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A nice but unnamed moderator introduced the panelists and went through their backgrounds to kick off the Image Comics Spine Tingling Comics for Halloween panel. Slides were shown of each creator and the moderator literally read the text from each one. These included Mirka Andolfo, Chuck Brown, Kieron Gillen, and W. Maxwell Prince.

The panel was asked to provide an elevator pitch for their comics. Brown spoke about Bitter Root, the Harlem Renaissance comic about a family of monster hunters. Prince touched upon Ice Cream Man, a series of one-shots that creeps me out. He described it as a “…vessel for his ADD.” Mirka has an upcoming title called Mercy, a gothic horror comic and the sexy, scary book Unnatural. Gillen pitched Die as “goth Jumanji” and that is so very accurate.

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The moderator asked the panelists about the rise of horror in the wake of dystopian themes. Gillen said that horror is a healthier response to problems than post-apocalyptic stories. It takes a look at something and points out that it's wrong and does something about it.

Prince said that he's not big into horror and doesn't consume much, but piggybacked on what Gillen said about anxiety. The genre has a visceral vibe to it. The moderator pointed out that Prince has said he doesn't like being scared on numerous panels, but the more they read Ice Cream Man, the more they’re convinced they'll find bodies in his basement soon.

The panel was asked where their books fit on the horror spectrum. I'm fascinated by this, as there are a lot of facets to the genre. Prince said that Ice Cream Man has been described as existential horror. It's more about what's going on in between your ears than an outside threat. Brown described Bitter Root as an action horror. It started out as an action book and bled more into horror as it was being written.

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The moderator asked the panelists what research they did while creating their comics. Gillen's office is a pile of nonsense, overflowing with books about gaming to create Die and its accompanying roleplaying game. Mercy from Andolfo is influenced by Lovecraftian stories.

The next topic was a major one, dealing with how horror is differentiated for the medium, which was how tension and scares are built in comics. Brown said that a lot of this comes from the collaboration between his co-writer David F. Walker and artist Sanford Greene. They all bring something new to the table.

When asked about creating characters and putting them through horrifying things, Gillen said the story wants what it wants. There are times you just have to do that. When he was writing Wicked & Divine, fans fell in love with a character in the first issue and he had to kill them off in the fifth despite this. It was necessary for the story. The moderator asked if this is avoidable sometimes and he said that narrative gravity is important.

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Prince added that there's a certain amount of power knowing that someone isn't going to make it. He used the example of The Titanic. You know that ship is going down and most of them are going to die, so what kinds of stories are left in their lives? Gillen pointed out a similar aspect with the British version of The Wicker Man. The big straw creation is on the poster and it's the title of the movie, but it doesn't show up until the last five minutes, but it's still great.

The panelists were asked about their particular storytelling strengths. Prince felt his is in the anthology style and compressed stories. Brown builds worlds that are unique to themselves. No one has heard anything like his elevator pitches before. Andolfo's character work stands out, particularly with their actions and emotions. Gillen said he can find talented artists and hold onto them until they work with him.

Bitter Root and Ice Cream Man are being adapted into other mediums. Brown and Prince were asked about their involvement in these projects and what might change in the adaptations. Brown said he just wants them all to stay black. He's an executive producer and receives scripts where he can provide some feedback, but doesn't know what else this role entails. Prince asked to be as uninvolved as possible with the Ice Cream Man adaptation. He's still figuring out what he's good at and hasn't studies film screenplays the same way he has for comics.

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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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