If you enjoy smart twists on haunted house stories, you may need The Me You Love in the Dark in your life. It’s a new comics series from Image Comics by the Eisner Award-nominated creative team behind Middlewest, Skottie Young and Jorge Corona. It’s a story about a struggling artist trying to find a spark and thinking a bona fide haunted house might be the best place to start.
The new series may have a touch of The Conjuring or Insidious in its bones, according to Corona, but it’s an impeccably well-told tale that knows when to scare and unnerve. That’s in part due to awesome pacing — read the preview to see what I mean — as it takes its time to reveal the horror within.
I had the opportunity to chat with both Young and Corona about the new title, which set set for release on August 4, including touching on how the themes of the book may come from real life. We also discussed whether a haunted house tale lives inside every creator, the series’ larger inspirations, and much, much more.
AIPT: I wanted to start by asking about haunted house stories since that’s somewhat what your new book The Me You Love in the Dark is about, is that a type of story every creator wants to tell?
Skottie Young: I’m not sure about other creators, but a haunted house story wasn’t on my list of must-do’s. I’ve always wanted to tell some kind of horror story, but like all my other books, was just waiting for the right idea. I have always wanted to tell a relationship/love story though so it was an interesting challenge to find the right balance between the two. When brainstorming over all the sub-categories of horror, a type of haunted house story felt perfect.
Jorge Corona: I can’t tell if I ever thought of it specifically, but haunted house is usually my favorite kind of horror. Once Skottie and I started to talk about new projects the idea to take our time and build a slower paced horror that could have room to creep in and build more naturally was just a perfect storm of elements that drew me in.
AIPT: I think many will discover this story is quite clever in numerous big and small ways, how long has it been in the works and was it inspired at all from our collective 2020 of being cooped up due to the pandemic?
SY: We started brainstorming what projects we wanted to create next back in February 2020. I drove to Denver for a week and Jorge developed three potential new books. As we started to flesh them out, the pieces of The Me You Love In The Dark started to fall into place pretty fast. We were pretty inspired by the idea so I went off, rented an Airbnb for a week and wrote this story.
It would be a month before we would learn that we just created a story that would mirror some of the horrors of the year to come. There was a point a few months into lockdown where we were nervous to launch this as our next book. We didn’t know how the industry would be at the end of all this, if there was an end to all of this. But also, we didn’t know if anyone would want to read a dark, serious love/horror story while living through a pandemic.
Ultimately, we bet on ourselves and here we are. A year-and-a-half later, and we’re releasing a comic! Our favorite thing to do!
JC: Like Skottie said, we had no idea what was coming when we first conceptualized this book, but once the world started to lock down and pages started to take shape, there was definitely a lot of cathartic energy that went into them. The repetition and monotony, especially on that first issue, was directly a reflection of what we were all living. Now that the world is starting to slowly open and the book is seeing the light of day, it feels like it all clicked in perfectly, but I don’t think we can claim that it was originally our plan haha.
AIPT: The main character is a painter, Jorge when you’re drawing works of art for a character is there any nervousness to get that right since it’s not necessarily your own style?
JC: Oh, this was actually a lot of back and forth, once we see paintings from Ro on the pages the result is definitely not solely my own. A good chunk of the credit goes to Jean, our colorist, here. One of my pet peeves in comics is having art pieces that just look like more linework and considering art takes such a central role in the story I didn’t want it to feel like that.
Once we went through references of real paintings and styles, the process ended up being me giving a general layout in pencils that Jean later rendered as an actual painting beautifully. I couldn’t be happier.
AIPT: I must ask, the main character drinks wine while working, do either of you imbibe while writing or drawing?
SY: Occasionally, for sure. But I’m too old to make that a regular thing. I’ll just want to sleep, hahaha. Mostly, the wine represents the vice I feel a lot of creatives have. From eating, to smoking, to drinking, to whatever makes you feel like you’re you while trying to pull those ideas out of you, kicking and screaming. I will say, the day I finish writing any series, I do it at a bar. I like to be surrounded by strangers, headphones in playing whatever movie score matches my story, have a glass of wine and say good-bye to that project.
JC: Experience has taught me that I can have the occasional drink with some specific steps of illustrating. Inking being the one that really suffers if I get too… happy. Ro’s approach would definitely not work for me, haha.
AIPT: Were there any inspirations or works you thought of while creating this book? For some reason Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle came to mind for me while reading the first issue.
SY: I’ve had that book on my to-read list for a while but haven’t gotten to it yet.
I can’t point at any one book or story as the inspiration, but the tone of books by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman are always dancing around in my head. And for this series, movies like Notting Hill, About Time, and Sleeping with the Enemy were floating around as well. We wanted this to feel as much Cameron Crow as it did Stephen King. You need to believe in the emotions here.
JC: I think I was looking more into movies than anything else. The Conjuring and Insidious were a good source of inspiration as they took mundane elements in the character’s houses and built tension with the lighting and composition. I really wanted this book to feel cinematic in that way.
AIPT: What comics are you reading right now?
SY: I hate to admit this, but I barely have time to eat meals anymore, let alone read. I wish that wasn’t the case. But after full work days of writing comics, drawing covers, making meals for us and the kids, and squeezing in a little time to watch some shows with my wife, there’s not many minutes left to dive in before I’m just going to sleep, hahaha. For now, I’m just happy crushing with my creative partners.
JC: I’ve actually had a reading renaissance since 2020. Currently, I’m reading Monster by Urasawa, We Only Find Them When They’re Dead from BOOM!, and Ultramega by James Harren.
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