Gabriel Robinson is the creator behind Red Calf. Today she takes time from her busy schedule to talk with the us.
What are scarier, thunderstorms, roller coasters, or clowns?
Roller coasters--you're strapped in and at their mercy with no possibility of hiding or fighting.
Good point. What is your favorite type of horror?
Anything but serial killer stories. They're too horrifying. As a kid I heard the term "ax-murderer," and ax-murdering entered my imagination as one of those things that people do. I would lie awake at night and picture an ax-murderer coming in and killing my family.
What inspired you to write this story?
Norwegian folktales about animal revenge--there's one I really like that features the recurrent chattering of an undead seal, but it was too long and digressive for a short comic. Also, I'm currently writing a history of religions dissertation that challenges narratives linking bullfighting to primordial sacrifices. In that, I try to be scrupulously factual, so it's fun to shake up those elements and be shamelessly fictional for a change.
Interesting and yet your story does not take place in Norway. Why?
I'm from West Virginia and as a teenager I would spend time outdoors in fields or woods at night. I wanted to try to capture visually that hush and shiver of dread that sometimes passes through you at sunset, regardless of how familiar your surroundings.
What storytelling medium do you think serves horror best?
I don't think one is "best" but they draw out different aspects. Prose can give depth to psychological horror, and accommodate more intricately twisted plots. The sound effects in film and TV allow for a visceral identification with protagonists' tension and shock. Comics play on the gaps and interactions between prose and images, and are good at creating dramatic irony, where the audience knows more than the characters.
What is your favorite horror story and why?
When I was a kid I had a book called Myths and Folktales from around the World. One story was about a good man who had evil eyes. Whoever he looked at in anger was cursed and died horribly. Eventually, the man married, and when his son was born he plucked out his eyes to avoid accidentally killing him. The eyes were buried in a corner of the house.
Years passed. One day the man felt a beard on his son's face, and was seized with longing to see him once. He found the pile of earth and dug for his eyes, but when he uncovered them, the eyes were staring up in fury, filled with hatred. The man died of a heart attack on the spot. The eyes were reburied and never dug up.
There was a line drawing of the man with his stony, staring eyes that I became afraid of looking at, to the point that I had my mom paperclip together the pages of that story so that I could read the rest of the book without accidentally turning to it. Once, when me, my dad, and sister were exploring an abandoned house by the river, it suddenly occurred to me that it might be the man's house, and the eyes might be in one of the corners. The more I tried to talk myself out of it, the more convinced of it I grew. No other horror story has ever so powerfully forced its way into my reality.
Finally, are clowns ever funny?
Yes. Kids learn to hate clowns from TV, the same way they learn to hate brussels sprouts.
That doesn’t make clowns and brussel sprouts any less evil! Every kid will tell you that!
Thanks Gabriel. We at the Hellbound 2 blog know you’re very busy and we appreciate the time you were able to find to talk to us.