Tuesday, November 8, 2011

John L Bell and Andy Wong

Rob Me Blind is a collaboration between writer John L. Bell and artist Andy Wong. Today they’re talking with the Hellbound blog about their story and all things horrific.
  • What are scarier, thunderstorms, roller coasters, or clowns?
    John: I have bad dreams about elevated highways and bridges, but never about circuses or the weather, so I have to go with roller coasters.
    Andy: For some reason, I feel this is an easy set-up question. Clowns are the most scary out of the three. 
  • What is your favorite type of horror?
    John: In fact, horror is a storytelling genre I hardly ever seek out. I’ve written less than a handful of horror stories in my life, and have read and watched very few of the popular horror novels and movies of the past fifty years. Which doesn’t stop me from having very particular ideas about how the genre works!
    Andy: I'm actually not a big fan of horror, but I do enjoy the hilarity of slasher flicks time to time. Jason movies come to mind; I enjoy the stupidity of people who try to fight him (like punching him in the face, while he is still wearing his hockey mask). 
  • John, what inspired you to write this story?
    At a BCR meeting, Andy Wong was chatting with a small group—Lindsay Moore, Carl Tsui, and me—about a website called StealMyStuff.com. That’s a real website which works a lot like the one in our story, connecting people’s Facebook updates about going out of town with their street addresses as a warning to manage your privacy settings. I joked about how that could lead to something worse. That evening I typed out a first draft of the script to send back to the little group. Andy said he wanted to draw it, which struck me as right and proper because he’d served the ball to begin with. 
  • Andy, is that what drew you to this story?
    I enjoyed the fact it spouted from a conversation I had with John. I wanted to try my hand at the horror genre, since I usually draw silly slice of life comedies. There was also this growing hunger to draw some crazy monster designs. 
  • What storytelling median do you think serves horror best?
    John: I think almost any storytelling medium offers a stage for almost any genre. Comics, with their emphasis on the visual and their ability to portray the fantastic as matter-of-factly as the realistic, tend to rely on monstrosity and gore. Movies play on darkness, sound, and timing. Novels provide more room for psychological build-up.
    Andy: Film serves the genre best. You have almost all the senses to abuse available to you. Great sound engineering can create some frightening situations. 
  • What is your favorite horror story and why?
    John: Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s got a wonderful structure, starting with her husband’s high-falutin’ introduction and then drawing us in from one narrator to another until we finally meet the monster. Andy: I don't really have one that comes to mind. I love the Lovecraftian mythos, but I'm not a big fan of Lovecraft's pulp writing. I will note, the movie Aliens still gives me the chills. I still have an uneasiness towards alien bio-horror, in any genre. 
  • What was your first exposure to horror?
    John: I think it was a Boston Children’s Museum haunted house, about 1969. My brother and I were too young for it, and had to be carried out in tears. Around that time, I had the misapprehension that all movies were intensely sad or scary, so I could already be reduced to sobs by the most innocuous stories. The Incredible Mr. Limpet, for example—Don Knotts’s marriage was so tragic!
    Andy: I think it was Chucky, and the fact that the main character's name was Andy as well, made the movie that much scarier for me as a kid. 
  • What do you like best and least about the horror genre?
    John: Unlike other genres, such as mysteries and romances, horror stories don’t have a predetermined endpoint. Sometimes good wins, sometimes bad wins, sometimes the arc of the universe bends toward justice, sometimes the world is an endless battlefield, sometimes it’s all about the individual, sometimes the individual is no more than a bug in the jungle. That offers horror writers more scope than other genres. On the downside, horror’s goal to produce emotional jolts can swamp all the other things stories can do.
    Andy: I like that it twists emotions people don't see or embrace often. What I don't like is the increase of "torture porn"-type movies (Hostel, etc.) which I don't consider to be horror. 
  • What’s your horror guilty pleasure?
    John: Not reading a lot of horror.
    Andy: I enjoy drawing creatures that "should not be." 
  • Who do you consider a master of horror?
    John: I’ll put in a word for the brilliant narrative voice James and Deborah Howe created for Bunnicula.
    Andy: Since I'm not a horror expert, I don't have much to say on the subject. I've read Lovecraft and Stephen King, but I'm not pulled towards anyone in particular. 
  • Is there anything you want the readers to know about your story?
    John: The two main characters have names, though we never use them.
    Andy: I had fun drawing every part, laughed at every panel like a mad lunatic. I'm sure readers will enjoy it. 
  • Are clowns ever funny?
    John: Yes, but not as often as they think they are, alas.
    Andy: Possibly some time ago, in ye ancient times. 
John, Andy, thanks for Rob Me Blind and your time.

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