The following is an interview with co-writers Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep, Cold in July, Hap and Leonard) and Kasey Lansdale (Terror Is Our Business), artist Daniele Serra (Pray for Death, Hellraiser: Bestiary), and colorist Tom Napolitano (Batman: Last Knight on Earth, Wonder Woman Evolution) regarding the recent release of the comic book adaptation of the novel, The Case of the Bleeding Wall, with Dead Sky Publishing. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with the creative team about their shared creative process in adapting the story to the sequential art medium, what they hope that readers may take away from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of The Case of the Bleeding Wall #1! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the story’s premise?
Joe R. Lansdale: Two ladies, one sophisticated and wise and knowledgeable of the Supernormal world, and one that is a bit of a trainwreck but street smart and resourceful, and funny. They deal in strange cases of the supernormal, and solve them, or at least contain them. Scares, laughs, thrills, and lots of surprises.
Kasey Lansdale: THANK YOU!
We are really thrilled to finally see this project come to life. These characters have been on many adventures by now, but the premise of THIS story was the first time they met. (They being Dana, a supernormal investigator, and Jana, who becomes her assistant due to some odd experiences of her own.)
Dana and Jana are different as black and white, but they work somehow, and even complement each other like Sherlock and Watson.
Dana reconnects with an old flame in Italy when he calls her about strange occurrences in the house he built for his now ex-fiancé. Jana gets pulled into the excursion mostly because she’s at the right place at the right time, and Dana needs help since her other assistants are MIA.
They soon find that what they’re up against is a bigger challenge than either of them could have ever expected. Both personally, and in the supernatural realm.
Daniele Serra: Dana and Jana take up the great classic occult detectives of literature, from John Silence to Carnacki and Dr. Hesselius and this alone should be enough to make you want to read this comic. The fact that it is written by the Lansdale family makes it all even more exciting!
BD: Joe and Kasey, how would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story to life in the sequential art medium, especially in adapting it from the bestselling novel?
KL: For me, I’ve gotten to know who these characters are by now. When we were working on the book, we were discovering who they were, and how they interacted with one another. Now it’s like getting to write about old friends, both of whom have their own quirks, endearing or otherwise.
As far as the literal process, we did adapt from the book some, but we found a new, fresh way to tell the story since it’s been some time since the book released. They’re different, we’re different.
Typically, I would start and lay out everything for the panels, and Dad would do a pass on my structure and dialogue, etc., then we’d pass it back and forth until we felt like we were telling the same story. This was easier in the comic than the book, because now I know who would or would not do or say something. When we wrote the book and I brought Jana into the mix, Dana was an established character. I had to learn more about Dana before I could understand how their relationship would look with one another.
The biggest challenge for me was keeping the dialogue tight, and making sure the action was one event per panel. I found my verboseness challenged in this medium.
JRL: We just sort of took turns and then rewrote one another and then rewrote one another again, and then got some editorial advice and made some adjustments, and we were done. It was fun.
BD: Daniele and Tom, did you have a specific art style or tone in mind for the project from its inception, or did you find that your approach to the series evolved during the course of your collaboration?
Tom Napolitano: Before I knew the story, or even had seen Daniele’s artwork, I was told the creative team wanted the color to have a Dave Stewart vibe, which was an intimidating ask with me only having a handful of coloring credits and that basically meant they wanted “legendary comic colorist vibe,” ha!
But after seeing Daniele’s artwork and researching his past works, it was very apparent that the colors had to be painterly, watercolor-like, and full of eerie drama. With a background in watercolor, I felt very confident emulating a watercolor style while working digitally, adding some details. For example, I’ve worked in these lines around where there’s shading to try to emulate where pigment might pool during a brush stroke. And then, Daniele’s style was a constant inspiration in trying to create a surreal atmosphere like adding more or less texture to the background to enhance the tension in the scene or maybe giving a character or creature an aura around them to punch-up their menacing presence.
DS: From the beginning I had an easy style in mind for this comic, which had robust storytelling and left the visually artistic aspect in the background. I wanted to tell the story and not embellish it! Even for the colors, I was thinking of something flat like Dave Stewart, but when I saw Tom’s proofs, with this watercolor style, I was won over and everything went smoothly, without any hitches, thanks to the great professionalism of Tom and the whole team.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Dana and Jana’s story will connect with and impact readers?
DS: I think the strength of this story is the characters—they work well, they are interesting and keep you glued to the page. I think the audience will immediately empathize with them.
JRL: We feel damn good about it. I love it when something you create finds different ways of being expressed.
KL: I think for me, first and foremost, it’s the female relationship. The fact that Dana is a bestselling author, an entity known worldwide and, in many cases, not very likeable. So, the question becomes: Does her success make her guarded, does her knowledge of the unknown cause her to know too much and be unlikeable, or is that just her personality? And why do we allow eccentric men to thrive (Looking at you, Musk.), but women are judged more harshly?
I think women can recognize themselves in both characters. In the boss lady attitude of Dana who excels at her job, and the nurturing, silly Jana that really brings the heart and soul to the story.
Beyond the female dynamics and challenges, it’s about friendships. About fish out of water, and behind the scenes on a personal level, it’s about family, and how family can be whoever you want them to be if your given family isn’t who you might have chosen.
BD: What makes Dead Sky Publishing the perfect home for The Case of the Bleeding Wall?
KL: Honestly, I have thought about this a lot. There were several places where this comic could have lived, but Steve and Jeremy and the team bring a different level of support to the projects. They really believe in us as workers and have gone out of their way to support that. They’ve included us in the process every step, and we’ve been able to have a full and open dialogue about things, which I think is special. It’s clear these are people who care about the work, who care about the Lansdale name, and who care about putting out quality content. I’m not just saying that because they’ll read this, I’m saying it because it’s true.
JRL: Uniqueness. Dead Sky is willing to try something different, and then present it well. It’s exciting to see such a cool take on our story, and it was fun to adapt.
DS: They are perfect because they have a great desire to make comics, and they are professional, punctual, and attentive to every detail. Since the beginning of the collaboration, I have been trying to find a flaw in them, but I haven’t succeeded yet!
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
KL: I just completed my first novel, so I am pretty pumped about that. A couple of film projects are on hold at the moment due to the strike, and some odd and ends here and there that I can’t speak freely about, but that are very exciting. If anyone is so inclined, check out our socials, because we are pretty active and let people know what’s happening when it’s time.
DS: I have some cool projects, but, unfortunately, I can’t talk about them yet.
JRL: I’m working on a memoir for the company [Dead Sky Publishing]. Maybe there’s a graphic novel version of it. That’s my thought, though no one else knows that idea, until now.
TN: With Dead Sky Publishing, with writer J.M. Brandt, I’m the interior artist on a comic coming out October 18th, A Splatter Western One-Shot #1 (of 4): Swallower of Shades! If you like cowboys, sideshows, mummies, and gruesome horror, you might want to check it out!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Case of the Bleeding Wall?
KL: First, I want to say thank you. Thanks for even caring about these two, because we love them so much, and it’s given Dad and I an opportunity to work together again. But for purely informational purposes, I would say follow Dead Sky on social media; they’re putting out excellent content that details any and all information needed.
Keep in mind there are 4 issues to this comic and many more stories to tell, so there’s definitely an opportunity to get to know these two better.
JRL: Check out the book, Terror Is Our Business, which will soon be released, and dip into one of the tales via our comic adaptation of The Case of the Bleeding Wall.