Originally published at Fangoria.com on June 5, 2011
Continuing our conversation with SCREAMLAND authors Harold Sipe and Christopher Sebela, begun here.
FANGORIA: SCREAMLAND’s horror convention is filled with caricatures of classic horror movies. The Slasher, who has seen better days, resembles a worn-out and beaten Jason Voorhees from FRIDAY THE 13th. Were the character designs in the script or from the artist’s perspective?
HAROLD SIPE: Lee Leslie has brought so much to the character design in the new book. Chris and I will put in descriptions, but Lee always comes back with something that is totally above and beyond anything we had pictured in our heads. I think people are going to be very impressed by Lee, and the look of the new series owes everything to him.
CHRISTOPHER SEBELA: That’s pretty much all Lee. Only two of our characters were in the original mini, so Lee had a lot of designs to cook up, all of which he knocked out of the park his first go-round. Even with a character like the Slasher, who represents my lifetime of watching slasher films, I was pretty vague in my descriptions. It’s hard to think of a new, cool look for a serial killer that hasn’t been touched on before, but somehow Lee came up with a look that works both as a riff on the history of slashers and is scary in its own right. That’s just one example of Lee taking our fuzzy descriptions and turning them into fully fleshed-out characters.
FANG: What is the collaborative process like between two writers? How did you both stay true to your own and each other’s vision?
SIPE: I think the assumption is that two writers working together butt heads and try to get one vision out of two different outlooks, and nothing could be further from the truth. Chris and I bring two different points of view, but we really gel on the vision and tone of SCREAMLAND. The best part is the energy we bring to it by trying to up the humor in the book.
SEBELA: Collaborating is mostly about talking stuff out, so it helps that we were already used to calling each other on the phone randomly and rambling on about everything and nothing. Since we already had a rapport, writing together has mostly been about figuring out how each of our mutant ideas lock together to form a better whole. We definitely bring our own sensibilities and interests to the book, but in the end we have the greater responsibility to SCREAMLAND and making it the best book we can. Having a co-writer keeps you honest, because we’re not afraid to point out when one of us is going way off the trail.
FANG: The first issue will be out June 8. What can readers expect from this second volume of SCREAMLAND?
SEBELA: The original mini was about establishing a world where monsters are real and struggling to keep their fame alive, focusing on one well-lit corner of this world. This volume is about exploring all the darker avenues of SCREAMLAND, most of which is outside of the shadow of huge fame and fortune, where monsters are a part of everyday life, but still keep their secrets to themselves.
We’re moving away from an LA-centric view to a global look, going overseas to see how monsters live in Europe or Asia, or what it’s like for aliens stranded on Earth. We’ll explore rituals, like how monsters hold funerals, or what a museum of monster culture looks like, and we’ll be going back in time to explore the history of this world. Just because monsters are accepted, doesn’t mean they always were, and even if Hollywood monsters are celebrated, what about the countless others who work day jobs and just try to live normal lives in the most bizarre of circumstances? So readers can expect tons of monsters and tons of world building going hand-in-hand with equal amounts of blood, menace and jokes.
FANG: What are you working on now?
SIPE: I work in the video game industry, so my bandwidth for the comics work is limited. With SCREAMLAND being an ongoing series, that’s where all my energy is going for the foreseeable future.
SEBELA: I’ve got an original graphic novel coming out from Oni Press next year, and another one that’s still in the works, neither of which have been announced yet, so I have to be as vague as possible about them. Having SCREAMLAND as an ongoing series is a big, exciting responsibility, and right now I’m devoting as much time as possible to sketching out the next two years to come.
FANG: Where can an audience find info or more about your work?
SEBELA: You can follow all of us on Twitter, where we try to talk about SCREAMLAND as much as we do about our own dumb lives, and the Facebook page, where we’ll be holding some contests with exciting prizes as we get closer to the book coming out.