Chris Lackie on “The Bottom,” Horror Writing, and Canadian Baking

Chris Lackie’s short comic, “The Bottom” is a terrifying tale about a destination traveler whose goals have turned him into the very thing he hunts—a monster! With art by Sean Bova, “The Bottom” will appear in the forthcoming Destinations Anthology. Click here to support the anthology now on Kickstarter!

Chris Lackie has written comics published by Red Stylo Media, Oneshi Press , and Arledge Comics. His work is also featured in other comic anthologies, such as the Best of Indie Anthology 2019 and the Continental Cryptid Anthology. He lives in a dreadfully cold place called Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife and two sons.

Photo by Kin Jee

It’s been a while since our last interview with you, Chris! What have you been up to, creatively, since January of 2020?

Well, the global pandemic started shortly after the last interview, and, like a lot of other creators, I found I couldn’t write with any real enthusiasm. I had trouble coming up with new ideas, and none of the ideas I came up with really grabbed me. So, with writing not working and all the uncertainty swirling around, I decided to binge watch every season of the Great Canadian Baking Show. If you’re unfamiliar, the Great Canadian Baking Show is like the Great British Baking Show but with more maple syrup and slightly less rain. It definitely made me feel better, but my creativity was still lacking.

It wasn’t until I made the decision to write a full one-shot comic book that my passion for writing returned with a vengeance. I’ve written a lot of short stories over the last few years, but the idea of writing something longer really excited me. It took a long time, but I finished the script, teamed up with a fantastic artist, and I look forward to talking about it more when I can!

Of course, I still found the time to write a couple short comics that will come out in the near future.

A panel from “The Bottom” with art by Sean Bova

We’re here today to talk about “The Bottom,” your short comic that’s appearing in the Destinations Anthology! Can you tell us about the inspiration for this piece?

Not to give too much away, but “The Bottom” is about a group of people who go on an expedition to Antarctica, and things get real bad, real fast. As a big fan of John Carpenter’s The Thing and the comic book Whiteout by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a story with Antarctica as the main setting. There’s something inherently scary about that place. It’s cold, bleak, and remote. Help is never right around the corner…but death could be.

This story has been percolating in my brain for a while now, but I couldn’t figure out a hook to make it work. During the pandemic, I started reading a lot of old Tales from the Crypt and Haunt of Fear comics, as well as stories from black-and-white horror magazines like Eerie and Creepy. Then it finally hit me: An old-school, black-and-white horror comic set in Antarctica? Just get Sean Bova to create the art and Heather R. MacDonald to do the lettering…and BOOM! I look like a genius!

berbackus cryptid rawr oneshi press justice anthology #09
A panel from “The Berbackus,” with art by Sean Bova

Around the time you submitted the script for “The Bottom,” we read another horror tale of Antarctic exploration—”At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. Did you draw any inspiration from that for your comic?

Is it embarrassing to say that I’ve never read anything from H.P. Lovecraft? Do I lose my horror-writer card for that?

“The Bottom” shares something thematically with “The Berbackus”—your short comic that appeared in the Justice Anthology…a dark yet satisfying sense of humor. Do you think that’s a trademark of your writing?

Gosh, that’d be incredible if it was!

I just try to write things that make me laugh, and nothing is funnier to me than characters who feel entitled and have way too much confidence in themselves. They can get away with saying the most ludicrous things, and, because they’re usually horrible people, it can be funny when bad things happen to them. And when you’re writing a horror story, the bad things can be…monstrous.

A panel from “The Bottom,” with art by Sean Bova

Your mild-mannered alter ego is an economist. Do you find that anything from your day job transfers over to your writing?

In terms of subject matter, not at all…although it’d be cool if demons, aliens, and evil wizards were part of my day job! But, perhaps surprisingly, I do think some of the skills are transferable.   

In my line of work, we have to write memos that cover complicated subject matter, but they often have to stay within very strict page count limits. Decision-makers just don’t have the time to read a 100-page report for every little thing, so we have to pick the most pertinent details of whatever we’re trying to explain and summarize them in a way that is clear and concise. It’s the same in comics. You have the story you want to tell, but, more often than not, you only have so many pages in which you can tell that story. You have to carefully choose the images and words that best convey your tale. The challenge with comics, of course, is that you also want your writing to be entertaining. That’s less of a concern in the economics world.

A panel from “The Bottom,” with art by Sean Bova

Did you read any comics or graphic novels that stand out to you during the pandemic?

You mean other than Mr. Guy: Zombie Hunter? 😊   

As I mentioned earlier, I got way into old horror comics during the pandemic, and one of my favourites was a book of Bernie Wrightson’s stories from Eerie and Creepy. His art is just…unparalleled.

I also read an excellent graphic novel anthology that focuses on mental health issues called Through the Labyrinths of the Mind from Cloudscape Comics. As someone who’s struggled with their own mental health over the years, it’s nice to see the medium I love tackle this sort of subject matter head on.

In terms of more “mainstream” stuff, I read a bunch of apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy books during the pandemic, like Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire, Wonder Woman: Dead Earth by Daniel Warren Johnson, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin by Kevin Eastman, et al. If you’re looking for something entertaining to read, I highly recommended any of these books.

What else are you currently working on?

I’m continuing to work on various one-shot comics that I hope will eventually see the light of day, but I’m also trying to get out and table at more conventions and book fairs. People in the Ottawa area can come see me at Canzine Ottawa on November 6, 2022, and at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair on November 12, 2022. If you can’t make it to Ottawa, keep an eye out for me! I’m going to try to visit other cities as often as I can!

Where can readers find you online?

You can find me at www.chrislackie.wordpress.com or on Twitter at @ChrisLackie. Come say hi!

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