Odds and Dead Ends : Scaring Ourselves Silly | Monsters and the Uncanny Valley

We all love a good monster. Be it Godzilla or King Kong, werewolves or cenobites, we can’t get enough of them. Guillermo Del Toro has made a living out of them, and nobody in their right mind would begrudge him that. But when we think of being scared, perhaps what touches the nerves more than anything else are not the big, lumbering beasts towering above us. It’s those fiends that come close to being human, just one step away from actually being us.

This concept is known in the field of robotics as the ‘uncanny valley’. Coined initially by Masahiro Mori, the basic idea of it is that there is a distinct, graph-able curve in people’s emotional responses to the verisimilitude of a robot to people. Essentially, when you start to make a robot look like a person, people view it more favourably. Then, suddenly, as you keep going, there’s a point where it’s not completely robotic, but not completely human, and it’s in this stage when we have a strong feeling of revulsion or disgust. When it gets close to being indistinguishable from us, it becomes so lifelike that we view it favourably again. This dip into disgust is the uncanny valley.

The theory of the uncanny itself was used by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay The Uncanny as a way to explain why we’re so creeped out by dolls and waxwork figures and the likes. He goes back to the original German for uncanny, unheimlich, and its roots in the word heimlich which roughly means to conceal or hide. He proposes that we find something uncanny because it is a revealing of social taboos and ideas which we try to hide in everyday life. This eventually gets linked on to concepts of the id and the subconscious, which is really the subject for another article altogether.

But what does all of this mean for our monsters? How can we link these concepts together in a way that impacts our understanding of our favourite horror villains?

Well perhaps this doesn’t apply for the big Kaiju as such, but maybe it helps explain why we’re still chilled by vampires, ghosts, and ghouls. The brain sees their general shape and recognises them as human, or at least, very human-like. Yet there’s always something just a little bit off, be it the pallor of their skin, or the sharp claws or teeth, which sets them apart and makes them disturbing to us. Going back to Del Toro, think of The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. He’s got a recognisably human shape (based off Saturn in the painting Saturn Devouring His Sun by Francisco Goya), but with the skin stretched over the frame, the nostrils flared with no bridge, claw-like talons, and eyes in his hands. He’s started off human but been warped.

Even cursed or possessed dolls have something off about them; the animation of a human avatar is almost the very concept of the uncanny valley, with the robot being substituted for a doll, but the basic principle remaining. Toys are essentially us, preserved in miniature, and when they rise up against us, the human part of their design strikes a chord with us.

This is perhaps why we find masked killers a distressing concept. The shape is human, and the mask is human-like, but it doesn’t change, and as humans learn to see the face as the main projector of emotion when it doesn’t alter during extreme acts of violence, we slip down the slope of the valley. Masks such as those belonging to Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, fairly blank and devoid of emotion, would, therefore, represent something uncanny. Also very often the mask represents a demon or spirit (thinking of films such as Onibaba or Scream) which conjures up concepts of possession by an unseen force. This might explain why we’re so focused on the killer’s mask in these films, because they are themselves imbued with that uncanny quality which makes them memorable beyond the killer behind them.

Think of the Scream franchise, where the mask comes to represent something much deeper, a force of evil in itself. When you see someone without the mask, they’re normal, but as soon as the face is obscured, they become terrifying, a body for the murderous will of the mask. And the mask and the murderous intent has the power to transfer its ownership from one person to another, like a spirit darting in and out of its possessed victims. Even think of the numerous killers that take on Jigsaw’s role in the Saw films. As soon as you come into possession of Billy, leading the charge of the traps, you become Jigsaw, the embodiment of John Kramer and his will to put people to the test of their drive to survive. We dip from being too human to being something slightly removed.

The idea of the uncanny valley even feeds into ghosts. Think of Kayako and Toshio from the Ju-on films. Though it sounds funny, how many of us were deeply disturbed when Toshio, a pale little boy, opened his mouth and meowed? When Kayako came crawling down the stairs, her throat croaking like a door very slowly opening? This concept of uncanniness transfers over to the sounds we make, affecting us when someone’s voice is not what it should be. This is something obviously well known to anyone who has watched The Exorcist in their time.

And so whilst the big monsters from The Ritual and Cloverfield might scare us, they don’t get anywhere close to instilling that distinct feeling of unease which those humanoid villains which nestle in the uncanny valley have the ability to do. When vampires flash their fangs, with blood in their eyes, we see something hiding inside the human form. When we see Schwarzenegger doing his own repairs in The Terminator, we find lines between humanity and inhumanity blurred. From now on, he looks just like us, but we know he isn’t.

And when we transfer over to imitation narratives such as The Thing or The Body Snatchers, suddenly we’re even more scared, because any one of us could be them. Now the uncanny transfers into paranoia, and we have to rely on looking out for the uncanny to alert us to danger. We have to fall back on something terrifying to keep us calm. In a way, we hope for something uncanny to confirm our fears. And that, more than anything, is scary.

-Article by Kieran Judge

-Twitter: KJudgeMental

Bibliography

Cloverfield. 2007. [Film] Directed by Matt Reeves. USA: Bad Robot.

Finney, J., 2010. The Body Snatchers. Great Britain: Orion Publishing.

Freud, S., McLintock, D. & Haughton, H., 2003. The Uncanny. New York: Penguin Books.

Friday the 13th. 1980. [Film] Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Unites States of America: Georgetown Productions Inc.

Godzilla. 1954. [Film] Directed by Ishiro Honda. Japan: Toho.

Goya, F., 1819 – 1823. Saturn Devouring His Son. [Art] (Museo del Prado).

Halloween. 1978. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Falcon International Productions.

John Carpenter’s The Thing. 1982. [Film] Directed by John Carpenter. United States of America: Universal Studios.

Ju-On: The Grudge. 2002. [Film] Directed by Takashi Shimizu. Japan: Pioneer LDC.

King Kong. 1933. [Film] Directed by Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack. USA: RKO Pictures Inc..

Onibaba. 1964. [Film] Directed by Kaneto Shindo. Japan: Kindai Eiga Kyokai.

Pan’s Labyrinth. 2006. [Film] Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Spain: Telecinco Cinema.

Saw. 2004. [Film] Directed by James Wan. USA: Twisted Pictures.

Scream. 1996. [Film] Directed by Wes Craven. United States: Dimension Films.

The Exorcist. 1973. [Film] Directed by William Friedkin. USA: Hoya Productions.

The Ritual. 2017. [Film] Directed by David Bruckner. UK: The Imaginarium.

The Terminator. 1984. [Film] Directed by James Cameron. United States of America: Hemdale.

 

Chilling Chat: Quick Questions with EmoWeasel

chillingchat

Christie Crapeticio, known as “EmoWeasel,” is a San Francisco-based illustrator who draws comics, children’s books, horror art, and pattern designs. She went to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. While attending school, she studied comic book art and children’s books. IMG_9422

EmoWeasel is a talented and fun woman. We spoke of art, the origin of her awesome name, and her comics.

NTK: Welcome to Chilling Chat, EmoWeasel. Thank you for chatting with me today.

EW: You’re quite welcome and thank you for having me.

NTK: Where did the name “EmoWeasel” come from?

EW: Oh no, that’s a fun story. So the name EmoWeasel came from my middle school years.  My friend and I were actually judging people for a talent show and I decided to doodle a sophisticated long cat and my friend said that totally looks like an EmoWeasel (Laughs.) And I love that name, so we sort of ran with it and built a mini-community around the name. We basically had the name EmoWeasel represent all the kids who felt like misfits or who liked art, reading comics, and anything else that was considered weird. We rallied under that name, the small group we were, and felt like we all belonged together.

I kept the name because my work is odd, different and not normal for most. And, that’s what EmoWeasel stood for back in my middle school years. Also, the name is just very catchy (Laughs.)

NTK:  What brought you to the world of art?

EW: That’s a good question. I guess I really got into art when I was young because I wanted to express my thoughts and stories through pictures. Because I’m dyslexic, writing and spelling are much harder for me. So, the idea of writing my stories out was more or less out of the picture. Art, to me, was always a way to share the stories that flow through my mind with everybody. And, I’d say most importantly, art always just made me so happy whenever I was doing it. Even if my hands were breaking under the pressure it was still always worth it in my eyes.

NTK: What are some of your influences? Whose work do you admire?

EW: Oh gosh, there’s so many who inspire me. But, the ones off the top of my head might surprise you (Laughs.) One of the biggest influences in my art and actually my comic writing, is Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto. Then there is Brom, Brian Bolland, Rob Guillory. These are just a few artists who have inspired me over the years. They’ve all inspired me for many different reasons such as drawing techniques, coloring, and overall storytelling abilities.

werewolf santa color(mini water mark)What influences me most when creating my work is music and dark creepy thought when looking at shadows (Laughs.) But mainly it is music. I love to listen to instrumental music from movie soundtracks and that really helps build the moods in my head to create monsters and stories.

NTK: Do you listen to horror movie soundtracks?

EW: So, the kind of music I actually listen to isn’t always from horror movie soundtracks. Because, to be honest, they sometimes make the monsters come a little bit too alive in my mind (Laughs.) A lot of the soundtracks I listen to are actually from video games and adventure movies. But, I usually just look into certain artist I really like and just buy up all the albums they have.

NTK: What got you into horror or scary things in general?

EW: Hmm…that’s also a good question. I think I’ve always just really had an overactive imagination so I really just see creepy things all around me. It’s almost like the scary art world just sucked me in. Ever since I was little, I’ve always drawn more gory and creepy things. But of course, I sprinkled in some cute things so my parents didn’t think I was completely nuts (Laughs.)

NTK:  What medium do you prefer when creating? Do you use ink? Paint? Pencil?

EW: My medium of choice is usually pen and ink. In most of the work I do, I like to try to use texture to tell a story along with the characters themselves. So, pen and ink is my best friend. But, I also like to do oil paintings and colored pencil illustrations. I’ll do a little bit of promotion here (Laughs.) I’m actually working on a mini-ghost-story children’s book that’s done in colored pencil on black paper. That book is going to be available for pre-order very soon.

So yes, I prefer to use pen and ink. But, if I decide to use color with a pen and ink drawing I’ve already drawn, I photoshop over it.

NTK: Do you have a favorite comic book?

EW: Oh man, that is a good question. I have a lot of things I like (Laughs.) But, to keep it simple I’ll just give you the top few. I really like Chew, Naruto, Berserk, Dissolving Classroom, and I Hate Fairyland.

NTK: Favorite movie?

EW: One of my favorite movies (it’s not quite horror but it’s a gory movie) is Overlord. I guess one of my favorite horror movies would be the new It.

NTK: What does the future hold for you? Aside from the children’s book you mentioned, what other works do we, as Horror Addicts, have to look forward to?

EW: The future does hold a lot for me as long as I keep overbooking my life (Laughs.) This year, I’m actually working on a big comic book series that will be launched in November. I am super excited and also super nervous.

Along with that new series that’s coming out, I’m going to continue my current mini ghost comic(water marked)comic strip that I share bi-weekly online.

But there is one big thing I’m trying to work on, and that is teaching classes in creating comics and horror art.

NTK: Congratulations! Does the comic series have a name? Who is the main character?

EW: The series is called Demon Eye. The main character is, as you might’ve figured out, a demon.  There are multiple Demon races in the series. She’s a special breed of demon which most think have gone extinct but, as you learn throughout the series, they were forcefully relocated.

Her name is Cirsto and she is best known as the Demon Eye assassin. So that’s where the book title comes from.

NTK: Thank you for sitting down with me today, EmoWeasel.

EW: It was a lot of fun.

You can follow EmoWeasel on Instagram and Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

How Not to Make a Spooky Spell Book – A Kbatz Kraft!

How Not to Make a Spooky Spell Book

by Kristin Battestella

Inspired by having extra tea stained pages from my Spooky Bottle Labels project, Old Kbatz here decided to make a Spooky Spell Book. Not having some of the right materials, however, led to some time consuming mistakes.

First I selected a book to decorate. Many bibliophiles and macabre folks love the idea of these often expensive stacks of creepy looking books but none of us really want to damage a book to make one! You can go to a local library sale of thrift store and choose an old outdated encyclopedia or reference book. However, even after purging my books for a move, I still had several cookbooks I wasn’t using.

 

This one was large enough on the front to do the design I had in mind on the outside and I intended to stick my tea pages in the middle of the book. In theory, it’s still perfectly usable as a cookbook should I ever need some kind of hamburger recipe that can’t be found online. I sketched out my wording with a marker and then traced over the lettering with Tacky Glue. Maybe the hot glue gun would have been quicker, but Tacky Glue allowed me a little more time with a toothpick as I perfected the letters. If you’re doing this with the kids, it might be easier to paint first and then make some lettering with a more friendly glue and some glitter, however I didn’t want this to be sparkly glam, just an old innocuous book with a goofy plastic scorpion I glued on the front.

Once the glue was dry, I colored over the white glue with black marker so it would stand out more as I painted the rest of the book. It was okay if I got some on my letters or scorpion, because I intended to go over them at the very end with a final coat of black. Using red paint, I went over the book cover. Unfortunately, the red paint peeled and chipped off as it dried, and another coat did the same thing. I wondered if there was a sheen to the book that should have been sanded first or if it was the paint itself. I liked the contrast of the bright red with the black, but this poster paint kept peeling and never had good coverage. I debated doing a third or fourth coat and having to go buy some kind of artist spray sealant. By time I did all that, I could have just bought a spooky spell book!

The next day, I let all the red paint chip off and decided to try using a smaller tube of acrylic paint I had called Berry Wine. I did small sections on the back of the book and let them dry – sticking and with better coverage! I like the aged, deeper color more than the bright red, but I thought because I had a smaller quantity that there wouldn’t be enough for the book. Instead, the acrylic paint covered more and went further without all the terrible peeling. After a few coats of the berry paint dried, I went over the lettering and scorpion with one coat of black. Lesson learned: I’m not an artist at all, and knowing which materials work together and having the right supplies to do a project is paramount.

Now I was able to work on my interior pages. At first I was going to trace assorted ye olde symbols, but that is also out of my artistic area of expertise and I didn’t want anymore mistakes. Instead I wrote Macbeth quotes on the pages in colored pencil making slightly oldeth calligraphy style lettering before going over the wording again in brown marker. Here I was careful of the order I wanted for the pages and which quotes I wanted to be showing when the book was opened flat. I also didn’t use both sides of the pages or use the marker when they were stacked together lest any ink bleed through. It was back to the Tacky Glue as I made a line down the left side of the pages one at a time, gluing them together to be inserted in the exact middle of my cookbook. I trimmed the right side of the pages so they wouldn’t stick out as much and made a line of glue on the inside of the book to insert the pages.

This was a spur of the moment project that took several days longer than it should have thanks to my painting errors. It looks great now that it is complete, and once I realized which paint worked best, I was able to make another spellbook that took less than a day. Although I had gotten rid of several old Writer’s Market editions in my move, I still had a beat up hardback 1997 edition on my shelf that was thick enough to do some spine wording. Again I sketched my letters and traced them in glue. This time I used a green marker to make the lettering stand out, for I was painting this book with black acrylic paint that covered in less than two coats. For the letters, I wanted a contrasting yellow, however, the yellow paint and green marker have blended together to create a creepy looking color. I may go over it again to make it more golden, but I kind of like the icky look. This book I can also use again if I wanted, however I’m tempted to use it as the base of a spooky cloche – but that is another Kbatz Kraft!

An Interview with Horror Artist Rhaega Ailani

Yasou Rhaega! Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us at HORROR ADDICTS.

I wanted to ask you a few questions regarding your artwork and illustrations because you have such a large span ranging from fantasy art to science fiction.

Gia sou Lisa! Pos iste. It will be an absolute pleasure to me to answer

What made you choose that direction for your craft?

I think I took the route of Fantasy even before knowing that my path in this life it would be closely linked to art. Yet one of the first memories I keep from my childhood was my first book of Greek Mythology, full of illustrations and amazing stories that inspired me and push me to imagine so much. Mythology always has been defining my way.

I guess I am an addictive Dreamer: I see the world around me through the prism of the fantasy and the imagination, maybe because I know reality too well, and yet I think the world of Fantasy and Dreams, is always full of possibilities.

I see you are in London now, but you spent a lot of time in the Mediterranean. Do you feel living there, with it rich culture and mythology, it had a strong impact on your creative muse?

I moved to London few years ago. My partner is a londoner, and even If I have been always moving around and living for a while in different countries such as Germany, France, Greece, etc. (As I never liked to be in the same place for a long time). I always come back to here, to the little Mediterranean city near I was born, Tarragona. Maybe because some part of me always has the incredible need to come back to where I belong to.

Over there, you just need to sit down on the soft sand, let the soft tamed breeze guide your thoughts and look at the sea in silence. Sometimes it amazes me how simple moments like can take your mind to places that you couldn´t even dream off, pushing in every step to bring each time the best of you in each piece. At least, that´s my purpose in life.

You took a long break of silence for awhile. What was it like for you during that time? Did you feel an itch to break out of it early? Or was it a welcome vacation from things?

About the break I took. I really needed it. There was in a concrete moment where my personal life was taking over a bit, and I felt I needed to take a break, breath deep and analyze.

Sometimes at some stages life decides to open new doors for us so we can walk into them, because we have to do it, so we can develop as human beings and it will help us to grow stronger, even if at the beginning we don´t understand why.

This personal break was more like a cunning step into a new stage in life for me, spiritually and in my way to develop my creations of course.

What’s it like being an artist for a living? Do you sometimes feel it’s harder, or would do you feel you made the right choice? What are some of the challenges you face being an artist for hire?

It is something completely hard, challenging I would say. (And being a woman inside this industry, much more!) But as Truman Capote use to say, “When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip”. And the truth is there´s no prize in this life, without any struggle. This is the path I chose. I love art (and in concrete, illustration), so much that I knew since I was a child that this would be the path I would follow. And I don´t regret it. The fruits of your work sometimes they take time to mature, but it´s an immense pleasure when you receive them. I think I find many challenges on a daily basis, like any other artist, but the biggest one (at least for me), is the one of getting to please myself first with the job I’ve done. I am my biggest and hardest critic, I´m not an easy woman with compliments, and to me it is very important to show the real vision of what I had in my mind to others, through my work. I can repeat the same image as many times as I want, and I will not stop sketching until I have what I really want, what my heart really wants to show. I don´t care about the effort, I don´t care how long it takes me. It´s my work, and before presenting it, I have to be completely satisfied with it, if not I will not do it.

Some of your work has a strong spiritual influence. As a creative myself, I understand this draw but tell our audience what this is like-or what it means-for you.

Spirituality is a very important part of us, it´s an essential path that sooner or later someone should take to understand your own soul. Is not a fashion, it’s not about reading some books and thinking you are invested of some kind of “divine” touch to do as you want. Spirituality is not a degree you can learn anywhere. It’s a silent and hard path that´s not the same for everyone. It´s a lesson we all learn. You can call it however you want. There´s no time limits, no other goals than the ones that you decide. Spirituality is most of all daring to look inside yourself, take into your arms you “inner child” and learn to listen to him/her again, working in yourself. Spirituality to me I could summarize it in three simple concepts: Listen, Accept & Love yourself.

And yes, I do feel a very important connection to it. Because I would be so simple-minded (or maybe too arrogant) to think that the only thing that exists and matters is the material world that surround us. Not at all, this is just like a “mirage”. I always say,” I don´t like to meet people, I like to feel people”. And that´s how it is.

 

What kind of art, besides the spiritual, do you feel the strongest connection to, and why?

I must admit I feel some kind of “weakness” for some styles like for example the Renaissance, or almost all the “Pre-Raphaelism”: And with this we go back to the point of my personal “addiction” for Mythology and Fantasy. Because these styles, they represent perfectly an atmosphere of dreams and fantasies, with a very powerful allure that I find too appealing to me personally. I love the classics, it´s hard for me to get into the concept of modern art now in our days, but I must admit also I admire many artists, especially in comics and illustration like Hergé, Arkás, René & Gosciny, Luis Royo, Ciruelo Cabral, or Victoria Francés, which I think they are amazing with all the work they do.

Us writers sometimes experience writers block. Do you ever feel “creative block” when you’re working? If so, how do you move past that?

I don´t think I ever experienced that.  But maybe what I experienced is a “physical block”, in times when health didn´t allowed me the strength I needed to can continue creating. Then it´s a real nightmare, when you have so much into your head to get out, but your health is not really letting you push forward for it and can accomplish it.

Tell us a story behind one of your favorite pieces. I know people often ask where you get your ideas, but I love hearing stories behind the ideas.

I can tell you for example three of them. One of my recent ones called “Nimué”, and isbased on the mythic young maiden that used to serve the Lady of the Lake (some say that is the Lady of The Lake herself, in one of her multiple faces), in the old Arthurian Myths. I always found this character (being another interpretation of the mythic “Lady” or not), very fascinating that in fact, I felt I had to paint her soon or later. But as always, I didn´t want to do it until I had the right image in my mind to create her. And there it was, one morning I suddenly woke up, and I started to paint.

And the strokes came on its own, with no effort, easy. That´s how I truly imagine her. Like a kind of silent nayad, sitting on the bottom of the dark lake, holding always Excalibur in her hand, strong and confident. Maybe waiting for the rightful King to release it again.

Do you have a ritual when you sit down to begin a piece? If so, tell us a little about how it works for you. If the ritual is somehow interrupted, does it affect you or your work?

My personal ritual? I always try to do a little of meditation before I start to work. (To me it´s also a way to thank to the universe for what I am, and what I have, and to relax of course), burning an incense stick, always the best to clear the atmosphere, and get me into the perfect scenery and frame of mind so can get started with the job …I truly think  you don´t need much to create a new piece, once you  truly feel it in your heart, and you have the inspiration and the right vibration to do so.

I usually don´t get very interrupted, because I try to find the right time to start my work: I love to be alone in my studio, loneliness to me is the perfect haven to start to engage what are the ideas with the result.

When we look at an artist’s work, we can always see a “signature” in their style which sets them apart from other artists. What do you feel your signature is?

My signature is to me, like a wild scratch that fights to get out from the paper, out of the canvas and into the surface, for the darkness into light. Out of the art piece itself to become a little haven to the mind and senses for a while to the public that watches it . Maybe my signature itself is a reflection of my wild side: the inner “fight” that exists inside every creative soul to make it work the way that it has to be. I think that this is to me more than a simple signature. It´s a “print” of my own soul.

Do you feel like where you are, for example geographically, has an influence on your work?

Oh yes, definitely the place where I am creating it becomes a strong influence in my work. As I said before, I love to travel and to visit different places. I “visualize” life itself as a “long journey” from which we have the chance to learn all what we came to learn in here. Every place where I have been living, even for a lil´while brought me some sort of happiness and knowledge, that now I consider it as completely priceless. And part of what I learned it always its own mirror in my artwork.

Some artists find it harder to work in certain places, geographically which has been your most challenging, and your least?

My most challenging I guess is my own country. My least challenging is Greece, definitely. I adore the meaning that Greeks give to art, to their random lives, and the incredible support they give to artists, to the ones that are Greeks themselves, as to the ones that come from another country. When I worked there with other artists, I felt like home. It was like a constant exchange of ideas and experiences. I have the highest respect to them. They are people that make you “grow” completely.

We’d love to see more of your work! What’s up and coming from you?

By now completing some illustrations for the role book game called “Aureus” (“Aureo”), based in the Ancient Greek Mythology, the compilation of my last Mythology exhibition called “Mythica”, and another exhibition (completely different this time), where I will develop much more what I call “Spiritual Painting” A much more transcendental and close view of art. It’s a graphic representation of the feelings and the depths of the soul to me.

If we wanted to own a piece from you, where would go to purchase?

If you or anyone would like a piece of my artwork, it’s something so simple as writing me a mail. I love when I get a message of someone asking me if they could commission an artwork from me. It makes me happy to make someone else happy.

It has been really great getting to know you! I hope you’ll let us check in with you again soon. Before we let you go back to your colorful world, will you leave us some breadcrumbs to find you again?

Yes of course, here you have the links!!:

https://www.facebook.com/Rhaegaailani/

http://rhaegaart.wixsite.com/illustrator/contact-

https://twitter.com/rhaegaart

Thank you so much for allowing us into your world for a brief moment. All the best to you from us at Horror Addicts!

Horror Artist Profile: J.E. Richards

One of the benefits of being on the HorrorAddicts.net Staff is you get to talk to some talented creative people that have a love of horror. Here is an interview I recently did with artist J.E. Richards. J.E. is someone who was inspired to draw by the comics and magazines he grew up with and when he got older he used that passion for art as a way to express his feelings about the area he grew up in:

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Milwaukee and grew up there until I was 11. Our family then bought a 7-acre farmstead in Fon du Lac Co., just north of Auburn Lake and east of Campbellsport. We stayed there until I was 17, then moved back closer to the Milwaukee metro area living in Menomonee Falls, which is where I graduated HS in 1985.

When did you start drawing?

I started drawing about the age of 3 or 4 if I remember right, about normal for children I would guess. I just never gave up! My brother and dad were collectors of the magazines at the time, early to mid ’70’s, there was always a lot of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella and the Savage Sword of Conan laying about and of course, I read them mainly for the artwork. I collected a lot of Spiderman, Conan the Barbarian, John Carter Warlord of Mars and various other titles and spent countless hours at the kitchen table with loose leaf paper and pencils. The magazine Starlog and then later Fangoria were influential as well, along with Star Trek, Quark, Space 1999 and of course Star Wars. Pretty much a very fertile ground for imagination. Halloween and vintage black and white horror movies were a mainstay, and I spent hours building Aurora monster models besides the PMC line of Pirates of the Carribean series (these things had rubber bands you could attach to the arms of the skeleton pirates, they called it Zap! Action, it was great because they could swing a cutlass or pop out of a treasure chest.) In HS I took several classes on basic art and drawing and learned how perspective, shadowing, shading and composition worked

What inspired you to draw?

I was inspired to draw because I really liked and respected the way an illustration could augment a paperback story or tell a tale in sequential art. Comic artists are among the most talented yet underrated individuals because they have to command anatomy, facial features, landscapes, vehicle, buildings, equipment and everything else in between and be able to organize those images in a way that would flow and make sense even without the script and writing. I have always loved concept art and rough storyboarding as well (Starlog always had good features on those), and the ink drawings that Frank Frazetta accomplished were inspiring. Somewhere along this timeframe, I decided I liked black and white ink work.

What do you use to draw with?

When I draw I start with a basic #2 pencil on white paper, do a thumbnail, and once it’s good I’ll move onto 11 x 14 or 11x 17 Strathmore Bristol and take it from there with either Micron markers or even Sharpies. I tried the Kohinoor Rapidograph pens for a while, but though they are an excellent product, I ended up taking too much time cleaning the tips out, replenishing ink, cleaning up spilled ink and so on, so I’ve streamlined it a bit now.

How long does it take for you to do your art?

On the average, it will take me about 3 to 4 hours to complete a piece. The images that are on the Deviant Art website were all about that time span once I knew how it was going to look. That’s the most time-consuming aspect, meaning I can have a nebulous idea that I want to make a reality but I’ve learned that if I force it, it will turn into a labor and will look wrong. However, if someone approaches me with a rough idea that they have I can create a few options fairly quickly.

Can you tell us about your book The Last Breath?

The first book, A Last Breath, was conceived one August night back in 2011 when I was feeling that slight chill in the air as autumn was beginning to surface and it reminded me of the years spent on that farm in Wisconsin and all of the memories associated with it. I sat down at my dedicated drawing table ( no more working from a chipped formica and brass legged kitchen table for me) and started to do rough sketches of how those years made me feel : the fields at dusk, the smell of hay in the barn, the shadows between the silos and the splintery wreckage of barbed wire, fence posts and rusted tools, and above all the magic I always felt in a pumpkin patch or rows of endless corn stalks as the daylight faded and I knew there were things that moved about in the dark places while the world slept.

Knife Jack was the first character, soon followed by Chop Block, which kind of gave me the creeps because I had never created something like him, and in the months that followed I kept up the momentum to address every memory and imaginative musing I had out there on the edges of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Unseen things, noises in the night that you were sure was no opossum, deer or raccoon, but at the same time not alarmed because I didn’t pose a threat and so they passed me by.

However, I started to develop the idea of folklorish characters specifically created to balance the scales and make the bad guys afraid of what lives out there, and so the one-page flash fiction began for each of the 13 new entities. (I wasn’t trying to be trendy and cool by having 13 characters, my original intent was to do a set of 20 images because I like even numbers, but after Crone, my creative visualization literally shut off. This was now in Feb 2012, so I had been putting pen to paper for months trying to capture what was trying to be expressed, and it finally ran its course).

So I wrote. I wrote the words and quick vignettes I have always wanted to read but could never find. They were of cause and effect, action and consequences of a sort. If a question is asked or guidance sought, there may be a price to pay or if an individuals’ actions caused harm to others through malicious intent, well, they just might have to face something they only heard about in whispered campfire tales. Thus A Last Breath was born.

The photo on the cover is our house on the hill where I lived for those formative years, right off of Hwy D or DD, I don’t know what it’s called now, I just know I can still find it on Google Earth and it looks pretty much the same, not far from New Prospect and Mauthe Lake.

The stories were fine tuned a bit and I looked for self-publishing options which led me to Amazon and Create Space. This proved to be a good decision and since then we have established our business front of Last Breath Studios. In the last few years, we have participated in local venues, Halloween vendor shows and the fall festivals in Apple Hill, CA.

The second compilation of art and writing has been published under the title of “Cailleach Teine”, translated as Witch Fire in the Gaelic language, and is more traditional with longer stories and less artwork but still retains the feel of the first book with references to the original. In this work, I established the foundation for a third book, now a novel, The Moths Of Autumn.

How long did it take to bring it all together?

To bring all of this together takes a bit of time and effort, but depending on the project size the Last Breath Team can make ideas a reality in record time. The original artwork took 3 months from beginning to end, the flash fiction stories another month. In Cailleach Teine, the process was reversed in that I wrote the stories first and completed artwork later, but there is always a bit of crossover and flexibility.

What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on a project dealing with the Undead in Railroad era late 1800’s
Western America.

A new stylized theme of retro-modern Halloween characters is also on the drawing board and pencil concepts are in progress as of this writing.

In addition, there is a great amount of work being done on a joint venture with Travis Jensen and Jed Lean, co-creators of the newest children’s Halloween tradition, Harvest Jack: 13 Nights of Hallow.

Where can people find you on the internet?

The internet presence is:

 

Press Release: No Beauty Without Strangeness

No Beauty Without Strangeness – Coming this October to Los Angeles County

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SugarMynt Gallery is excited to announce its upcoming Halloween themed exhibition, No Beauty Without Strangeness. As SugarMynt’s third themed exhibition, excitement is gaining for this new show. No Beauty Without Strangeness will display new works that are dark, daring, and out of the norm for the Los Angeles art scene, presenting a combination of the darker side of fine and contemporary artwork.

More than Just an Art Exhibition

No Beauty Without Strangeness is in homage to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror film Halloween and showcases original behind-the-scenes prints from onset photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker.  Curator and owner, SaraRose Orlandini, states, “I am ecstatic to have this rare opportunity to combine the spooky history of South Pasadena along with a different, eerie side of art that isn’t commonly seen. We are next door neighbors to the original Michael Myers house, so this exhibit is the perfect way to start off the Halloween holiday.”

Featured Artists for No Beauty Without Strangeness include: Atlas//Andrea Bogdan//Andrew Brandou// Antony Micallef//Avila Art//Courtney Heiser// Donna Bates// Jennifer Maimone// Kim Gottlieb-Walker//Miriam Jackson//Michael Murphy//Phillip James//Shark Toof//And More!

A Family Owned Gallery

SugarMynt Gallery is a family owned business run by SaraRose and Rebecca Orlandini. Their goal is to not only house their own creative minds, but to also support other established and upcoming artists. SugarMynt Gallery is also a retail store that carries unique gifts, vintage items, books, and art magazines such as Hi-Fructose and Juxtapoz.

www.sugarmynt.com

810 Meridian Ave

South Pasadena, CA 91030

(626) 460-8080

 

 

Meet Artist Bill Rude and Author Emerian Rich

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Meet author Emerian Rich and artist Bill Rude

HalloweenThis weekend, ScareLA, the first Los Angeles convention dedicated to celebrating Halloween (and from my knowledge the only one in California) will commence. On August 8th and 9th at the Pasadena Convention Center, the event will feature top attraction designers and operators, manufacturers, artists, filmmakers and more. The weekend-long Halloween season teaser will celebrate California’s hottest scary faire with attraction unveils, workshops and classes, top industry panels, haunt experiences, screenings and activities.

FinalFrontCoverBill Rude is allowing me to sit at his table for awhile to promote the HorrorAddicts.net Press book, Horror Addicts Guide to Life. Bill was interviewed in the book and I wrote several parts, so you will get signatures of two contributors if you stop by the booth between 1p-2p, August 8th.

Not only will I be meeting all of you fine folks during the con, but I am excited to check out this huge Halloween-inspired convention! I am also looking forward to seeing Bill’s Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards in person. 🙂 And he has buttons! I know I won’t be able to resist grabbing a few.

Come share the SCARE with me and my Halloween-inspired friends.

See you there!

ScareLa
August 8th
1pm-2pm @ booth 213
Meet Bill and Emerian
Mention code: Boo2015
to get a discount on the
Horror Addicts Guide to Life book.

7 Hells (booth 213) is ready to go all out to make it the best one yet!

scare la– The EXCLUSIVE vendor of official ScareLA t-shirts and prints featuring the illustration by Bill Rude!

– More featured 7 Hells artwork in Evil Twin Studios’ ‘VAULT OF DARKNESS’!

– Celebrate the The Hatbox Ghost’s return with original Haunted Mansion art and prints!

– NEW: 7 Hells buttons, including original Krampus and Haunted Mansion artwork!

– Vintage movie posters that never were!

– Terrifying Monster T-Shirts!

– Gallery of Original Artwork!

– And ALWAYS your #1 stop for original Ho-Ho-Horrifying Holiday Cards!

A Conversation with Horror Artist, Bill Rude

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When did you start drawing? 
Probably like most people, I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. High school helped me focus my interest in pursuing art and helped me land a scholarship to the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. The twist here was that I was a film major and all my classes were film and photography! The drawing I did in art school was mostly on my own time when I would draw pictures depicting the Dungeons and Dragons games my friends and I would play.

Who inspired you to start drawing? 

That’s a big question. In the real world, mostly my parents. They really reinforced the idea that pursuing creative work was something that could become a reality. In the ‘art’ world, it was a lot of fantasy and horror illustrators. Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Larry Elmore…. and let’s not forget Derek Riggs and all his Iron Maiden album covers!

What is the best and worst thing about being a horror artist? 

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 I believe any successful artist is one who is simply creating whatever they want to create, regardless of popularity or profit. That being said, the best thing about being a horror artist is that it is not just a genre, but a community of people who have a built-in interest in the subject matter. There is a level of support in the horror community that truly facilitates being able to do whatever I want in the genre, because it just so happens to jive with what people are interested in seeing.
The worst thing about being a horror artist is the unavoidable envy of so many other artists that rock the genre. So many different styles. So many different takes. So inspirational and so intimidating at the same time.

How long does it take for you to finish a project? 

AShadow09It really depends on the project, but it can range anywhere from just a few hours to maybe a full week of non-stop work. If I’m creating one of my fake movie posters or pulp novel covers, the painting normally takes about three days. Then probably another two or three days to layout the design work. Those particular pieces are all created as 24×36 shadowboxes, where the design work is printed directly onto acrylic glass and floated over the top of the original painting. That will then take another week or two to have that stuff fabricated and put together. Of course that’s a part of the process I have done by other people, but it still contributes to the time line I’ve got to consider if I’m creating something for a show or commission. Then none of this takes into account the research! Before I start any project there is usually a minimum full-day of researching the subject matter and figuring out styles and concepts.

What inspires you the most when you take on a project? 

 

7Ink-02LittleRedThere are probably two facets to my inspiration. First is trying to depict the concept of character. At my core I’m a story-teller, so when I create something visual, it is intended to depict the subject matter in a very particular way. Could be the expression on the face of a monster, or freezing a particular moment of action. Bottom line though, is that there is always a character implying motivation, wether they be good or bad.
The second facet is the actual process. For example, If I’m inspired to do another illustration in my fairy tale series, a lot of it has to do with me wanting to recreate some texture with only pen and ink — like ‘Little Miss Muffet’ has shiny, glassy eyes on the spider with coarse hair on it’s legs, and a clean beautiful face on Miss Muffet herself. Another example is in a piece I recently did for a tribute show to the film ‘The Iron Giant’. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and I knew I could identify the scariest scene in the movie to jive with my horror work, but it wasn’t until I became interested in working with only black and white ink washes to create ocean waves in a hurricane that I committed to the show. I’d only done one other ink wash drawing before, and never worked with white ink, so that is what drew me in.

What makes you want to make horrific art? 

 

7Ink-01VampyreTo me the worlds of horror represent outsiders. In the same way that Goth culture embraces dark themes as an appealing concept, I want to weave together worlds where scary situations are commonplace, but they are also beautiful, inspirational, or funny. If I’m able to connect with a viewer on that additional, emotionally positive hook, then they know this is actually a welcoming place for an outsider exactly like themselves. The nightmares I create are intended to be friendly, but it may take the right kind of person to recognize that.
 What is your concept of horror? 

At the root I believe horror to be anything unfamiliar that exists with confidence. It is intended to be a relatively broad definition that I can fit all of my different series of work under, but really the only thing that changes from theme to theme is the perspective of who finds it horrifying. The idea that the monster from the lab is walking through town, trying to find help, is horrifying to the peasants. Tiki idols of long forgotten gods still standing on the volcano slopes of a deserted island are horrifying to the western explorers. A beautiful woman confidently wearing a bikini is horrifying to puritans. Using that sliding scale, it’s then easy to apply to real world outsiders like goths, burlesque dancers, teen agers racing cars… from someone’s perspective all of those things are horrifying, and mostly because they are unfamiliar.

 

A lot of your art has a retro feel to it, why do you like to make art that has a 
nostalgic feel to it? 
7Ink-02WerewulfI’m a rockabilly boy at heart, and have always been obsessed with the concept of nostalgia and the perception of historical life. At the time, no one creating low-budget monster movies or magazine art thought of it as anything more than contemporary culture. But when we look back at it now, we are only using hind-sight, and what only really represented four or five years of a certain cultural style is perceived to be it’s own separate world that lasted decades and never evolved into anything else stylistically.
For that reason, I want to essentially weave a world where that culture is still going on. It’s intended to start at a baseline of an idealized past, and then draw people’s personal experiences into it. An example of a piece of mine that is well received in that fashion is “Fright 36”. It’s a large print, on very expensive paper, and replicates an advertisement page (page 36) from a 1960s horror magazine that never existed (Fright Magazine). It’s the standard collection of creepy t-shirts and mail order gags. But when some people see it, blown up and framed, hanging in a gallery, a flood of memories and stories come back to them as kids. They remember the mystery of just what the hell were you going to actually get if your parents let you order something from that magazine? And it only really works because it is implied to be of that time, and you’re forcing them to look through that nostalgic lens that is emotionally enhancing what they are looking at.
MadameLeotaOf course nostalgia and authenticity is only the polish on the world I’m creating. In the example of “Fright 36”, that print actually ties other work of mine together. Connecting to some fake pulp novel covers I’ve painted, which then connect to more. Then across the top of the ‘Fright’ print is an ad for “Horrifying Monster T-Shirts”, one of which I have had made as a real t-shirt and make for sale. And on the hang tag of the physical shirt is a made up history of that t-shirt design and why they aren’t around anymore. When people connect those dots and see all of that work in one place, the reaction can be incredible. I’ve literally had people have to recompose themselves before leaving my booth at a trade show. Grown men, with just a look, will be like, ‘You did it. You actually created the world we all wanted to be real when we were kids.”

 

7HKrampusFrontWhat are some of the other projects you worked on? 
A couple of years ago my buddy Chris ‘Doc’ Wyatt and myself, developed an animated TV show that was turned into a Graphic Novel, called ‘Creepsville’, and was essentially a horror version of ‘Futurama’: Four high school kids, each an outcast for different reasons,  are forced to work on the school newspaper together. It turns out that their high school is in a town, in a world, where all B-Movies are real. The outcasts are a cow girl, a zombie, a child genius, and an amphibious foreign exchange student.
I’m also currently working on a couple of art-books, one of which is a coffee table book of horrific Christmas legends from around the world. The second is an expanded collection of my fake b-movie poster paintings in the guise of a fake 1960s Horror magazine, called ‘Fright’.
My day job is working in the film industry as a designer and animator. That brings a lot of crossover with horror and general retro design. Everything from doing on-set special effects on ‘Ghost Whisperer’ to designing t-shirts for characters on ‘True Blood’. Lots of low-budget horror and sci-fi projects. And of course I designed and animated the titles for the last four ‘American Girl’ movies, based off of the dolls. This is a true story.

How did you get involved in dressing up as Krampus? 

 

 One of my series of work are classically drawn fairy tale illustrations. All horrific, of course. Depicting the most frightening moments in stories like ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ or ‘Hansel and Gretel’. As a part of that, I did an illustration of Krampus, the Alpine Christmas Demon and created holiday cards for the season. One day I was delivering an order of cards to Meltdown Comics, in Hollywood, and we were like, ‘wouldn’t it be great if someone would appear as Krampus around the holidays so people didn’t have to take their kids for photos with Santa at the mall every year?’. Cut to two weeks later and I had put together a costume and had appearances booked all over the area.
That was about three years ago. Now it’s essentially a full-time job around the holidays. There is now a Los Angeles Krampus Troupe I’m also a part of, but they are pretty legit and organize their own events and are really good at keeping the authenticity of the Austrian Krampus traditions alive. I’m sort of recognized as LA’s original Krampus who does the whole Micky Mouse thing to move merchandise.
  What do you like about Krampus? 
1502502_633771773330598_870595410_nTo me Krampus is that necessary naughty side to the nice that is promoted through the holidays. traditionally, Krampus is never without St. Nicholas, so it was never intended to be an overwhelmingly dark and scary addition to the holiday. Sure, the Austrian Krampus runs can get pretty intense, but St. Nick is leading it all and people are having fun.
What I like about Krampus, which reflects on how I portray him, is that he represents an opportunity for people to confront their fears. For kids they are confronting the monster under the bed. Krampus is only going to warn them not to be naughty, and they will have nothing to fear. Krampus is about not being scared.
My Krampus appearances are almost always public in nature, with a lot of strangers just stumbling upon me being there, and it is remarkable how kids really are not afraid of Krampus. When it comes down to it, kids are only afraid of what their parents tell them to be afraid of. People may have various reasons not to let their kids participate in a Krampus appearance, but when they say ‘Oh, no, my kids would be too scared to visit Krampus’, I only hear the words ‘Because I’m a disconnected parent who does not have a responsible relationship with my children’. Parents: be responsible. Let your kids get a free photo with Krampus.
  Did you make the Krampus suit yourself? 
I assembled the Krampus costume myself, but didn’t actually make anything. Everything is off the shelf, but I do feel there is a level of originality and character I breathe into it by how I put the various elements together and portray him. A lot of thought was put into incorporating the giant basket on my back, and the few fabric/clothing elements of the costume. It also helps that in costume, my Krampus comes out to almost 7 feet tall. You want a character who’s mere presence can fill a room.
For more information on Bill Rude check out these sites:

 

HR Giger has Passed on into Another World.

Maybe this was your first contact. 1979.

When the word ‘alien’ was truly redefined forever.

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Or perhaps like myself, you are older and were more shocked at a younger age when the bizarrely beautiful works of HR Giger were a bit newer. One of these, perhaps?

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No matter, I am sure it was a memorable moment, a questioning and perhaps eerie moment. Yes? Yes!

Then you are more like me than I even imagined. I have tried to write an obituary for HR Giger for Horror Addicts but it more becomes a reflection, like his work. He was a private man, eschewing the spotlight in the dawning age of celebrity and in a time when illustration, design and fine art were perceived as more separate. He preferred to let his work speak for him. I respect that and have always looked to his art and never his fame or personal details. The hard and precise yet moody airbrush, the organic yet metal shapes, the reflection of us all that he captured when we weren’t looking. These are what speak to me and that is both the beauty and the horror that is his art and it is compelling. Unforgettable.

Alien’s co-writer Dan O’Bannon recalled meeting Giger for the first time, in a Paris hotel. Giger offered him some opium. O’Bannon asked why he took it. “I am afraid of my visions,” Giger replied. “It’s just your mind,” O’Bannon said. Giger responded: “That is what I am afraid of.”

“Sometimes people only see horrible, terrible things in my paintings,” Giger once said. “I tell them to look again, and they may see two elements in my paintings – the horrible things and the nice things.”

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Interior of Swiss Giger Bar

I may never get to see a Giger Bar but at least my avatar in Second Life has a reproduction of one of the chairs. 🙂 My own art from 2009 hangs on the wall on the left, the segmented and quasi-organic shapes clearly inspired by Giger’s works. His influence reached far and will never stop reaching and growing. Better than any obituary, it is a testament to the meeting of minds and the questions he asked. Of himself, of us all, and now of the universe itself. HR Giger, 1940-2014

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In a New York Times obituary, Timothy Leary, a friend of Giger’s, was quoted as having praised the artist by saying, “Giger’s work disturbs us, spooks us, because of its enormous evolutionary time span. It shows us, all too clearly, where we come from and where we are going.”

None of us knows when we will go, or to where. Visions from HR Giger will continue to both haunt my nightmares as well as inspire.

Stay Beautiful, Addicts! ~Mimielle

Sources & Credits: New York Times, The Guardian, Giger Museum, Omni Magazine, Damianos Giger Chair in Second Life

MARCH MADNESS! Artist Shane Ryan

Artist Shane Ryan shares with us, his version of madness.

Spiral Into Madness

“This piece I’d say my biggest influence would actually be my own work. This style is something I’ve been doing since a kid after stumbling across it by accident just scribbling late one night. When I work on pieces like this I mostly don’t start with a preconceived concept, but rather just wing it from my subconscious. The idea of the spiral was to take people further “into” the dark corners of my subconscious.” – Shane Ryan

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Manga Review: Doors of Chaos by Ryoko Mitsuki

doorsofchaosI happened upon Doors of Chaos by accident while on vacation in Los Angeles, visiting a store called Anime Love. This manga by Ryoko Mitsuki is about twin sisters who control the four doors that protect their world from descending into chaos. Clarissa is the key to open the doors. Mizeria is the key to close the doors. On their “coming of age” day, their guardian and teacher, Rikhter, kidnaps Clarissa and begins to open all the doors through which demons pour through. Mizeria, the sister left behind, is suddenly introduced to a race of people who have been sent to protect her. She is completely confused. She thought she was the less powerful sister and that Rikhter was noble. She soon finds he is using her sister Clarissa for his own gains and that Mizeria is the only one who can stop the destruction of her world.

This manga’s art stays true to the intricate goth-loli style. The girls are clad in multiple petticoats and long hair in ribbons with elaborate tattoos trailing all over their pale skin. The men of this world are clothed in a mix of traditional Victorian frock coats with ascots and French Renaissance breeches with knee boots. The other worldly creature that comes to protect Mizeria is more of an anime waif with bandages like Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion. He wears what looks to be animal skins, chains, and sports the same sort of tattooing the girls do. There’s also a freaky guy cloaked in what can only be called a trenchcoat length straightjacket.

The art in this manga is top shelf. If for no other reason, pick this up to stare at the excellent artistic style of this manga. It doesn’t have much of those annoying reiterations that some anime books have when the chapters switch. The story is good and the dialog makes sense. There is a touch of the slave fetish in this book as well as very mild nudity. Demons are a touch gorier that normal, but violence is nothing out of the common way.
I recommend this manga for any anime reader and one of the few I would read a traditional novel about.

Clocks, keys, demons, and an excellent story, what more can you ask for in a manga?

Movie Quiz & Prize Contest : Lo

loAnswer ONE of these questions (that has not already been answered)
in the comments and be entered to win a free art print from HorrorAddicts.net.

  1. What is the new name that Lo gives Justin?
  2. What does Lo say when Justin says, “It’s Justin.”
  3. What is the tag line for Lo?
  4. What is the name of the Demon that took April?
  5. The director of Lo is Travis Betz. Name two other horror movies that Travis Betz directed.

Comment below to be entered into the drawing for a free horror art print by Emerian Rich.