This is the first time that this series has featured an all-in-one creator! Falco Verholen is a the writer and illustrator of the surreal web comic Weaker Sides.
In Falco's interview we dive into the use of surrealism in horror, personal fears, and the do's and don't of webcomics.
For more of Falco's work, click here!
So -- Why horror? What's your pull to the genre?
I enjoy the idea of a story as an emotional roller coaster ride. For the depths to be really terrifying, horror imagery works well for me. On the other side, a sense of connection, humor and warmth are the antidote to the horror elements.
I love creating art that's on the macabre side as well as symbolic and even calming. In Weaker Sides, human anatomy is shown in way that is both frightening (as human bodies can be, at least to me) and awe-inspiring and liberating.
What makes a good horror story for you?
A good balance between being terrifying and uplifting or soothing. Horror for horror's sake doesn't do the trick for me, nor does boundless amounts of gore. I've gotta be honest though, in my spare time I mostly consume comedy. For the horror and the hope, I put on the news.
With print comics, I feel like horror comic creators are at the mercy of the reader's trust to not jump pages (even by accident) and ruin some big scares down the road, but with web and digital its somewhat more difficult for things to be spoiled by the reader. In your process how do you use web and digital comics to your advantage when writing for this genre?
By letting the story start at chapter 1. Too often I've run into a great webcomic that features the latest page on the website's homepage. Some webcomic sharing sites do the same thing. It can be quite spoilerific. Also, I try not to post any spoilers in the promo art, which can be quite a challenge sometimes! It's the juicy parts that I want to share with the world.
Can you name some surrealism influences that have used your work?
Definitely the early Silent Hill games and their wonderful OSTs. As for books, 'House of Leaves' is still one of the most terrifying and alienating, strange experiences I've read. I will also cry for a considerable length of time once I learn of Haruki Murakami's passing - I just hope we find a way to cheat death before he checks out! Lately I'm a big fan of MotherHorseEyes aka the Interface series. I'm not going to spoil anything here - just check the reddit.
In what ways do you use surrealism to create terror in your comics?
Things, places or people that are slightly off have a way of unnerving me while being fascinating and beautiful at the same time. Visual surrealism can also express a character's struggles, fears or energy in a way that goes directly to the reader's brain/heart without language barriers. The same goes for the sense of reality unraveling, which is quite a surreal emotion or state of mind to begin with. There's plenty of surreal imagery in Weaker Sides that perhaps doesn't make much sense at first, but starts to connect later on. In the meantime, readers can still enjoy chewing on it and allow it to linger.
What fears of yours have used in your work?
Some of Kyoko's nightmares are pretty much transcriptions of my own. A running theme has to be that all sense of direction, physical laws and time/space gets thrown out the window and what's left is a nauseating chaos that cannot be escaped by death or sleep, because there's no more death or sleep. I'm glad my last nightmare like that was ages ago! As for more realistic fears, my fear of being disconnected from my partner, friends and family runs pretty deep, which definitely reflects in several of my characters.
Is there a fear of yours that you would like to explore in your writing that you haven't yet?
Losing a close loved one must be hell. I haven't been through an ordeal like that but I fear for the day it happens. When it does, I'm quite certain it will find its way into whatever I create, as a means of coping and hopefully, remembering and honoring that person.