[Todd and the Book of Pure Evil might be Winnipeg's main claim to horror fame at the moment, but there are a few Manitobans who are working to expand the area's grisly profile. First-time Rue Morgue blog contributor David Krause prowled the floor of the recent Winnipeg Comic Book and Toy Convention, chatting up any horror writers who would make eye contact.]
The Winnipeg Comic Book and Toy Convention took place Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5 at Polo Park Canad Inns in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was a small convention, but celebrities, comic book/toy sellers and various artists came out to celebrate whatever they were into, along with a friendly audience of passionate, excited fans. Convention regular Michael Dorn (Worf of Star Trek: The Next Generation) made an appearance, but I wasn’t interested in him as I wasn’t at the con as a sci-fi/superhero fan. Yes, that’s right: I attended a comic book convention without any interest in the featured material. Horror is what I love and once inside, I scouted out anyone and everything that was horror-ific. Sorry, superhero fans, but I was looking for the sort of disgusting, nasty creative filth that you find tucked away in cellars and hidden under rocks – not Superman.
Once inside the hall, I got a bit edgy because all I saw was a cafeteria full of comic book, toy and art vendors. On one of my turns around the perimeter, I glanced at a table manned by a bearded bookseller named A.P Fuchs. He was indeed selling books, but they were written by him (and other authors) and published through the company he owns, Winnipeg-based Coscom Entertainment. Fuchs was a really friendly guy and opened up to me about himself and his work.
Fuchs: I write mainly superhero and monster fiction. I have a book series called Axiom-man, which started out as a superhero saga in monthly form and the comic starts up March 14. I’ve done Zombie Fight Night, which is Mortal Kombat with the undead, werewolves, vampires and robots. I also run a company, Coscom Entertainment. We specialize in monster and superhero fiction.
RM: How would you describe your writing process? Do you make an outline, or do you just start writing?
Fuchs: The idea I have sits in my head for a couple of weeks and then one day I write a line or two. From then on it’s all from the seat of my pants. Many, many times the book doesn’t go where I thought it would go and the [story] tells itself, which I think is the most important thing. You shouldn’t limit the story as it comes out of your subconscious. If you don’t control where the story goes, you get more creativity and authenticity out of your work.
RM: Were you a Monster Kid?
Fuchs: No, actually. I grew up in a religious household and monsters were typically taboo. I wasn’t exposed to that stuff until I was in my 20s. However, I would still see the occasional picture. I remember when I was a kid, I found a picture of Freddy Krueger in the playground, and I got nightmares like crazy. The Nightmare on Elm Street movies were the first I started renting when I got into horror. [My interest in horror] just blossomed from there. I started writing it and it has been an awesome roller coaster ride ever since.
RM: Has your religious upbringing contributed to your horror tastes?
Fuchs: I’m still a Christian. In terms of horror, I don’t get into the occult side. Even the symbols bug the heck out of me. In terms of monsters, I grew up a superhero nut. They don’t really embody horror per se – I almost view them as super villains in their own way. That’s been my approach and how my religious upbringing has affected it – the whole good vs. evil aspect. I definitely stay away from the occult side of things.
RM: How have your friends and family responded to your chosen career?
Fuchs: In the beginning, it was a standard “Go get a real job.” It was a major uphill battle with family and friends. Once things started to click and move forward, friends and family came on board.
RM: Are you self-published?
Fuchs: Absolutely, and it’s something I stand by with pride. I couldn’t sell my first book [The Stranger Dead], so I got suckered into a subsidy press deal. Ironically, the difficulty of the publishing process made me fall in love with it. I decided that, you know what? I would do it on my own way. Not in an arrogant way, but you still do the editing and the professional production. At least you have control and can choose your distribution channels and are not stuck with the standard. I find the best distribution channels are those outside of the standard.
RM: That’s how it is for horror. It will always be on the outside.
Fuchs: I was talking to Nickolas Cook, who did the Alice in Zombieland mashup book. He said something along the lines of, “Horror is one of those genres where you bang your head against the wall and you keep on doing it despite the headache.” It’s true; horror is one of those misunderstood genres.
RM: What would you say your inspirations are, literary or otherwise?
Fuchs: I started off with two main inspirations. Stephen King was the first one, as he is popular so I was more aware of him. His rags-to-riches story and his perseverance and pushing until something happened are very inspiring. Alan Moore is the other. His books aren’t limited to a certain genre, styles or ideas. I thought, well, I may not be the greatest writer in the world, but at least I could try. I figured there has to be someone out there like me and I should try to reach them.
Once I finished talking to Fuchs, I noticed a woman sitting nearby at a table, with a friend dressed up as a vampire. The woman was author Rhiannon Paille, who holds a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology. The vampire is one of horror’s bloody staples, and she seemed to be more interested in monsters that drink blood rather than those that sparkle. Paille was promoting Flame of Surrender (The Ferryman and the Flame, Book One), the first novel in a series.
Paille: Ok, well, I write stories about kissing and death. Flame of Surrender is my first book. It’s about a girl who causes the apocalypse and falls in love with a boy who follows death.
RM: Why would someone who is a fan of the Harry Potter or Twilight series pick up your book?
Paille: The writing is there and the story is very original. I didn’t actually read much before I wrote the book, so everything that’s here [in the book] is original.
RM: So you haven’t been corrupted by the publishing industry in any way?
Paille: I’ve not been corrupted by big publishers just yet. The book is one of those things that people will get attached to. A lot of people say they care about the characters and what happens to them in the end. It’s homegrown [here in Manitoba] with my friends doing cosplay and things like that, which has helped me stand out from everything else that’s out there.
RM: How supportive have Manitobans been?
Paille: People have been amazing in Manitoba. Many people got into the book before it was even published. They were reading the beta version or were dressing up as characters. I had an entire group of people who were helping me make a book trailer for it. We had a fan club a year and a half before it was published.
RM: What scared you as a kid and made you think, wow, this is what I want to do when I grow up?
Paille: The scariest movie I’ve ever seen was The Ring. I had to cover my TV after that. I don’t want some creepy chick crawling out of my TV. The Blair Witch Project was also really scary when it came out.
RM: What have you noticed to be the differences between print and online publishing?
Paille: With eBooks, you cast a wide net when you publish and you don’t really know your audience. When you have an eBook, you don’t get to meet the people – they just download it. With paperbacks, I get to meet people at events and talk to them. It’s been rewarding, as readers tell me what it is about my book that they like.
Once I finished talking to Paille, I noticed a guy walking about the con floor with a skinny tie and suit. He was very snazzily dressed compared to most of the con-goers; he stood out in a crowd of Princess Leias, Klingons and comic-book tees. Upon passing him while he was seated at his table, I noticed he had multiple copies of a creepy and dark hardcover graphic novel displayed in front of him. He was writer/illustrator G.M.B. Chomichuk. Sensing Chomichuk to be a horror creator, I stopped and grilled him over his current pride and joy – The Imagination Manifesto.
Chomichuk: The Imagination Manifesto is a graphic novel [comprised of four serialized stories] that all share a single theme of what happens when things that you believe in, believe in you.
RM: What would a horror fan find inside your book?
Chomichuk: One of the stories in the Manifesto is called Aegri Somnia, which was originally an independent horror film called Aegri Somnia: A Sick Man’s Dreams. The director and I talked about a number of scenes from the movie that we wanted to realize, but there wasn’t enough room in the film. We took some of those ideas and put them in the story Aegri Somnia: A Sick Man’s Dreams. We’ve got ghosts, we’ve got monsters, we’ve got terrible creatures from beyond space and time, and we’ve got a spiraling decent into madness – everything a horror fan would love.
RM: So almost all of Stephen King’s tarot hand of monsters! (Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves and the Thing/Unknown)
Chomichuk: [laughs] Don’t tell him! He probably has it trademarked.
RM: What scared you as a kid?
Chomichuk: That is a good question. There wasn’t a lot that scared me as a kid. Once I made my peace with the spider nation, everything was good. Once spider and I were tight, everything was fine.
RM: What were your inspirations for The Imagination Manifesto?
Chomichuk: They vary and are mostly terrible tales from world mythology. I stitched a good number of them into this book.
RM: What’s the last thing you want to tell horror fans out there, apart from “Buy my book, please”?
Chomichuk: Apart from buying my book, the last thing is to keep supporting the genre you love. Horror fans are very supportive. We’ve had a wellspring of support. The cons have been very good to us. People who love monsters seem to love the book.
Well, that’s it — that’s everyone in horror that I spoke to when I visited the Winnipeg Comic Book and Toy Convention. This con is the “baby” compared to the much bigger Central Canada Comic Con, which takes place November 2 - 4…
David Krause is from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winterpeg is the perfect city for surviving the zombie apocalypse, as temperatures plummet to -35°C in winter. Zombies would dot the city like the Bears on Broadway.