Bloody Good Horror: Describe "Saint Chaos", the character and the comic series.
Noah Dorsey: Simon Monroe unintentionally assumes the role of his alter-ego, Saint Chaos, once he no longer fears death. In fact, he welcomes it. His life has been a long string of disastrous, heart-breaking, and tragic events and he's ready to check out. He no longer wants anything to do with the living. Fuck life and everything about it. He just doesn't have the guts to do it himself. It seems that his wish will be granted when a psychopath agrees to kill him. The only catch is that the killer wants to do it in four days. On his birthday. Simon won't know when, where or how, but he can rest assured that it will be gloriously painful. Simon begins to wander aimlessly, not sure what to do with his remaining time, when he stumbles upon a man in danger. Without consideration for his own life he violently engages the attackers and overpowers them with raw brutality. Simon realizes that he gets some exhilaration from the fight. A sort of rush. He could even say he had a little fun with his life on the line. That's when he decides to seek out peril and help the people that the city has ignored and forgotten. If he dies in the meantime, who cares. He's going to die anyway.
BGH: "Saint Chaos" has a wicked streak of black comedy running through it. Did you feel the need to infuse the material with levity, or do you just have a dark sense of humor?
ND: Ha! I'd probably have to say both. The humor that is woven into the story is very intentional. Mostly because I'm more intrigued with genre stories that don't take itself too seriously. Sure, there are straight up horror stories that are fantastic but I rather like the challenge to surprise the reader with a spontaneous spark of something they weren't expecting. And even make it a bit cerebral. Make the reader work for it. I also believe, if such genre weaving is done effectively, then it makes it enjoyable for multiple reads. Someone can pick the issue up again and catch things they didn't catch before. I got a lot of that from Tarantino's work. You can watch his flicks over and over again and catch something different every time. He's also a genius at blending genres. But ultimately, I didn't feel it was absolutely necessary to add humor to the story of Saint Chaos in order to lighten the material, but to give it an extra layer. Something to keep the reader on their toes keep them guessing as to the direction the story will go.
BGH:There's a lot of interesting topics threading through this issue, from candy manufacturing, torture devices, and suicide methods. What sort of research did you do?
ND: "Saint Chaos" was actually an extension of an unfinished novel I had began called Suicide Monroe and a screenplay that I had written back in 2007. I had lived the candy manufacturing aspect so that wasn't difficult to write about it and I'll be the first to admit that I just took those machines that were used to make candy and turned them into torture devices. That actually wasn't hard since a lot of those people who worked on the factory floor with me when I was a kid would tell me horrific stories of accidents that had supposedly occurred. There is a shot early in the comic where Honeycomb uses a candy puller to tear the arm off of a helpless victim. There is a story I was told where a man who worked under my grandfather wasn't paying attention and got his arm caught in the rotating steel bars. Evidently he lived, but not before being horribly injured. As for the suicide stuff I had done quite a bit of research for the novel and used those notes for the comic. Researching material for such a topic is difficult considering the content, but I felt it was necessary in order to wrap my head around Simon's character. This is a guy who is so desperate to kill himself that when he realizes that he can't do it himself he actively seeks out someone to volunteer to do it for him. He wants it that badly. It definitely makes him mentally imbalanced to a degree. Not as much as Honeycomb (the psychopath that agrees to kill him), but it makes them somewhat similar. That's interesting to me - that the good guy shares significant qualities with the bad guy. It reminds me a lot of Batman and the Joker. Joker is WAY crazier than Batman could ever be, but the Dark Knight is still mentally imbalanced. He is a sociopath. A man obsessed with justice to a degree that it is undeniably unhealthy. Simon isn't obsessed with justice, he is just a man with a death wish. The only immediate redeeming quality he has (at least in issue #1) is that he realizes that if he is going to engage in some raw, brutal violence he is going to do it helping people who need such services.
BGH:How did you come up with the white roses in a garbage can myth? Is it inspired by folklore or an existing urban legend?
ND: Not that I know of. It was just a morbid thought that a child who accidentally killed himself on a playground would haunt it and follow anyone home who dared to mourn his death. The whole scenario makes sense for Simon's story because it shows just how desperate he is. If he is willing to test the validity of a silly urban legend like the white roses in a garbage can it is pretty obvious that he is at rock bottom. When he meets Honeycomb he sincerely believes that he has no options left.
BGH:Tell us about the inception of Honey Comb, a serial killer that claims to work out of an abandoned candy factory.
ND: I grew up in a handmade candy factory. My grandfather started Hammond's Candies in Denver a handful of decades ago and specialized in handmade confections. My father took it over once he died. It was a small family owned business and I began working there at a fairly young age. At the time I felt it was completely normal working in a factory with boiling kettles of scalding hot caramel, slabs of molten hard candy, and massive machines that were capable of twisting and stretching hundreds of pounds of candy in a matter of seconds. It wasn't until years later when I would tell people of my time there that I realized how dangerous that place could be. All of the machines that you see in Honeycomb's liar are real machines from the candy factory I grew up in. I found the irony of Honeycomb using a place that is meant to spread joy as a torture chamber very amusing. As you can tell the psychopathic character relishes that aspect completely. Just goes to show just how sick this guy is.
BGH:This story has a an urban setting, but features a sequence with hillbillies harassing a black character. Is this a fictional place (ala Frank Miller's "Sin City"), or is it based in a city with a pretty diverse population?
ND: It is a fictional world, but as far it being based on a particular locations... It is. But to be honest I don't want to be too specific. The candy store is obviously based on a real place, but the characters and other locations I pulled from a lot of things and sort of mashed them together. It is just a matter of getting the world of Saint Chaos to be believable. As he is pulled deeper into the guts of the city he unearths people, institutions and horrors that he never thought were possible. These things need to make sense in this particular world and the tone needs to fit. I'm setting all that up with this first issue.
BGH: This is quite a departure from your previous effort, the Non Humans. Was this a conscience decision?
ND: Big time. I'm a huge science fiction fan, but once I get a project off the ground and work on it for awhile I want my next effort to be something completely different. It's refreshing, but also challenging as my mind space was entirely taken up by the latest thing. I've gotta wipe it clean and dive into a story that has nothing to do with the last one. Square one. I think it is the only approach you can give to a new project so that you can give it all of your energy and attention without a past project gnawing at the back of your skull. A constant reminder to fine tune it even though you've already sent it off into the world. Then, when you finally finish the new project, and you have spent enough time away, you can go back to the old one and view it with a fresh perspective. Ideas begin to flow and then maybe that world can be further expanded upon.
BGH: How did you find your artist, Zsombor Huszka?
ND: Craigslist. It was really that easy. I posted an ad looking for an artist and didn't really specify what I needed. It was honestly just dumb luck that his style was exactly what Saint Chaos needed to portray the story. Thankfully, he really dug the story and we got right into it a month or so after I pitched it to him.
BGH:Where will Saint Chaos be available, and what is the expected publishing schedule?
ND: Saint Chaos #1 is already available and can be ordered by going to er-studios.com and hitting the STORE button. Issue #2 should be out in the next couple of weeks. Zsombor and myself will also be at the New York Comic Con selling a few copies so if anyone is in town or attending it they can find us there. If anyone wants a digital copy #1 will be available on Comixology in September.