Chris Shehan has had a busy year! After wrapping up the prettiest horror story you’ll ever read, The Autumnal, it was announced that they would be the artist for the upcoming House of Slaughter. Somehow, between all of that, they’ve also drawn variant covers for some of our indie horror faves The Plot and The Last Book You’ll Ever Read. We got a chance to ask Chris for details on these projects, and some other important questions, starting with:
What is your favorite sandwich?
My favorite sandwich to eat is a BLT with avocado. Hard to beat. Favorite sandwich to make is grilled cheese. I go all-out and make a special event out of it.
Your next work, House of Slaughter, is out next month (FOC is next Monday, September 13th)*! What do you want to share with us about that?
For anyone who may not know, it’s a spin-off of Something is Killing the Children. It’s a little bit of a prequel following some stuff that Aaron Slaughter was up to before we see him in SIKTC. There’s some back story and more lore and mythology to the world crafted by James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera. I won’t say much outside of that, but I’m really enjoying working on it.
* Final Order Cutoff is the last day local comic stores can put in orders for a print comic book and have it guaranteed that they’ll get a copy. Publishers use the numbers they get on that day to determine how much of a comic they should print, and if you decide you want one after that, they might have sold out. So, if you want House of Slaughter #1, tell your local comics store before next Monday!
Is this something new readers can pick up if they haven’t read Something Is Killing the Children?
I believe so, but I think the added context of Something Is Killing The Children will really help fill out the world for the reader. Plus, it’s one of my favorite comics, so I honestly would recommend it whether I was working on a spin-off or not!
Can you tell us about getting signed onto this project? Is it true that it started with fan art? What happened after that?
I’m not actually sure how it really started, but James Tynion IV had helped get the word out about The Autumnal when we first started promoting that, and I assume my work on that had led to being considered for House of Slaughter. But I did do Erica Slaughter fanart that James liked, and I like to think that helped! As I was finishing the final issue of The Autumnal, I was contacted by Boom about the project, and as a SIKTC fan, it was hard to say no!
How does it feel to have drawn a $2000 comic? Can I ask how variant covers** work from an artist’s perspective since you’ve had comics with variant covers and drawn variant covers for other comics?
Oh wow, I didn’t even know that was a thing. I’ve only very recently started learning about the way collectors use comics as a form of art collecting and/or investing. I’m honored people find value in comics, but I don’t fully understand it. As for how it works for me, I’m generally just asked to draw a cover or variant for my usual rate. With exclusive retailer variants, I might do some profit-sharing, but honestly, my rep handles those deals, and I try to just focus on drawing. I’m fascinated by it, though.
** Variant Covers are comics where the cover of an issue is drawn by a guest artist. The interior of the comic is the same! Sometimes publishers will make variant covers generally orderable, so you just have to ask your local comic store to get a variant cover for you. Other times, they’re sold as incentive bundles, where your local comic store is only allowed to order one copy of the variant for every x copies of the regular comic they order. Different stores will have different policies on getting these incentive covers for you or how much they charge for them, so if you’re interested in one of those, you should ask about your local store’s policy!
How is working on House of Slaughter different from working on your most recent project, The Autumnal? How do these compare to your guest covers for The Plot? What is it like to add to an existing IP? Do you approach it differently?
I’m much more careful when working on something that already has an established fan base. I try to find a balance of bringing my voice to something while matching the voices that came before so that what I do can exist, believably, in that world. I’m very nervous for this book to come out. I do hope that the fans love it. I’m having fun working on it. My guest covers on the plot were less nerve-wracking because I had The Plot co-creator, Tim Daniel, art-directing those covers from start to finish. That gave me a lot more confidence.
What kinds of things did you enjoy drawing the most in your projects? What were the most difficult or challenging things to draw?
I love drawing emotional character moments more than anything else. The most challenging things to draw are crowds of people.
Who are your influences? What artists are you seeing doing cool things right now?
I have so many influences at this point it’s hard to list them all. Lately, I look at a lot of Mike Mignola, Yoji Shinkawa, and Ashley Wood. Artists who are doing cool things right now are people like Martin Simmonds, Jason Shawn Alexander, Werther Dell’Edera, Sally Cantirino, Josh Hixson, Matteo Scalera. I can go on and on and on. It’s a great time to be making and reading comics right now, honestly.
Some fun details showed up in The Autumnal—references to other Vault comics! How did those come about?
I like Easter eggs! Some stuff was simply just Easter eggs. I put myself as an “extra” in everything I do. My dog also showed up in The Autumnal. And the crossover between The Autumnal and The Plot was Tim Daniel’s idea, and I loved that. I like the idea that they exist in the same universe, and I’d love to see The Autumnal references in other Vault Nightfall titles.
Do you have a list of dream projects that you would love to work on?
First and foremost, I’d love to write and draw my own big epic story. I’ve been sitting on a great one, and I’ve already got designs and art for it, so it’s just a matter of finding the right time to pitch it. The right place is Vault Comics. I can’t see doing it anywhere else. After that, I’d love to do some Batman, something in the Hellboy universe, maybe a short Spider-Man story, and as much creator-owned stuff with great writers that I can manage. The Autumnal was a delight, and any other creator-owned I’ve done with other writers is very special to me, so I’ll likely never stop doing that.