Hey readers, I was able to toss 13 QUESTIONS in the way of my buddy Pat Shand and his co-writer Ryan Fassett about a new horror anthology called MODERN DREAD. This comic book one shot has an impressive lineup and tells horrors that are relevant to the world right outside of your window. Support their Kickstarter for MODERN DREAD here. Let’s listen to what Pat and Ryan have to say about it!
PAT SHAND (PS): It’s an anthology about what scares us now. We’re taking the anxieties and fears of 2017 and turning them into horror stories. Our graphic novel features stories about infected tattoos, deranged uber drivers, online harassment, and more. Ryan and I co-created it, and I’m publishing it through my new company, Space Between Entertainment.
RYAN FASSETT (RF): We were discussing the idea of doing a horror anthology comic and one thing we both said was that a lot of the horror we see nowadays kind of has one foot in the past and great horror always plays on the prevalent anxiety of the day. So with that in mind, we set out to create a comic specifically playing on some fear-inducing topics of today.
MLM: How did the anthology come about?
PS: Ryan came to me with the idea. I was in the middle of developing ideas for books to publish, and I knew that MODERN DREAD was a book we had to do. From there, we developed it together until it became the book we have today.
MLM: Who are some of the artists and writers taking part in this anthology?
PS: Ryan and I plotted and compiled the whole book and are writing a few of the stories. The other writers are LaToya Morgan, a screenwriter who wrote for PARENTHOOD, SHAMELESS, AMC’s TURN – a bunch of great stuff. We have Katy Rex from JADE STREET PROTECTION SERVICES and Ryan Lynch from TALES OF TERROR on board as well.
RF: We’ve also got some tremendous artists on board, such as Larry Watts from EVIL DEAD 2 and ROBYN HOOD, Thomas Boatwright from SOME KIND OF BLUE MOON, GOD MACHINE’s Chandra Free, John Broglia from GOD COMPLEX, Star Comics’ Fabio Rammaci, Renzo Rodriguez from HELLCHILD, and Olivia Pelaez of THE KITCHEN WITCH fame.
MLM: There seems to be a resurgence of horror in comics these days. Why do you think that is?
PS: I’ve noticed a resurgence of really GREAT horror, and I think original ideas always act as a catalyst for more quality content. Movies like IT FOLLOWS, THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN, THE BABADOOK, CREEP, RAW – that kind of stuff brings a new energy to the genre, and it never sticks to one medium. Besides, genre thrives in comics.
RF: I think horror is a genre that’s always attractive to people and like Pat said, we’ve really seen some expansion in the genre as of late. A lot of new ideas and talents that are approaching it from a different point of view. And when something is fresh and cutting edge, I think it really brings in new eyes and a new excitement for what’s to come.
MLM: What type of comics inspired you in putting this project together?
PS: I always have to give love to Terry Moore’s RACHEL RISING, and of course the first comic I ever read… CREEPSHOW. Such a classic. For this, though, we looked to our own lives and fears. We looked inward and asked each other and our friends and our editor, Shannon Lee: “What do you dread?” We wanted to dive into fears that aren’t spoken about, fears that are real. That’s why we have a story here about young motherhood, which Ryan wrote. We’re riding the line between stories about anxieties that are fresh and ones that never go away with time and cultural shifts.
RF: We also looked to the old EC horror comics and a lot of short fiction. SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK was something we definitely found ourselves referencing a lot while planning this out. Also we looked to Alan Moore’s SWAMP THING because that’s definitely horror, but maybe not in the archetypal way some people think and that was an approach we wanted to take with certain stories in this book.
MLM: Why did you choose to go black and white for this book?
PS: So many great horror comics are in black and white, so we’re following in the footsteps of some of our favorites. The truth is, though, for an indie publisher, printing in color is very expensive. For the titles I create and publish through Space Between, I tend to prefer full color so we can keep our Kickstarter goals on the low side and pay our collaborators more.
MLM: Is this anthology going to be a series or just a one-shot?
PS: The book stands alone, but we’d like to do more. We have to see how this sells, but a sequel would also be very different in format. We would want to keep MODERN DREAD fresh and unpredictable in every way.
MLM: You serve as both editor and contributor on this one. How do you juggle both roles and is there one you prefer?
PS: For this one, Ryan and I are both collaborators with the artists and writers more than editor. Shannon Lee, who edits all Space Between titles, is our editor for this one, and she guides the ship there. We all give each other notes, we discuss all of the ideas together – it’s a big, collaborative process.
RF: We kind of operate like a modern version of the old Marvel bullpen, which is cool cause we get a lot of insight and the ideas flow pretty freely between us all. We’re a good team and I think the output shows that.
MLM: You’re doing a Kickstarter for this project and you’ve worked on other Kickstarter projects before. How is this one different than others?
PS: The others were done on my personal page, but I chose to launch a Space Between Kickstarter account with this one to show that MODERN DREAD isn’t just me at the writerly wheel. Ryan and I are equal partners in this. It’s also different because of its focus. We’re creating a graphic novel, but we’re also producing a trading card game that ties into the book. This campaign has been a lot about trying new things for me, and I’m excited to see that it’s working.
RF: This is the first Kickstarter I’ve been involved with in this capacity and it’s really exciting. It requires a lot of hard prep work and attention to what works and what doesn’t, but it’s all paid off well for us.
MLM: What kind of incentives are offered with the Kickstarter?</i?
PS: We always offer prints, so we’ve got those – some really cool art pieces. Enamel pins, stickers, an original musical score, the trading card game, a variant version of the book with a cover by Romina Moranelli, and a chance to get drawn into the book… and killed on page!
MLM: Is there some advice you’d like to give to those thinking of starting their own Kickstarter?
PS: Adapt. Be ready for anything. Bring a quality product that you’re passionate about. Search and search until you find an audience. Be vocal. Record a Kickstarter video that can encompass all of that. And, trust me on this one, don’t start the video by saying, “Oh hey. I didn’t see you there.” Trust me.
RF: Definitely know your stuff before diving into it and come in with goals and a strong game plan. What I’ve learned most from Pat with this process is how important the preparation is before launching. It’s really everything! So if you’re going to do it, have a great and thorough game plan and be ready to think outside the box with rewards and interaction with your potential pledgers.
MLM: How will folks be able to get their hands on this book once the Kickstarter is over?
PS: We’ll be up on Amazon in early Summer 2018, and will be touring all over the East coast with the book as well as other Space Between titles. Soon after the physical release, digital readers will be able to find us on Comixology.
PS: A lot of horror stories focus on the fears of the past – and that has produced great material. MODERN DREAD is horror for our generation. Writing it scared the hell out of me, because we have a policy of putting character first – if we can make the readers care about our characters, we know we can terrify them. I think we can terrify you, so I hope you check us out.
RF: All of our stories in MODERN DREAD come from a personal place and are incredibly genuine. These things scared the creators and I think (with any genre) that if the creator’s hearts and personal feelings are in the work, the audience is way more likely to feel it too. We guarantee you’re getting an original horror experience with this book and we can’t wait to scare the hell out of you all!
MLM: Best of luck Pat and Ryan! Follow Pat’s Space Between Entertainment at @SpaceBetweenEnt and if you’re interested in donating to MODERN DREAD’s Kickstarter, you can do so here!