INTERVIEW WITH SAM COSTELLO, CREATOR OF SPLIT LIP COMICS

1. Can you tell us about your comic books?
I’m the writer, creator, and publisher of Split Lip, a horror comics anthology. The series exists both online and in print. The stories are first serialized on our website—http://www.splitlipcomic.com—and then published as print collections.
I write all the stories in the series, but all the stories are drawn by different artists from around the world. I’ve worked with artists who are just getting their start, people who are well-established in indie comics, and some who are now drawing series for major publishers like Image and IDW. I find my artists as nearby as my neighbor across the street and as far away as Hungary, Finland, and Brazil (I’m based in Rhode Island).
Split Lip is a true anthology—all the stories are self-contained and there are no recurring characters, just recurring themes and topics. Some of the things that I find scariest, and thus find myself writing the most about, include: the essential unknowability of other people, even our closest loved ones; doppelgangers; the horror of living in an indifferent universe.
Split Lip is often compared to series like Rod Serling’s Night Gallery and Twilight Zone, as well as comics anthologies like Tales from the Crypt. While I’m flattered by the Tales from the Crypt comparison, my models are a little different. Those stories were often humorous and tended to disrupt and then re-establish a moral order to the world. I don’t believe the world has an inherent moral order (the only one that’s present is the one that humans create) and I don’t like the mix humor with my horror. To that end, I look more to comics anthologies like Taboo as models.
Mostly I’m interested in psychological suspense, eerie ideas, and creepy scenarios.
2. How many have been published?
We’re currently serializing the 43rd short story on the website. In print, we’ve got 6 collections—each book is 144 pages, contains 6-8 stories, and retails for $15 in print and $3.99 in digital—and 6 or 7 single-story minicomics.
I’ve published the entire series myself. Self-publishing is a venerable part of the comics-making tradition and has been where some of the greatest comics makers have gotten their start or turned to create their most personal stories. I’m happy to be part of that tradition.
3. What made you want to create comic books?
For me, creating comics is the result of two impulses coming together.
First, I’ve been reading comics since I was a kid. I drifted away from them in high school and through college, but was re-introduced to the more mature, more sophisticated books being published by DC’s Vertigo imprint by a friend at the end of college. Finding those stories—100 Bullets, Preacher, Sandman—rekindled my love for the form.
The other impulse was to write. I’ve long wanted to be a writer or editor—one of my first childhood dreams for an adult job was to be a comics editor—and had been writing short fiction throughout high school and college. Once I was reading comics again, it seemed a pretty natural direction to try creating own.
4. Do you do all the illustrations or do you have a partner?
I’m stick to the writing—I’m a terrible artist! My collaborators include people like Kyle Strahm (Spread, Image Comics), John Bivens (Dark Engine, Image Comics), Sami Makkonen (Deadworld, IDW), and David Hitchcock (Springheel Jack, Titan Books), along with many others.
5. How long have you been creating comic books?
I wrote my first comic script 14 or 15 years ago, though that script—and some of the other early ones—were never produced. They sit in folders on my hard drive as interesting first efforts—interesting to me, at least—but that’s all. I started Split Lip in October 2006, so we’ll be hitting our 10-year anniversary next year!
If your readers would like to see what we’ve bene up to in that time, I invite them to come check out http://www.splitlipcomic.com.
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