Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Tales of Terror Quarterly: H.H. Holmes! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the story’s premise?
Jay Sandlin: Thank you! Glad to be here. (sips coffee) Shall we begin?
With the blood of nine confirmed and 200 suspected victims on his hands, HH Holmes is not only America's first serial killer but perhaps the most notorious murderer of all time. One hundred years after his final kill, his name remains synonymous with torture and death.
But bodies are now being discovered in Chicago’s Gemini hotel in circumstances chillingly familiar to those who know Holmes' story. Could a copycat killer be on the loose in the city? Or is something even more sinister about to come to light?
BD: Given that the story focuses on real-life 19th century serial killer, H.H. Holmes, what can you tell us about your research into the character in preparation for the project?
JS: You could say my research began years back when I decided to pursue history as my Masters degree. Learning how to research is sometimes just as important as the research subject itself.
For researching the topic of H.H. Holmes, I relied on documentaries, books, and online encyclopedias. It was just as important to find images of the man and his acts as textual information. As comics are a visual medium, I needed to know the look and feel of Holmes’ world to tell the artist how to really tell the story.
BD: How would you describe your shared creative process with two separate art teams in bringing this story to life, and what (or who) were some of your creative influences in terms of the characters and tone?
JS: Luckily for me, the editor handled all the cat herding between the various teams. One team delivered scenes taking place in the past with Holmes in the 1890s and the other handled present-day scenes in the murder mystery taking place in the Gemini Hotel.
Our editor, Rachel, kept me in the loop between both teams every step of the way, asking for notes on layouts, inks, coloured pages and then finally lettered pages. Even up until print, we were finding small details and captions to add to amplify the story. The art teams were so talented, I had little to offer except changing small details, which they were always happy to accommodate.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that the story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
JS: I believe this story will connect with readers who are history buffs and fans of the horror genre. The website, Comic Book Poser, said the book would appeal to anyone who was a fan of classic murder-mysteries, like Nailbiter or even fans of the Saw movies. TheGWW.com also likened it to the Saw films! Do you want to play a game?
Zenescope chose to the topic to bring the story to life. In my research, I felt it was important to make sure that every murder Holmes committed in the comics was in line with something he actually did or contemporary to his time. For instance, I had to tell the editors a bloody scene involving a chainsaw was not anachronistic to the 1890s, as the devices existed for over 300 years! We don’t know if Holmes actually used them in his killings, there’s still much about the main we don’t know, but he would’ve had access to one.
BD: What makes Zenescope the perfect home for Tales of Terror Quarterly: H.H. Holmes?
JS: Zenescope showcases creativity with no boundaries; a place for storytelling of all kinds, whether it’s weird, action-packed or supernatural. Some readers expressed surprise this was even a Zenescope story, but anyone who follows their catalog of releases knows the universe is grim and H.H. Holmes is a perfect addition to the ranks. Zenescope always puts art first, never skimping on the covers. I love the three cover designs they came up with for this book!
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
JS: Absolutely! Be on the lookout for my next Zenescope book later this year, another one-shot taking place in an established Zenescope world you won’t want to miss. Outside of Zenescope, my debut comic with Black Box Comics is arriving in July, Djinn Hunter. CBR.com recently named is the #1 most anticipated indie title of 2021. Be sure to add it to your pulls!
For further down the road, I’ll have a project with Maverick, the YA imprint of Mad Cave Studios, coming Winter '22 called World Class. It’s about a Colombian futbol star chosen for an elite prep school in London. He faces bullies, hormones and pressure to keep his spot on the team and win the cup. You can read more about World Class and the other Maverick releases in their recent write-up in Publisher’s Weekly, here.
There’s even more to come, so be on the lookout. The best way to stay up to date with my releases is through my website at JaySandlin.com where you can subscribe to my newsletter.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Tales of Terror Quarterly: H.H. Holmes?
JS: Ask for it at your LCS, collect all three amazing covers if you can! This is 72-pages of gruesome supernatural horror for only $8.99! It’s also available on Comixology or check out Zenescope’s website.