Tag - House of Fear

Editing, Kids Comics, and Lovecraft

I love to write stories. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, doing my best to mimic Edgar Rice Burroughs with some outlandish rip-offs. What many don’t know about me, however, is that my first love is editing.

When I was younger, it was all about making a writer’s sentences grammatically correct. English grammar was my thing. I understood it and had a knack for helping others get over their grammar hurdles. As I developed as an editor, it was more about helping the writer get sentences to flow and work with each other in a way that made for smooth, easy reading.

As time went on, I gravitated back to focusing on the story. I can’t tell you how rewarding and fun it is for me to help a writer make his story truly sing.

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So when I began developing the ideas behind TEN31 Publishing, I knew I wanted to invite other writers to create comics with me. To tell stories that I would edit and publish, but stories that were 100% the writer’s own. That way I can balance both loves, writing and editing, and do so by collaborating with others to make exciting comics.

One of the writers I talk with frequently is Brandon Barrows, a comic and prose writer from Vermont. Our conversations were helpful during the early days of TEN31 planning, and I knew I’d want him to write a script for me. Unfortunately, he wasn’t terribly keen on the idea of writing for kids, an audience he never really considered for his work. But that wasn’t going to stop me from asking him to do it anyway.

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Brandon digs H.P. Lovecraft. A lot. I know this because he’s written a collection of comic stories and prose stories filled with weird Lovecraftian horror. So I figured maybe I could entice him to write a Lovecraft tale for kids. I pitched the idea and he was like, “No way” and “How would that even work?” His response made sense because, let’s face it, Lovecraft isn’t for kids. I pressed harder, though, coming up with random (and bad) ideas about a cute, almost cuddly Cthulhu overtaking a small town.

Luckily, he didn’t take me up on any of those ideas. But Brandon is a creative writer through and through, which means he came up with something much, much better called THE GRUMPLEDOWNS GANG AND THE CASE OF THE MAIL-ORDER SHOGGOTHS. He sent me a script and I loved it. It was exciting and fun. It had thrills. It had monsters. It was scary. And yep, it had a hint of Lovecraft. All perfectly situated for the 7+ age group.

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His script was probably the easiest I’ve ever edited. Sure, I pushed him to make it better. That’s what editors do. But Brandon took my suggestions and not only ran with them, but improved upon them, too. Within a week, he had locked down on one hell of a comic story. One that, when published, will make kids second guess going to their school’s Halloween party.

The panels you see in this post are from Brandon’s upcoming TEN31 comic, with amazing art by Rafael Loureiro. Below are the full page images.

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House of Fear Title Designs

We’ve settled on the title design for our series, House of Fear, and I think Matt Krotzer, our letterer and designer, nailed it. The design is an effective one: simple, creepy, and classic. Reminds me of my favorite horror comics from the 50s and 60s.

Although the main title appearance won’t change from issue to issue, the intro text along the top will change from time to time. I’ve included a few samples below.

This first one will be the standard design for our comic book covers. The “Tales From” text indicates that the series is an anthology format, telling readers that they can expect stand-alone stories.

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There are no plans to number our issues, at least on the cover. However, with this second design option, I think the “Welcome to” does a nice job of indicating that this is the first issue, enticing readers to pick up the book. I’ll probably also use this design for convention signage.

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This third design won’t adorn any of our covers. However, I do see it as a sticker I give kids who’ve read one of our comics. It’s a sort of badge, indicating that you were able to overcome your fears and survive a scary story. I’d also love to hand out small versions of the stickers to kids who make their way through my garage haunt each Halloween.

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Naturally, the main part of the design will be used often all by itself, without intro text along the top. And it’s possible we develop other text, too. It’s nice to have options.

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