The following is an interview with the comic book writer/artist team of Heather Royston and Edmund Dansart, who will be contributing their short story, “Night Terror,” to the upcoming horror-themed anthology Skin Crawling Comics. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Royston and Dansart about their introduction to the horror anthology, what inspired their short story, and where you can find more of their work.
This interview was conducted on September 5, 2013.
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: You are both currently working on the horror short story “Night Terror,” which will be included in the upcoming horror anthology Skin Crawling Comics. What drew each of you to work on the anthology?
Edmund Dansart: The horror anthology was proposed by Rachel, and I was asked if I would be interested in participating. Sounded like a great project, so I agreed. As to WHY I was asked, here is my theory: When I first met Rachel, she asked me to draw a robot riding a pony… I did, she liked it, and we have been pals since! I think that put me on the list of potential contributors. It was definitely not my artistic ability, that’s for sure!
Heather Royston: I met Rachel Pandich during the Womanthology project. We met up to do a “writers’ workshop,” and I showed her a short story I had written a few years before that. She fell in love with it and told me about SCC immediately, though the project was on a much smaller scale then. I thought it sounded awesome and agreed to make it a part of the book.
BD: How did you come to work together on this project? Was your artist/writer pair for the anthology assigned by the editor, or did you choose to work with one another?
ED: Rachel introduced Heather and I before we started working on “Night Terror” together. I think she thought we would get along and she was right. We hit it off, I did some crappy sketches that she liked for some reason, and we went from there. I have an awkward charm about me, I reckon. We ended up becoming really good friends as a result. So, that was a great bonus.
HR: Funnily enough, we met through Rachel. She introduced us once over pizza, and we hit it off quite well. He showed me samples of his art, and I was really impressed. Not long after that, I asked him to be my artist on “Night Terror.”
BD: Heather, as the writer, what inspired you to tell this story, and what can you tell us about the premise?
HR: The story was actually written for another comic anthology, way back when I was a fan of comics but had no idea how to write one. It was inspired by the notion that none of us are taught “The Rules” of how to protect ourselves from the monsters in our closets or under our beds, that we are born knowing them. The boy in the story wakes up in the night to find his closet door opening and something horrific coming out. We see him reciting the rules to himself and trying his best to follow them as the monster comes closer and closer.
BD: Given that the story’s protagonist is quite young, would “Night Terror” be appropriate for readers of all ages?
ED: I think so. It’s no more inappropriate than the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Krampus, and all the other tales that used to scare kids and keep them in line. We are not using any gore at all. Just a creepy monster and the tension of the situation at hand.
HR: I would like to think so. It was not written with that intention, but there really isn’t anything in it that the youngest of children haven’t already experienced on their own.
BD: Edmund, 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?
ED: I had a basic idea in the beginning. It is really close to what I envisioned. I wanted it to be monochromatic with maybe some spot colors here and there. I wanted to keep the overall style cartoony but with a good amount of detail in the background and the creature. I’m my worst critic, so I always nit pick my work. Heather saw the entire process and liked the results. So, that’s the big thing for me. If the writer is happy and I helped visualize the words clearly, I did my job.
BD: Do you prefer working with a specific artistic medium (i.e.: pencils and ink, paint, charcoal, etc.), and what can you tell us about your artistic process for this project?
ED: If I had to choose, I do enjoy the forgiveness of the digital medium. I still draw everything traditionally with pencil and ink, scan and color. I also enjoy painting as well.
BD: Would you recommend “Night Terror” for both casual and hard-core horror fans?
ED: I’d recommend it to anyone who is a fan of comics in general. I don’t think there is any material that would turn off the casual reader. The whole point is to get away from the overly sexual and overly gory horror that seems to dominate the genre now.
HR: I would. Casual fans can appreciate the universal experience of being scared in the night while hard-core fans can enjoy being launched back to childhood and having chills run up their spine.
BD: Skin Crawling Comics recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the production costs for a print run of the anthology. What encouraged you and the other creators on the project to use this specific fundraising method, and how has Indiegogo enabled you to provide further promotion of the project?
HR: IndieGoGo was chosen by a majority-rules vote by the creators, so that’s how that happened. The website does have some nice tools for social media sharing, so that has been easy to do.
BD: Are there any specific horror genre creators or projects (movies, books, comics, etc.) that have inspired your work?
ED: I have been a horror fan since I was little. I love the EC comics from back in the day. As far as modern horror comics, I really enjoy Steve Niles’ work and the work of Japanese horror artists Junji Ito and Hideshi Hino. Really creepy stuff. Of course, I love Hamer films, some Troma stuff, Kaiju movies, and the Universal monster films.
HR: I’d have to say Steve Niles is my biggest inspiration for writing comics. I’d loved reading them for awhile, but it was interacting with him, other creators, and fans on his message board that inspired me to write them. “Night Terror” was originally written for a collection put together by members of his message board. As far as inspiration for the story itself, I had an old “I Can Read” book called In a Dark Dark Room and Other Stories. That book was written for first and second graders, but I’ll pick it up every now and again and remember how it made me feel when I was that age. It brings back great memories and that’s what I was trying to inspire in others.
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?
ED: I am working on my comic, which will probably never see the light of day. Haha! Mostly, I am still on the hustle doing the occasional commission, art shows, and conventions when I can. Hopefully, working on more stories with Heather in the near future.
HR: I’ve been published previously in Womanthology: Heroic. That story was about the small kindnesses we each do for other people, becoming their hero for just a moment and combining that concept with the concept of pure evil and giant monsters. I’m also working on a prose project that I hope to have out sometime soon.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for readers to find out more about your work?
HR: I use Twitter for announcements and fun stuff. I’m @shalahoyden. I also have a Deviant Art page that I plan to update but haven’t for awhile, so some day you can find me there.