Our Best Jackett
Our Best Jackett
Newsletter #97: My Eerie October Plans

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Newsletter #97: My Eerie October Plans

Talking about my origins in horror PLUS what's to come at NYCC and Comic Writing 102!

Hey guys, it's Scott.

It is September 30. I can't believe it's the end of the month. I apologize for the sound in the background [noise was diminished in edit]. The theme this post is horror, or horror all around, horror in my personal life first. That sound you hear in the background is my neighbor getting their septic tank pumped. They have a tiny leaching pool septic tank, which I have offered to help them replace many, many times. They're very old, very sweet, and yet they refuse to do it because they don't think they need it. So they're like, “we don't use it very much!” And I have this terrible image of two old people, like, holding and all their shit so that they don't have to use this thing. And it's horrible. And so it's October though, it's horror stories, that's what we're talking about.

Another horrible story—I lost my passport. I can't believe it. I'm an idiot. I'm not Batman, and I'm supposed to go to Ireland in two weeks with my wife to go look at some cottages. So I have to fly to Buffalo on Monday. I almost tried to get Ty to come with me. Sorry, Ty, I will let leave you alone so you don't have to do this horrible thing alongside me. But it's the only place I can get a passport that quickly. So I have to fly to Buffalo Monday to try and get a new passport. If there are any comic fans at the passport center in Buffalo, I will give you everything signed for the rest of your life if you let me get this passport, because Jeanie will murder me if we can't go to Ireland.

Okay, enough personal horror. Horror in general, I love it. It's almost October, the month of horror, Halloween. It's going to be great. So from Best Jackett, a couple of things. Really excited about this coming week. Book of Evil comes out Tuesday. It's from Comixology, it's by me and Jock.

It imagines a future where 92% of the population are born psychopaths, and it's been this way for like 50 years. And if you are unlucky enough to be born in the 8% that still has a conscience, you're forced to work hard labor for everybody else and you're not considered human. And it's about kids growing up in this world, because you don't present one way or another until you're about 14 or 15 and hit adolescence. That's when your brain changes and you either become normal, like a psychopath, or ‘subhuman,’ like somebody with a conscience. And so it's told with prose and spot illustrations and the design by buddy Emma Price is out of control. I hope you'll take a look. That's coming out Tuesday.

The trailer is here from a great place called The Refinery. I just love it, and I love the book.

Night of the Ghoul also comes out in print. We did it for Comixology digitally, but now we're bringing to you in print from Dark Horse Comics.

The first print issue collects the first two digital issues, so it's a big 50+ page thing with designs and all kinds of fun shit in it. That comes out Wednesday from Dark Horse Comics by me and Francesco Francavilla. If you haven't read it yet, it imagines that the greatest horror movie of all time produced in the 1930s, called Night of the Ghoul, burned in a deadly studio fire. And now a film buff in the present day finds the remnants of this film and then brings those to the director, who's still alive and who he tracks down in a rest home out in the desert in California to find out what really happened with this film. And he quickly discovers that the Ghoul, the monster in the film, might be real and he's in for a night of terror, essentially. So it's kind of modern terror meets classic horror. Really proud of it, too. I mean, thank you again. I'm just getting to make all these books that I love and just kind of quietly over here, like, working on stuff that I'm partnered on with people that just make me better as a human being and as a creator, and thank you to all of you for allowing me to do that, all you amazing fans. So I hope you'll check those out.

Okay, but horror. Horror comics, I thought I'd talk a little bit in this free part of the post about horror comics that I've loved, and my first experience with horror comics. So I had a couple of those collections from EC comics when I was a kid—Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, the old witch, the vault keeper, the Cryptkeeper. They were anthology series, they were reprints of pulps from the 50s. If anyone out there knows what I'm talking about, EC Comics was the place to be. It was all, like gruesome, grim, pulpy horror.

They have a great Instagram account. Now this really funny that reprint some of the stuff, but they've got great collections you can pick up now drawn by Jack Davis and Johnny Craig. But I had a few of these compilations and they were like my treasured, secret comics that I remember going to over and over again. And I didn't really understand why then, but I've talked about a little bit about it now and it's because, for me, I was a nervous kid. I was a really happy kid, but I was anxious. I had anxiety and that stuff, and what I started to discover was that these stories, these horror stories, allowed me to work through or experience my fears in a safe way. That was Part One. So horror to me is a place that’s almost like, and I've said it before, conflict burned down to its purest form. If dramatic conflict is you facing your fears in some way or other, then horror is almost like a magnifying lens of that stuff. It's a crystallization of that stuff. It's when your fears take on monstrous, magnified, intensified form. And monsters done right are the embodiment of the creator's fears about him or herself, about society, about human nature, about the future, about whatever. The best horror movies are those things, so there's that. Horror allowed me to work through my fears as a fearful kid in a safe way.

But secondarily, horror was a place where things didn't end well. And there was power in that. I'll get to that too, in a second. But so I had some of these comics, but the first thing that I remember just blowing me away was Creepshow. And the way I got Creepshow was I had a friend named Frank Tsu, I still remember this. He lived on Roosevelt Island, and we took the tram to his house after school. And there was a Forbidden Planet back then on 57th Street and Third Avenue. It doesn't exist anymore, but we used to go to that store and then take the tram to his house. And one day he was able to pick up Creepshow.

It was drawn by Bernie Wrightson and it was based on stories by Stephen King. And I remember the two of us sharing it at his house. And there was one story, The Raft, that was about kids stranded on a raft when this oil slick surrounds them that actually is sentient and wants to kill all of them.

I remember another story, The Crate, about this crate that's delivered that has a monster in it, a werewolf-looking thing, that scared me to death. And another about an apartment with roaches in it that overrun this guy, and so the more he tries to kill them, the more they eventually kind of overrun him and being in New York City back then in the 80s, believe me, roaches were a real terror.

But another one about a guy who essentially is infected by a fungus and hides himself in a cave and eventually becomes this horrible blob that overtakes people and eats them. And the whole thing that was powerful to me about that was, of course the art was amazing, the storytelling was fantastic, but it was the fact that those stories didn't end well. They all ended darkly. Every single one of them had some really terrifying last page.

And I realized looking back that a lot of the stories that I read in those Vault of Horror ones did too. There was one, Till Death, about a guy who throws his wife out of a plane and then she's brought back as a zombie from a voodoo ceremony (a little bit problematic, but still), and then she keeps pursuing him until finally he kills himself and then he's made into his zombie, so he's stuck with her forever. And another called For How The Bell Tolls! about a guy who essentially chops the hands off his apprentice because he's the royal bellringer and he doesn't want his apprentice to overtake him. And then his punishment, the king makes the old bell ringer the clapper in the bell itself and his body becomes all sploosh sploosh scrultch, like this terrible sound. He's turned into pulp.

But the endings were dark. The endings were always dark. And to me that was the second part of something that I learned was powerful about horror. Horror doesn't have to end happily, sometimes the monster wins. Think about The Thing or Night of the Living Dead. Basically all the zombie movies. Think about even Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, something like Silence of the Lambs. I mean, Hannibal is out there, he becomes the strange hero of the film. But that sense of horror being a place where as a kid you're suddenly experiencing endings that don't put things back together, that aren't affirming, that don't say, “hey, everything is great,” or “society is okay,” or “human nature is okay,” or “the future is going to be bright.” Instead, they say to you, “it's not okay. Things are dark, things are crumbling, things are scary.” And there's power in that. There's a call to action in that. Sometimes there's a subversiveness in that. There's a critique in that, and it gets you thinking. It can be challenging.

Horror, to me, can be a delivery system for great social critique or for very pointed and fierce satire. It can be something that makes you as a viewer shocked and sit back and say, “I have to think about this,” or “I have to do something about this,” in a way that sometimes people don't give it credit for. So anyway, I hope you enjoy. If you're a paid subscriber, also, I'm going to post a deep cut, Severed #1 (2011), over here in the paid part of the post, but I hope you'll go out, everybody, and read some horror. Go experience your horror comics, your horror movies, tell me what you think. I just watched Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, I have some thoughts on that. I'm gonna go see Barbarian, can't wait to see that. And yeah, just let me know what you're reading and you love in the genre of horror, because I'd love to talk about it here.

So one other thing, not horrible, not horror, but I will be at New York Comic Con. It can be scary, believe me, to be at that show. It's very crowded and boisterous and fun and energetic. But if you're going to be there, I want you to come up and say hello to me. I'm going to be doing signings for publishers, mostly at Comixology (H1B5) and I'm doing one at IDW (2557). Those are free and those are first come first serve, but they're not guaranteed you will get a spot. It is very crowded. Like I said, people line up long in advance, get there very early if you want to do one of those. If you want a guaranteed spot with me, go to my booth over a Comic Sketch Art (H-47) first thing when you get there and get a ticket. The tickets are free, the signing has a cost designated by my manager and by other people I'm signing with. It's not a lot of money, but you will get a guarantee that you will see me. I just don't want you to miss out. If you want absolute assurance you will see me, do that or sign up for the paid subscription now, $7 a month, the first 10 minutes of every signing at my booth are for people that are paid subscribers that want to come up and fast track the line.

My full NYCC 2022 schedule!

If you're a Founder’s Tier member, too, we have that awesome dinner Sunday night, it's going to be fun. I'm going to take you out, Black Jackett members. Two drinks, food on us, you already get the cost of your membership back. We're gonna have giveaways, we're gonna have some special guests, it'll be a blast. If you want to sign up for the Founder’s Tier Black Jackett club, please, please, please, Monday is going to be the last day. We already have too many people to handle, we shouldn't even keep it open that long. But we want to do it to just give people one last chance. I really should close it today, but we'll keep it open till Monday. It'll be fun. So sign up if you can. Ty, you can post everything you get here with it, I won't go into it again.

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But yeah, now we'll go over to the paid post. and what I'm going to talk a little bit about is this—we're going to start the class, the second semester of the class, Comic Writing 102, very soon. And the way we're going to do it is we're going to talk about published stuff, but we're also going to talk about your work in conjunction with published stuff. It'll be like characterization, and we'll look at characterization in this student work and in published work and talk about the things that could help the student work elevate a little bit. So we're going to post this email right here, Ty, voila [Posted at the top of the paid section!], you can do it. And if you're a paid subscriber, you can start sending in your work. We're going to look at stuff that's half-completed comics, completed comics, and scripts. So we'll choose depending on what the purposes of that week demand, but start sending in your stuff because we want to look at it and we want to talk to you about it. So over in the paid post, you're gonna get Severed #1 free, it's probably the comic I've done that’s the most influenced by that EC stuff. And you also will learn a little bit more about the priorities of submitting work. Okay, talk to you soon!

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