If you call yourself a horror fanatic and don’t read horror comic books, you best check your title at the door. Horror comics have had a resurgence in recent years with big series coming from the larger publishers and selling out to many people’s surprise. Based on our early look at Image Comics’ Redlands #1 the genre is certainly being pushed in new directions! We really loved it too (see our review here). We spoke to writer/colorist Jordie Bellaire and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey about their upcoming comic, which hits comic stores August 9.
AiPT!: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk! I had the opportunity to read the first issue before asking you some questions. I really dig it! I particularly like how it starts off fast and furious with a lot of action. That made it feel cinematic and highly visual. How did you meet up to make such an exciting comic right out of the gate?
Jordie Bellaire: I’ve been following Vanesa for a long while, we went to the same college and studied the same fundamentals regarding art and story. I think when it comes to Redlands, not only do we have the same education but we’ve also lived in Florida a long while (I lived there all my life and Vanesa is living there even now). I think this is partly what brings the information and the “cinematic” quality to the work. And aside from all of this, I’d like to think we have the same tastes. I definitely love films and I talk about them a little too often and whether or not Vanesa is a film buff, she’s clearly a great storyteller. She knows how to take my words and make them into beautiful compositions.
AiPT!: Jordie, you just came off of coloring the cover for Winnebago Graveyard, and now you’re writing and coloring another horror series from Image Comics so it makes me beg the question, why is horror a genre you’re exploring right now?
Bellaire: I only actually coloured the covers for Winnebago Graveyard and they were great fun indeed. Alison really let me get crazy and I love that. Horror is really my jam genre. I love horror movies like I love air. Ever since I was a kid, I’d be gobbling up as much of the horror genre as I could. Writing my own horror story is something I’ve been doing for many years, I’m just now getting the chance to do it! And thankfully, we’re getting to tell this story through Image! They publish some great horror work.
AiPT!: Did you take any inspiration from books or movies when developing and creating Redlands?
Bellaire: I thought a lot about the film The Seven Five. A documentary all about a corrupt cop in New York City. That story really meant a lot to developing mine. And even more recently, work like Luckiest Girl Alive was very inspirational. Unlikeable people that go through terrible things, trying their best to be their best but coming up short. Those themes are what I’m attracted to and horror is just there on top of all of it.
Vanesa R. Del Rey: My closest influences for the visuals in the series are coming from turn of the 19th Century illustration and printmaking and also the works of the romantic artist Francisco de Goya. I’ve been fascinated with his use of aquatint for his etchings and just the energy behind his drawing. I’m using a lot of hatching and cross hatching here to render, it’s coming from the works of J.C Coll and A. B. Frost. They all use line with energy and intent!
AiPT!: Jordie, It’s not often you see the writer also coloring a comic and I’m curious if coloring Vanesa’s art creates a circle of some sort, from words on a page to finalizing with color?
Bellaire: It definitely does. I feel very lucky that I can do both. It’s strange because I feel like I sort get to fully realize my thoughts and ideas in a way a lot of writers can’t. Vanesa is an amazing artist all on her own but getting to bring my own sensibilities to her work with my color choices and original ideas really just make the whole thing full circle. Thankfully, she trusts me to make the decisions I’d like! But I’m really open to the creative process and collaboration and she has already brought so much to Redlands in just this first arc.
AiPT!: Vanesa, I really love your use of sound effects in this first issue (at one point “slam” hovers over a table for instance) and they change so much! Is there an art to creating sound effects and how do you know what’s right for the page?
Del Rey: Sounds Effects are quite a challenge for me actually! I work them in my pencils stage but very loosely, I don’t really see them clearly in my head until after the page is inked. So I’m very spontaneous about it! I feel like I should in a way, because it’s a sound, it’s not permanent, it’s meant to be read in passing. I’m also thinking about a design for text that resembles the thing that is causing that specific sound, I’m looking to make the text as part of the drawing. And then the placement of that text, which becomes another element to include in the composition of the panel and the page as a whole. Yeah! many things to keep in mind.
AiPT!: Set in Florida, can readers expect any social issues to be touched upon?
Bellaire: 100% Growing up in Florida was fun and crazy at times but really troubling. Racism, gun violence and gun control, sexism and sexual assault, the very aggressive Christian churches trying to control children and communities with fear instead of love…these are all things I’ll never forget about Florida and they all show up in Redlands.
AiPT!: For the visual process, are you working primarily digitally or on paper? If on paper, what are you using?
Del Rey: All my pages for Redlands, including the covers, have been digital so far. I might want to experiment later on if there’s an opportunity. I normally use off-white drawing paper with a little bit of tooth though!
AiPT!: What is your favorite method of procrastination?
Bellaire: Every space in my schedule is usually filled with work. In that way, I guess Redlands itself is my greatest procrastination.Or as Jessica Hische would say, my procrastiwork.
Del Rey: SAME! I’m usually working… or studying something related to work, doing research, practicing some technique or just keeping my drawing in shape.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!