The following is an interview with Anthony Cleveland and Andrea Mutti regarding the upcoming release of the comic book series, Charred Remains, through Mad Cave Studios. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Cleveland and Mutti about their shared creative process in bringing the story to life on the page, what they hope that readers will take away from the themes of the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Charred Remains! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this supernatural drama?
Anthony Cleveland: Sure! Charred Remains begins at an apartment fire where a young girl named Amy is trapped and Vic, a firefighter, is trying to rescue her. They both witness an entity in the flames that killed her parents. Flashforward to the present, and Amy (now an adult) is still searching for answers on what they witnessed that night.
BD: Andrea, did you have a specific art style in mind when you first read the concept for Charred Remains, or do you feel that your design evolved over time after working through the script with Anthony?
Andrea Mutti: My intent was to make the reader perceive the heat of the flames, the burning and the hypnotic sense that fire has… There is something magical and seductive in fire… something ancient, ancestral, primordial… like fear!
I always try to maintain a realistic graphic level, close to the reality we know. In this way, the reader is able to connect more easily with the discomfort we describe…the use of clear shadows and very dark graphic choices allow me to talk about the darkness, that part buried inside us that emerges when we are afraid… when we have a trauma.
BD: The story is an incredibly impactful one, tackling the processing of traumatic events for youth while couched in a supernatural thriller. How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story to life on the page?
AC: I’m familiar with Andrea’s art style, and I thought a lot about what would look cool or scary to see in his style. That inspired a lot of the best scenes in this series. Andrea is Italian and loves horror – so I couldn’t help slipping in some nods to my favorite Italian horror movies for fun and because of that, it led to our big finale in issue 6.
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 Amy’s story may connect with and impact readers?
AC: Trauma and grief have become over-examined in horror, I feel. Charred Remains does look at them, but I wanted to show a different reaction to these feelings and experiences. Amy’s reaction makes her antisocial and fixated. She blocks out a lot of what’s in front of her even when her last family member is trying to reel her back in. This is also a years later reaction, as well. I feel like many can relate to unaddressed trauma in their life no matter the impact.
AM: Amy is an ordinary person, with a trauma… unfortunately, there are many of them… We tell something extraordinary that happens to ordinary people. Of course, the metaphysical part is fiction, but if we translate the discomfort, the trauma, and the pain of Amy in real life, you can easily get a very real picture of the situation. The comic is not real life, it’s a version of it, but here there are no super humans or people with extraordinary powers but, if I may, fighting to resolve and overcome our fears, I think that’s a superpower! We just have to find out for ourselves.
BD: What makes Made Cave Studios the perfect home for this series?
AC: Mad Cave was game for anything with this one. If I needed an extra few pages to make a scene more impactful, it was given! Mad Cave enabled us to tell this story as best as possible.
AM: Mad Cave is made up of enthusiastic and expert people. The editorial team is always on the front line and instills in you that confidence and desire to do which, these days, is a rare commodity.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AC: I will have my first creator-owned horror book out next October. It’s a project I’ve been working on for over a decade, and I’m excited to get it out there!
AM: There are a couple of good things coming…but you have to be patient!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Charred Remains and your other work?
AC: You can check out the Mad Cave main website or follow us on social. I’m at @Ant_Cleveland on twitter and Instagram.
AM: Social media rules!