Demons, Monsters, And The Dangers Of Social Media: James Ferguson Talks ‘Nightmare Theater’ Vol. 2
by Brendan M. Allen
With only a couple days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign, Nightmare Theater 2: Revenge of the Horror Comic Anthology has nearly doubled its funding goal. A 125+ page book starring demons, Lovecraftian monsters, psycho killers and more, the NT2 anthology collects horror stories by some of the best in indie comics.
A couple of Comicon’s very own contributed to the book, including Staff Writer Malissa White, and former Senior Editor James Ferguson. I had an opportunity to pick James’ brain a little about his evolution from comic book reviewer, to comic book website editor, to comic book writer.
Brendan Allen: First off, tell us a little about your contribution to the Nightmare Theater II anthology.
James Ferguson: I wrote a story called “Going Viral,” illustrated by Sonya Kinsey and lettered by Scott Ewen. It follows an influencer named Jerry B who creates the next viral dance craze only to inadvertently summon a giant monster ready to destroy the world.
Brendan: Speaking of Sonya and Scott, how did you get hooked up with your team? Was that a rigorous process?
James: It came from networking actually. I’m in a small writer’s group with Phillip Butehorn, Mario Candelaria, and Matt Summo (appropriately called the 4 Horsemen). We bounce ideas off each other, shit-talk, and generally encourage each other to make stuff. Phil is actually the reason I’m in Nightmare Theater in the first place as he connected me with Clay Adams, one of the editors.
Once Clay accepted my pitch, I had to figure out the rest of the creative team. Phil put me in touch with Sonya as they had worked on a short story together previously. She dug horror and was interested in the project, so we got started.
Scott came in based on Mario’s referral as they’ve worked together previously too. He’s actually lettering Mario’s story in Nightmare Theater 2 as well. And Phil has a story in the book too!
Brendan: I have seen the master list of talent associated with this project, and damn. What’s that like, working as a reviewer and editor for years, then flipping over to the creative side of comics to work alongside these folks?
James: It’s terrifying. Imposter syndrome is setting in hard when I see my name next to folks like Rich Douek, Shawn Gabborin, and Alex Cormack. About six months ago, I was covering the comics these folks were making and now I’m in an anthology that they contributed to as well. It’s wild.
I’ve been through a lot over the past year (and so has everyone, I’m sure), but I found myself in a rut in the late Spring. I needed to change something, so I took a break from reviewing comics, something I hadn’t done since I started over 10 years ago. I then plunged myself into creating comics, finally putting pen to (digital) paper and writing out some of the ideas that have been floating in the back of my head. It was scary at first as I was figuring some things out, but I’ve got a nice little routine going and Nightmare Theater 2 is my first foray out into the comics scene as a writer.
There’s a fear of failure as well. Reviewing comics has been this four-color safety net for over a decade. It’s a comfort zone. I’ve made headway with creators and publishers over that time and I’ve had some reach out during this time looking for coverage. In the past, I would have set things up in a heartbeat, but I had to pump the brakes and commit. There’s a chance I could lose some of that good will I’ve built up, but I have to take that risk.
Brendan: It’s got to be a whole different environment, with its own challenges and rewards. What are some of the things that you learned that you’ll carry into your next project?
James: There’s no one way to make comics. I’m learning that quickly as each editor and creator operates differently. It’s a matter of figuring out what you want and expressing that in a collaborative fashion. Everyone works together in this medium and the payoff is so worth it.
Brendan: Right on. The Kickstarter campaign can be found right here. The funding goal has been reached and surpassed by almost double, so this thing is definitely going to print. Is there anything you’d like to leave the readers with?
James: If you have even an inkling of a story idea, stop waiting and do it. Everyone says the best way to make comics is to make comics. That’s true. You have to take that first step. Write something down. It’s an amazing experience and you won’t get anywhere near it if you don’t try.