now, but it's not up to snuff.
 

 

 

 

 

Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are both currently working on the horror short story “A Zombie Walks into a Bar,” which will be included in the upcoming horror anthology Skin Crawling Comics. What drew each of you to work on the anthology?

Jody Houser:  I met Rachel Pandich through Womanthology: Heroic. We were both writers on the anthology and she was the social events coordinator for about a year. We spoke at New York Comic Con and she told me about the anthology. I said I'd love to be a part of it.

 

Cliff Green: Well, I liked the idea of drawing something other than superhero ideas and challenge myself to create something with a general mood and feel. I truly jumped on this anthology because it is something I have never been a part of before and it sounded like fun.



BD: How did you come to work together on this project? Were the artist/writer pairs for the anthology assigned by an editor or did you choose to work with one another?

JH: Rachel was actually the one who found Cliff. She was already familiar with the story and thought he'd be perfect for it.

CG: I was in an James Green’s art class at UNF when Rachel Pandich was a guest invited to teach us about writing and about being in the “comic book” scene in Jacksonville, FL. She really liked my work and suggested I become apart of this process. Rachel had already told me who my writer was and I liked the script. Short, sweet, moody, a little bit funny, dark tones. And did I mention short. Dealing with classes is very hard to schedule drawing with school work on top of that lol. I think Rachel already determined the pairs I guess. I had told her of my intensive class schedule and I think this story fit well not just with drawing purposes but time as well.   

BD: Jody, as the writer, what inspired you to tell this story and what can you tell us about the premise?

JH:  "A Zombie Walks Into a Bar" was actually a story I'd pitched to a zombie comic anthology that was turned down for being too dark. I think the issue was less the content and more the balance of the stories in the anthology overall, but I'm still a bit proud. The story is about a bartender dealing with the zombie apocalypse. It's far less humorous than the title implies.

BD: Cliff, did you have an idea in mind for the art style when you first read the comic, or has the artwork developed as you have worked on the project?

 

CG: I did have an initial idea about the story. I wanted it to look dark yet readable. Detailed in the right places, you know but with simplistic contrasts. I looked at the artwork for “The Walking Dead” and thought about playing with the darkness a little more. Also I began thinking about different angles to make the story really “pop”. I wanted it to be a mix of realism yet still have graphic novel appeal.




BD: Will “A Zombie Walks into a Bar” be appropriate for readers of all ages, and would you recommend the story for both casual and hard-core horror fans?

JH:  It's a pretty twisted story. I'm not sure it's appropriate for anyone! I'm more of a casual horror fan myself, but I hope it would appeal to anyone who likes disturbing character-based stories.

 

CG: It’s a real good story. Short but very interesting in understanding the situation. I recommend it to anyone who loves funny yet gory stuff. As far as what age, I really do not know lol. 




BD: What are your feelings on the horror genre as a whole, and what do you hope that this story will bring to the genre?

JH:  For me, horror has always fallen under the umbrella of speculative fiction along with sci-fi and fantasy. It's kind of a stuffy literary term, but I love stories that explore how people would react/deal if the world was a certain way. That's what I tried to do with this story, I suppose.

 

CG: I haven’t even thought about the horror genre until now. I was previously a superhero buff. I hope this anthology will give different perspectives on what “horror” is. Ranging from psychological, to cute, funny, dark etc.


BD: Are there any specific horror genre creators or projects (movies, books, comics, etc.) that have inspired your work?

JH:  Nothing specific recently. I think a lot of the horror I read as a teenager is still floating around in there.

CG: I actually answered it without realizing it. I always jump the gun. But I looked at anything with zombies ( i.e.The Walking Dead). Olivier Coipel and Stuart Immonen were big inspirations on lighting issues and perspective choices. The way they capture light and display on a figure amazes and fascinates me. I also just scrolled a little friend of mine called google and new addition called, tumblr. 


BD: Skin Crawling Comics is an independently produced project that features creators of all experience levels. As readers await the finished anthology, are there any other projects on which you have previously worked that you would recommend to our readers?

JH:  I've written stories for both Womanthology: Heroic and Womanthology: Space from IDW. I have a weekly webcomic called Cupcake POW! and another webcomic on hiatus called Brickgirl & Oscar. I also have several horror stories upcoming in the quarterly anthology Dead Roots.

 

CG: I actually am an “average joe” lol. What I mean to say is that nope, I do not. This is my first time doing anything related to comic books while getting recognition. I have created little page comics for myself but they must not see the day of light (I’m very picky over my artwork). 

BD: What impact do you hope that Skin Crawling Comics will have on today’s comic book industry and its readers?

JH:  I hope it will give some indie creators more exposure (hello editors everywhere!) and really showcase the diversity of stories that can be told through comics.

 

CG: I hope it opens people’s eyes to the vast amount of talent people have that do not center around superheroes. Not that that’s a bad thing but I think it is good to break the norm and be original and creative. Being the norm is overdone, but thinking outside the box takes skill. 



BD: Lastly, what is the best way for readers to find out more about your work?

JH:  There are links to all of my work on my website, MindEclipse.com. I'm also on Twitter at @Jody_Houser, which is the best place to contact me.

 

CG: Here we go again lol. I do not have a twitter but I do have a deviant account; eclecticartshyt03. Yea theres that. I am in the slow process of trying to create a website for people to view my art and thoughts.  

Last modified on Monday, 29 July 2013 16:24

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