Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
In an already horrifying 2020, is it possible to get into a spooky mood in time for Halloween? Some of the things we enjoy most about the season are going to be limited and, for a lot of us, our love of all things creepy is now dripping with real anxieties and future-oriented fears.
We emailed Joseph Oliveira, founder of AfterLight Comics, to see if he could help us refocus our minds on the macabre. His new Kickstarter campaign for Birth of the Goatman (ending Wednesday, October 7!) is not only hair-raising, it’s sure to give us all a much-needed reprieve from our vexing reality for a perfectly chilling good time.
AIPT: Let’s begin by getting to know you a little better. You are a former filmmaker and BAFTA nominee, so how did you come to writing comics, especially “horror comics”? Were you a fan of comics as a kid? Are you a horror genre enthusiast?
Joseph Oliveira: I’ve always been drawn to dark, scary things, shows like Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and The X-Files definitely shaped my childhood, so I’d say that’s where my love for horror comes from. I’d always had ideas from my early film-making days but never the crew or the budget to make them. My focus turned to a different medium where I could still get my ideas out there consistently, which was comics.
AIPT: Thumbing through the AfterLight Comics selection, we notice that your books aren’t just horror stories — many of them are cryptid stories! Where did your interest in cryptids come from? What brought you to build a comic empire around them?
JO: I honestly didn’t know what cryptids were two years ago! It all started from the idea that I wanted to get better at writing short stories, so I set myself a task to write four short, six-page comic stories. I’d always been interested in folklore, myths, and legends, so then I came across things like mythical creatures … and then cryptids!
Folktales of the Cryptids was such an unexpected success that I felt there was more to cover in that area, so I wrote some more cryptid-inspired work with Wendigo Wood and Birth of the Goatman. I wanted to put them in a real-world setting, basically as if they were actually around, that this is what could possibly happen.
AIPT: You’ve successfully funded 19 Kickstarter campaigns! Currently, you’re funding Birth of the Goatman, part two of a three-part series. The first part, Rise of the Goatman, introduced us to a family staying in a cabin in the woods. Unfortunately, things don’t look good for them. Would you mind giving us a little info on what the readers can expect in part two?
JO: Rise of the Goatman was supposed to be just a one-shot comic, but I had such overwhelming demand to make a second one that I jumped at the opportunity and extended it to a trilogy. So, after the horrific climax of the first issue, a detective is sent to investigate the events that took place and as he discovers there is something more to this than just an open and shut case.
AIPT: You’ve got some amazing bundles of comics and some really nice extras, and since you’ve been funded successfully already, stretch goals are in play.
JO: We’re closing in on our second stretch goal with an awesome variant print by our artist, Adrian Garcia. We’ve also been selected by Kickstarter to trial their new “add-on” system, so you can now customize your own bundle for the first time.
AIPT: How do you decide which cryptid you’re going to write about? Do you do any research on them before you begin, or do you base them on your own visions?
JO: We’ve all heard of Bigfoot, Loch Ness [Monster], etc., so I like to go for the most strange and unusual; the ones that people haven’t heard of, and bring them into the light. I honestly look at a few images and a bit about their attributes, that’s it. I don’t want to read anything about sightings or stories about them, as it would cloud my storytelling process. I don’t want to write anything that’s been heard before; I always want my work to be completely original.
AIPT: You’ve written about a lot of cryptids that seem to have a ton of U.S. sightings, but very little information exists about similar creatures from England, even the U.K. as a whole. Alternatively, there are cryptid sightings there that we don’t have as much of here in the U.S. — the big cats, for example. Do you find cryptid stories are universally loved? Do you find that your reader demographics vary or lean toward the geographic regions where most sightings occur?
JO: I’ve found that they’re not as commonly discussed in the U.K. I find that the U.K. is more ghost story-based, but that hasn’t meant there isn’t a readership in the U.K. as a whole. Folktales of the Cryptids has been one of our best sellers. I think anyone can be drawn into the unexplained.
AIPT: There was a campaign that you recently funded on Kickstarter that we at AIPT are sorely bummed we missed out on. Can you tell us about your Clash of the Cryptids card game? How can we get our hands on a deck?
JO: Clash of the Cryptids is a 2- or 4-player card game that holds a collection of 40 cards printed on premium cardstock in metallic ink. Each card displays unique cryptid art alongside a creature biography and five measured statistics: fear factor, strength, stealth, mythos, and deadliness.
We unlocked six stretch goals! Because of the success, the deck went from 32 cards to 40 cards! You can still pre-order the game here via Backerkit.
AIPT: What’s next for AfterLight once Birth of the Goatman is complete? Do you think you’ll ever dabble in other genres? Perhaps bring horror to twist things around in the sci-fi or superhero world? Or something completely different? You know, one of our writers did a story about the most kissable cryptid … just a thought!
JO: As much as I’d like to write something for the superhero genre, I just find it too oversaturated right now. I want to keep coming up with new and unique ideas. Sci-fi is definitely on the list! With the success of Clash of the Cryptids, we’re also working on a cryptid board game for 2021!
AIPT: To round things out for 31 Days of Halloween on AIPT, we have to ask the burning question — given that things are kind of chaotic this year, what (if any) plans do you have for Halloween? Any suggestions on how to get in the spirit, while staying safe?
JO: My plans will be definitely staying inside with some snacks and playing a trilogy of my favorite horror films, which are The Descent, The Shining, and Silence of the Lambs.
The Kickstarter campaign for Birth of the Goatman ends October 7, so go check out the new “add-on” feature and grab up all sorts of goodies! Head over to their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for some awesome perks, peeks, and more!