Artist and writer Larime Taylor joins us today for our latest feature. In this Q&A session, Larime tells us about developing the story behind A Voice in the Dark, taking it from a successful Kickstarter Project to Top Cow, and what's next:
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us, Larime. For those who may not be familiar with A Voice in the Dark, can you tell our readers a bit about what they can expect from the series?
Larime Taylor: My pleasure! I describe it as psychological noir. It's more character-driven than most horror, which is more action-oriented. At its core, it's about a young woman who is trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Complicating things is the fact that she's struggling with lifelong compulsions to kill, so on top of deciding what she wants to be when she grows up, she's wrestling with whether or not she's a monster and what that means. She isn't a psychopath and doesn't want to kill, but it's an addiction for her.
How long have you been working on the idea for this series and where did you draw inspiration when creating Zoey?
Larime Taylor: About a year and a half now, from the initial creation and Kickstarter to today. It started out as a horror spoof, something surreal and over the top, like Heathers. It was going to be a slasher with all the tropes turned inside out. One trope is that the ethnic character always dies first, so in my story, she was going to be the sole survivor. Then, I thought, what if she survives because she's the killer? That's subverting another trope, a female killer instead of a male. The deeper I went, the more I realized that I actually had some interesting concepts at play, and it grew into Zoey's story as it is now. A lot of those inverted tropes are still in there, though. There's a whole mess of them listed on the TV Tropes page for the series.
This project first started to gain attention when you launched a successful Kickstarter campaign and now you're being published at Top Cow. What was it about this series that really interested Top Cow in teaming up for you?
Larime Taylor: The story and the way I really sold it, I think. I just really hit it off with Matt Hawkins when I pitched it to him, and the more we talked, the more he got into it.
Is A Voice in the Dark planned as a limited series or do you see this as something you want to continue working on for years? How many issues have you planned out already?
Larime Taylor: I was signed with it as an ongoing series, but it'll largely depend on the sales. I know we're doing at least 12 issues, which will be collected into two trades, and I have plans for more stories well beyond that, but it really comes down to how much interest there is in the series.
You are both the writer and the artist for series. Which do you prefer and why?
Larime Taylor: Writing by far. I'm a writer first, and can do a lot more in less time as a writer. Art takes a lot of time, and even though I'm pretty fast compared to most (I can do an issue in about 2 weeks), I'm limited in my range and skill. I'm an artist by necessity, really. I couldn't afford an artist, so decided to do it myself. I'm passable, and each issue gets better, but I'm not going to be drawing Batman any time soon.
I've read that you draw every panel with your mouth using a Wacom tablet and there is no doubt that you're an inspiration to people everywhere that overcome obstacles related to their disabilities. Can you tell us about your drawing process and how advancing technology has helped you over the years?
Larime Taylor: I've been drawing since I was little, and I was a professional caricature artist at about 14. I used to draw caricatures at festivals, conventions, weddings, and parties. It's the other part of why I'm as fast as I am. In that line of work, you get paid per person, so drawing quickly and cleanly and capturing the essence of the person is the focus. That's why my characters all have distinct faces, expressions, and body language, but it took me an issue or two to really start exploring camera angles and detailed backgrounds.
Now that I draw on a tablet I can draw sitting upright rather than hunched over. I can draw sitting up rather than flat on a tablet. I have my range and reach, you know, the neck can only stretch so far. It’s not like an arm and a hand where you can get a lot of extension. My lines are smoother side to side rather than up and down, so now I can rotate images. So if I have a vertical line that I need to draw or an arc I need to draw I can rotate the image to draw it side to side rather than up and down to get it smoother. I can zoom in and out which helps with perspective, which helps because I’m drawing with my nose literally two inches from the surface. So it’s hard to keep perspective and keep a sense of proportion to what you’re doing when you’re that close to it, but being able to zoom in and out I can check my perspectives and proportions. I can easily lasso things to shrink them or expand them to make them work. So that really freed me up. I’d say most of the obstacles I had in the past have been alleviated due to the fact I can draw digitally now. I wouldn’t be doing this book if I was drawing it on paper.
I start with outlines and scripts, and I use the scripts as 'shooting scripts', like I'm making a film, but instead I'm making a comic book. I shoot my friends in the various poses I need for the comic, and use them as references when drawing the pages. I work digitally, and straight to inks, which is a big part of why I'm as fast as I am. Starting with A Voice In The Dark #3, I've been drawing foregrounds in black and backgrounds in gray to get better separation and depth, and then I do detailed shading/toning on the foregrounds and a 'wash' style toning on the backgrounds. While I'm generally proud of the work, the first two issues can look flat at times, and so I changed things up a bit to add depth. The art gets better as the series goes.
Can you tease our readers with what's coming up next for A Voice in the Dark?
Larime Taylor: This current arc - issues 3-7 - are about how Zoey falls off the wagon and ends up killing again. She also starts to realize that she's not the only killer in town, and there's a growing tension there. It all ends on a big reveal on the last page of issue #7 (out in May) that sets up the next arc.
Where can our readers find you and keep up with your work online?
To learn more about A Voice in the Dark, visit the links above. Here's the official series synopsis:
"Some people become killers.
Zoey was born that way.
Ever since she can remember, Zoey Aarons has felt the urge to kill. For eighteen years she resisted those urges and fought to be someone better than her base instincts would allow. In a moment of weakness and anger, however, she let go and took a life. That hazy Seattle summer day still haunts her, and as she begins college far away from home, she’s afraid that she will kill again.
She’s right to be afraid.
Instead of leaving that fateful day behind her and starting a new life as a college freshman, Zoey’s about to be tested and face temptation in ways far greater than she could ever imagine. The prestigious women’s college that she’s attending on a full academic scholarship is in Cutter’s Circle, California, and Cutter’s Circle has a dirty little secret: it has the highest population of serial killers in the country. The town is up to its proverbial severed head in murderers."