Interview with Comic Writer Rachel Deering

I’m a superhero comic kinda gal, but this is my second interview with a horror writer this month, and I’ve gotta say, this is stuff is great. Rachel Deering‘s writing is top notch, and the art that accompanies it is totally strong (perhaps even as strong as the  female protagonist of Anathema, which, by the way,–and I just figured this one out– isn’t simply a cool, creepy sounding name, but actually means something relevant. Look it up). Quite frankly, I’m honored to have had the opportunity to interview such a successful female comic writer:

Convince us, in one sentence, that your comics are awesome.

Following the age old advice of “write what you know”, I make comics about lesbians, werewolves, tortured souls, and fucked up dreams.

What is your favorite comic or graphic novel?
The Warren Publishing books are my favorites. Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, etc.
What (or who) inspired you to begin creating comics? Why did you begin writing and creating comics?
I started making my own comics after repeatedly reading and re-reading the small stack of horror books given to me by my uncle. When I could recite those stories from front to back, I knew it was time for some new terror tales, and the only way I would get those is by creating them myself. There were definite drawbacks to living, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere.
If your comics had a soundtrack, what songs/artists would it include?
Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows, Devil Doll, Miasma and the Carousel of Headless Horses, and Hammer horror movie soundtracks.
You did some editing for the Womantholgy book. How does wearing the editor’s hat influence your writing?
Having an editorial background, I tend to consider all aspects of creation when I’m scripting. I can see the panels in my mind, how they should be laid out, where the lettering will go, how the words and images will flow together and lead the eye down the page. I’m extremely mindful of each element and how it will work within the overall composition.
We don’t often see strong female leads in comics, especially not lesbians, like the main character in your horror comic, Anathema. When you decided to write a comic with a lesbian lead, did you have any concerns about how it might be perceived or pegged by readers, reviewers, etc?
Not any more than I’m concerned about how people will perceive me. I’m a lesbian, myself, so I was just writing what I know. I don’t tend to think about my sexuality much. I’m sure other people do, and some of them may even work themselves up into a frenzy about it, but I couldn’t care less. If you let yourself get upset over something so simple and irrelevant to your every day life, you should probably just stop reading comics altogether.
What path led you to becoming a professional comic writer?
The intense and undying need to tell stories. I honestly have so many ideas rattling around in my brain at any given moment, I can’t think about much else. Day jobs were terrible because of how much I would daydream about these fantastic characters and settings in my mind. Eventually, I had to give up the steady paychecks and chase my dreams. Luckily, my wife has a really good job, so we have enough money to pay the bills and keep health insurance.
What was most intimidating about breaking into comics, and what tips would you give others who are hoping to break in as well?
For me, it was that nagging uncertainty that comes with most creative brains. Constantly doubting myself and my abilities. Worrying about whether or not my stories were good enough for other people to read. I was constantly telling myself to give up the charade and go running back to the day jobs. That whole thing has subsided a bit, but not completely. For others who might be in that particular mindspace, I’d say just keep working and turning out stories. Not every story is going to be a hit, and maybe the majority of them will be crap, but you’ll eventually turn out that one idea that really works for you.
Like many comic creators today, you used Kickstarter to fund Anathema. Can you take us through the process—from idea to publication—for making Anathema a reality?
It’s a dreadfully long story, but here are the basics: I was taking a shower and the idea came to me. I told some artist friends of mine, and they all said it would be an impossible sell. I didn’t listen to them. I self financed three pages of art and took those to kickstarter. I raised enough money for issue 1 and released that to the world. The story was well received, so I went back to kickstarter to finance the remaining issues in the series. Now, here I am, waiting (im)patiently for issue 2 to be finished.
How do you think the experience of comic creating and publishing differs for men and women (if it does at all)?
I’ve never tried publishing as a man, so I don’t think I could provide any sort of clear comparison. I would HOPE that the experience is not at all dissimilar from one gender to the next. I know I don’t think about what’s between my legs or under my shirt when I’m writing. I’m just telling the stories that need to be told.
What is your next project?
I currently have seven projects in various stages of production. There will, of course, be further issues of Anathema. I’m also working on my all ages book The Other Side, a whole host of anthology stories, a capes and tights one-shot, and a dark fantasy/adventure/humor series. Like I said before, lots and lots of ideas rattling around between my ears.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t listen to the hype. Don’t believe anything anyone tells you. Every single person makes their own way in life and uses experiences and lessons in a different way. If you’re trying to live your life by the mistakes and successes of another person, you’re almost certain to fail. Or come out the other side a copy-cat, which is probably worse than failure. Be yourself and tell the stories only you can tell.
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Review and Rating of The End Is Totally Nigh

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: what’s better than a kick-ass comic book with a strong female lead? How ‘bout a kick-ass comic book with a strong female lead written by a woman and featuring demons, pistols, and bottles of liquor? Let me introduce you to The End Is Totally Nigh, a comic book written by Kara Barrett, who I interviewed several weeks back. This comic is a black and white cocktail of horror, western, and manga. Let me elaborate:

The story begins with witty narration and a full-on splash page depicting a horde of demons emerging from some netherworld to overtake our real world. We are first introduced to our main character, Jane, as she muses about the fate of the world while taking a swig out of what looks like a bottle of whisky. At this point, I’m interested because what I see is some cool western elements (the style of the town, the whisky, the duel-equse pose between Jane and an unnamed antagonist) combined with manga-inspired artwork (dewy eyes, lines galore, and, of course, the lack of color).

And then the horror element arrives. We are taken back in time to one of Jane’s first missions as a demon expert. The setting is a middle school in the “boonies.” And the demon has possessed a little girl.  Here, we are introduced to what might be the beginnings of a team: a cigarette-smoking priest, a guy who calls himself Cowboy, and their snappy leader Grace. Teams are always fun (if you didn’t see the Avengers movie, what are you doing reading this blog?), so I’m hopeful for this team’s evolution in issues to come.

Overall, the art is cool. I like it. It’s also smart. See Page two, panel two for some awesome composition. Plus, the creators aren’t afraid to experiment with unique angles.  The writing is witty and interesting. I already have a feel for Jane’s character, and I’ve only known her for 25 pages. Although I was a bit confused at some points, the cliffhanger ending has me wanting more.

 The End Is Totally Nigh will be available soon. In the meantime, check out the Facebook page and a free web version of Issue #1.

UPDATE: The End Is Totally Nigh has been picked up by Alterna Comics for their digital line up. Issues will be up on comixology later this summer. 

 % Panels Devoted to Women

Probably close to 95%, especially since the demon has possessed a little girl who gets more than a few full-panels to herself.

Women in Action

 ★★★Women often participate in plot-moving action.

Jane’s the main protagonist after all.

Women as Leaders

★★★Women often lead the other characters.

The team’s leader is a woman, and Jane does some leading herself.

Women as Sex Objects

★★★Women are depicted as sexy (or their sex is not emphasized at all), but their allure does not define their purpose as a prominent, plot-moving character in the comic.

Jane’s cute, no doubt, but it’s clear that her actions speak stronger than her appearance. She’s compared to a girl scout by one of the other characters, but her unique demon fighting abilities prove she’s a lot more than she appears.

Men Deviating from Male Stereotypes

★ ★ Men sometimes deviate from the male stereotypes of a logical mind, rationality, lack of expression and empathy.

One of the guys calls himself Cowboy. The priest is kind of a hard ass. I don’t see any guys acting apart from society’s expectations, at least not yet.