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The horror you see when you close your eyes: Jeremy Haun talks Kickstarter for 'Hauntology'

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The horror you see when you close your eyes: Jeremy Haun talks Kickstarter for ‘Hauntology’

Turning pandemic woes into tales of monsters and madmen.

Jeremy Haun (Red Mother, Detective Comics, The Beauty, and The Realm) has launched a brand-new Kickstarter that’s sure to delight all horror fans. The aptly-titled Haunthology is written and drawn by Haun, and contains 24 short sequential art stories (each story runs two to four pages long). Here, he channels the isolation and frustration of the pandemic into tales of cosmic horror, monsters, ghosts, and madmen. By relying on emotions we’ve all experienced over the least year-plus, each tale becomes permeated with raw emotionality and intensity.

With such a unique project, I just had to reach out to Haun. We spoke about the book’s creation, the difficulties of creating shorter stories, and whether or not he drew himself (and friends) into this book. We also discussed a monster’s creation and the difficulties of scaring in comic books, among other topics.

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For more from Haun, check out my interview with him on the AIPT Comics podcast.

AIPT: Your new short story collection is on Kickstarter, but I was curious how did you start this road towards this project? Did it start as a desire to do an anthology, did you write a single story and keep going?

Jeremy Haun: Haunthology very much started out as one story that grew into a year of my creative life.

Like so many of us, Covid completely derailed my world. I had 2020 planned out. It was going to be incredibly busy, with several big projects launching. It was an exciting time. When the industry went pencils down that absolutely changed. Went from being over busy to…well…just nothing.

I always have other projects that I want to do, it just takes a massive shift to go from having a locked in freelance contract to six months of uncertainty.

I needed an outlet. Anything really. That ended up being a short story. I had this idea– three pages. A glimpse– a bit of flash fiction. I didn’t even know what I was going to do with it. But I NEEDED to tell this story.

There was something incredibly freeing about telling that spooky story. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it, I knew I needed to tell more.

Over a year later, here I am. Twenty-four stories in this lovely collection. It just feels right.

Jeremy Haun Kickstarter Hauntology

Courtesy of Jeremy Haun.

AIPT: For fans of your recent horror Red Mother, what might they expect from Hauntology?

JH: If you love The Red Mother, then you need Haunthology in your life.

I promised fans of The Red Mother that there was more coming– that there was more to that world. Haunthology is me taking some of those hints– those themes and showing just a bit more.

I love connected stories. Over the years in The Realm, The Red Mother, and 40 Seconds — even as far back as the Bad Karma project, I started laying groundwork for this bigger mythos. Forgive me for this, but the Hauniverse.

Haunthology is a waypoint. It takes things from my previous works and leads to what comes next. You’re going to see characters, ITEMS, and themes in Haunthology that lead directly into several of my next creator owned projects. That excites the hell out of me.

AIPT: Having gotten a peek at this book I love how each story is so short but of varying length. Did you plot each story to be confined to a certain number of pages or did the story dictate that detail?

JH: Short stories are a challenge. It’s hard enough to tell a satisfying story in twenty pages, let alone four or seven.

I wanted to push myself. I wanted to be able to tell a story of any length.

While I intentionally forced myself to tell some stories at certain lengths (especially the one pagers), I let the stories tell me what they wanted to be. That was a lot of fun.

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AIPT: I was curious about your thoughts on the idea of the jump scare in comics. I’ve seen folks talk about how it’s impossible, but then in something like the manga PTSD Radio, it seems to work at times. When you approach horror and comics are you looking for the jump scare, or are you interested in scaring in a different way?

JH: You definitely have to understand the medium.

Prose works one way. You build and build and describe the horror– the dread.

Movies can sort of do that too, but they can also cut and create a jump scare that’ll make you dive out of your skin.

Comics kind of combine that. We can show and tell. It becomes about the page turn– the reveal. I definitely have moments in Haunthology that feel a bit like jump scares. They might be a bit more subtle than that, but still kind of the same thing.

Every medium has its limitations. I love working around that in my stories. Sometimes the dread builds and there’s just this lingering unease. Other times I show you this horrible creature hoping it scares the hell out of you. This has been a real opportunity to play with both.

AIPT: There are some incredible monsters in this work. How do you approach creature design?

JH: I love monsters. Always have.

As a kid they scared the absolute hell out of me. Around eleven, I got to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night out of fear over what horrors might be out there in the dark.

In order to fight that fear, I went hard the other way and decided to watch every horror flick out there. I learned to love the monsters.

As an adult, I obsess over creature design. Nothing really scares me anymore, but I think a lot about the combination of things that can still make my skin crawl.

It’s funny. In film and especially game design there’s time to work on world building. Everything looks fantastic because they nail the look down before they shoot a frame. In comics, things are often more run and gun. The artist is designing everything…while on deadline. I have really appreciated being able to take the time to put my all into the art and design of Haunthology. These horrors are exactly what I see when I close my eyes.

AIPT: Call me crazy, but did I see your likeness and maybe even comics artist Mitch Gerads pop up in this work?

JH: HA! Not crazy at all. I show up in several of the stories. Even though they’re weird and creepy, these stories are very personal to me. It was kind of fun to draw myself in.

And that’s absolutely Mitch. He and I have a constant text thread where we send one another photos of cocktails or new bottles that we pick up. When I wrote “The Old-Fashioned,” a weird little story about a guy making a drink, there were things in there that were directly from conversations Mitch and I have had. I just had to draw him in as the character at the end. It was too perfect not to.

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