“Belief and the unknown drives science, which uncovers greater mysteries that the human soul is ever drawn to explore.” Andy Perry and Lyndon White discuss Reanimator Incorpated comic
Even though we are in the middle of a global lockdown, we are still seeing great comic launching on Kickstarter. The latest to join this trend is the fantastic Reanimator Incorporated from Andy Perry and Lyndon White, so how are these two planning to bring life back to the indie comics crwodfunding scene?
Your new book ‘Reanimator Incorporated’ reimagines HP Lovecraft’s short story for a new audience. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve changed and how you’ve updated? And why?
Andy Perry: We wanted to share the Reanimator Incorporated story and cater for both those who are indoctrinated into Lovecraft folklore and those who’ve never encountered his work. The first element was a modern day setting using technology and references to things like stem cells and Artificial Intelligence instead of the original reanimation serum. We also wanted to make the characters a little more relatable, which along with the corporate setting, will hopefully make readers feel more at home. That’s before we clobber them over the head with some alternate-realm metaphysical mind-bending plot lines…
Lyndon White: From a visual standpoint, quite a lot. The core ideas behind Lovecraft’s characters are there, but due to changing the story to a modern setting, it naturally changes the look of the characters. This includes diversifying the cast which I think was really important, given some of Lovecraft’s viewpoints.
What was it about this story which made you want to update and reimagine it?
AP: The inspiration for Reanimator Incorporated is the line from ‘Scream of the Dead’ in the Reanimator series where the narrator asks a resurrected cadaver, ‘Where have you been?’ That one line conjured up ideas of where the soul might exist or travel between the period of death and reanimation. There’s a recurrent theme through a lot of Lovecraft’s work about the premise of the soul and this is seen in some of his references to philosopher’s from history like Haeckel. I wanted to explore this further, while catering for a modern audience (and keeping some of the horror).
LW: Believe it or not, I’ve drawn a number of horror books, and I’m a big Lovecraft fan. When Andy approached me about this project I heard the words “Lovecraft” and “Dante’s Inferno” and I was sold. I was a project that was very easy to say yes to.
The idea of reviving the dead is a popular conception, and it reminded us of everything from Frankenstein to Flatliners, did you take any visual clues from any other sources, or were there stories and ideas you knew you had to steer clear of to avoid comparisons?
LW: I purposely avoided the film adaptation (which I know is adored) because I didn’t want the visuals to get muddled with what we were creating. I re-read the original text, made some notes and then went back and forth with Andy on where everything is headed, both in Chapter One and beyond. Pet Cemetery was something I recommended to Andy and you can tell King was influenced by Reanimator. The resurrection and ability to revive a love one (if you had the power to) is a strong motivator.
Also, it’s funny you should mention Frankenstein, it’s my next concertina book.
The father/son dynamic seems to be a really important one, was it important to make sure the book had a solid emotional core to it?
AP: I’ve got my story editors and I’ll put Lyndon in that category too. Feedback from the original draft, I was told, lacked ‘humanism’. I realised I’d focused on the science and the concepts, ignoring the characters’ relationships with one another – the most important aspect to a story. West was always going to have a son and wife in the story, but as I worked on their relationship, I realised it would become a critical motivator in their ambitions. In future chapters, the foundations laid out now will become even more important. The reader has to care what happens to the people in the story and hopefully we’ve started on the right track.
LW: I don’t think this kind of story would work if there wasn’t a solid emotional core. There needs to be a pretty strong motivator if a character is going against nature, god and the natural order. If we had a character who was resurrecting people for the sake of it, everything would feel flat and lifeless (excuse the pun).
You also look at the idea of faith vs. Science do you think that is another integral element in a story like this?
AP: This is something quite personal to me. I’m a very logically-minded and scientific person, but also believe there’s things beyond what science can explain from a spiritual aspect. I also don’t think there needs to be the dichotomy between the – what shall we call them? ‘Disciplines’. Belief and the unknown drives science, which uncovers greater mysteries that the human soul is ever drawn to explore. I guess this story is me playing with my own internal conflicts – a little self-indulgent perhaps, but maybe others feel the same and can relate…
Lyndon, your artwork always looks so labour intensive, yet you seem to be able to get books out quite regularly, have you managed to work out a technique and approach which works for you, without dropping quality?
LW: I’m terms of output, I feel like I’ve slowed down a bit (or at least I think so) and I say that because the new stuff is taking nearly twice as long to do. Hexes: Volume Two is about to come out and that’s the last of my books that used a particular drawing method. I’m still incredibly happy with the work, it’s got all my finger prints all over it, but starting with Reanimator, you should start to see the next step for my artwork.
This “next step” has thicker line work, which has allowed me to change up my colouring method and as a result, the characters are a bit stronger against the backgrounds and the colours have become more dynamic, especially with the lighting. All of which is as you’ve said, a lot of work, but I have that art style that does utilise a lot of detail, inking and textures. I could scale it back but it’s simply not me. I want to put in all those details and I think there’s people out there who do those other styles better.
I think a lot of is due to working on Candles (my fantasy YA graphic novel) which I’m still drawing. That book is labour of love and working on my own has really allowed me to take my time and push myself. There are times when I think “how the hell am I going to draw this?” and when you get over those hurdles, you unlock a little bit more of your skill set. I’ve been working on Reanimator side by side with Candles and on one hand, working on two big books at the same time is a lot of drawing, both projects have benefited from each other.
Any concerns about releasing a Kickstarter in the middle of a global pandemic? Or are you hoping people will be looking for some kind of distraction?
AP: I did wonder whether this was a good idea to be honest, but some people I know have run some successful Kickstarters recently and I thought why not give it a go. The material is ready and what have we got to lose? I’m fortunate I’m still working in my ‘day job’ as a IT consultant. If anything, I’m busier than ever and consider myself very lucky that I’ve been able to keep my mind off the horrible situation out there right now. I hope all your readers are staying safe and finding some good distractions of their own.
LW: It has been a big concern for me. I was about to launch a Kickstarter for my Frankenstein Concertina Book when lockdown started and for me, it wasn’t the right time to launch. There were so many factors from both an emotional and production standpoint, that I paused the project. Thankfully, the work is done and I’m planning on launching a little later in the year once Reanimator is wrapped up.
I’ve spoken to a number of people about Kickstarters and I don’t think there is a right answer. I hope people want the distraction and something to look forward to. The comic industry has also been lacking some of their new releases so there is a demand there. From a logistical stand point, if we shelf every project in the pipeline, we are going to end up with a backlog when this is all over and not having a definitive idea when that will be, it puts every creator out there in a tough spot. It’s by no means ideal, but going ahead with this project means we keep ticking over, it means we can support our printer and suppliers and it gives readers something new. If you cant tell, I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects.
How long will we see this book run for and are you working on anything else at the moment?
AP: There are 6 chapters in all and that should close the story out. I’ve other ideas which I don’t think would fit into this story arc, so perhaps there’ll be something beyond there, but for now all my efforts are into making this as polished as I can. The outline for chapter 2 is there, and I just need to find some time to work on the first draft. I also need to work on episode 3 of my sci-fi comic, Undetermined as well as a load of other projects. Like I said, it’s good to be busy and I also need to remember to give myself a break.
LW: Like Andy said, we are in for the long haul with this one. Other projects include my next concertina book based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which will pop up later in the year. My main project is Candles, which I’ve already sunk a lot of time into. I’m now got visuals from cover to cover and am working through the inks and colours. In my typical fashion, it’s a lot of work for one person but it will be worth it when it’s done. I’m planning on clearing my work slate, then having a couple of solid months just working on Candles. At this point, it’s very much a 2021 book, but at least it’s something else people can look forward to.