By: Nicole D’Andria
Indie horror creators are uniting once again for the spectacular return of Nightmare Theater! The second anthology, this time with over 125 pages of spooky slaughter stories, has come back for revenge in this second Kickstarter campaign.
Nightmare Theater 2: Revenge of the Horror Comic Anthology features twenty comic book teams with an amazing assortment of stories pursuing stalkers, Lovecraftian monsters, and plenty more horror stories to send a shiver down your spine!
I’m well-acquainted with plenty of creators in this book. Some I met when they were featured in previous “Kickstart the Week” pieces and others I’ve known through the comic book industry. I was lucky enough to be part of the previous Nightmare Theater Anthology with my own story. But this time around, I’m editing the short by Robert Krisch featuring the Turner Family of Turner Family Terrors. Some other creators in this anthology include Shawn Gabborin (Puppet Master, Black Betty) and Rob Multari (Snow Paw, Night Wolf). You can find a full list of the creators on the Nightmare Theater Anthology 2 Kickstarter page.
The Kickstarter has already hit 400 backs, rocketing past its $13,666 goal. You can still join the horror train by pledging to the project before the campaign ends on December 2, 2021, at 4:00 PM EST. Rewards include digital ($10) and physical ($25) copies of the book, which also has a variety of lovely variant covers that you will see featured throughout the interview below.
I spoke with the two creators behind this horror anthology, who also have stories of their own within these terrifying tales. David Schrader is a writer and filmmaker whose comic book work includes the cult hit Baby Badass. Clay Adam is an actor and writer whose own comic book work features Red Xmas. Both of these creators share their inspiration for the anthology below as well as which story they would take their chance to survive in!
Me: How did you initially come up with the idea for the Nightmare Theater Anthology?
Schrader: Clay and I were looking for something to collaborate on and start to build a foundation for our fledgling imprint, Bloodline Comics. An anthology seemed like a good start, as we both know tons of amazing indie creators like Charlie Stickney, David Pepose, Karla Nappi, Richard Fairgray, Kayden Phoenix, David Avallone, Jessica Maison, Newton Lilivois, and yourself, and the list goes on and on. We asked, and pretty much everyone said yes, and that’s why the first book is 272 pages.
Me: What did you learn after the first Nightmare Theater Anthology that you changed up for the second anthology?
Schrader: To maybe slim it down a little. The first book, as great as it is, was so big, that the editorial upkeep and organizing was at times overwhelming. We’re taking what works and trying to improve upon it with each outing—hoping we can do one of these annually or every other year.
Me: This particular anthology features 20 stories. What do you feel is offered in this anthology story-wise that people didn’t see in the first anthology and vice-versa?
Adams: We approached the sequel with the philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So, our creative teams are made up of some returning Final Girls (and Guys), plus some new faces just to keep things interesting—people like Rich Douek (Road of Bones, Superman Red & Blue), Mario Candelaria (Maybe Someday), Kat Calamia (The Dancer, Slice of Life), and Kenan Halilovic (Witch Creek Road).
Our goal was to produce another great selection of short horror comics, something that didn’t retread what we did in the first volume but provided a nice complement to it. So, we explore some different subgenres this time out. We have a John Carpenter-esque tale, a Lovecraft adaptation, a Western horror, and a seriously twisted story about a culinary delicacy called “Worm Cheese”—I’m not even sure what subgenre to call that, but it’s disturbing.
Me: You also have your own stories in this collection. What can you tell us about your particular tales and the inspirations behind them?
Schrader: Clay and I talked about doing a standalone Carmilla book. Most horror fans know that Carmilla was the original vampire story. Published in 1872, it pre-dates the Dracula book by over 20 years. She is an intriguing character to us, and in this anthology, we re-introduce her to the world in a new way. We plan to expand on this and have her star in her own series of books. The fact that we had an Emanuele Taglietti cover for this story was icing on the cake.
Adams: I’m also contributing the aforementioned Lovecraft adaptation, “Beyond the Wall of Sleep.” I wanted to stay away from some of the more well-known Lovecraft stories, and what better fit for a book called NIGHTMARE THEATER than the Dream Cycle? (Don’t worry. We managed to fit in a Cthulhu reference or two.)
Set in the haunting (and haunted) city of Savannah, GA just after WWI, we went old-school Hollywood on this one, taking the source material and crafting an all-new tale that is faithful to the spirit of the work, if not the letter.
The result, featuring the gorgeous art of Mick Beyers (Hollow), is an ambitious story that not only presents a new episode in the life of Randolph Carter and his pal, the southern mystic Harley Warren, but it also incorporates elements of many Lovecraft tales. It’s 100% accessible to people who aren’t familiar with Lovecraft, but long-time fans will dig it.
Me: Three recurring characters in the Nightmare Theater Anthology are Shelley Poe Stoker, The Welder, and Eerie Erin. What can you tell us about this trio?
Schrader: This came from our love of horror hosts, whether it be Vampira, Elvira, or the Cryptkeeper—they made watching or reading horror fun, and let us have a framework, in this case, a film festival, where there could be a cohesive throughline, with intro, interstitials, and a closing featuring our hostess. All three of them get the origin story treatment in the first anthology, with short stories that present our horror trope trio to the audience. We wanted to have a little fun with the conventions; Eerie Erin is the haunted little girl, a literal evil spawn, The Welder covers the slasher movie boogeyman and was actually a character in a horror movie I co-directed and Clay starred in called Bloodline. Shelley Poe Stoker is, well, you should read the book to get her twisted backstory.
Me: If you had to pick one of these stories to try to survive in, which would you pick and why?
Adams: I mean, if I could choose my nightmare scenario, I’d probably go with something on the lighter side, like Robert Krisch’s “Good Bones” or either of the shorts by Richard Fairgray, but that’s just because I’m terrified of the alternatives. James Powell, who writes Dark Horse’s House of Fear, has a demented VR tale that will give anyone a healthy skepticism of technology; Malissa White’s “The Glow Up” feels especially relevant—and horrifying; and Will Allred tells a dark and bloody tale of gamesmanship taken to the brink. I don’t think I’d live long in any of those stories.
Schrader: From the first book, I’d say Richard Fairgray’s “Kernels All The Way Down” because I’ve been there; socially awkward at parties, making small talk and dreading it, then seeing something odd that makes me think I just have to get out of there. I think I could survive that one.
Me: What’s the number one reason why people should pledge money to your project?
Schrader: Mainly because it’s the best damn horror movie-inspired comic anthology you can buy. I may be biased, but I believe it to be true.
Adams: The talent. Twenty great teams comprised of some of the best creators in indie comics pumping out some seriously twisted tales of horror. And they’re all behind some gorgeously gory covers by Michael Calero, Alex Cormack, Bryan Silverbax, and Emanuele Taglietti.
Me: For creators interested in helming their own anthologies, what have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while working on two Nightmare Theater anthologies?
Schrader: Start and plan early, and treat your creators and audience with respect.
Adams: What David said. I’d also add that you want to find contributors who you know can hit deadlines, turn in a professional product, and help promote. When you have several teams selling a kickass book on Kickstarter, the sky’s the limit.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Schrader: There are many roadblocks along the way, and countless, logical reasons why you could quit… but if you love comics, and you have something interesting to say, don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing that goal.
Adams: As Nike says, just do it! Make something, put it in front of an audience, learn how to do it better, and repeat.
Me: Promote yourselves! What other work can people expect to see from you in the near future?
Schrader: I have a film making the festival rounds now, an experimental horror comedy called Mary Tyler, Millennial. I hope to see it distributed early next year. I also have a book launching on Kickstarter in January called Cannibals On Mars. Art is by Tony Donley (Albert Einstein: Time Mason), Andres Salazar, and Clay on letters.
Adams: RED XMAS, the graphic novel I co-wrote with Alexandre O. Philippe, will be in comic shops this December from Scout Comics. It’s a hilarious and bloody black comedy/horror book with some amazing art from Fabio Ramacci and Ilaria Chiocca.
I also just launched the first issue of a new series, BLAZING BLADE OF FRANKENSTEIN, with Kyle Roberts and Ilaria Chiocca killing it on the art. It’s a sword and sorcery series that casts Mary Shelley’s monster as a wandering barbarian fighting for the fate of a savage land. You can find the first issue on Kickstarter at bit.ly/BlazingBlade.
Me: Thanks for taking the time to share your love of horror and get our creative juices flowing, you guys! Readers can check out their official Kickstarter page here.
Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website. Also check out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle.
Other “Kickstart the Week” features:
Adventures Everywhere: A Comic-Book Anthology for Kids
Snow Paw #1: A 19th Century Scottish Female Werewolf