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‘Anathema’: Rachel Deering on Her ‘Lesbian Werewolf Epic’ [Kickstarter]

At first glance, you might not think of writer Rachel Deering’s self-described “lesbian werewolf epic” Anathema as a love story. There’s no romantic montages, overcoming adversity or teary confessions in the rain – and there’s definitely not a happy ending: the first issue opens with Mercy Barlowe recounting her girlfriend being burned at the stake for the couple’s “abomination” and the crippling guilt she feels for running away. Anathema is a love story about what happens when you can’t take back your mistakes, and how far you’d go to make up for them. In Mercy’s case, she becomes a werewolf, not on a quest of revenge, but to rescue her lover’s soul from a dark cult with designs to use it to wake up something bigger, deader and eviler.

Over a year in the making, this is actually Anathema’s second round at Kickstarter. Deering raised $8,000 for the first issue back in August to pay her artists Christopher Mooneyham and Fares Maes and cover a small print run of the book. Now she’s back to fund the remaining five issues, an amount estimated at $20,000. This would be an intimidating amount for any comics creator, much less one who described herself as “a no name writer with an outdated sense of horror,” but with a story in Renae De Liz’s Womanthology and praise from fellow creators Bill Willingham and Joshua Hale Fialkov on Anathema’s first issue, she’s already raised close to $17,000.

The following video was created for Deering’s first Anathema Kickstarter, so it offers a better introduction to the concept and goals.

Even though Deering is writing, designing and lettering Anathema, she won’t see any of the money raised via Kickstarter. Every dollar, minus Kickstarter and Amazon fees (Amazon facilitates the financial transactions), is earmarked to pay her artists, who, on the strength of the first issue, look to be well worth it. Any overage the project gets will go towards paying her way to as many comic conventions as she can get to to hand sell the book and, if response is big enough, to plan more stories in this endearingly creepy little world she’s dreamed up.

ComicsAlliance: Is Anathema your passion project? How long have you been sitting with it, from the first idea to researching/writing it to finding your artists and Kickstartering the first issue?

Rachel Deering: I started working on Anathema a little more than a year ago, and it’s definitely way beyond a passion project. It’s an absolute dream. I’ve taken every aspect of horror that thrills me and crammed it into this one book. The idea came to me when I was in the shower, and I just started fleshing out who Mercy is and what kinds of terrible things I could throw at her. There wasn’t a ton of researching involved, honestly, because I didn’t want the setting of Anathema to have to adhere to any sort of timeline or specific geography. I am purposefully vague about where Anathema takes place, and during what time. That covers my ass in case any history buffs want to come after me.

It took about three months to build the world of Anathema and get all of the elements straight in my mind and put down into a cohesive script. After that, I started searching for an artist and took it to Kickstarter in August (I believe) of 2011. I actually had to go through three different artists before I found one that worked well with me, and didn’t rip me off.

CA: Why should people fund your book?

RD: The comics market is in serious need of some diversity if it hopes to draw in new readers. Anathema presents a strong female character, and she’s gay. The tone of horror in this book is not at all like the modern gore-porn and/or romantic monsters. I think it’s a book that could benefit the scene.

I’d say those people who long for classic horror in the vein of Hammer and Universal monsters will benefit most from kicking in a few bucks. There are precious few sources for that style of horror these days, and I feel like Anathema can more than scratch that itch.

CA: What will you do if you don’t hit your goal?

RD: I have a few other projects in production at the moment, so I would probably focus on shopping them to publishers, and I’d revisit Anathema in the future if finances allowed for such a thing. That is if the artists were still available. It’s kinda scary to think about, honestly.

You can learn more about the Anathema project at its Kickstarter page. The following are five pages from the sold-out Anathema #1.




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