Horror Writers Association

Horror Roundtable 13 – For the Love of Comics


When: October 19, 2013
Time: 7:30pm EST (use the Time Zone Converter to find your local time)

For the Love of Comics

Are comics more popular now than ever before? Let’s explore the industry, the names to watch out for and the publishers fighting the good fight. And let’s look at how a writer might go about having their story turned into a comic or graphic novel; how do they find an artist, and then where/how do they get the final product published. Is there money in comics or is it more for the love? And why is it that horror stories work so well in comic format? We will look at it all.

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You can follow the Roundtable discussion in the comments section of this post.

Note: the page will not auto refresh, so please you the refresh option on your browser to keep up to date with the discussion.

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Special Guests:

Taylor Grant     Charles Day     Greg Chapman     Mike Dubisch

Taylor Grant has been a professional storyteller for most of his adult life. His work has been seen on network television, the big screen, the stage, comics, the web, newspapers, national magazines, anthologies, and heard on the radio.

Taylor is the Editor in Chief of Evil Jester Comics (EJC), where he oversees all aspects of the comics and business. EJC’s first project is an anthology called Evil Jester Presents, featuring comic book adaptations of stories by bestselling authors Jonathan Maberry, Jack Ketchum, William F. Nolan, and Joe McKinney.

The former Executive Editor at Stan Lee Media, Taylor worked closely with legendary comic book creator Stan Lee to co-develop award-winning entertainment for the Web.

Taylor is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association, and has shared pages with some of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors in the horror industry, including Graham Masterton, Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Lansdale, F. Paul Wilson, Rick Hautala, Simon Clark, Mike Resnick, Ed Gorman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Tom Piccirilli, Scott Nicholson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Stephen Graham Jones, Ray Garton, Gary Braunbeck, and Lisa Morton.

Find out more about Taylor’s work at his website www.taylorgrant.com and check out his comic book projects at www.eviljestercomics.com.

Charles Day is the Horror Writer Association’s Mentor Program Chairperson, Co-Chair for the NY/LI Chapter, and a member of the HWA Library committee. He is also a member of the New England Horror Writers Association, the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

As an author, he’s written the first book in the ADVENTURES OF KYLE McGERRT trilogy, a YA western horror/heroic fantasy, THE HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER (Blood Bound Books.)

He is also the Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF (Noble YA Publishers LLC.,) and penned a mystery novelette THE PLAN (Naked Snake Press,) He co-edited his first anthology TALES OF TERROR & MAYHEM FROM DEEP WITHIN THE BOX (Evil Jester Press) compiled with 23 terrifying stories by amazingly talented authors, including the first ever story about how the evil Jester became so damn evil, titled “The Gift,” which is also being adapted into a short story in a comic book with Evil Jester Comics.

His forthcoming works for 2013 include his first adult horror novel, DEEP WITHIN (Alter Press, Fall 2013) a comic book series based on the ADVENTURES OF KYLE McGERRT trilogy, and his first middle-grade series, THE UNDERDWELLERS is near completion.

On the publishing business side of things, Charles is the Co-Owner with Taylor Grant and have partnered Gran-Day Media that houses the successful imprints Evil Jester Press, Hidden Thoughts Press (mental wellness collections,) Evil Jester Comics, and the newly acquired Twinstar Media.

He’s also an artist and illustrator who is passionate about creating the many characters he’s brought to life in his published or soon to be published works. You can find out more about his upcoming writing projects, check out his illustrations and art, or find out what he’s cooking up next with that evil dude-in-the-box, the evil Jester, by visiting his Facebook page or blog:

Greg Chapman is a horror author and artist from Australia. He has had four novellas published: Torment, The Noctuary (Damnation Books, 2011), Vaudeville (Dark Prints Press, 2012) and The Last Night of October (Bad Moon Books, 2013).
His short fiction has also appeared in Midnight Echo magazine, Eclecticism, Trembles, Morpheus Tales, Bete Noire and the anthologies A Killer Among Demons, Sex, Drugs & Horror, Frightmares and…

His most notable illustrative work is the Bram Stoker Award®-winning graphic novel, Witch-Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times, written by Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton, published by McFarland & Company in 2012. He also illustrated the comic series Allure of the Ancients, written by Mark Farrugia, for Midnight Echo Magazine.

You can find Greg on the web at htpp://darkscrybe.com.

Mike Dubisch is a dark fantasy illustrator with his roots in golden age horror comics and pulp sci-fi. Mike began his illustration career contributing to Science Fiction Age and Realms of Fantasy magazines, as well as small press horror anthology comics Gore-Shriek, Cry For Dawn, and Raw Media Mags. His art has been used in toy design and illustration for Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons, covers for Aliens VS Predator comics, and graphic adaptations of The Boxcar Children and other children’s literature. Mike also creates fine art, prints, and experimental films exploring H. P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Other projects include interior art for Classics Mutilated from IDW, cover and interior art for All-Monster-Action from Swallowdown Press and Blackhole Rainbows from FST Pulp. Mike lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, Carolyn, and three daughters where he teaches online at the Academy of Art University. Follow Mike on Facebook and visit www.Dubisch.com.

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142 comments on “Horror Roundtable 13 – For the Love of Comics

  1. A huge THANK YOU to our special guests Charles Day, Taylor Grant, Greg Chapman, and Mike Dubisch, for a wonderful discussion on all things comics. Your time and effort are greatly appreciated.

    This Roundtable will remain open to comments and questions until Saturday the 26th, so please feel free to get involved.

  2. Oh, I understand. A comic or a graphic novel has to be able to convey the entire meaning of a scene or ‘chapter’ in just a very few frames. The art work itself becomes the story and carries the impact of emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Whereas, a book or even a short story has to use the words to create those same images in the readers minds. It takes a lot of work and talent to be successful at either or both.

  3. Now I need to head on over to the Evil Jester Presents show. I’m following you evil little dude. So long everyone!!

  4. Well, this was a great and informative discussion tonight on Horror Comics, comics, writing for comics, where and how to get a story idea into comic format and where and how to try and get it published. I hope those out there who were following got some of the information they needed. And I hope those who come on later and tomorrow to review, do as well. Had a great time everyone. Wish you all a terrific rest of the weekend. And keep creating.

  5. Yeah. I do that too. Sometimes there’s just one panel which stands out so I’ll emphasise it

  6. Linda, I agree- Writing prose and writing comics require very different approaches. I have not written a prose story since high school and I’m not sure I remember how!

  7. That’s an EXCELLENT point, Linda. I agree. However, some formats are inherently more challenging than others do their restrictive formats. For instance, when writing a 4 to 7 page horror story, when you’re restricted to a handful of panels per page, a tiny amount of words per balloon, and all of the conventions of a comic book, it can be very difficult to tell an emotionally resonant piece with well-developed characters. You simply don’t have much time. I enjoyed the challenge, but it is deceptive when you read comics–they can be very tough to execute well.

  8. “Mike, I’m curious from one artist to another – do you prefer to work to the letter from a writer’s script, or do you just go with your gut?”

    Little bit of both, I guess. When working from a script there’s always some sort of action, view or detail that can’t be interpreted in one panel as described- It can get so challenging that sometime’s I’ve felt I prefer to work from a synopsis, so I can work out movements and frames in scene on my own. But on the other hand, it’s great to have the script to fall back on, to know that this is the sequence of images asked for.

    In my own scripts I invariably make some dramatic addition to the story in the drawing stage!

  9. When I was drawing Witch Hunts, the scripts I received were very detailed and of great assistance in how everything should be placed. Yet sometimes, I said to myself, “no, it would work better this way” and most of the time the writers agreed with me.

  10. From what I’ve discovered this past year, any kind of writing except maybe technical writing (which I’ve done a lot of) is difficult. A writer must create their world (reality based, fantasy based, combination based, etc) then populate that world with characters that are honest and believable in that world. I know that my books would never make a good comic book or graphic novel simply because of the way I write and what I write about – most of the time.

  11. Mike, I’m curious from one artist to another – do you prefer to work to the letter from a writer’s script, or do you just go with your gut?

  12. I also encourage any writers to seek out comic book scripts online. There are hundreds of them out there now. You are lucky. Finding comic scripts to read pre-Internet used to be harder than digging up dinosaur bones.

  13. Additionally, I think if an artist is very good and they can produce great 6-12 page short comic stories, they’ll always be a place to get them printed.

  14. Linda, so great to have you. And how did everyone get their photo, and I’m stuck with some cartoon character that I have no Idea what the hell it is. A bug of some sorts, perhaps?

  15. Oh, and I forgot. I’ve written live action TV and animation. But still–I find comic book format to be a very challenging format. It definitely is a skill set that must me studied and practiced.

  16. I have written feature films, short films, music videos, short stories, commercials, comic books and for newspapers and magazines–as well as every conceivable kind of marketing and advertising. And I can tell you that writing comics well is no cake walk. Believe me.

  17. “Writers need to up their game as well. Research how to write pitches. Learn how to present your idea in a very quick, succinct way.”

    – Exactly!

  18. Writers need to up their game as well. Research how to write pitches. Learn how to present your idea in a very quick, succinct way.

  19. Any questions out their in the virtual audience. Or am I hearing crickets chirping?? *Smiles*

  20. PS: As Taylor said, the best thing is to do comics for the love of it. I would say an artist’s best bet is to just do their own thing. Write the comic you want to draw, or find a writer who writes what you want to be doing.

  21. Sure, Charlie. We have been very fortunate in this regard. Through Charlie and my relationships, we’ve already put together a slate of comics through 2014. I can’t announce these yet, because they’re not fully inked deals yet. But we’re going to be BUSY BUSY BUSY. These are ambitious projects and we’re thrilled about all of them. We probably won’t be looking at any new projects for a while, unless it’s a very well established author or comic creator–or if it’s a comic or graphic novel that’s already been created. We have already received fully realized comics from different countries that are interested in us. Some have been good, some terrible, and some still under consideration.

  22. Mike, totally agree. As a huge social butterfly, and convention-goer, above all, persistent networking and connections are certainly key to getting your foot in the door. But none of that will help if you and your team don’t have the talent needed.

  23. Taylor, would you like to share what Evil Jester Comics will be looking for in the near future as far as comic series and graphic novels.

  24. Charlie and I are co-founders of Evil Jester Comics. We decided that we’re going to do what we love–no matter what. And we’ve taken advantage of a lot of the new tools (social media, crowdfunding, etc) to make this a reality. It’s a new age.

  25. How does an artist break in as a professional these days?

    First, your work has to be very, very good. And you have to show enough experience that they know they can trust you with a job. You’ll have to work the floor of every convention with your portfolio. Chat up every small publisher and follow up by mail and email. Research and promote to publishers online. Create an online presence with social networking, blogs and web comics. Self publish your own projects as a showcase that you can leave as a sample.

  26. @ Taylor. That’s very kind of you to say, thank you. It’s all about perseverance isn’t it. I’ll up the ante on submitting here and there and with any luck something will come up.

  27. I’m going to put this out there–creating comics for many people will always be a labor of love. Some fortunate ones will make money at it. Some even more fortunate will make a living out of it. It’s cost-prohibitive too. So, if you’re determined to make comics–make sure you love it first.

  28. @ GREG – Your’e very talented. And you have a Bram Stoker Award to show for it. I know it’s just a matter of time, if that’s your goal. But one of the great things about self-publishing is that you have more creative control–and you can’t put a price tag on that.

    @ MIKE – Totally agree.

  29. Monsterverse is accepting submissions, I believe. Arcana is always open to submissions. They would both “back end deals” for royalties.

    Funding self publishing through Kickstarter is very common and do-able these days.

  30. In truth, I’m still trying to break into professional comics. I’ve sent my portfolio to many places, but no such luck as yet. But it’s just like writing – you have to keep submitting.

  31. I’m working on taking a crack at it. I’ve teamed up with a few comic script writers, and the way we’re doing it is after they’ve read my first book in my new YA horror/fantasy trilogy, THE HUNT FOR THE GHOULISH BARTENDER, they have know joined me in my imaginary world. And we are actually creating new characters, new adventures, loosely based on my trilogy. Once we get the first two issues written, we will be scouting artists who can bring that old west feel in their illustrations. Once we have that together, at least three or four pages fully penciled, inked, colored and lettered, we can then start the hunt for the right comic book publisher.

  32. As to the second part of Marty’s question: which is better to present: a stand alone or series. I would imagine a stand alone comic would be extremely difficult to pitch to any publisher unless you were already an established creator.

  33. Probably the best bet to get your comic book into stores (if your book is at a professional level) is to go through Image Comics.

  34. Selling a comic book to the two majors…Marvel or DC–forget it. To a mid-size like Boom or IDW–REALLY hard, since they tend to develop everything in house. Personally, I would recommend a tiny publisher or self-publishing. But that’s just me.

  35. It’s all about getting your pitch out there. Find the right publisher and make your pitch. But self publishing is best way to see your work in print on your own timetable and under your control.

  36. @Marty… I was fortunate to be involved in a group that wanted to publish a comic. But I think it is difficult if you only have an idea. It needs to be a team as Taylor indicated. You need to have something on the go. Publishing comics is also very costly.

  37. Hi guys,

    I have a question – okay, two questions: say you’ve partnered up with an artist and together, you’ve produced a comic. Is it harder to get a comic published than it is a novel? I’m not sure how many publishers are out there who publish comics… And would it be best to present it as a stand-alone comic or as the first part in a series?

  38. I think I’m way out of my league here. I did a few comic books back when I was a kid. All we had in the way back was Marvel and the superheroes. I never got into them much though as they were always way to short to read. I could read the average comic in about 5 minutes or less so I became discouraged reading them then having to wait until the next issue came out to see what happened to my heroes. I like the longer graphic novels and ‘regular’ books.

  39. I agree, Taylor. Greg and Mike, do you want to share something you’ve done to get a comic or graphic novel published.

  40. You can try getting in touch with local small press publishers. Create your own webcomic. Maybe start a tumblr, a blog. You can always self-publish and give your work away at cons to start getting your comics seen. You could try a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. When you’re first starting out, you shouldn’t be trying to earn a living. You should be developing your craft and hopefully build an organic audience by producing kick ass comics—build your reputation online by setting an exemplary example.

    Make sure you go to the shows and meet as many people as you can—small press publishers especially. You can meet collaborators this way—and maybe a few potential fans. Twitter is an incredible way to meet other artist and/or writers with similar interests.

  41. I can say that few people (publishers) are going to want to read comic scripts as samples. A writer wanting to break into comics would be much better served to showcase their work in comic form. Hence, whey you need to partner with an artist–or hire one. Whichever you can afford.

  42. @ Taylor, hehehehe!

    Okay, so anyone out there with questions about horror comics, how to write ’em, how to draw ’em, etc??

  43. Some stories will translate quite well to the comic format, but it’s very hard I think to do something that’s stand alone. They’re generally a series or a massive graphic novel. They take a long time to create.

  44. This Roundtable is now open to comments and questions from the public.

    And Taylor, you own more than 50,000 comics??? Wow…

  45. How does a writer get their script turned into a graphic novel?

    Well, they could learn to draw!

    Another tactic would be to pay an artist.

    If that’s not possible, then they will need to try and get an artist “on board”- Make them feel like a collaborator. Get their creative input, get them excited about the project. Offer them 50% of rights of course. Good luck wit that, it’s a lot of work to ask someone to do to bring your vision to life.

  46. I think what Taylor said about getting out and meeting people is key. Also joining a horror group. If I hadn’t have joined the Australian Horror Writers Association a few years back I might never have been able to have the chance to work on the Witch Hunts graphic novel. Self-publishing is also huge, but writing comics is different to writing a novel.

  47. In these days of self-publishing here is nothing to stop you from creating your own horror comic.

  48. In these days of self-published comics there is nothing to stop you from creating your own horror comic.

  49. Digital Webbing, Deviant Art, PencilJack–even Craigs’s List But more importantly go to shows (cons) and meet people.

  50. As much as I love some of the current horror comics, the Golden Age stuff will always be special.

  51. Sure, Charlie. Personally, I think the best way is to partner up with a great artist (such as Greg or Mike). Find someone who shares your love comics. There are a myriad of ways to do that. Which I will share in a moment.

  52. Which old days?

    I’d say Wally Wood and Graham Ingles from the old, old days…

    Wrightson, Corben and Frazetta from the Warren days…

    But man, it’s hard to choose! I love Toth and Niño as well, and also John Severin who contributed to EC and Warren!

  53. Okay, so moving along. I know many who log in tonight want to not only know about horror comics and whats out there, but more so, how a writer might go about having their story turned into a comic or graphic novel.

    Will start with Taylor, then Mike, then Greg.

  54. I loved the horror hosts too. EC had the whole branding thing down-pat back then. Uncle Creepy was and still is awesome!

  55. Jennifer written by Bruce Jones, mastermind behind Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds! Amazing stuff.

  56. Sorry, I dropped out there for a sec. Totally agree Mike. Who’s your fave artist from the old days?

  57. I think they can come an read the comments, but they will not be able to post questions until the first half hour is up.

  58. I also love the warren stuff- Creepy and Eerie, etc. But the underground comix horror is where I really found my home- Death Rattle, Slow Death and Twisted Tales…

  59. @ Greg–I LOVE Jenifer by Wrightson. One of my all time favorites!!!

    @ Charlie -OK, I own WELL over 50,000 comics in my collection.

    @ Mike – Yes the reprint boom was great!

  60. I don’t believe anyone can log in until the Q&A period after our first hour is up. I think…

  61. My passion at first came from the perspective of being an artist. I’ll never forget seeing the story Jenifer, drawn by Bernie Wrightson. It evoked so many sensations.

  62. Sorry, Taylor, but it’s so darn cool. I could share with everyone and at least say, Taylor could open a comic shop. hehehehe!

  63. The ECs were what brought me to horror- I started reading Stephen King BECAUSE he borrowed from EC. My parents had the little paperback reprints around. I used to obsess on the very “idea” of pre-code horror comics! The reprint boom on them happened a few years after that obsession, I had to satisfy myself with reading ABOUT them.

  64. TO CHARLIE: Comics tend to be thrill rides. Horror is a visceral genre—it elicits one of the most powerful emotions…fear. That makes it a great match for a visual medium like comics. Beautifully drawn monsters, shadowy castles, bone crunching violence, moody atmospheres, alien landscapes, these and so much more are tailor-made for a visual medium like comics and graphic novels. I think that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. Plus I was also a sucker for the morality plays that Greg mentioned. I love seeing bad things happen to bad people and poetic justice.

  65. They were almost the films they couldn’t make. Short and scary. Now look how much comics have influenced television. The Walking Dead for example.

  66. Yes, EC comics rule, Mike!

    Taylor, can you share your passion for comics. And . . . can anyone guess how many comics Taylor owns????

  67. There’s definitely something about the graphic feel of horror comics- But yeah, the horror stories, with their fast pace and twist endings are so well suited to comics.

  68. I love the ECs. Gotta give props to Russ Cochran for keeping those in print. They were pretty hard to come by in my “formative years”

  69. So, know that we have Mike here, let me ask a question for all of us. Just what is it that gets us so intrigued with horror comics, and comics in general. For me, it’s the amazing visuals, coupled with a great story. And I’m always looking forward to the next issue with the amazing cover art. How about you all?

  70. I agree, Greg. But the man who spearheaded that smear campaign had an agenda to make a name for himself. And horror comics were an easy target.

  71. I think only we four have to REFRESH manually. I believe anyone else reading this is automatically refreshed.

  72. I just think that it was ironic that the Comics Code people seemed to focus only on the violence and completely missed the message some of the tales were trying to tell.

  73. Well, that was a staple of EC comics. Retellings of fables, morality tales with poetic justice. It influenced generations of readers, including me.

  74. Should we let our viewers know to be sure to hit the (F5) refresh button every know and then?

  75. Yes, I wasn’t old enough to catch EC comics in their original run. I read all of the Marvel horror books in the 70s. It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to seek out more classic horror from EC.

  76. Then the whole Comics Code thing ruined it for everyone, but now horror has made real resurgence in the past few decades.

  77. My love for comics came at a very early age, when I started snooping around my father’s mancave in the basement. I found these musty old Tales From The Crypt, Vault of Horror, and I was intrigued. Always loved horror growing up. I would play out scary movies with my friends. We even did a haunted house in my parents basement, and had fun scaring our friends and neighbors.

  78. I started with superheroes. But once I read my first issue of “Where Monsters Dwell” from Marvel–I was hooked on horror too.

  79. My all-time fave Vertigo title would be The Sandman or Hellblazer. They took comics to new heights.

  80. Ah, right me then.

    My love of comics surfaced when I was very young in the form of superhero comics: Superman, Batman, all those. I didn’t really fall in love with adult comics until the DC vertigo series was birthed. Vertigo had a lot of dark titles and from there I started to look around for the old EC comics.

  81. Greg, I’m going to start this off by asking you what ignited your love of comics…and horror specifically?

  82. We’ll definitely have to keep this in mind—or there will be an awful lot of dead air. 😉

  83. Hey Greg, Taylor. I had to use the refresh button (F5) because I didn’t see your comments until then.

  84. I just remembered, I have to refresh to see your comments. Just a friendly reminder to you gents. Hi Greg! 🙂

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