Kay Honda got an insider’s peek at some Image Comics titles to look out for next year. INFIDEL, a ‘political horror,’ was written by famed bestselling writer and former Vertigo editor, Pornsak Pichetshote, who is teaming up with new artist, Aaron Campbell. Pichetshote talks in great length about the process and why he’s writing a story that combines classic horror tropes and xenophobia! Check out the transcription of the interview below, starting with how Pichetshote found Campbell to do the art. [Editors Note: This transcription has been lightly edited for publication.]

Editor, writer and director, Pornsak Pichetshote.

Pornsak Pichetshote: Um, when it comes to that, one of the things that was really important to me, was that when we were looking for an artist, I needed someone who, one, could draw scary, so that’s not that many people. And then because it was people with a lot of different racial backgrounds and ethnicities, they needed someone who could draw realistically enough to get that across without some kind of cartoony shorthand, that’s just, it’s a little icky, that feels a little icky. So that gets a lot smaller. And then on top of that, being someone who’s seasoned enough who you know won’t like, take a year long vacation to Fiji and you’ll never see them again and um y’know, but someone you can still kind of afford that isn’t being paid crazy bucks from Marvel or DC, so that got a lot smaller. Um, so for me the main thing was get [someone who can] draw scary and draws kind of realistic. Who they found was Aaron, I cannot believe how lucky I was. Aaron is actually um, I think he was a professor when Aaron was studying at [inaudible 00:01:09]


Let’s act like you didn’t ask that question because I honestly don’t remember [crosstalk 00:01:14-00:01:16]. He’s not going to be happy if I don’t remember!

Episode 50: The Origin of Alan Moore’s SWAMP-THING

Interviewer 1: He was a teacher?

Pitchetshote: No, he’s definitely a teacher in Baltimore, I just don’t know if he was teaching someone else when Aaron was studying after — I want to say it’s Baltimore, though…I’ll email you after, and pretend I knew.

Jose [Villarrubia, the colorist], y’know — Aaron kinda took the lead on sort of — after he got the gig he took the lead on the visual approach and he added more to it. Y’know, one of the things that’s like so frustrating about comics as a writer is that no matter how much comics writers like to pretend they’re stars, like they’re not. Like it’s an artist’s medium, y’know? [inaudible 00:01:56-00:01:57] goes like, “I’m the DJ, he’s the rapper,” it’s like… they have to do the hard work, they really have to do the hard work, they have to make it scary.

And so he came up with so many of the approaches. He came up with approaches of doing traditional digital art for most of it and then when we see the ghost it’s a painting, to wash it back. He’s constantly experimenting with techniques to do that. And the thing about Jose is that his whole career has been about experimentation so like he’s the best person — and that’s the really cool thing about working with him is, y’know I remember when I finished the script of issue three, and I was kind of like, “it’s all right, I don’t know what’s wrong with it, might as well tell me,” he was just like, “y’know what, here are the four things that are wrong with it.” And also too, like um, “I feel like we should be getting a little experimental with the stuff that we’re doing, like let’s do that,” and I love that note! Um y’know, like I love that he pushes, ‘cause I look at guys like Jeff Lemire who’s a friend and the way he looks at a page as a unit and goes through an emotional set on a page basis. The way a guy like Tom King comes around and really you can tell every issue he’s trying to figure out what he can do to push the form and do something we’ve never seen before. So I really wanted to do that to not be ashamed [inaudible 00:03:14].


The newly released cover for INFIDEL, coming to Image Comics March 2018!

Interviewer 2: So I find the comic really interesting especially with the ghost feeding off of xenophobia. As we know, marginalized groups, individual people can have very different experiences dealing with that, and I think the ghost feeding off that is a really cool concept. Can you talk about how you approached writing that into the script and if there was any outside research–

Pitchetshote: Oh my God, so much outside research! So much outside — By the way, if you want to come across as a creeper to your friends, best thing to do is say, “hey, I’m looking to talk about some — I’m looking to talk to Pakistani women [inaudible 00:03:52], or something?” No better way to come off as a creeper to your friends.

A lot of it was talking to a lot of people. If I had those friends in my network, he was going through that network, there was a lot of newspaper article reading, a lot of book reading about it just to try and make sure I got that experience right. I mean, like I said, the thing I feel like we’re really missing in our culture right now that I feel like used to be there is narratives with people of many different backgrounds or where the backgrounds that get into the narrative. I don’t know any other way of getting there but by a lot of research and talking to a lot of people.

And what’s crazy in this day and age, is that talking to people now can count as research. That is an actual research thing that I did, and it’s tricky, too. I just found out two weeks ago that one of my closest friends I’ve known since college for the past fifteen years was Christian. I had no idea. I’ve been up till 3 in the morning talking to her and I had no idea. Talking religion today, people are very private about it. And so to come to people that you don’t know and ask, “what’s your religion, tell me about it,” is a weird conversation to have. The first issue will have a very large special thanks blurb and it will be with a number of people that I — amongst many other people — but the people that I talked to that shared their experiences and helped sort of inform me [inaudible 00:05:23-00:05:25].

Episode 88: Marvel’s Muslim Superheroes – Ms. Marvel, Monet St. Croix, and Dust

Kat Salazar (Image PR): We can take one more question, then we’ll wrap up. Or are we ready now? I think we might be ready, we covered a lot of ground.

PP: Yeah, I’m sorry. I talk (laughs).

Interviewer: Well, thank you!

PP: Thank you!

Many thanks to Image Comics’ PR Director, Kat Salazar, for giving ComicsVerse the fantastic opportunity to gain some insight on a very exciting new title about xenophobia with a dash of classic horror! ComicsVerse will continue to cover unique and progressive content such as Pichetshote and Campbell’s work for INFIDEL, and we can’t wait to see it when it releases March 2018. Mark your calendars and check here for any coverage or analyses on INFIDEL!

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