“This is definitely the most ambitious project I’ve done!” Mike Garley and Mike Lee Graham talk Our Final Halloween
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time for our taste in comics to take a slightly darker and more gruesome tone, and what better place to start that with Our Final Halloween, the latest offering from The Kill Screen’s Mike Garley and Dead Roots‘ Mike Lee-Graham. Funding now on Kickstarter and released digitally on October 31st, it sees a group of teens wake up in a spooky house covered in blood. So how would are creators cope with this scenario?
Mike Garley: No. And I can’t tell you exactly what it was because it’s a MASSIVE spoiler! The story itself came from a lot of different ideas and concepts that MLG and me had, which moulded together to make something unique. The ‘hard open’ is a device that I’m a fan of using (as people who read The Kill Screen will be well aware of) as it means we get straight into the crux of the story so instead of wasting time explaining setting we can look at other more interesting aspects of the story, such as the characters.
It has a very classic horror movie concept, was it inspired by a film in particular or was it just a concept you liked?
Michael Lee Graham: Mike G. and I both love the films of John Carpenter, which usually have a very tight premise and keep the action confined to one particular location. Films like Assault on Precinct 13, The Thing and Prince of Darkness were certainly sources of inspiration.
MG: Yeah, we wanted to create something that inhabited its own world. There’s lots of old horror films that do that, so conceptually it has that in common with them, but I’d say OFH is definitely told as a modern story.
How do you think you would cope with being thrown into that kind of scenario?
MLG: The same way I cope with every stressful situation. Poorly.
MG: Are you threatening us? …The characters in OFH look at it in the same way that I think I would, as something to be discovered and ‘figured out’, but that doesn’t mean that I’d do a good job at it. And I’m not sure I’d be as bold as they are.
it sees you team up with Mike Lee Graham – am I right in thinking you worked on Dead Roots together? So what made you team up for this book? Has this been idea long in the gestation?
MLG: This was a situation where the planets aligned a bit I think. I had been more focused on cover art and poster design for a while when Mike and I worked on a few shorts together. I’d been trying out some new stuff with my colouring, which Mike seemed to like so much that he pitched me the Our Final Halloween idea. The second he said it would be a mix of John Carpenter and Lovecraft, I was in!
MG: MLG’s art is incredible and I’ve wanted to work with him for a while now, but when I started thinking of this I knew immediately that he would be perfect for it. His art is fantastic and he’s been an absolute joy to work with.
The book has a very striking orange and blue colour scheme, as well as lashings of red blood, was this a conscious decision to try and create a specific look or feel? It feels like something from a vintage movie poster for example? And something very different from your average indie horror book?
MLG: I would say I have a personal interest in weird, striking colour schemes. In a lot of the work I do, I really try and limit the amount of colours I use because I often do screen printing work where you literally pay by the colour! I find that limiting myself to specific colours means I have to think creatively to make sure that those colours don’t clash too much and that the focal point of each panel is very obvious. It’s been a real challenge with some of the artwork but when it works, it’s very satisfying.
MG: Yeah, we wanted to work a certain aesthetic design into the comic, and we made the decision fairly early on to use different colours for different floors and types of horror.
Your Kickstarter is aiming to send out the digital comics in time for Halloween – does having a specific goal for a campaign help you or do you think it helps focus the buyer and give them a deadline?
MG: This is definitely the most ambitious project I’ve done in terms of target. We need a ridiculous amount of backers, and even then, we won’t get any money for the comic. We just wanted to gear it into getting more people to read the comic and create a real ‘event’ feel, where everyone can read the comic at the same time… October the 31st.
And am I right in thinking you are just producing it digitally? Any plans to do a print run?
MG: No. We’re literally just focusing on getting the comic into as many people’s hand for now. If we did do a print project it would be either because the right publisher had approached us, or we’ve decided to do more. But for now that’s not a consideration. It’s always nice to think what if, but it all depends on the reception and how well received the comic is.
You’ve gone all out on the Kickstarter video as well, creating a very John Carpenter inspired video? How important is creating these extra elements when it comes to releasing a kickstarter?
MLG: It’s very important, especially in a short promotional video. In that 30-40 seconds we want the audience to know exactly what kind of experience they’re in for with the comic. Like with a good film trailer, we just wanted to give a flavour of what can be expected without over explaining. That way the reader knows what they’re in for and can enjoy the comic from start to finish without having too much given away already.
And finally what’s next for you guys?
MG: We have an idea that we’re planning to pitch around. It’s a sci-fi story about media conception, murder and manipulation. But I think after this I’ll probably just want to take a bit of time off. I’m working on a lot of stuff at the moment and I want to finish a couple of things off first.
MLG: Yeah, after this campaign is done I’m buying Spiderman and Red Dead Redemption 2 and pretending the real world doesn’t exist for about 2 weeks!