It’s never too early for a spine tingling horror story and today we’re chatting with Roddy McCance, writer of a new comic book series called The Soul Of The Sea. Set in rural Ireland, The Soul Of The Sea follows Doctor Thomas Guin who is asked to help cure a sick boy on a remote island. Guin is drawn to the island not just to help the boy but also because this is the same island where his son’s ship was washed ashore two years earlier and a body was never recovered.
A Place to Hang Your Cape: What made you want to write a horror comic book? Was there anything particular that sparked this story idea?
Roddy McCance: I think it was a combination of things. The main inspiration was actually a feeling I had after reading an article in a newspaper. It was one of those infuriating articles that makes you feel mad and helpless at the same time and I thought, “I want to write a story about that.” On the other hand, I’ve always loved horror, especially ghost stories and folk horror. The other main thing that inspired The Soul Of The Sea is our landscape here. I live in Northern Ireland and I had the idea for this isolated community of monks while driving the Wild Atlantic Way with my girlfriend and seeing how isolated and eerie the coastline and countryside can be. It’s that unknown and wild landscape that really inspired me and inspired the island of Inishdanu and coastal town of Owen’s Bay in the story. I love this island and exploring it, so getting to write about it (albeit about a fictional version of it) is an exciting concept for me. Also, after producing two anthology books, I found that I just wanted to work on something that was smaller, but bigger. I guess smaller in scale but bigger in terms of storytelling. I also really enjoyed the revival of certain horror genres, so while I’m working on a few different projects, I felt like Donna and I could really produce something that not only scares people, but one that keeps up the Fracture Press tradition of socially conscious themes. My writing also has an element of how I feel about something. I am pretty quiet about things on social media, but I put my voice into my art when it is something I care about.
AP2HYC: This piece seems to be very character driven. What was it like creating the character Thomas Guin? What sort of man can we expect him to be?
McCance: When we first meet Doctor Guin he is a man that has lost everything. He drinks himself to sleep, has lost his faith and has nothing to live for after the death of his son, but the mystery of his son’s disappearance still haunts him and in a bizarre way it’s the thing that keeps him going. However, it’s through going to the island of Inishdanu that he rediscovers his own set of skills and who he is as a person. He is a retired Doctor and he is tasked to take care of a sick boy on the island, so he is made to feel useful, but it’s around that time things start going very wrong. He is partly inspired by Dr. Casares in The Devil’s Backbone, I think there’s some room for some older characters in literature and I wanted to put an older guy, who has lost his faith and coming to the end of his years in peril and see what happens.
AP2HYC: I’m really interested in the fact that this story is going to be heavily rooted in Irish folklore. Is there any other folklore that you looked at and implemented into this story? Is there anything in Irish folklore that you might be able to tease as heavily inspiring you?
McCance: Well, you probably won’t get the Children Of Lir or Tír na nÓg, that’s for sure. We’ve mostly taken inspiration from old ghost stories and abandoned locations all over our island. What I will say is that the story does have connections to Fear gorta and Far Liath, but whether or not those things are real or in the imagination I can’t say…we have to keep it secret, you know!
AP2HYC: A lot of the stories you list as influences and similarities between this story are very much based on the human psyche. What sort of elements of the human psyche do you anticipate will stick with readers? What do you want them to take away from this comic?
McCance: Yeah, I really want a comic book to unsettle someone. I guess that’s a strange thing to say, but I want a reader to come out of the book when they are finished to have experienced something, to have read something about our human existence. For me the best horror films, books and what have you leave you with that visceral feeling of being alive. I want our readers to feel chilled to the core and empty about the evil in this world, but also leave you feeling like you are ready to take on the world. I think we get to explore reality, paranoia and memory in The Soul Of The Sea and how things play out when you are confronted with a very real horror.
AP2HYC: The art has a very distinct style. How did you go about finding Ms. Black and choosing her as your artist? What was the collaboration like between the two of you?
McCance: Distinct is a good way to put it, you’d be hard pressed to find anything like Donna’s style. I think it should be in a gallery sometimes, but I’m so lucky to be collaborating with her. I think we actually met at a convention and talked over Tales Of The Fractured Mind and got to know each other through that. I really loved Donna’s work, so I asked her if she would love to contribute to Tales Of Fractured Worlds and she did an amazing pin up for a story, so I was like “I wonder if she could do sequential art.” We bonded over love of horror stuff, Dave McKean‘s art and lots more so I think we’ve got a great working relationship. I’d say it’s a good partnership where we feel free to say what we feel and point out things that could be better or change something along the way.
Special thanks to Roddy McCance for taking the time to chat with us! You can support this project by pledging to the Kickstarter until April 25th. If you’ve had a chance to donate, be sure to let us know in the comments below or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!