June is going to be a hell of a lot scarier than usual as Image Comics will release Winnebago Graveyard, a new horror series from Alison Sampson and Steve Niles. Mixing quintessential American elements like road trips and carnivals, the series aims to haunt us with its ideas as much as its visuals. We had the opportunity to chat with series artist Alison Sampson about the series, her style and approach, and more!
AiPT!: Thank you for taking the time Alison. First off, how did this project start and how did you and Steve Niles connect on this project?
Alison Sampson: I got in touch and asked if I could work with Steve. Simultaneously, I think I’d popped up on his radar, so that was well timed. He asked if I’d like to draw monsters in space or Satanists in Texas, and I opted for the Satanists and we were off.
AiPT!: What made you fall in love with comics?
Sampson: They give structure to art, something I need.
AiPT!: I loved your work on Jessica Jones, it has a realistic gritty look that feels conducive to a story that imbues a sense of confusion and mystery. Or maybe I’m getting it all wrong! How would you describe your work?
Sampson: That’s a good way of describing it. That said, I don’t think of it as so realistic, although I do try and present the world as we really see it, with some things in the foreground, some things not visible and some things somewhere in between where it is seen but perhaps out of the corner of our eye. So a sense of confusion and mystery is apt. If you were looking for one word I’d say perceptual. I also try and get the reader to feel.
Also, thank you! I wasn’t sure how many people saw that story- but working with Chelsea Cain really opened my eyes to how awesome she is as a writer of comic scripts – she’s hopefully got great things in comics ahead of her.
AiPT!: Is this your first work in horror? There are some truly disturbing things in the sneak peek I saw in issue one!
Sampson: No. I drew a story in Creepy for Dark Horse with Fred Van Lente (called “The Executor”) and another in Rachel Deering’s Harvey and Eisner-nominated In The Dark anthology. When I agreed to draw the book that came to be known as Genesis (my first full-length work for Image), I expected that to be a horror book as well, but it took a different turn.
AiPT!: I’ve read you’re an advocate for equal exposure for artists as “co-authors” on comics, which seems to be an issue at all levels. For instance, Chris Samnee co-authored the recent Black Widow series, though Mark Waid seemed to get main writing credit on Amazon and elsewhere. How pervasive is the issue and how might fans help?
Sampson: Yes this is true. I’m for artists’ work being properly credited and I stand with everything Sarah McIntyre says in her Pictures Mean Business campaign. She has made great practical steps, has spent time with publishers and book data specialists and has given everyone (publishers too!) good information to help us get our work credited properly in whatever location that is.
I have, like so many artists, updated my own information on Amazon, but I asked Image how I could have that correct from the start- by getting it right in the book data, which comes from publishers. They advised the info came from what we provided ourselves for the solicit. Hence I have a credit for story on the Image solicits, so I can have an author credit, because I develop the story (if you say otherwise you should be making do with the script). But I don’t have a writing credit (in Previews), because I’m not doing actual literal writing of the story script. Artists are authors when they take a typewritten script (in my case from Steve Niles), sometimes very minimal, and design and make a comic, and that is what Declan Shalvey is talking about when he mentions #artcredit.
I don’t honestly know how pervasive the issue is because I don’t honestly know if people agree on *what* the issue is when artists aren’t called creators or authors. Is it book data (and hence with publishers and potentially, creators), or is it something to do with fan perceptions, or commercial preferences, or editors, or authors, or abstruse publisher-specific contractual reasons? Or something else? Is it deliberate – or a mistake? Each issue has its own solutions. In terms of how fans might help – all I can suggest is to look at the Pictures Means Business campaign and understand that this is not an adversarial issue. Attention to the boring bits (e.g. how book data works), being precise with the use of words (for example, not confusing writing for authorship: this being comics, all writers may be authors, but not all authors are writers) and actually thinking about what one can do, as opposed to generalizing and/or complaining, all help. Crediting people properly benefits everybody.
AiPT!: Is there anything you hate to draw?
Sampson: So called accurate perspective – although I can do it – my first job was as a perspective artist. It is the most static thing in the world, being the view from precisely one pinpoint only, and doesn’t reflect how we see or experience space.
AiPT!: Is there a part of the comic-creating process you love the best? And a part you don’t like?
Sampson: I like all of it. I find inking very intense, but there is a moment when the work comes to life, and that is just magic.
AiPT!: What is your favorite method of procrastination?
Sampson: What’s procrastination? Also, see above. I can never get away from my “large and complex projects architect” background and it always leaks in somewhere.
You can find Winnebago Graveyard #1 on comic stands June 14, 2017!