by Jarrod Jones. It’s official: Dead Beats, the new music/comics horror hybrid anthology from A Wave Blue World, has conquered Kickstarter. Fully-backed and ready to rock, it’s time to unearth some of its hidden treasures.
Let’s set the scene. Tyler and Wendy Chin-Tanner set out to publish a spooky new anthology edited and curated by Eric Palicki (All We Ever Wanted) and Joe Corallo (Mine!). Palicki & Corallo tap a murderer’s row of talent for this fearsome project, with the likes of Magdalene Visaggio, Daniel Kibblesmith, Rachel Pollack & Richard Case, Vita Ayala, Ivy Noelle Weir & Christina “Steenz” Stewart, and so many more. Victory was inevitable. We covered the launch of Dead Beats earlier this month, and you can read all about it here. For now, let’s talk about Steenz & Ivy.
This Dead Beats track marks the latest collaboration from the Archival Quality team. The initiated already know the score, and why that’s such a pin in the leather for Dead Beats. For everyone else: 2018’s Archival Quality was a haunted house mood piece that delved into personal demons as often as it examined the concepts of spectral visitors. It was a funny, at-times frightening look at how our own ghosts don’t have to dog our every step—they can help liberate us of our burdens if we let them.
Now Ivy and Steenz get to weave their special brand of sorcery once more.
“I’m a big horror nerd and I have been for my whole life,” Ivy tells me. “Sometimes I think I’d like to do something else but then I’ll start writing and like, whoops, now there’s a ghost in it.” Naturally, Steenz is totally in sync: “Horror is great because it’s a great genre for character development. You can get to a know a person better once you know their fears and I’m all about exploring the human experience via art. So yes. We intentionally focus on horror stories together.”
With little over a week left to the Dead Beats Kickstarter we dive headlong into what Ivy Noelle Weir and Christina “Steenz” Stewart are whipping up next. Below you’ll find insights into their unique creative process, details concerning their Dead Beats project, and an exclusive first-look at process pages courtesy of A Wave Blue World.
DoomRocket: What can you tell our readers about your upcoming contribution to the ‘Dead Beats’ anthology?
Ivy Weir: For this story, we’re telling a classic “haunting” story—I was inspired by Shirley Jackson, both her work in The Haunting of Hill House and her real life. Jackson was one of the all-time greats of tense, ominous horror, and this story (I hope) delivers on the idea of a haunting consuming and ruining something with the same sort of tension in just a few pages.
Christina “Steenz” Stewart: It’ll definitely be a departure from my usual bright colored yet spooky art. I’m playing around with textures exploring what can be done with only a few pages.
2. When you were approached about contributing to ‘Dead Beats’, what elements (thematic, structural, etc.) did you know you wanted to include in your story?
IW: I actually played music very seriously as a teenager, and all the pitch ideas I sent to Steenz—and then to the Dead Beats editorial team—had to do with the sort of obsessiveness that involvement with music can inspire. Either you love a band to the point of obsession, or you spend hours and hours practicing… music is by nature obsessive and repetitive and I think there’s a lot of room for horror in that.
CSS: I wanted to make sure that visually we can see what obsession looks like. It’s always there in the background of your life.
3.‘Dead Beats’ is your first collaboration following the award-winning ‘Archival Quality’, another bit of horror greatness. Is this just a coincidence, or is horror a genre that you naturally gravitate towards?
IW: I’m a big horror nerd and I have been for my whole life—sometimes I think I’d like to do something else but then I’ll start writing and like, whoops, now there’s a ghost in it… Steenz and I actually had a brainstorm call for future projects recently where I told her some ideas I had and she called me out that they were all haunted buildings. I love a haunted house, okay?
CSS: Horror is great because it’s a great genre for character development. You can get to a know a person better once you know their fears and I’m all about exploring the human experience via art. So yes. We intentionally focus on horror stories together.
4. Ivy, ‘Archival Quality’ tackled themes of mental health with frank honesty, blending it with the more fantastical elements of the ghost story. With your story in ‘Dead Beats’, something that seems more explicit in its horror trappings, what do you feel would be appropriate to bring to the anthology in terms of vital representation?
IW: Obviously, there’s less room to delve into a large and nuanced topic in a 6-page story than in a nearly 300-page graphic novel. But in this story I did want to sort of address something that I personally encountered while I was in art school, that I think a lot of creative people do at varying points in their lives.
In school, I was creating good work and getting praised for it, but at the same time, I was really struggling with my mental health. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping… and yet, my professors, by and large, wanted me to make more of the work that came out of this place of pain and struggle, instead of seeing that I was, essentially, a kid who was suffering. I think a lot of young creatives get completely burnt out because of the pressure to create from a place of pain or to keep pushing for success even when you’re bone tired.
5. Steenz, I want to talk about process. What changes in your approach to your sequentials between the graphic novel and the comic short? As an editor, do you ever feel at odds between your own personal storytelling vision and those who run the projects you work on as a creator?
CSS: I definitely approached this differently when it came to layouts and planning. Typically my thumbnails are pretty loose because I like to see the chapter as its own beast on a larger scale. So I focus on movements and overall mood rather than details. But because this is only 6 pages, I got to get much more detailed when laying out the story. I get to become hyper-focused on panels, on backgrounds, on… everything. It’s just a different process, which I like quite a bit.
I think how I work as an artist informs how I work as an editor. Having worked with writers, like Ivy, I know what it means to bring someone’s vision to life. As an editor I’m helping develop the story on every level. The writing, the art, the lettering. While when I illustrate, I have more control over the art, but I still make sure my voice is heard in all aspects of the comic. I also only take on projects where I’m either 50% or more in charge. So I don’t really have to worry about “those who run my projects” cuz I don’t have that.
6. Which creators are you most excited to see/read in ‘Dead Beats’?
IW: Oh my gosh, it’s such a stacked deck, I can’t pick. I ran into Joe Corallo at MoCCA Fest right after we turned in the script, and every time he told me another person who was involved, I just went “wow.”
CSS: So I’m working with Matt Erman on an unannounced project and he knows my style of editorial and my style of storytelling and he told me I would hate his comic in this anthology [Laughs]. So now I’m even more curious and look forward to reading his story.
Enjoy this exclusive first look at Ivy Weir & “Steenz” Stewart’s ‘Dead Beats’ track!
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