This week, an independent press out of Los Angeles introduced an awesome new contribution to field of contemporary horror comics. It's called Blood Root, and it's being produced by Shing Yin Khor of Sawdust Press.
Shing is an artist in her own right, creating comics such as Center for Otherworld Science and autobiographical short stories, as well as fine art sculptures of creatures she calls "Gravebeasts." The Gravebeasts are alarmingly cute despite their nomenclature (You can find images of them here), which seems to be Shing's driving aesthetic.
You won't find slasher fiction or torture porn in the pages of Blood Root. Instead, Shing has curated works that represent "a very specific type of horror . . . slow, moody and psychological" consisting of "a bunch of strange little stories with amazing art and a diverse range of characters, by a similarly diverse slate of creators."
The title itself is the popular name of the flowering plant Sanguinaria. "I wanted to name the anthology after something both sweet and sinister, and a pretty and poisonous flower fit the bill." The stories themselves range in subject from seemingly shape-shifting sea creatures to Haitian Vodou traditions.
|From "The Family That Eats Together" by James Neish|
I contacted creator James Neish regarding his heartbreaking contribution to Blood Root. (You can visit his Facebook artist page here.) He said he "wanted to dedicate something to Hayao Miyazaki in his year of retirement, so this short comic is inspired by his work, which has molded my approach to storytelling through the years." James currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia but met Shing when they attended school together in the Philippines.
I've never met Shing Yin Khor in person. I've only corresponded with her via the internet, regarding a story I submitted for consideration in Blood Root. I'm already impressed, though, by her inclusion of truly diverse artists representing a variety of styles, from a variety of countries, and her professionalism in dealing with me as an artist is even greater inspiration for me to step up my game as a comics creator.
Blood Root Number One is available online as a pay-what-you-want (even free!) digital download here. If you're like me, and enjoy holding stories in your hand in a print publication, you'll be able to purchase a beautifully printed edition for $8 here after the 4th of July. Which reminds me of another vital bit of information: Blood Root contributors get paid a healthy licensing fee for their stories, so know that your payment goes to supporting good artists!
I'll be writing about Blood Root again in the future, and I definitely want to further explore the idea of how the internet is creating a comics community without borders or boundaries. So come back later and join me in exploring that topic.
Until then, go check Blood Root Number One out!
Quick Update: I almost neglected to mention that this issue of Blood Root has a lovely, scientific illustration of the Sanguinaria plant by hometown Seattle artist Angela Boyle!