“A great twist is the holy grail” Revealed: the secret to great horror comics with EEEK!’s writer/artist Jason Paulos
Last week we reviewed the brilliant EEEK! from Asylum Press. A fantastic homage to the classic EC horror comics of the 1960s released in an exclusive digital only package. The man behind this brilliant blast from the past is Aussie writer/artist Jason Paulos.
We wanted to have a look behind the shadows to find out what was lurking there, so we got in touch with Jason and asked him what the secret to a great horror comic is.
EEEK! is obviously a homage to the classic 50s and 60s EC horror comics but what were the real sources of inspiration for you? Any particular writers, artists or story’s stand out that have stuck with you over the years?
JP: I wear my influences on my sleeve in EEEK! and it’s more fun for readers to spot the influence themselves … they’re usually right! What you’ve said in the question pretty much nails it … I like Charlton, HOM, Warren, and to a lesser extent 80’s stuff like Death Rattle and Twisted Tales.
Are there are any other types of book you’d like to work on (crime, superhero etc.) or is horror your first passion?
JP: I’d love to do a crime book and I just did a crime story (and cover) for Jason Franks Black Glass Press book ‘Criminal Element‘. I also finished a crime type story for Dale Maccanti called ‘Tangible Evidence‘ about a serial killer from another dimension. Actually I don’t even think that story qualifies as a crime story but I drew it like one.
I spent years on a character called Hairbutt the Hippo Private Eye and will be revisiting that world with a new script written by Manek Deboto, a Sydney based musician and comics nut. I love humour, big foot Mad magazine type stuff and did a Mad style Green Lantern story years back (Bizarro Book 2) that used a lot of those influences …
Are there any unorthodox influences you’d like to work into a future horror story? A mash up like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies for example?!
JP: Yes, now you mention it. I’ve got an idea for an Australian based mash up using the material of a venerable Australian female writer that I’d rather not elaborate on … rest assured it will contain liberal doses of horror … asnd humour!
A horror audience is always looking for that next great shock or reveal, do you think the nostalgia of a bygone day of horror comics can cut it in today’s more violent market?
JP: Probably not but I can only try. I’m really hoping we can build an audience for the digital book I’d really like to do a vol 2 trade edition. I’m still producing new work which people can check out jasonpaulosart.blogspot.com
What for you is the secret to a good horror comic? A great twist, buckets of blood or a sense of spine chilling terror?
JP: I think a great twist is the holy grail but you don’t always get there. I’m not really into the gory reveal ending though I’ve done a few of those gawd knows …
How do you work, pen and ink or have you embraced the world of digital?
JP: I’ve gone back to pen and ink because it’s quicker. The covers are Photoshop paintings except for number 1 which was acrylics.
Speaking of digital, Asylum are releasing EEEK! digitally, rather than in print, do you think that will allow it to reach a wider more appreciative audience and what do you think of the growth of comics on tablets and the Internet?
JP: It’s definitely reaching a wider audience because I’m getting Facebook friend requests from around the world. An Australian artist need all the help they can get because the market here is almost non existent despite valiant efforts by people like Dark Oz (Decay) and Black House Comics to name but a few.
The original EC Comics were massively affected by the comics code censoring them, do you think this new digital landscape will help prevent such censorship and do Asylum or other publishers ever put any restrictions on your ideas?
JP: I don’t really push the boundaries because I’m not interested in challenging social taboos. I’m after as wide an audience as possible and that’s hard enough as it is without having to worry about censorship.
Tell us a bit about your background in comics and what can we see your work in next? Is EEEK! just a one off or will there be more?
JP: I’ve been a comics outsider for years (I started self publishing Hairbutt the Hippo in 1989) due to my own stubbornness and unwillingness to play the corporate comic game. Apart from a few things printed by mainstream publishers (Megazine, DC Comics) I’ve worked day jobs and moonlighted as an indie comics stalwart on the Aussie scene. My ambition has always been to find an audience for Hairbutt or EEEK! and retain creative control of my work … this ideal means a lot more to me than just becoming another of a long line of pencillers or inkers on some corporate property.
Are there any other Aussie writer artists who you’d like to see get a chance? Or who you’d like to work with?
JP: Yes, me! I feel like I’ve been waiting in the wings for years undiscovered by the mainstream comics community … If I hadn’t managed to make a go of a freelance storyboard career I’d probably have chucked it all in by now in a fit of bitterness. I get sick of being told how great my stuff is only to see sales flatline time and again! It’s hard not to be cynical. I suppose I won’t be happy until someone makes it big from Australia doing there own thing rather than just pandering to the mainstream market. Plenty have come and gone, I’m just too pig headed to know when to stop … honourable mentions however go to Gary Chaloner, Dillon Naylor, Glenn Lumsden, Daniel Cox, Scar studios … sorry if I’ve left anybody out!
Finally, what scares you the most in horror? Blood and guts or the spooky supernatural?
Definitely suspense and shadows … lots of Shadows! Bwahh haa haaa haaa …..