This is a guest post by El Cid, who was kindly enough to write one for us.
Check out El Cid's Transneptunian! (nsfw)
I don't personally view horror so much as a genre, but rather as an ingredient. A little dash of horror can spice up just about any dish. The harrowing battle scenes in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Starship Troopers’ are as memorable and effective as they are in part because they're so terrifying. It's hard to watch them in a completely detached fashion, because the imagery hits you at a deep, visceral level.
That's what good horror does: It puts you in a place where you can't say “It's just a story.” Because you feel it. Sure, you may know that you're not really storming a beach with machine gun bullets whizzing past your ears, or being stalked by some misshapen lurching night terror… but your body doesn't know that. Those feelings are real, and they make the experience something tangible, something more than the sum of its parts.
I began my webcomics career (air quotes optional) pushing people's buttons with lurid tales about murder, monsters, and mayhem, and I still approach my slightly-more-mainstream work today from the perspective of a horror writer. If a scene is going to be effective, I want the reader to feel involved, rather than be a safe bystander. They should never be able to “just” look at a page and move on unscathed. Including humor or witty banter in dialogue can make it stick more, because it elicits a reaction from the reader and involves them in the dialogue. They're no longer just reading; they're vicariously sharing a laugh with the characters and connecting with them. With action sequences, I like to choose a camera angle that puts the viewer in harm's way, even if it's not necessarily the best view of what's going on. The aim is to get the reader to “feel” more of what's going on, rather than detachedly cataloging the events and moving on. If you can't get the reader to linger at least a little bit on each panel, then they're only getting half the experience, if that.
So, have you learned anything from horror that you find useful for your webcomic?
Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 25, 2018
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