ComicMonsters.com reporter Stephanie Shamblin Gray caught up with the writer of London Horror Comic, John-Paul Kamath, to ask a few questions about the book.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Can you tell us a little about the latest issue of London Horror Comic?
John-Paul Kamath: London Horror Comic has always straddled the lines between humor and horror, but when our last issue (No. 5) came out, there was an overwhelming response to some of the darker tales – it goes to show there’s always someone more twisted out there and it’s usually the reader! The book for me is about change, and keeping things fresh, so with that in mind I took more of a ‘lights out’ approach to some of the stories in issue 6. There’s still that line of humor that runs through the stories if you look for it, but this time it’s jet black and harder to spot. It’s going to be fun seeing how readers respond to the change in tone.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: The art is this issue is amazing. Can you tell us about the team?
John-Paul Kamath: I’m very lucky to have the skills of Lee Ferguson, Dean Kotz, and Hi-Fi Design making my twisted words come alive- each brings something additive to the script that makes each story in the book sing in its own distinct style. Lee’s strength is picking moments – if you look at the pictures without the lettering, it’s like a tableau of moments that make you focus on one thing. The mix between my script and his style is something of a mix between European and American styles: highly decorative American drawings of oblique European observations.
Dean is one of the finest draughtsmen working in comics. There’s a realism to his work which, when put to effect, creates believable moments of anatomically correct horror that just leap off the page. Lastly, Hi-Fi Design has been with us since issue 1. These guys KNOW how to tell a story with colours. Everything from palette selection, to understanding the mood and tone of the story makes colour a character itself in each one of the twisted tales.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Who, or what maybe, are you looking to for inspiration these days?
John-Paul Kamath: This may sound big-headed, and I don’t know, maybe it is, but after seven years of self-publishing you only ever look to your last piece of work as a benchmark for getting the inspiration you need to produce your next book. I don’t think writers should ever really look for inspiration in what’s selling or what’s in vogue at the moment. They should certainly keep abreast of what’s going on out there, if for no other reason than knowing what’s already been done. But existing work shouldn’t be the starting point for your own stories. Your concerns, your voice and what you deem important should be your inspiration to start writing. Nothing else. Was that big-headed? *smiling*
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: No, that doesn’t sound big-headed at all. This past year was a huge year for horror comic anthologies. You have been consistently creating an anthology for many years now, and I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the current state of horror comics.
John-Paul Kamath: I think the majority of current horror comics fall into one of two buckets: nostalgia-fueled stories that aren’t scary (“and in the end, it turns out he was actually a vampire!”) or stories where the subtext kills the joy of imagination (I’d like to see a social drama about the effects of a modern day recession that’s actually a subtext for zombies).
One of the best horror comics of last year was Garth Ennis’ Badlands Crossed Arc – a winding conversation between two types of people that delivered a blow to the gut like a blunt knife in its finale. That’s how horror should be done.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: In previous issues, you would include a bit of an essay on self-publishing at the end of the book. That’s not included in this issue, so maybe you could give us an update on your latest challenges and rewarding moments?
John-Paul Kamath: Yes, while I was working on this issue of London Horror Comic I was simultaneously working on a script for a new book I’m launching (see below), but there were learnings and challenges. With this issue, the stories were actually written over several months with large gaps between them. That’s not a bad thing when you’re producing a comic a year, but you definitely shouldn’t follow that approach if you’re writing Superman each month. Joking aside, the thing that I have learned is that sometimes the story will let you know when it’s ready. You shouldn’t try and force a story out of yourself. Let it be. Even if you have the rough plot of a story, it’s best just to let it be for a while. If you rush to write it, you’ll just connect the dots in a predictable way, just so as to be able to type “THE END” and have done with it. But if you file the plot somewhere in your head, your unconscious has this fantastic ability to prune and refine the concept for you and, in not thinking about the story, actually come up with a unique and fresh approach to give you something original. As a writer, knowing when to hit the keyboard and when to stay the hell away from one is a skill in itself.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Anything else you would like to tell our readers about London Horror Comic or any other horror projects?
John-Paul Kamath: I’m launching a new title called “Graveyard Orbit” and it’s not horror. Well, actually, it could be horror. Graveyard Orbit will be a collection of one-shot stories, with each story being from a different genre. The focus is to get back to telling a single story in 24 or so complete pages, which were what comics used to be about before you had to fork out twenty bucks on a graphic novel.
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Where can our readers go for more information about you and London Horror Comic?
John-Paul Kamath: You can buy and preview London Horror Comic here:
and following my mad ramblings on twitter on the @londonhorror handle or see pictures of my cats on facebook.com/londonhorrorcomic. Keep up to date with our new book at our soon to be launching full website: http://www.graveyardorbit.com
Stephanie Shamblin Gray: Thank you for your time, John-Paul, and good luck with the book!