Interview with Thom Burgess, creator of upcoming indie comic Malevolents

A series of stories adapted from legends of British ghosts

I recently interviewed Thom Burgess, the creator of the upcoming indie horror comic known as Malevolents. It is going to be a series of short stories adapted from legends of British ghosts. Here’s what Thom had to say.

John Lepper: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Mr. Burgess. So, you are the mastermind behind upcoming indie comic “Malevolents”. In your own words, how would you describe what readers can expect in this book?

Thom Burgess: Thanks John! I appreciate the opportunity! Basically Malevolents is a planned short series of comics styled around the traditional ghost story in the vein of classic writers such as M R James but set within a comic book medium. Here in the UK we have a wealth of supernatural history and lore. But quite often some of the most horrifying accounts often get brushed under the carpet. So the opportunity to bring to life elements of some quite horrific ‘hauntings’ within the context of a traditional comic seemed a really interesting idea. I’ve always loved classic horror comics along with short supernatural/horror programs such as ‘Tales from the Darkside’ and ‘The Twilight zone’ so the idea of trying to tell a ghost story in a traditional sense, but within a comic seemed a good challenge.

Book 1 : ‘Click Click’ will tell the story of four school friends who are dared to spend the night in London’s most haunted house. In doing so they recount the story of the last boy who dared to do so…and the price it cost him

The whole point of the story is to hopefully recreate some of the elements of the classic ghost story, within the medium of a comic. Concentrating on truly unnerving illustrations and a tale which will hopefully leave the reader cold. We’ve had some great feedback so far and are feeling confident we can fulfil that.

All of the comics themselves lead onto a larger graphic novel project I’m working on called ‘Ghoster’. I’ve been luck enough to have had some positive press about it. But as it was turning into quite a large project, Malevolents seemed a good excuse to try and set the stage first.

JL: A good strategy, using a smaller project to build ground swell for a bigger one. So, you say that many of the stories that will be in this are based on local ghost legends in the UK?

TB: Sure! I’m based in the South East of the UK in a county called Kent, where I’m pleased to say we have (supposedly) the most concentrations of hauntings per square mile, so there’s ample opportunity for inspiration. There’s actually a scene in the first comic itself which is greatly inspired by something strange which happened to a friend of mine whilst at his work place. So there’ll be elements of true ‘haunting’ accounts, but with some room for artistic license.

JL: Very cool! Basing the fiction in fact always makes it more interesting, I feel. Now, can you perhaps tell me a little about Ghoster?

TB: In short ‘Ghoster’ is a supernatural adventure graphic novel which is currently being produced. Based around the story of James who at the age of 21 suddenly inherits the mantle of ‘Ghoster of the Realm’ from his recently deceased grandfather. In doing so he finds a terrifying world of murderous spectres intent on unleashing their rage on the blood-stained shores of the British Isles. Accompanied by an age old organisation who’s protection of the monarchy and diplomats from these horrors borders on the insane.

Malevolents helps set the stage for Ghoster and gives a glimpse of supposedly some of the British Isles more terrifying spectres. I produced a trailer for it last year which I’m pleased to say went down well, including a commendation from Lloyd Kaufman of Troma which was a nice surprise!

JL: Oh, wow! That is an honor! I love to hear about heavy hitters taking an interest in indie projects. And Ghoster sounds kinda super hero-y while still being very firmly planted in the horror genre. That’s an interesting concept. So, you are taking care of conceptualization, scripting, and storyboarding. You have quite a bit on your plate! But you say you have a talented illustrator in one Joe Becci. How did you meet up with him?

TB: I was hugely lucky in finding Joe. Initially when I put the project out online to tender I had quite a few people approach me, but no one seemed to really have a good grasp of the concept behind the comic.

Then out of the blue Joe got in touch and I was hugely impressed with his artwork. Amazingly he too is Kent base which makes things a lot easier. He kindly offered to have a go illustrating a few panels and I knew as soon as he’d sent over his work he was perfect for the project. He’s been really helpful in helping discuss certain panels and generally planning out the whole layout of the comic. Primarily he’s been working on the comic in pencils and manipulating the contrast and tones through his software. Which gives the piece a nice, gritty film noir look. Really emphasising the dark nature of the piece and making the imagery, in my opinion a lot more striking.

JL: Very cool. Yes, I saw the trailer you provided and I was really impressed. Well, it was great talking to you. Before I go, is there anything further you would like to say

TB: Thanks John! that really means a lot – great talking to you too!

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