MF: Can you tell us about the process you go through to convert a story that has been presented as a script into a story expressed through image?
GC: Obviously I am a very visual person. When I’m writing or constructing a scene, it’s very easy for me to conjure it in my mind’s eye. It’s the same with a script. I do like the author to be as descriptive as possible though because what they see in their imagination is not always the same as how I see it. Usually when I’m constructing a page I work out what the most important panel or scene is first (eg. An action scene) and build the other panels around it. If I have a particular strength in my drawing, it would be with drawing figures and faces. Faces are just as important in a graphic story as they are in a piece of prose so I always strive to make my characters real.
MF: Your drawing style has changed between the first Allure of the Ancient comic published in ME5 and the current instalment starting in ME7. What instigated the change?
GC: Writers grow and evolve the more they write and I think the same can also be said for artists. But if I was to really analyse it, I think the style change has come about from my work on Witch-Hunts. I’d only really just finished illustrating Witch Hunts when I made a start on Allure and I guess I carried the style over somewhat. This Allure chapter also seemed to be a lot darker than the previous story and I really wanted to capture that darkness. The first Allure opportunity sort of came out of the blue and I was excited and eager so I probably didn’t put as much detail in that chapter as I have done in The Key to His Kingdom.
MF: Who are your favourite comic artists and what do you like about their art?
GC: My favourite artists are some of the old school artists, like Brian Bolland, Bill Sienkiewicz, Frank Miller, John J Muth, Mike Mignola, Dave McKean and Bernie Wrightson. Bolland’s line work and subtle attention to detail is sublime. Miller is brilliant with black and white, shape and form and negative space and Wrightson, well, he is the king in the horror comic world and I always try and mimic his engraving style.
MF: Greg, can you tell us about Witch Hunts, your project with Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton?
GC: Witch-Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times is a fictional account of the history of the witchcraft persecutions that plagued Europe and the Americas for hundreds of years. The 185 page graphic novel looks at, amongst other things, the origins of the craze; how the Malleus Maleficarium was created and was used as a sort of torture guide book; how the Church endorsed Inquisitions and; how people of the time used the craze for their own personal gain. Rocky and Lisa’s script also includes dozens of accounts of trials from the Dark Ages right up to the late 1700s. The graphic novel will be published by McFarland Publishers in the US Spring/Summer of this year.
MF: How many hours would you have spent preparing the illustrations for the book?
GC: Many long hours, but it was a labour of love. At first, Rocky and I had to put a proposal together, which included the first 7 pages of the book. I did those pages in October/November 2010, but it wasn’t until February 2011 that McFarland gave us the go ahead and I had until November of that year to complete all the illustrations. It was a very challenging experience, but I became engrossed in the script and the book’s ultimate purpose. In my view, the graphic novel is equal parts fiction and non-fiction, because we’re retelling events that actually happened or are recorded in the annals of history. The second half of last year was very intense, with many week nights and lunch breaks and weekends where I would be drawing. Rocky and Lisa outlined every page and only a few of the rough pages I did had to be adjusted, so all in all it was a wonderful experience and I feel very grateful and honoured to have this opportunity and to have worked with two of the most respected people in the horror community.
MF: How can readers purchase it?
GC: It’s not published yet, but you can pre-order it through the McFarland site here.
I believe it will also be available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and on the shelves in libraries and bookshops as well.
MF: How do you balance your own writing time with your illustrating assignments?
GC: Well with Witch-Hunts I had to put all my writing projects aside for about 12 months. Thankfully two novellas I’d written 1-2 years before were published during that time so I didn’t really need to work on anything new. It was hard not to write though, because it’s probably more of an addiction for me than drawing. If I have an urge to draw something I usually try and do something on the weekend, when I’m not working. It is a real balancing act, but I’m making a conscious effort to get back into writing this year, particularly in the area of short stories.
MF: Who are your favourite authors, and what is it about their writing that appeals to you?GC: Clive Barker is my all-time favourite. His use of language and willingness to expose the raw meatiness of horror is very inspirational. The fact that he is also artist makes his work even more appealing. Edgar Allan Poe’s works introduced me to the use of dread in horror fiction and I still enjoy indulging in The Pit and the Pendulum or The Masque of Red Death every now and again. Other favourites include Graham Masterton, Brett McBean and Stephen M Irwin. I like King too, but mostly his earlier novels.
MF: Allure is a two year commitment, what other projects do you have in the pipeline?
GC: Nothing pressing in the way of art at the moment (I’m hoping that changes with the publication of Witch-Hunts), but as I said I’d like to get back into writing. I have a new novella called “Vaudeville” coming from Dark Prints Press in July and I’m halfway through a novel. I also have Halloween-themed novella that’s begging me to be completed.
GC: I have a full time job as a media and communications officer for the Education Department. I have two daughters who are heavily involved with dancing so there’s a bit of running around there, but the rest of the time I devote myself to writing and drawing. I probably watch a bit too much TV and movies though.
You can find me on all the usual places: Facebook and Twitter and I have a blog at www.darkscrybe.blogspot.com .