An Interview With K. Brandon Wilt
K. Brandon Wilt is a creator who uses both visual media and the written word. He is the creator of ‘Six in the Mourning’ which is a webcomic that is “a supernatural road trip story of six friends dealing with a shared loss.” Today, he’s taken some time to sit down with us and chat about his work and various projects.
Full disclosure, Wilt also designed our new Trembling With Fear logo and if you’re in search of having an illustration created you should check out his Facebook portfolio!
Horror Tree: Brandon, first off thank you for joining us today! As ‘Six in the Mourning’ is your most prominent work, without giving too much away could you tell us a little about the plot?
K. Brandon Wilt: Thank you so much for having me! Absolutely! The story opens a few weeks after the death of Dawn. Her brother Alek is consumed with grief and sets out for his family’s cabin in the woods to suffer alone. Fearing for his safety (and possibly others) his girlfriend Lynn along with uninvited friends Nick and Darren go after him. On again/off again couple Ben and Christine unfortunately are stuck riding together. You find out quickly that they aren’t the only ones following, an unrevealed sinister force is along for the ride. The entire story is essentially broken down into four sections highlighting each group and different tones as they travel. Although these characters are dealing with a deep loss and the supernatural, the story isn’t all doom and horror. There’s a lot of light-hearted moments between these young twentysomethings and their mix of personalities and dynamics. At the core it’s about this group of six friends trying to get through a surreal painful time. It’s like the Big Chill on the road infused with action and the paranormal. If their pain of mourning wasn’t bad enough, it’s about to get much worse.
HT: Did any real-life experiences factor in to crafting this tale?
BW: Yes, a good friend of mine committed suicide when I was roughly the age of these characters. This story was influenced by that. How everyone mourns differently. How it almost seems like whatever overwhelming pain or suffering that one person has doesn’t die with them, but it’s distributed around to others. It’s there in the corner of your eyes darting behind tombstones. Reality becomes surreal and your mind desperately grasps at putting back some sense of order following a tragedy. This graphic novel mixes that heaviness with random ridiculous road trips with friends. Traveling together brings out a certain sense of honesty. Trapped in a vehicle for hours together good or bad, whether you’re going for fun or for something serious I think is an interesting time on its own. This story is melding those things. Plus I just love horror and comics, so it seemed like the obvious way to knit together the story.
HT: What inspired you to put ‘Six in the Mourning’ together?
BW: Having had a somewhat darker disposition, I wanted to tell a story of getting through something hard when it seems impossible. When all seems completely lost. This story is about getting through an emotional time and how a good circle of friends can help. To tie that to horror or a ghost story really I found very appealing. I wanted to try to capture that feeling not only with the story itself, but also in the way it’s presented. It’s designed so the reader is working things out along with the group’s own sense of unsettling confusion. The characters just naturally developed and watching their interaction as they travel is what’s important to me. Creatures, abilities, and what I felt were cooler aspects I wanted to incorporate are just the vehicles to move the story along and set the feel and tone for their surreal almost pocket-like universe they journey through.
HT: How was it to work with other creatives to bring this story to life? Was this a collaborative process or did you more direct how things moved forward?
BW: I have an annoying habit of deputizing or recruiting people for my random crazy projects. If you foolishly tell me you’re interested in something, I’ll most likely find something for you to do. Like a monstrous (yet loveable!) dictator. Although it’s my story, characters, and pencils I’ve been incredibly fortunate to coerce (to their dismay) some amazingly talented and skilled people to bring this to being (as opposed to just a huge stack of pages sitting next to my desk.)
I will go over the page layouts and story with Jay Heptner and without fail he’ll produce dialogue for these characters that are spot on perfect. When I first met him forever ago I off handedly mentioned to him a group of us were putting together an anthology, a way to showcase some of our work. Not knowing he was a writer he showed up later with a script for a project that would fit an entire graphic novel! Smart, layered, and funny work, Jay is an excellent writer.
Christopher Rehner volunteered to color to help get this project to the public. And although I told him I just wanted something simple to set the tone, he went all out and gave 110 percent on the chapters he worked on.
I recruited letterer extraordinaire Kurt Hathaway who’s worked for Marvel, DC, Extreme, and more companies than I can list after writer Dave Golightly’s stint on crafting word balloons for Book 1. Kurt also produced the teaser animation video. And I have to rely on my tech support Chaz York to help upload it all to the site, since I’m practically a Ludite.
I can’t thank everyone enough who worked on, assisted, supported, or listened to me prattle on talking about this. The list is huge since I’ve been working on this since the early 2000s (which is around when this story is set). I know they all dread my “are you making art or excuses?” texts and e-mails, but I do appreciate them all.
HT: What does the future hold for ‘Six in the Mourning’?
BW: The series is set to be seven issues collected as a graphic novel. But due to the unrestricted format of publishing on-line those issues are able to vary in length allowing the story to play out organically. I’m also able to pepper in little videos, animation, sketches, and notes to give more depth to the project. I’ve also sculpted full size Silent masks that may become available (along with putting together a six foot tall version for display, because that’s the kind of thing you do when you wake up crazy early like a maniac…). T-shirts should be available coming up. There are plans for the story Dawn was writing to be released. Possibly a one shot featuring Alek’s “lost time”. There’s also another part that occasionally starts scratching at the inside of my skull, but for now the focus is to complete the seven issue mini-series.
HT: What other projects do you currently have in the works or are you planning to bring to life?
BW: Six In The Mourning is the big one right now. Other than that I’ll find time for mostly creepy illustrations, commission pieces, random sculptures, and the occasional short horror story. With the art stuff and my comic shop Bent Wookee Comix, I’m always working on something. The shop has developed into a community of people not only celebrating comics, but also a meeting ground for creatives working on their own projects.
HT: Do you have any stories which you’ve been dying to tell that you could tease us with?
BW: I’ve always found short horror stories like what you’d find in Tales From The Crypt to be really interesting. Little morality tales featuring things I prefer drawing like creatures, demons, monsters, you know all the fun stuff! I like to be able to noodle around on just a few pages and not get tied into a big story.
HT: If you could work on any mainstream comic, which would it be and why?
BW: Since I’m more interested in drawing creatures, probably Ghost Rider or something like Werewolf By Night. I was always a Wolverine fan though, that would be fun. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, Eric Powell’s The Goon, or James O’Barr’s The Crow have always been the types of things to inspire. Telling your own story with your own characters unrestricted to the type of genre. Just because it’s a comic book doesn’t mean it has to be super heroes. The medium is open to any kind art style or story you want to tell.
HT: What are you working on next?
BW: There’s plenty more Six In The Mourning to work on currently. I’ll fit in a short story or commission illustration, but that’s really the main focus. Maybe start an army for positive projects out of people who love comics. Dunno. I’m sure it’ll be something considered relatively impractical. Guess we’ll see.
HT: Thank you again for your time, If there is anything you’d like to showcase or share with our readers, please let us know now!
BW: Keep your eyes out for more Six In The Mourning. There are three of the seven issues available for free for a limited time at www.sixinthemourning.com with more updates coming soon. You can check out more of my projects, sketches, and work at “Art of K. Brandon Wilt” on Facebook and “bwilt_art” on Instagram. If you’re looking for funny books and cool collectibles, check out my shop Bent Wookee Comix in Johnstown, Pa. And I just wanted to thank you for having me do the logo for Trembling With Fear, you have so many amazing writers contributing!
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!