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A Sick Subculture of Creepers - Ed Piskor Talks Red Room

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

Ed Piskor is known for comics like Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design. This week he tackles a new endeavor with Red Room, a new series from Fantagraphics exploring a horrifying feature where crime runs rampant across the web and the public eats it up. I had a chance to speak with him about the project and all the gory details it contains.

Red Room is a cyberpunk, outlaw, splatterpunk masterpiece. Aided by the anonymous dark web and nearly untraceable crypto-currency, there has emerged a subculture of criminals who live-stream and patronize webcam murders for entertainment. Who are the murderers? Who are the victims? How do we stop it? As seen on Piskor's YouTube channel sensation, Cartoonist Kayfabe!

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James Ferguson: How would you describe the world of Red Room? From the looks of the first issue, it's some pretty unsettling stuff.

Ed Piskor: I grew up with the commercial internet and at the beginning it felt like a wild west where all kinds of underground shit could go down. It's later we learned how highly traceable it is. Now with the Dark Net, those promises of anonymity are here. Couple that with untraceable crypto currency and Red Room is the culmination, resulting in a sick subculture of creepers who murder people in livestream chat rooms to patrons with big enough bitcoin wallets. And they all get away with it. "Unsettling" is a good adjective.

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JF: How far off do you think reality is from Red Room? Are we close to some of the elements like criminals livestreaming murders?

EP: Well, criminals do livestream murders. Plenty. The ability to escape law enforcement is the sci-fi portion of the story. Thankfully, one cannot stream video on the dark web without giving up their location...today. Who knows about tomorrow?

JF: Although each issue of Red Room is a stand alone story, they connect as part of a shared universe and overall narrative. How do you make these connections between the smaller stories and the big picture?

EP: It's all about setting up a world with rules and adhering to them slavishly. I can't betray the reader by screwing up some of the specific architecture I develop along the way. Each issue gives you a bit more of a glance into this world I'm building and by doing these stand-alone issues I can completely focus on different aspects and points of view of this Red Room scourge.

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JF: Are there any good people in Red Room? Or is everyone at least a little messed up?

EP: Hard to say. I keep coming up with lots of different stories and when it comes time to do the next issue I start from square one. Maybe there can be good people in one of them at some point. :)

JF: Red Room doesn't pull any punches. Is it possible there's anything you didn't include because it went too far?

EP: It's doubtful. Anything that makes me cringe will probably find its way into the comic. The rest of comics can make sure that their comics are antiseptic and inoffensive.

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JF: What do you hope fans get out of Red Room?

EP: Each issue of Red Room is a complete story which means that the "buy-in" from the audience is pretty low. I don't stretch 1 story out across 6 issues, making people pay $25 to read a single tale. It would be nice if my readers like an issue/story enough to continue to support the comic for another round or 12.

Horror DNA would like to thank Ed Piskor for speaking with us. Red Room #1 from Fantagraphics is set for release on May 19th, 2021 at your local comic shop or digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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