Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your new series, Spectacle, through Oni Press! For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the story, how would you describe its premise?
Megan Rose Gedris: A circus train breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and Kat the knife thrower is discovered murdered with her own knives in her back. She appears as a ghost to her sister Anna, demanding she find out who the killer is. Anna, despite playing a fortune teller for the circus, staunchly disbelieved in the supernatural up until this point, and she’s very confused about it all. It’s set in a time and place that resembles post Civil War America the way Westeros resembles Medieval Europe. I wanted to make America a template for fantasy in that way, but I don’t want to be tied down to real-life history.
BD: What (or who) inspired you to tell this story, and have you always had an affinity for both the supernatural and murder mystery genres of storytelling?
MRG: I vaguely remember watching a Western cowboy movie (The first volume of Spectacle takes place in a dusty Wild West kind of setting.), and there was some kind of 30-day character challenge on tumblr, and I drew Anna in her big red coat, and started coming up with a story for her. I first tried writing it as a novel (Someday, I’ll beat you, NaNoWriMo!) before realizing the characters were too colorful not to draw. I think mysteries are the perfect kind of story. I can’t put ‘em down! And I’ve always been a sucker for any kind of genre fiction. I like worldbuilding. I like making up rules for a story and figuring out how everything works. It’s my favorite thing.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from Spectacle?
MRG: I challenge the characters a lot. Physically, mentally, spiritually, they go through a lot of evolution in various directions. They have flaws, some that need to be overcome, and some that need to be accepted. They have quirks, habits, struggles. I hope readers can connect with the humanity of the characters, even the ugly parts. And I hope they don’t figure out whodunnit too fast.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in tackling both the writing and artistic duties of the series?
MRG: I’m so used to doing everything by myself. I’d write scripts that only I would see, with very little detail because I knew I’d be the one drawing it, and usually minimal editing also done by myself. Having Ari as an editor to keep me on track has been immensely helpful and has saved me from numerous missteps. I’ve also been forced to write more detailed scripts, so she can know what I’m talking about, which means when I’m drawing it a year after writing it, I don’t have to go on a mind journey to figure out what the heck I intended when I wrote a scene. With the art, it’s slightly more cartoonish than some of my previous work, which is the direction my art has been heading for the past five years or so. I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the coloring, creating palettes for different lighting and settings. After self-publishing for so long, it’s nice to finally figure out how I’m supposed to set things up.
I do wish I’d written fewer horses into this story. It’s easy to write “and then there’s a horse,” but I absolutely hate drawing horses.
BD: What makes Oni Press the perfect home for Spectacle?
MRG: They really believe in projects like this and creators like me. I look on my bookshelf and see so many Oni books on it that I bought years before they ever approached me. The kind of books I like to read are the kind of books I like to write.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
MRG: The past few years I’ve been working on a webcomic called Meaty Yogurt (meatyyogurt.com) about a small town that is cursed, so if you’re born there you’ll die there, and a woman trying to break the curse and leave. I also make a lot of smutty adult comics for Filthy Figments (filthyfigments.com) and I’ve got my Strange Mermaid Coloring Book coming out soon.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Spectacle and your other work?
MRG: Online, I go by @Rosalarian on social media, and rosalarian.com links to just about everything I’ve ever done.