November 25, 2015

Indiewire again presents an amazing season 3 episode of TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE. April Snellings makes her TALES debut with FOOD CHAIN, a freaky southern gothic Bigfoot tale.


For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows.

The season continues with Rue Morgue contributor April Snellings’ “Food Chain.” Listen to the episode above, and read an interview with Snellings conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below.

Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.

Your background is journalism. What’s it been like to jump into the creative side of things?

It’s been fantastic, and what I’ve always been working toward. You can’t ask for a better experience than writing for Glass Eye Pix. They told me at the beginning that this would be my story – that they’d be here for guidance, but that ultimately “Food Chain” would always be my weird, mutant baby. They made good on their promise, so I’m probably a little spoiled now.

How does the Southern Gothic tradition of storytelling influence your work?

I think it shows up in everything I write. I love the genre – that pervasive sense of decay, the twisted family dynamics, the dark humor, the grotesquery, the moral failings of a culture that’s warped by fundamentalist religion and its own ugly past. I only wish there’d been room for a crazy aunt in an attic. Maybe next time…

What’s your relationship to the Big Foot legend?

I’m from East Tennessee, an area with a very long tradition of monster legends. My state has more than fourteen million acres of forestland, so that’s a lot of damn monsters. When I was a kid, my grandfather used to scare me with stories about a very Southern monster called a wampus cat, which had me convinced there were monsters in the woods. As I got older, that turned into an interest in Bigfoot, the king of American monsters.

Years ago, there was a story on our local news about a woman who was really upset because she thought a Bigfoot had thrown half a cat at her. She was fabulous, and probably the grandmother of “Food Chain.”

What sort of stories did you consider when coming up with this idea?

EC Comics and other horror comics from the ’50s were a huge influence on “Food Chain.” I really love genre comics from that era, especially horror anthologies. The stories were batshit and they really pushed the envelope in terms of violence and gore, but they still had a sense of playfulness and often even a social conscience. They were gross and twisted and fun, and I wanted to play in that world with “Food Chain.” Also, I love crime fiction and sitcoms as much as I love horror, and I wanted to play with all of those elements – to write a heist story about people who have absolutely no business planning a heist. I dunno, I guess it’s kind of a bonkers hodgepodge of everything I obsess over.

What sort of challenges did you face in writing this episode?

My first draft of the script felt very top-heavy, but Glenn and Larry immediately suggested ways I could fix that – those guys are incredible storytellers, and they know this medium in and out.

Besides that, the main challenge was also the thing that makes this medium so much fun to write: finding organic ways to keep the reader oriented as to what’s going on – figuring out how to hide the narration in the action, I guess. It inspired some really fun gags and story elements.

In your opinion, how does this approach to storytelling differ from the kinds of horror films made today?

I love that these stories are small and self-contained, and that they can be really experimental – there’s no consideration of a franchise or sequels, no limits to what you can do, and no studio worried about recouping a multi-million dollar investment. You can play with exotic locations, unconventional story structures, weird surrealism – whatever you want, as long as it makes some noise.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now. I’m co-writing a script with Glenn McQuaid that I’m extremely excited about; I’m working on a very cool project for Rue Morgue that will be showing up in early 2016; I’m cooking up a comic book project with a fantastically talented illustrator pal; and, like everyone on the planet, I’m finishing up a novel. Hopefully the Glass Eye Pix gang will invite me back to play in their sandbox again!

Graham Humphreys

November 25, 2015

Indiewire’s back with another Season 3 episode of TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE. Listen in to the second installment in McQuaid’s loose “crime of passion trilogy.”


From Indiewire:

For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows.

The season continues with filmmaker Glenn McQuaid’s “The Ripple at Cedar Lake.” Listen to the episode above, and read an interview with McQuaid conducted by Indiewire’s Eric Kohn about the inspiration for the episode below.

Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.

Where did the idea for this one come from?

“The Ripple at Cedar Lake” is the second part of a loose crime of passion trilogy that started with Season 2’s “The Crush.” I’m a big fan of EC’s Crime SuspenStories and wanted to tap into that world while keeping one foot firmly beyond the pale. While the double crossing in “The Crush” is coupled with a revenge from beyond the grave scenario, “Ripple” throws some weird science into the mix. I also wanted to put some sexuality into the audio drama format. Why not?

How has your relationship to this style of storytelling evolved?

I’ve become more confident in terms of committing to writing wilder storylines. Taking chances with different structures and tone is an awful lot easier when you’re writing a 30 page script that you know is going to get produced. It’s been very liberating for the writer in me. I’ve explored topics like religion, politics, war and dementia and been able to add my own stamp to them.

What’s the difference between performing live and recording in studio?

Performing “Tales from Beyond the Pale” live is a total blast. We only have one shot at getting everything right, so we have to go in really prepared. Sound design must already be built and our sound effects have to be organized in a way that’s easy to trigger live; the actors must rely on the foley artist for their physical performance, and the musicians have to hit all the right cues. It’s a lot to organize but once it’s all rolling, it’s incredible. Of course, things can go wrong live but that only adds to the magic.

The studio method is a lot more relaxed. The big difference is that we can have multiple takes which feels like a real luxury after the live experience. The studio pieces usually start with the vocal performance, and we build on it from there. The process is quite close to a film’s post production flow.

What’s it like to write one of these?

The more I read, the more I write, the easier it is for me to write. So l soak up a lot of novels, mostly horror fiction. Right now I’m on an eighties kick, reading people like Charles L. Grant, Robert R. McCammon and Gary Brandner — the pulpier the better.

I tend to write my “Tales” pretty quickly, or at least get a full first draft out of me before I can change my mind. We had a recent live show in Montreal and I surprised myself by writing three pieces before settling on one tale, which I then asked April Snellings to polish. I love collaborating with other writers. I’ve also had fun writing scripts with Clay McLeod Chapman and Ted Geoghegan.

You’ve taken on a bigger role this season by designing the music and sound design. What has that entailed?

I’ve been wanting to get deeper into sound design and music for a while now, so when we started off the season, I learned a few programs and sank my teeth into these aspects of the show. I’ve been tinkering with making my own music for a few years now, so it’s been really cool to get some tunes out there. I had a lot of fun scoring Jeff Buhler’s tale, “Guttermouth.” It’s got a real melodramatic 80s synth score, like “Pretty in Pink” by way of “Coil,” and it’s bananas. Music is probably my biggest obsession. I listen to absolutely everything, so it’s a real treat to get my own stuff out there. Larry, on top of everything else, is a terrific musician, so there’s a real respect and love for music going on in “Tales.”

How does gay content usually surface in horror films and what role does your work play in that?

This is a tough question. I think people are quite touchy when it comes to overt commentary on homosexuality in horror. I remember people were so annoyed at the two “Hostel” movies, calling them homophobic for even broaching the subject. It’s like people were saying Eli Roth had no right to be commenting on sexuality in these types of movies. I didn’t get the argument at all. I think those movies are great, especially the second one, which felt like vintage Hammer to me. But getting back to gay content: For the most part, I think the history of homosexuality in horror has been more covert but it occasionally comes to the surface. Films like “The Haunting” and even “Dracula’s Daughter” really went for it, and then there’s movies like “Tower of Evil,” where it’s all about John Hamill’s ass.

Writing gay content has never been at the top of my to-do list, but it’s definitely creeping into my work. “The Ripple at Cedar Lake” is probably more bisexual, though. Everyone is getting their leg over.

Gay visibility in pop culture has come a long way, thank God. When I was a kid, it was all evil queens and sissies and it had a profound effect on me. I thought those were the choices. I tried to pray the gay away for years — until l saw “Dynasty,” haha.

What’s next for you?

I’ve got a few feature scripts that I’m just starting to shop around and I’m currently working with April Snellings on something that we’re both really excited about. Larry and I also want to get out all the live Tales that we’ve been stockpiling. They’re really good!

The Ripple at Cedar Lake

November 20, 2015

Indiewire’s hosting brand new Season 3 episodes of TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE. Check out the newest, SPACE JUNK by Brahm Revel.

From Indiewire:

For the next several weeks, Indiewire is exclusively premiering new episodes from the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale,” the audio play series produced by Glass Eye Pix. Episodes will be available for two-day windows.

Listen to the previous episode here. In this second episode, comic book writer and poster artist Brahm Revel presents “Junk Science,” the story of an astronaut who comes around a haunted spaceship. Listen to “Junk Science” above, and read his thoughts on the project in the interview with Indiewire’s Eric Kohn below.

This episode feels a bit like “2001” meets “Aliens.” What inspired you to write it?

My first thought was, how can I make a story that will play to the strengths of a purely audio based storytelling medium? Normally I work in comics, which is the complete opposite of radio, all visuals and no sound, so thinking of specific ways in which sound could drive the story was my first priority. I also wanted to choose an environment that would be interesting to describe audibly. Something that could be suggested but also be vague enough that listeners could fill in the rest with their imaginations. Outer space seemed to fit the bill pretty nicely. A dark and nebulous place that has hints of bigger things just beyond what the eye can see. I also realized that when ships communicated by radio it would allow for characters to describe their surroundings very naturally, without it sounding too forced. From there, the ideas for sentient ship computers were not far off. In fact, 3 of the 4 characters in my story ended up being disembodied voices (2 AIs and one voice on a radio), which, I think, ended up working very nicely for the medium.

So yes, “2001” was, of course, a big influence, but Spike Jonze’s “Her” also inspired me a lot. Interpersonal relationships with artificial intelligence are fascinating to me. Humans project so much of themselves on to inanimate objects that anything remotely human seems completely alive to us. How this will affect us as technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives is anyone’s guess!

Anyway, that was some of the initial inspiration. That, and what a haunted operating system might look like.

If this were a film, it would probably require a lot of special effects. What did you enjoy about working within the audio medium? And what were the biggest challenges?

Yeah, that’s a question for the filmmakers out there. In radio plays, as in comics, if you can imagine it, you can afford it! I’m sure it was very liberating for a lot of the film directors to essentially have an unlimited FX budget!

But to follow what I was saying earlier, my main goal was to take advantage of the storytelling properties unique to the radio format. You can suggest a lot with very little in radio, and I had a lot of fun playing in a new world built completely of sound. And music! Music is such a powerful tool for mood and ambiance. These are things that I don’t normally get to work with in comics, so I wanted to play with these elements as much as possible.

As for challenges…well, when I work in comics, I really try to let the visuals tell the story. You know, the old storytelling maxim, “show, don’t tell.” Well, in radio that still applies, but you have to “tell” the “showing.”

I know! Confusing, right!?

More generally, what do you make of sci-fi horror today?

I don’t know…As always, I think it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Sci-fi, like horror, is at its best when it acts as a metaphor for our underlying fears and insecurities. I really loved David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows.” Though, the ending was a little lackluster. “Enemy” by Denis Villeneuve was really nice as well. Oh! And “Ex Machina” from Alex Garland! I saw this after I’d already finished recording and editing “Junk Science,” but I’m sure it would have been a big influence had I seen it earlier.

But for every interesting movie, there are 20 more that are just paint-by-numbers photocopies of the same ol’ thing. So, I don’t know…

In comics, there’s a few interesting things happening. “Prophet” by Brandon Graham and Simon Roy is waaaay out there! But the ratio of good to bad is probably even worse than film.

As a comic book writer, how did your experience with that process help you with this one?

I don’t know if I approached the process any differently. In terms of writing, I just try to let the idea dictate the medium. This story could have been told as a comic, or a short movie, but, if I did my job correctly, it was most suited as a radio play. I think you just have to keep yourself from trying to force square pegs in round holes. Other than that, these mediums aren’t all that different. The difference between a comic script, a screenplay, and a radio play are all very minor.

What are some of the differences between writing for a big company — say, Marvel — and a smaller independent one like Glass Eye Pix?

Well, I’ve been very lucky. Due to the nature of the project at Marvel, I was actually given a lot of freedom. They were letting indie creators take their crack at Marvel characters, so there was never any restrictions other than to try and keep the story in continuity (and even that wasn’t completely off limits). Ironically, the hardest part for me was creating stories for characters that were already established!

But in general, freedom is what you look for in every project, and working with Glass Eye Pix is exactly that! They create projects specifically as venues to support the unique voices of the friends and colleagues they’ve worked with through the years. I hope the fans realize this and support fringe projects like these, because, in my opinion, the best work happens when the shackles come off.

How has your experience with Glass Eye Pix, working on storyboards, comics and posters, informed your work as a whole?

Working with Glass Eye Pix has been, by far, the most important working relationship in my career. I connected with Larry Fessenden right out of college, back in 1999, and for many years worked almost exclusively for them. They allowed me to make a living as a commercial artist (in NYC of all places!) and to learn my craft while I did it. Sometimes we made comic adaptations which allowed me to find my style and storytelling voice. Other times I learned how to animate so we could pitch a project or create an animatic.

There has always been a DIY attitude at Glass Eye Pix that I’ve embraced, and it’s an important reason why I’ve had the success that I’ve had. It’s a work ethic that is important for all artists to have, especially at this point in time, where being a successful artist means being your own manager, and your own publicist, and a web designer, and an accountant, and a producer, and on and on. If you want to get something done, you figure out how to do it. That’s what Glass Eye Pix does. And that’s exactly the reason that Tales From Beyond the Pale exists.

Pre-order the third season of “Tales From Beyond the Pale” here.