The Madius Comics gang have already provided some top-notch titles to the indie comic world and with their latest collected edition trucking through its Kickstarter target I caught up with creators Rob Jones & Michael Sambrook.
What it’s about…..
Created and curated by Alisdair Wood, Michael Sambrook and Rob Jones, Tragic Tales of Horrere is a love letter to all things Horror. An over-stuffed collection of the spooky, disorientating and surprising in the tradition of classic horror comic anthologies like Eerie, Scream and Creepshow.
These spooky tales have been bound by dark magic and contained for your enjoyment within the 120+ pages of this demonic tome. If you’re brave enough to peek inside you’ll find demonic babies in bell-jars, Bigfoot, Lovecraftian horrors, confused professors, tombs that should have remained firmly sealed and much, much more. This collection is a wonderful blend of all things horror from the vague and psychological, to the spooky and the ghostly, and of course a healthy dose of blood-soaked gore too for good measure. If it’s horror, it’s in here. We’ll take you to the places where the line blurs between our world and the other side.
Tragic Tales of Horrere will delight and disturb you in equal measure.
How did the idea for Horrere come about?
ROB: A mutual love of Skulls and a dare…I joke. It was a windfall of luck and timing. We were very lucky to find Alisdair Wood and get a shot at working with him on something. After many chats, that something spawned into something bigger, and that something bigger became Horrere. It’s been a passion project of mine, Mike’s and Alisdair’s for the past few years, with countless chats about where we take the book, the stories and such. We all love horror media; books, films, stories etc. We took that love, baked it like a cake and created the very book we are trying to collect.
MIKE: Long story short, Rob got chatting to Alisdair about a mutual desire to make horror comics. Alisdair had been fancying giving sequential horror a go and it didn’t take much heckling from the ever-persuasive Rob to convince him it was a good idea. Rob contacted me and invited me to co-write because, well, we work together on pretty much everything for a start, but he was also well aware of my endless love for all things horror. Being involved with a project like this has always been a lifelong dream of mine and I’m still thrilled 5 years on to be a part of the project. After the three of us got to chatting we decided to go down the anthology route as a way to explore all the things we love about the genre.
I mean, horror is broad and means a lot of different things to people and we wanted to make sure that no matter your tastes, there’s something in these issues that will speak to you and will connect with you. Some people prefer spookier ghost stories, some people need blood and gore, others want something a little more psychological. We wanted to dance around the genre and pay homage to all these different types of tales. As well, with the stories all being short and self-contained it meant we could bring other creators in as well as packing each issue with art from a range of diverse and talented people. It just felt like the best way to express ourselves and get great stories into reader’s hands. Plus as well, as we already had an anthology in PAPERCUTS & INKSTAINS it felt as though it was an approach we were already comfortable with and could pull off effectively.
Was it easy putting together the team for each of the issues?
ROB: We’re lucky that we’re able to work with some incredible artists, plus with Alisdair curating the project, he uses a lot of contacts to get artists involved with us too. That’s possibly the least stressful aspect of creating the comic. Mike remembers the run down of us piecing things together much better than I do, things get a little hazy in the detail, so he’s much better placed to explain this.
MIKE: Early on we knew we needed to bring in some other talented folk so we all sat down and had a good talk about who we thought would fit the mood and vibe we were looking to create. Rob had been working with Gareth Sleightholme on his VIKING SAGA books so bringing him in was a total no-brainer. Gareth has a breathtaking high-detail style and such expressive art we all instantly agreed he would be a great fit for the team. Alisdair was also familiar with Neil Ford and recommended him for the project.
As soon as Rob and I saw his moody high contrast pages they instantly blew us away and we knew he was a great fit for the team too. One thing we all agreed on right from the get go was this project was all about the art. We really wanted to ensure that every single page of this book was something to really grab you by the throat and put you right on the edge of your seat. Another suggestion from Alisdair for potential artists was Al McLauchlan. Al was new to sequential art but an absolutely fantastic concept artist. We all agreed straight away that his unconventional approach to pages would be a welcome addition and bring something unique to the book and knew he would be a great fit too. That was how issue 1 came to be.
Following on from that we were lucky enough that Neil and Gareth wanted to stick around for a story in issue 2 too. We also decided at this point that it would be nice to bring in some other voices to the project. We decided to try to put at least one guest story in each issue so it wasn’t just mine and Rob’s voices being expressed. We teamed up with Luis Roldan, Diego Simone and Mat Pringle who all had a different and unique approach to horror and their submitted stories were just perfect. We knew straight away we had to include them. LAUDANUM was a story we initially wrote for issue 1 but that was just a simple case of us being over ambitious. Alisdair kept working on this piece in the background and as soon as we had it ready we decided it would be fantastic to release as a simple stand-alone piece because of how strong it was. That one was the simplest team to put together because it was just the three of us. Following on from this we took a little breather as we’d all been incredibly busy and stressed with all of our various projects and needed a little head space to recharge.
The third issue, the HALLOWEEN SPECIAL took a little longer to put together but we already knew that Mat Pringle’s story would be a part of it. We made contact with Alexa Renee during that time as we’d worked with her as a colourist on the PAPERCUTS Kickstarter and knew her work was of the highest quality and we just had to get her involved. She jumped at the chance to join the Horrere family and took on a script that most people were terrified of, DO YOU WANT TO SEE. This script had horses, two-time periods and a whole host of characters to juggle and she absolutely knocked it out of the park. The final addition to the team was the brilliantly talented Joe Becci who jumped in to handle the second part of the professor story. Sadly Al McLauchlan wasn’t available to continue on the art for this but Joe did an incredible job of keeping a similar feel but also injecting a lot of his own style into the piece. We’re just so thankful to have been able to work with such a talented bunch of folks. We’re incredibly lucky.
So in summary, it was pretty easy to put together the teams for the issues but like all things that involve a large number of people there’s always quite a lot of juggling involved. But, thankfully everyone we worked with was incredibly accommodating, flexible and just all round good eggs.
It would also be unfair of me not to mention the great pieces that Ian Mcque (Issue 1 back cover), Russell MacEwan (Issue 2 front cover) and Dean Hopkins (Issue 2 back cover) did for the book too. Their DNA is as smeared on this project as anyone else’s and we couldn’t have managed this without their help and support.
What can we expect in this new collected edition?
ROB: Well it collects every edition of the book, and since the single issues of One and Laudanum are now entirely out of print, it’s the chance for those who’ve missed out or are new to the series to get on board and read every story from the series. There’s an introduction from John Reppion, plus you can get prints, an enamel badge and more in the reward tiers, so there’s a lot of ghoulish goodies to get behind. If it gets high enough, maybe we can see about getting some guest art, but that could delay things, but you never know…
MIKE: Yeah, exactly that. As we self fund all of the print runs, keeping 4 issues in stock is tough. We wanted to consolidate down and have everything in one simple book to help us with stock and conventions. Plus as well, we wanted to make sure these stories remained available for people to own and have on their shelf. We’re immensely proud of every issue of this book and selfishly having it all in one lovely book is something both for us as creators to enjoy but also we think will be the best way for readers to immerse themselves in the content too. We wanted to try make it available for people to read in front of the fire at Christmas as it’s such a spooky time of the year. And, as Rob has already said, it’s a great chance to get your hands on some extras like the badges, prints and original art too.
Dare I ask if you have a favourite story in the series?
ROB: That’s like asking to pick your favourite child. I loved writing Grimoire: Baby Bell Jar and If you go down to the woods. But then, Aufhoecker was a fun little comic to piece together too, and it’s unconventional as well. I’m proud of every story in the book, so I’d say the lot.
MIKE: I love every single story in every issue we’ve done but I think the most personal and special to me are probably LAUDANUM and DO YOU WANT TO SEE.
You’ve had a great start to the campaign already – has that helped build up the excitement for it?
ROB: I’d say so. It’s difficult to gauge these things as we’ve kept on the down low this year, but I’d say it’s gathering steam and keeping going, so that’s good. We’ve not had any super stagnant days and we’ve got the support of so many awesome sites and people, it gives you a buoyancy and a confidence too.
MIKE: Yeah, we’re thrilled with the way it’s started. This is mine and Rob’s 5th Kickstarter together and if the projections are anything to go by, we think it’s going to be our most successful one yet. I think our excitement is already as high as it possibly could be. We’ve been talking about getting this book Kickstarted for literally years at this point and it feels like a dream to finally be here doing it. When we finally collected PAPERCUTS it made those stories finally feel real? It’s hard to explain but once you get things to trade it almost feels like they are finally tangible and real in a way that single issues can’t replicate. It also means we can close the chapter on this initial run of issues and really focus on what comes next.
Does running a Kickstarter get any easier?
ROB: Nope. You need to stay relevant. When you look at someone like Tom Ward who has a consistent schedule to his Kickstarters, he makes it look easy. The whole self PR thing can make things look much easier than they actually are. We’re like ducks. Above water, we’re calm, serene and in control, below water, we’re paddling like f*#k…
MIKE: Yeah, there’s not really anything to add to that. If anything each campaign gets slightly more difficult than the last. It’s so hard to predict what’s going to happen and each campaign seems to find new curveballs to throw at you. We enjoy the chaos though. We live for it.
Will we see more Horrere beyond this collection?
ROB: Yes. That’s the plan. We’ve got stuff to finish off, stories in production and such, so yes, we’ll see more of this moving forward.
MIKE: Yeah, lots of plans in motion. Hopefully we’ll have some good news in regards to that very soon. Bit too early to say anything just yet though.
What else are you working on just now?
ROB: Mike and I have many a card up our sleeves, we’ve got stories and pitches written and being written, so we’re not stopping anytime soon, much to some people’s disappointment! I’m also lettering a lot of series, some I can talk about, such as my work on restoring and remastering Commando books for DC Thompson and some work I did with Image on their 24 Stories project in aid of the Grenfell Tower Victims. There’s some other super cool stuff I’m not at liberty to talk about too, but yeah, we’re super busy as always.
MIKE: Yeah exactly that. Making indie comics is a lot like spinning plates. You just have to jump around from project to project and try to make sure everything stays in motion. As well as everything Rob mentioned I’m also in the process of finishing up the script for THE INCREDIBLE BUN 2 so we can hopefully have that ready for Thought Bubble next year. Fingers crossed!
Head over to the campaign link below to jump on-board:
You can keep up to date with all the Madius Comics titles through their website, Facebook & Twitter pages. You can also check out their online store, the Comichaus website and the Comichaus app to get your hands on those issues.