KICKSTARTER FOCUS AND INTERVIEW: CINECRYPT

Now Kickstarting it’s fourth issue, the classic horror comic Cinecrypt has been nothing short of a kick up the backside for indie comics, with it’s novel ideas and style taking the scene by storm.

Cinecrypt is adapting forgotten or overlooked horror movies, giving them new life in comic book form. From gothic shocks to B-movie shlock, Cinecrypt restores these stories to their original glory, sometimes with strange and subversive twists. Cinecrypt is all about honoring the legacy of horror cinema, looking for true independents that maybe didn’t have the biggest budgets, but cared about terrifying their audience.

We’ve read the first three issues, and can confirm that they are a cracking read, the visuals taken from photographs but manipulated to give them a silky, dream like fluidity, accentuated by the high quality printing. They are available through the current kickstarter, and you’re advised to start at the beginning as the stories are ongoing, with the latest issue serving as a cut off, with new stories coming in issue 5.

We got together with the grand ghoul of Cinecrypt, Ash Redburn, to find out what in Satan’s name is going on with this disturbingly regular and entertaining publication.

COMICSCENE: How did the genesis of Cinecrypt begin?

I just love horror movies! I’d also always wanted to make a comic, but I needed to learn how. So I’d watch movies and try to figure out how I would approach adapting them. How can you create creeping tension in a comic without music? Or a jumpscare? How do you lay out actors in a scene when they’re moving around on screen? It became this huge puzzle that I quickly got addicted to. The experiment soon became a format that I thought other horror fans might enjoy. So I cleaned up the crypt a little and opened the doors and Cinecrypt was born. 

What is your role in the comic?

I think of myself as the projectionist. In classic film exhibition, the projectionist doesn’t make the movie, but puts a lot of time into how it is presented, from picture and sound quality, to syncing and splicing reels. So I’m taking these old movies and giving them that same attention in adapting them to comics. Stories have to be cut down and moved around, creating cliffhangers and a whole different pace. My main role is to reformat the movies visually so they flow from one panel to another and read from left to right, and then as a kind of story editor making dialogue and pacing adjustments so the movie can live as a comic. 

Are all the strips adaptations of old movies?

Yes! For the main Cinecrypt book, it will always be adapting old movies. There are so many wonderful and strange gems in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Giant spiders and spooky castles. But I’m planning some spinoff mini series that will go in other directions. I have a book called The Silent Scream that I’m slowly working on that isn’t a direct adaptation and is splicing together a lot of old silent movies into one large story. What if Nosferatu slept too long and woke up in the future of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis? So I’m always playing with the format and finding ways to make the movies a launch pad for other things.

Have there been any copyright or likeness rights worries?

Every movie in Cinecrypt is from the public domain. Some, like Nosferatu, are around 100 years old! Either the studios didn’t renew their copyright or never had one in the first place. They’ve been distributed by tons of companies over the years (lots of bad VHS transfers) but this is the first time any of these movies have been cleaned up and pulled over to comics. If you want spoilers you can watch any of these films on Youtube!

One picture in Issue 2 was the pier in my hometown. Do you add your own (or ones found on the net) to the narrative?

Yes, I pull from a lot of different places. Sometimes the imagery in the movie doesn’t translate well to the page, or I’ll need an extra establishing shot or just to expand the frame. Most panels need something extra. The main difference between film and comic visuals is the use of focus. Backgrounds in movies will often be blurry to show depth, but that doesn’t work so well on paper. So, I spend a lot of time rebuilding scenes, finding trees and lamps and tables from all kinds of references and splicing them in. And I sneak my own little funny things in too…

Your kickstarters seem to get great traction. Do you think you’ve hit on a unique formula?

I’m not sure. I massively appreciate everyone who shows up each month. Every single backer of Cinecrypt found it on their own. I didn’t tell anyone I was working on this (I was afraid nobody would like it) so I just quietly put it on kickstarter and hoped a handful of kind strangers would grab it and say it was interesting and I’d go from there. So the support I’ve found has been amazing! Horror fans like to chat about their passions and I get some great conversations going in messages and emails about these movies. I’m still figuring out if my formula of a monthly crowdfunding comic is a good idea or not. Trying to be consistent and show up regularly vs burning people out. We’ll see! 

The credits for each strip are very cinematic, how do you credit your people for what they have done?

It is an unconventional way of crediting a comic. I suppose the credits are laid out in three waves. You’re acknowledging the original cast and crew – the actors, writer, director – anyone who was especially crucial in what you’re seeing on the page. And then I credit myself as the projectionist, the person who is presenting everything in this new way. And then I credit two backers per story as Executive Producers, so they get to see their names alongside some great filmmakers of the past!

Your turnaround seems very fast from issue to issue. Are they reasonably easy to make once you had your process perfected?

It’s a constantly evolving process. Hopefully I’m getting faster. Speed mostly depends on the movie I’m adapting and the scenes I’m working with. Sometimes I’ll get two pages done in a day and another time it will take two days to make one panel. But I try to get into a rhythm and work on the book constantly. As soon as I’ve finished a book I go straight onto the next one the same day, so I find time to get ahead while things are printed and posted. 

I also offer a lot of sketch rewards with each issue so I have to allot time for that. When you’re working mostly digitally, I think it’s nice to sit at a table and create something physical for backers to show you’re thinking of them and willing to put in that extra energy.

Really, I need more time, but I wanted this to be a monthly book which is quite rare for crowdfunding, so I’ve made my bed and now I’ll have to die in it.

The newest issue has a higher page count than the previous three, is this a permanent thing?

No, it’ll go back to the standard page count for the next issue. I don’t want to price myself out of people’s interest. I’m running the book in arcs of four issues. So every fourth issue will be a double sized book to wrap up the current stories with a bang before resetting and starting again.

How many issues ahead have you planned?

It’s an ongoing! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep the crypt running for a while. I’ve planned out the next arc of four issues where I’ll be introducing some new movies. But I’ve changed my plans in the past. Sometimes you’ll see stories that I’m teasing in Kickstarter videos and then the comic goes in a completely different direction! So I have a general plan but I like to keep things loose and talk with the readers about what they want to see. I ran a vote after issue one of the reader’s favourite horror decade and subgenre. Eighties slashers won by a landslide so I’m planning a spinoff called The Midnight Slice that will play in that era. That’ll be later this year.

Congratulations on a title that stands out from the pack – how would you sell it to someone curious after reading this?

Cinecrypt wants to be pure escapism. If you like your horror vintage and creaky, this is the place for you. Gothic shocks and B-movie shlock. Wobbly sets and heaving bosoms! It’s a step into the past with lots of twists and turns. There’s always catch up packs in every campaign for anyone to jump onboard. And there’s some fun perks if you’d like a horror doodle, some say in the book’s direction, or even to be in the comic!

Back CINECRYPT here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ashwrites/cinecrypt-reawakening?ref=user_menu

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