The second issue of Trigger Warning, our modest online short fiction magazine, is live (or undead) just in time for Halloween with an all-horror issue.
Last month we turned to Preston Lerner for a humorous light hearted tale, A Literary Horror Story, as a palette cleanser for the darker stories filling out that issue as well as a tribute to our pulpy roots. Sweet Dreams couldn’t be farther from that in spirit. It’s a (literally) nightmarish story in the gruesome spirit of EC comics. For the illustration there were many vivid images to draw from but I chose one of the smallest, trying to emphasize the dread looming for the main character.
Another returning writer, horror maven Joe Moe (author of Hell’s a Cabin, issue one), can always be counted on for a gory tale. There’s an amazing visual within the story but I couldn’t use it because it spoils the big twist. I chose to illustrate the moment just before that.
Hiding the Body
Tom Lavagnino’s (Children of the New Moon, issue one) short story, Hiding the Body, provided a couple of challenges and proved to be the most difficult illustration in the issue. First, it was hard to avoid spoiling the payoff. But Tom had this evocative image of a boy writing in the mist on a car window. So I knew I’d use that, but it took me forever to figure out exactly what he was drawing. Plain stick figures looked like Hangman. A coffin proved unwieldy. I settled on the stick figure with X-ed out eyes, the universal sign for kaput.
We were delighted to get our first contribution from Judith Lewis Mernit, A Trip to the Wood. The story is so ambiguous it was difficult to get a handle on visually. Traffic signs are a bit of a design cliche, but I thought the counterpoint between the oddly-specific sign and the sheer cliff set up a visual question that mirrors the question at the heart of the story.
NO RIGHT TURN is a Twilight Zone-ish story of a man seemingly trapped in a dream. I tried to capture a frozen moment, as snow starts to fall and a traffic light waits.
One of the pleasures of working on Trigger Warning has been exploring the internet in the search for writers. (We encourage your submissions!) I discovered this story on the website Creepypasta Wiki. It was posted by a writer named Umbrello under Creative Commons, free for use. In that spirit, I’m posting this illustration under CC as well.
The Facts in the Case of M. ValdemarFor Halloween we wanted to pay tribute to some past masters of horror so I found this grisly, lesser-known gem from Edgar Allan Poe. The story has an interesting backstory because Poe apparently published it as a hoax at first, not admitting that it was fiction until later.
As another tribute, I loosely modeled the hypnotist on Peter Cushing as the unhinged, batsh*t crazy Baron Frankenstein from Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), my favorite Hammer Horror film.
The Terrible Old ManA story from another maestro, H.P. Lovecraft. I really deliberated with this illustration, spending most of my time on a failed attempt to make a skull out of a house (below, unfinished) before decided to go with a simpler graphic approach.