Today we’re profiling artist Steven Ingram, whose webcomics bring horror to Scottish landscapes. You can see more of Steven’s work here. His first graphic novel ‘The Standing Stones’ is a creepy and compelling folk horror tale set in an isolated Scottish village.
The book is out later this year, and you can pre-order a copy through Kickstarter here.
What is it about comics that drew you to the artform?
I think it’s the visual aspect of the story telling. Sometimes when I’m talking to people at conventions they ask me what I prefer about comics, the drawing or the writing. For me, now it’s neither. I love drawing and writing equally, but I loved drawing first and started writing comics in order to give myself something to draw.
How did you get into making comics in the first place?
I’ve always loved drawing and got interested in comics from reading my dad’s Calvin & Hobbes books. I started out making short gag strips as a teenager, which were a good starting point. Eventually I began to feel constrained by the short strip format and wanted to put a bit more feeling into my comics. The turning point for me was coming across a copy of Jason’s The Iron Wagon. What struck me about that comic was that the art was quite simple but extremely atmospheric and it looked like something that I wanted to try and make.
What inspired The Standing Stones?
The setting is greatly inspired by the landscape of the North East of Scotland, particularly the sand dunes and links land just north of Aberdeen. As for the story, I wouldn’t say that there was any one thing. It’s something that evolved slowly over time from an early version about someone using a fake monster to keep people away from their criminal hideout. After a few different incarnations it eventually evolved into a supernatural story.
What makes comics so well suited to horror and supernatural storytelling?
This is a tough one, because I’m not sure that comics are any better for telling this kind of story than any other medium. Prose has the advantage of making the reader use their imagination, which can conjur up something far scarier than an image on a page or a screen. But then, there are plenty of bad horror novels! I’d say that what matters most is that the story is well told rather than the medium.
You’ve now got a number of long webcomic series under your belt. How do you go about planning and creating longer form work, and what are the challenges of telling longer stories?
One of the most important things I’ve found is to have a definite idea in mind for the ending. I normally start there and then go back to the beginning and make a note of various plot points I want to hit along the way. This method leaves room for me to take deviations in the story but means I never get too far off the main plot thread.
Do you listen to anything whilst drawing?
I usually have some music on. I’ll listen to most genres but I find that something with few words like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Mogwai is good for drawing to.
Can you recommend something you watched, played or read recently?
I’ve just finished reading Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein. As well as being the thrilling true story of an ice hockey goalie turned bank robber, it’s also an interesting portrait of a country struggling to adjust to life post-communism.