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Fanbase Press Interviews Jay Stephens on His Return to ‘Dwellings’ for a Special Release with Oni Press

The following is an interview with Emmy Award-winning animator and Eisner Award-nominated cartoonist Jay Stephens regarding his return to the critically acclaimed, self-published series, Dwellings, for a new bi-monthly limited release with Oni Press. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Stephens about the experience of returning to his world and characters, what he is excited for readers to experience with these double-size prestige editions, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congrats on the upcoming return to Dwellings! What enticed you about revisiting these stories of violence, horror, and suburban dread?

Jay Stephens: Dwellings is a nostalgic cocktail of my two passions for horror cinema and vintage kids comics… a red-tinted gaze backwards. To be nostalgic is to attempt a recapture of some long-ago joy, to literally “return home in pain,” which makes coming back to Oni where I left off 20 years ago eerily perfect. Together, we’re hoping to reintroduce these Saturday Morning meets stroke of midnight stories to an entirely new and unsuspecting audience.

BD: Given your incredible work with Oni Press earlier in your career, how would you describe your experience in collaborating once again with the publisher for these magnificent, prestige-format issues?

JS: It’s been so long, the reunion is mostly symbolic… this is a whole new Oni, and the gory shocks of Dwellings are a far cry from the kid-friendly adventures of Jetcat. Somehow, though, it does feel like coming home, and the double-size prestige Oni versions take the grass-roots success of Dwellings and kick it up a notch. Invoking both the mid-century “Giant-Size” Harvey comics, and late night Drive-In double-feature horror picture shows that inspired this madness in the first place.

BD: In revisiting these stories years later, was there anything new or intriguing that you took away from the work that you hadn’t anticipated when originally creating it?

JS: Crowdfunding allowed me to take my time crafting the stories and art, the absence of traditional deadlines giving Dwellings room to grow at its own pace. It’s satisfying to see something in print that was as successful as you’d hoped… an attempt at working through the modern horrors that keep me up at night. The incessant “caws” of the murder of crows telling someone to kill as a metaphor for “tweets,” a stranger to town being hounded by a cult masking their true selves as a nightmarish allegory for pandemic times… it’s all there on the page.

BD: If given the opportunity, are there new stories within Elwich that you would like to pursue, whether in comics or other storytelling mediums?

JS: Oh, yes. We will be revisiting Elwich at some point down the road. I have some stories brewing…

BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with readers?

JS: There should be an announcement pretty soon about a crazy script I wrote for Dynamite, and Black Eye Books and I will continue to put out the complete collections of my past work that we began with Dejects and Jetcat & Friends. The other secrets will need to remain in the vault for now…

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about the re-release of Dwellings and your other work?

JS: Dwellings is a series of believably terrifying stories, told within an unbelievably cute-looking world. Since horror is inherently revolting, these tales won’t be to everyone’s taste. But it’s definitely my best work to date, and if you’re not squeamish, I recommend visiting Elwich for some disturbing sight-seeing. I guarantee it won’t be what you expected.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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