Monday, February 4, 2013

Women in Horror Comics: Rachel Deering

This feature is part of my Women in Horror Comics series in honor of Women in Horror Month. For more info on WiHM visit

I'm excited to kick off this series with writer, letterer and editor Rachel Deering. Rachel contributed to WOMANTHOLOGY, a comic anthology series brought to life by Renae De Liz to showcase the work of women in comics. Rachel also created and Kickstarted her own series, ANATHEMA, in which huntress Mercy Barlowe and her lover, Sarah, are discovered and doomed to be tried as witches. Mercy escapes, but returns in time to witness Sarah's soul being taken by monstrous ravens as she is burned at the stake. In her immense grief and guilt, Mercy seeks help and takes on her own dark powers in order to rescue the soul of her beloved from being used by a dark cult to resurrect a much more dangerous evil.

ANATHEMA is a werewolf horror story, a tragic romance and an adventure all in one. Its look harkens back to a dark, gothic, Hammer horror film style rather than overloading on gore and the story plays with vampire legend in addition to the experience of lycanthropy. Mercy's pain is palpable as she embarks on her journey and wrestles with questions about morality. I could be a little biased because I also have a deep love for that older style of atmospheric horror but ANATHEMA just plain looks and feels good. More than good. It nails the tone, which is so important with a story like this one.

Rachel was good enough to answer a few questions about WOMANTHOLOGY and ANATHEMA, her experiences using Kickstarter to fund her project, and what advice she has for others who want to work in the medium.

How did you come up with the idea for Anathema? Was it at all inspired by other horror works featuring werewolves, whether film, stories or something else?

I was in the shower, which is where a lot of my ideas come to me, and I started thinking about puritans and the witch trials. From there, I thought "How cool would it be if the church used monsters to hunt and kill other monsters?" and the core idea of Anathema sort of evolved out of that. I know that's sort of a convoluted and roundabout answer to the question, but that's how I roll. So, really, the whole thing just came from letting my mind wander. And my insane love for werewolves.

Your Kickstarter for Anathema was obviously successful, but if you had to do it all again, would you do anything differently?

If I had it all to do again, I wouldn't do it. I wish I'd kept the concept hush-hush, worked on it in secret, and released the thing when it was finished. By going the kickstarter route, each person who pledged has been allowed to see every stumbling blocks I encounter along the way. They've been there when the artists flaked on me, they saw the petty bickering that goes on behind the scenes, and they've had to endure a prolonged wait for new issues as I deal with various other problems. Kickstarter really just added another layer of stress for me, because I feel the pressure to produce and give the backers their product right away. Oh yeah, and shipping that many books yourself is just awful.

How did you get involved in Womanthology?

I was friends with Renae on facebook. I saw her post that she was looking for a letterer for the book, so I volunteered my services. I guess Renae liked how hard I worked, because she asked me to edit
several sections of the book, pair up artistic teams, and write a how-to article on lettering. Then, at the very last minute, she asked me to contribute a short two page story.

What writers or artists have been an influence on your own work? Are there influences from other media that have been important to you?

My tastes are sort of outdated. I was always more drawn to the artists who eschewed the blood and gore in favor of atmosphere and tension. People like Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, Robert E. Howard, William Blake, E.A. Poe, Eric Stenbock, and so on and so forth were always more my thing. As far as other media is concerned, I'm a big fan of Hammer horror films.

What advice would you give to aspiring comic book creators?

Stick with it. No matter how frustrating it gets, (and it WILL get frustrating) just stick with it. Learn to make rejection a part of your everyday life. Learn how to survive on very little money, and next to no sleep. Remember to take a break once in a while to spend time with your family and feed your pets. Get out to conventions to network with professionals in the industry, from artists and writers all the way up to editors and publishers. Who you know is extremely important in this industry.

Do you have any favorite comics or graphic novels, or is there something you've read recently that you enjoyed?

I really enjoy Joe Hill's LOCKE & KEY, Guy Davis's MARQUIS, and Mike Mignola's HELLBOY and B.P.R.D. I love old Warren and Skywald magazines like Creepy, Eerie, Nightmare, Psycho, Scream, etc. Oh, and anything Bernie Wrightson touches is a must for me. Even if I don't particularly enjoy the writer he's been paired with, I'll spend hours drooling over his artwork.

In addition to upcoming issues of Anathema, are there any current or upcoming projects you're working on that we can check out?

Beyond ANATHEMA, there's nothing out there at the moment. I have a lot of things I'm working on behind the scenes, which will see the light of day sometime later this year. I'm doing an all-ages, gothic horror graphic novel called THE OTHER SIDE with a fantastic artist named Christine Larsen. I also have a horror/adventure/romance/mystery series I'm co-writing with a good friend of mine, which is still without a title. 2013 should be a big year for me, you'll just have to keep an eye out and wait for more specific details.

Thank you to Rachel for discussing her work and influences with me! You can buy issues of ANATHEMA at her online store and keep tabs on her future work by following her on Twitter or her DeviantART page.

Resources for Women in Horror Month


  1. Excellent & revealing interview. I like how Rachel said she wasn't happy about people seeing behind the scenes. Relates to a lot of projects and events.

  2. Definitely, I think that's valuable information for anyone thinking about using Kickstarter, or any crowdfunding website for a project.