- Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
The Local Haunt – Volume1 is the first story arc in this series consisting of issues 1-5.
When Guy Lemon moves to the small river town of Stillwater, MN he was hoping for a slower pace of life. When he finds a job living and working at a fancy-pants old mansion on the edge of town he feels like life is finally going his way. However, when a deal seems too good to be true it too often is, and Guy finds himself in way over his mop-haired head. Despite warnings from locals and friends he finds himself plunged into way more mystery and intrigue than he was bargaining for that morning. Between living with ghosts, gremlins, hellhounds, mad doctors, a possible clone of Elvis, and now shadowy government agents knocking at the gates, it’ll be amazing if he makes it through the night.
The Local Haunt initially started as a joke comic strip, making fun of classic haunted house and scary movie tropes, but a scenario where the main character was not at all scared but more annoyed at the creatures ‘haunting’ his house. As I wrote small bits, I found story threads and characters I liked, took those bits, and cooked up a cohesive storyline and relaunched the book in its first full volume.
- Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I am constantly reading or listening to stories about history, conspiracies, legends, and lore. Always having a journal close at hand, I’ll jot down notes on bits that stand out to me. As I’m illustrating my books as well as writing, I keep parallel journals and sketchbooks to compile ideas as I go along. As I collect bits of information and stories, I also collect visuals that stand out to me. I’ll see buildings and locations, art and design trends, clothing styles, vehicles, really anything that stands out as something I might want to use in a story. You never know how elements will connect to you and a part of a story can emerge from those pieces.
Having a deep love for classic American comics. I grew up with Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man and Stan Lee, learning about the ‘Marvel Method’ for writing. What stood out is, since comic books are a predominantly visual medium, they left a great deal of room for the visuals to help shape the story as much as the writing. When the action gets worked out on the page visually, it can make evident if the story flow works, needs adjustments, or needs help to make it as dynamic as it can be. As I write, I leave room to do the same. I get my basic plot points on the page, main action and interactions written. I then storyboard each page out to see how it flows. Sometimes my writing lines up visually quite well and other times, I’ll find too much shoved into one page, or not enough or I realize a character should do X, Y or Z instead of what I initially had them doing.
Making the writing and the visuals come together is the greatest challenge as typically have a very clear look I want to go for in the end, on the page. It can take some amount of burning through sketch pages to craft a look for a character or location, vehicle, or props used in the story, and I find it’s easier to write a scene than take that from my brain and spill it to the page, but the challenge is a source of joy for me.
The Local Haunt -Vol. 1 took about 3 years to complete, mainly because it was a side project that I’d do a few hours here a few there, writing, concepting, doing pencils, inks, coloring, and formatting for press. Over time those hours added up to the first issue, then the second and so on, a testament to small moves very day getting you where you want to go.
- Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
As mentioned previously in the comic book realm, Stan Lee and the “Marvel Method” of writing helped shape keeping my scripts loose and open to change as I go along; a luxury of being my own illustrator. I was also drawn to other comic writers such as Tom DeFalco, Peter David, Jeph Loeb, Ed Berubaker. They all had a great understanding of the visual nature of comics, writing to make things appear at an epic and hyper dynamic scale on the page.
Other authors I enjoy are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, L.A. Marzulli, Tolkein, and Jules Verne.
- What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
Primarily I write to draw. Usually, I have a visual of a character or story in my mind before words and I have to craft the story to provide context for the visuals I have floating around in my mind. My initial inspiration for writing The Local Haunt was when a friend of mine was watching one of those goofy ghost-hunter shows where they say, “BRO did you hear that?!”, quite a lot, and he was getting creeped out. It was hilarious for me, the dichotomy of the cheesy show and his scaredy cat response to it all. The idea of a story of the haunted house that wasn’t truly haunted but nobody, but the main character knows, struck me as a funny basis for a comic strip. Comic strips lead me to come up with various characters and those strip stories added up to inspire me to build those pieces into a full comic series. Bit by bit it started to make some kind of sense and was entirely entertaining to create and thrilling to draw and visually bring to life.
Along this whole journey I learned my favorite time to write, draw and create was, initially very late nights which transitioned to very early in the morning hours when everyone was sleeping. A quiet and calm house meets up with wild and crazy story crafting. Sleep was and is optional.
My design desk and office have all the creative tools at hand as well as visuals to bounce off and to spark creative thoughts as I go along.
- When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time is a commodity but when it’s found my family and I enjoy spending it outdoors. In past years we were inspired to buy an older metro shuttle bus and convert it into a custom camper bus. With this sweet ride, we’ve struck out across the Midwest, and it’s allowed us to visit so many amazing state and national parks. We get to have fun new adventures, but I also get to add historic stories, and facts to my journals as we roll along. Rich history is out there and it's often more fascinating than fiction. Don’t be afraid to take unscheduled stops along the way. I also enjoy attending comic conventions and practice Kung Fu.
- Favorite place to go to in Minnesota?
Well, Stillwater, MN is always enjoyable to visit. The cool, small, river town vibe was inspiring enough to set my story for The Local Haunt in and around its downtown. I also was drawn to the international connection Duluth affords us with Lake Superior’s connection to the Atlantic Ocean. Visiting the Glensheen Mansion there on the North Shore also helped inspire my writing and visual directions. The state parks, historic locations up the North shore are also places I love getting back to from time to time.
- Where can readers find you online?
Website: acitoninkcomics.com or kevinwind.com
Facebook: @actioninkcomics or @KevinWindDesign
Instagram: @actioninkcomics or @kevinwind_art