Q&A with Taylor Grant of Evil Jester Comics
Evil Jester Press and its new imprint Evil Jester Comics are a small publisher set on publishing the best in horror from well known writers to the best of the new blood. EJC ‘Deaditor in chief’ and co-founder Taylor Grant took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about horror comics, the reality of being a small publisher and a few other things.
First of all can you give us an insight as to how Evil Jester Press and Evil Jester Comics came together, where did the idea for branching out into the comics medium originate from, was it something that had been planned from the beginning or more of a recent development?
Comic book publishing wasn’t planned from the beginning. However, Charles Day (my business partner) and I have a lifelong passion for the medium and a lot of our Evil Jester Press readers have expressed their love of graphic novels and comics too. It seemed like a natural progression. The support we’ve received from the horror community in general has been incredible.
Your recent successful Indiegogo campaign referred to the anthology horror comics of the past: Creepy, Eerie, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear were pretty controversial for their time ultimately falling victim to the Comics Code Authority which demonised them, especially in the case of E.C’s output. What is it that made you look to these titles as an inspiration?
I loved the wonderfully imaginative, twisted parables of EC comics–filled with vengeful ghosts, cool monsters and poetic justice for evil-doers. I think the best stories were dark morality tales that had great twists and beautifully creepy artwork. For me, they were like mini-horror movies on paper.
In recent years horror comics have had a resurgence, with 2002’s ’30 Days of Night’ from Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith and IDW publishing seemingly opening the floodgates for modern horror comics. Now there are ample titles for horror fans to choose from, Garth Ennis’ shock horror ‘Crossed’ being one of the most controversial and Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead’ even inspiring a hit TV show. Horror master Clive Barker recently returned to Hellraiser for an on-going canon comic
alongside a new title named ‘Next Testament’ for Boom! Studios. Would you agree that the advent of mature oriented comics has resulted in a fertile environment for horror comics in the modern age?
We’re experiencing a new age of intelligent and sophisticated horror in comics, and much of that is due to the quality of the properties you’ve mentioned. Vertigo Comics in particular has always respected their reader’s intelligence–and I admire that.
There’s major crossover potential for getting fans of writers to pick up a comic for maybe the first time and for comic fans to track down writers books, was this an idea that you were aiming for?
That wasn’t a specific strategy we planned, but crossover appeal would be wonderful for many reasons.
Jack Ketchum, Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney and Ramsey Campbell are some big names for a new venture. How did you get writers on board with EJC?
My business partner and I are both published authors and members of the Horror Writers Association, which has its advantages. We are fortunate to have a lot of contacts in the horror industry. It was just a matter of reaching out through our network. We were thrilled to discover that many of these big names authors also have a deep affinity for horror comics.
Writing is one thing but in the world of comics art is just as important. You’ve got an impressively ominous cover from artist Richard P. Clark, how did find you go about finding artists to bring the writers words to life?
Again, we were fortunate to have contacts throughout the comics industry. I was Stan “The Man” Lee’s head writer for his Internet company back in the late nineties, and through that experience I was able to meet some key people I am blessed to call friends.
EJC is a small publisher, what are the challenges facing a publisher that doesn’t have big bucks to throw around and on a related note how can comic/horror fans get their hands on EJC’s output?
Honestly, the challenges that face small press publishers of comics are too lengthy to mention. Seriously, it would take me hours to answer that question. Comic book publishing is not for the faint of heart, I can tell you that. It has taken a herculean effort to get our company up and running, but of course, is very gratifying as well.
What are the plans for EJC going forward?
Our first comic Evil Jester Presents was just released with much anticipation and the initial feedback has been incredibly positive. People are already demanding the next issue! We have multiple projects in the works for 2014 with some very well-established writers. We can’t announce them until the contracts are signed, but they are exciting projects indeed! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
At the moment, we’re selling print and digital copies of Evil Jester Presents directly through our website http://www.eviljestercomics.com. However, we will soon be selling through Amazon.com, Comixology.com and other venues. We look forward to sharing our shivery delights!