In the Dark with Rachel Deering:

An Interview About a Horror Anthology

Billed as “A monstrous collection of all-new, original terror tales from the darkest and most brilliant minds in comics,” Rachel Deering’s Kickstarter In the Dark promises to deliver a hefty tome of over 250 pages of horrific, comic goodness. Started on September 25th, this project is already over two-thirds funded in spite of what might initially appear as an ambitious funding goal of $30,000. Yet, when readers take a look at the high level of talent involved with this project along with the promised coffee table presentation of the book itself, it does give fans some inkling as to the resources needed to publish a collection such as this. And given fan support, it looks like this collection will be resounding success.

I was fortunate to talk with editor and project organizer, Rachel Deering, about this project in terms of what brought this anthology about, those involved in its creation, and where she may go with In the Dark down the road.

Forrest Helvie: First off, how did this project for In the Dark come together? What made you think of producing a horror anthology?

Rachel Deering: I had been wanting to put together a really great horror anthology for a long time, and I often talked about it online. One day, some creators were joking around on twitter about wanting to do some horror shorts and told me to make something happen. I took it seriously and started putting together creative teams.

HELVIE: In addition to your experience as a published writer and letterer, this will also be an opportunity to publish as an editor. Is this your first time editing a comic? What were some of the challenges you have faced and are now dealing with in this new(er) role?

DEERING: Actually, no. I edited several entire sections of the Womanthology book, a horror anthology called Monstrology, and lots of freelance indie and self-published stuff. The biggest challenge of being an editor is getting people to turn in work on time, haha. That’s a seriously huge part of the gig, and the most frustrating. The rest of it is a lot of fun for me. I love recruiting talent, I love reading scripts, I love providing feedback and talking through story with creators, I love seeing new art every day. I’m honestly not sure which I like more, writing or editing. It’s a close race.

HELVIE: You have a lot of depth in terms of the quality of the writers and artists contributing to this horror anthology. How did you get everyone involved?

DEERING: I asked them. I am personal friends with most of the people on the book, so when I approached them with the idea, they were all into it. A few of the contributors came by way of recommendations from the creators I had brought on myself. It was honestly very easy to put together. Thankfully.

HELVIE: Where can I go to meet these friends of yours?!

DEERING: Conventions! Or Portland, OR, as that’s where 95% of them seem to live, haha.

Mike Oliveri and Mike Henderson's story, All Things Through Me

HELVIE: In all seriousness though, what you have to say really seems to point to the significance of networking when it comes to making comics. Or am I reading too deeply here?

DEERING: Networking is definitely a big part of breaking in. It’s not everything, of course. I didn’t know anybody when I made Anathema, and it was only by going out to cons and promoting that book and getting the word out about my passion as a creator that I started to form friendships with these other writers, artists, and editors. So yeah, networking is a good idea, but only after you have something to back up the claim that you are a passionate creator.

HELVIE: So what can readers expect from this collection? Is there a unifying theme bringing all of these short stories together or were creators given free rein to try and scare their readers?

DEERING: You can expect some of the most amazing horror stories you’ve ever read. Seriously. There is no theme to the book. Each story is simply the creative team’s personal expression of what horror is to them. I brought on a wide range of writers so that I could hopefully cover a wide range of horror and provide at least one story to scare everyone.

HELVIE: I saw your collection also caught the interest of horror writer, Scott Snyder, who’s wildly popular and critically acclaimed series American Vampire and The Wake have helped generate a lot of interest in horror-themed comics. How did he become involved?

DEERING: I was looking for an influential person to write the intro to the book. I knew they had to be well versed in horror, I knew they had to be on the same wavelength as me, and I knew they had to be someone the horror hounds would respect. I asked James Tynion IV (a close friend of Scott’s) if he would approach Scott about it. He did, and Scott agreed, so that was that!

HELVIE: Are there any previews you can share with us at this time, or will backers get “sneak peeks” into the anthology as each team submits their completed stories?

DEERING: For sure! If you check out the updates tab on the Kickstarter, you will see samples of the black and white inked art, as well as some colored panels. I’ll be adding tons more samples as the campaign progresses, so just keep an eye on those updates and you’ll find plenty of eye candy!

HELVIE: Now, I noticed you have IDW listed as the publisher for this project. For people who are less familiar with how comics are published, why do books sometimes need support from crowdsourcing if a publisher is attached to it?

DEERING: Yeah, IDW has been great in helping me plan the production end of the book. I still need to raise money on Kickstarter for production costs, but IDW will be handling the logistics of interfacing with printers and housing the books and distribution and things like that. All the stuff I couldn’t do from my little suburban home in Ohio.

HELVIE: Out of curiosity, why did you select IDW as the publisher for this collection? Apart from the logistical support you mentioned, what else do you think they bring to the table for In the Dark?

DEERING: A lot of the creators on the book have worked, or are currently working with the team at IDW, so I was getting a lot of suggestions from them to approach the editorial staff with our book. I sent off an email to one of the editors there, he got back to me quickly and said he wanted to present the book at an upcoming editorial meeting, and a few weeks later, it was accepted. The folks at IDW are just an amazing bunch of people to work with. I know that they will help me bring my vision for the book to life and create the most amazing package you could possibly want. They are going to market the book beyond the Kickstarter campaign and make sure that comic shops and bookstores stay stocked. This is great, because people who were not able to snag a copy during the campaign will have a chance to add it to their collections after the fact.

HELVIE: You still have a few weeks left to fund this project and it’s already looking like you’ll reach your first goal rather quickly. Any surprises for supporters should you reach even greater levels of support?

DEERING: Well, I’ve already made sure that the book would be of the highest quality possible. That’s all built in to the initial goal amount. This thing will be something you’re proud to display in your home. That said, there aren’t any stretch goals to make the book better. What I will do with extra funds is actually pay my contributors (no-brainer), and if I raise well over my goal amount, I will start planning a second volume with an even bigger cast of well-known and indie creators.

HELVIE: Speaking of second volumes…I couldn’t help but notice on Twitter that you might have already been inviting other creators to get involved down the road in some capacity or another. Let’s play hypothetical: Volume 2–who are some of the creators you’d want to either bring on board or return for another round of scary stories?

DEERING: I asked the TOTALLY hypothetical question: If I get a chance to do a second volume of IN THE DARK, who would you like to see involved? And I got a lot of people going “ME!”, haha. As for my personal choices, I would love to work with Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Matt Fraction, Rick Remender, Joshua Fialkov, Josh Dysart, Joe Hill, Joshua Williamson, Joe Lansdale, Kim Newman, Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Christopher Golden, Kelly Sue, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Neil Gaiman, Brian Wood, and Brandon Seifert. On the art side of things, I would kill to have Francesco Francavilla, Bernie Wrightson, Fiona Staples, Becky Cloonan, James Harren, Gabriel Rodriguez, Matteo Scalera, Jock, Sean Gordon Murphy, Rafael Albuquerque, Guy Davis, Mike Mignola, Vanesa R. Del Rey, Joe Querio, Jason Latour, Dan Duncan, Paul Harmon, Brent McKee, Eric Powell, and Mike Norton. Yikes, sorry about that…

HELVIE: [Laughs] Only a little ambitious! And yet, I wouldn’t be surprised at all how many jump on board given what looks to be a resounding success with the support for this first volume. Last question: What would you say to sway comic fans who are on the fence about whether or not to support this project?

DEERING: This book will instantly make you more attractive to your preferred sex. You will become more popular in social circles. Your job performance will increase by a minimum of 57% without any extra effort on your part. You will never lose your keys again. You will gain a +10 bonus to all charisma based skill checks. And you will own one of the most comprehensive horror anthologies ever created.

*****

If you’re looking to raise your job performance, pass those charisma tests, or just get more information about In the Dark, you can go to the Kickstarter page (HERE) and see samples of the stories, view the remaining rewards for supporters, and see all of the talented artists and writers involved with this exciting new project. If you’d like to know more about Rachel Deering and the work she’s previously been involved in, you can reach her on Twitter (@racheldeering) or her website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Forrest C. Helvie lives in Bristol, CT with his wife and two sons. He is an assistant professor of developmental English at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. He received his Ph.D. in English Literature & Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he wrote his dissertation on the influence of canonical American literature on the development of the comic book superhero. His literary interests are broad-ranging from medieval Arthurian to 19th-century American, and most importantly, pedagogy, comics studies, and super-heroes. He regularly writes for Sequart and reviews comics for Newsarama. Forrest can also be found on Twitter (@fhelvie) discussing all things comics related.

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