For Horror Week at Capes and Tights we sat down with comic book writer and artist Kyle Starks to discuss his role in creating some of the best horror comics on the market.
Kyle Starks is a two-time Eisner nominated comic creator from Southern Indiana. He is best known as the longest tenured writer and occasional artist for Oni Press Rick and Morty comic. He was nominated for Eisners for Sexcastle and Rock Candy Mountain for best humor publication.
More recently Kyle Starks has written comics like I Hate This Place and Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton at Image Comics, and Where Monsters Lie at Dark Horse Comics. He also has an original graphic novel entitled Old Head which released in August 2021 at Image Comics, Skybound’s Assassin Nation with Erica Henderson, Dynamite Comics Mars Attacks with Chris Schweizer and Oni Press’ Dead of Winter.
JS: What was your journey into comics?
KS: Check out when I joined the podcast back for Episode 100…where we discussed my comics story as well as Where Monsters Lie and more! Shameless plug.
What is your horror genre journey? Is the horror genre something you have always been attracted too?
Oh man, I am definitely a late-comer to horror. When I was a kid I definitely thought horror movies were scary. I remember seeing John Carpenter’s The Fly playing on one of my parents friends TV as I stood in the doorway and was scared to death. In fact, I’m still terrified of body horror to this day. Thanks, The Fly!
But a handful of years back my friend Benito Cereno (who wrote the backmatter essays for I Hate This Place) started doing a yearly “horror films streaming” and was making recommendation as “Must Watch” that I had never even heard of. I started watching horror then and really, really fell in love with it as an adult. I’ve watched a ton of horror since then. I just really fell in love with the breadth and variety of the genre.
What are some things that can make or break a good horror comic book?
I think tone is probably the most important thing. A good horror story carries a certain tension and weight, a threat, a foreboding. That’s not a super easy thing to do – if you can’t instill that sort of sense of over-riding dread or terror it’s just a story with a series of events.
What do you look for in a horror comic, either creating or reading?
When I’m reading I always look to see if they pull it off – because that’s always outstanding entertainment when they do – and if so if they do it different than how I’ve tried doing it to date. If they have some move I haven’t seen before I add it to my bag of tricks. Comics is a tough medium to do horror in – you can see everything coming – there’s no jump scares, no tense music – and unlike fiction there’s not as much left for the theatre of the mind to envision and amplify. It’s a lot of pacing and set up and timing and execution. – which is what I’m trying to work with when creating.
What are some of you all-time favorite horror books, comics or movies?
Aw geez, this is so tough – there’s SO many. I’d say recently I think of some truly great, all-time films have been made (Get Out, Barbarian, It Follows), and I think the best horror comics ever are happening right now too (Anything James Tynion IV, Locke and Key). It’s really a golden age of horror in comics and film.
Why is horror storytelling important to you and is creating comics in the horror genre something you hope to do for a while moving forward?
I think all storytelling is important but I think the best make you feel something. I want to do all different types and style of story but I think I’ll always be pulled toward or back to horror and comedy. They evoke so much emotion and reaction in the reader and like I said – I think for me that’s the real power and meaning in story.
Thank you so much for all your tremendous work in the world of comics, specially horror comics! We are huge fans of Kyle Starks, keep it up!