Ryan O’Sullivan is the writer of series like Void Trip, Turncoat, Evil Within, and loads more, including his new comic from Vault; Fearscape with Andrea Mutti and Vladimir Popov. Having read the first issue, we can assure you that it’s a comic you’ll close the page on, but you’ll mull over long after. Luckily for us, Ryan was willing to chat about some of those lingering questions and shed a bit of light on what Fearscape is, and isn’t, all about.
How did the idea for Fearscape come about? It seems really character focused, but at the same time it definitely seems to be pointing some fingers thematically. What was the thing that got you thinking about this comic in the first place?
I want to say that this comic isn’t a reaction to anything. But, as consciousness is just a reaction to external stimulus, I can’t really get away with that, can I? Whatever etheric influences I had on me when gestating Fearscape, I take great pride in not being cognizant of them. Yes, Fearscape takes shots at several schools of thought, but said schools are all so inherently self-defeating that Fearscape offers little in the form of “continuing the discussion”.
I suppose, if pushed to it, I’d say that what drew me to write Fearscape was my nostalgia for the Vertigo comics I read as a teen. That counter-culture subversion within a fringe medium from writers and artists who took their inspiration from outside of comics. Fearscape is me putting down Robert McKee’s STORY and plugging back into that, but also appreciating that my reading habits have changed since I was a teen.
Kind of keeping in line with the character work – how would you describe Henry Henry? Does he reflect anything, personally or observed?
Henry Henry reflects only Henry Henry. This sort of questions pops up a fair amount. “How much of you is in your characters?” As if Shakespeare saw himself as Macbeth! Henry Henry is a fictional character, he reflects storytelling convention, archetype, and the human condition. He is not an insert nor an amalgamation of people I know. He is not a pastiche of another literary character. He exists only within Fearscape, and functions there as part of the greater whole of the story.
Gun to my head, asked to describe him as if he were a living being; I’d say Henry Henry is the result of a life that hasn’t quite worked out according to plan.
How is writing Fearscape different from some of your other work?
It’s my first time working with Andrea Mutti and Vladimir Popov. They have a fantastic ethereal painterly style that compliments the story we’re telling together. Apart from that, the writing has been much the same as my earlier work, albeit slower. The more you write, the more bad habits you discover in your work, and the longer it takes you to write well. The end result is better words. So I can’t complain all that much.
What do you want a reader to feel after they’re read this first issue?
Unwavering loyalty towards me and all my future works.
What were some of the artistic inspirations for Fearscape? It looks gorgeous with the watercolors, especially towards the back half. You don’t see a lot of comics that look quite they way this one does.
We wanted the story to have that classical “through the looking glass” fairytale aesthetic. Fearscape burlesques a fair amount of what you might call fantasy tropes, so having an art style that reflected that style of storytelling, but that we could also subvert where necessary, is what lead us toward the inkwashed watercolours.
What are some of the comics you’re reading right now? Anything you think more people should be reading?
Anything by Mark Russel. He’s written several incredibly compelling Hanna Barbera stories for DC Comics. To take characters like The Flintstones and Snagglepuss, and have me care about them as an adult, is nothing short of a literary miracle. He zigs when I expect him to zag and always ends up breaking my heart. A fantastic writer!
For anyone looking for more Vault Comics to sample, might I suggest DEEP ROOTS by Dan Watters & Val Rodrigues, THESE SAVAGE SHORES by Ram V and Sumit Kumar, and FRIENDO by Alex Paknadel and Martin Simmonds.
And for those of you looking to read the greatest works the sequential medium has to offer, I suggest reading anything by Hideo Yamamoto, Naoki Urasawa, or Inio Asano. Nijigahara Holograph is the greatest comic ever to have been created by a human.
Fearscape hits shelves on September 26th, so readers, you have until then to check out these recommendations. Hopefully Ryan’s answers get you as psyched for this book as we are after reading issue #1!
Thanks again, Ryan, and from all of us here – we can’t wait to see where Fearscape takes us next.