Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Rougarou! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what (or who) was its inspiration?
Giles Clarke: Thank you! The story begins on a Colorado ranch in 1868. A young girl is attacked by a mysterious creature in the dead of night. The next morning, a U.S. Marshal arrives and recounts the tale of the Rougarou: a beast that he has been tracking across the United States, but is always one step behind.
The story is a blending of superstitions of North America. The original inspiration for the story came from when I lived near Savannah, Georgia, and first learned about the rougarou in Cajun folklore. Savannah is an incredibly atmospheric town (especially at night), and that ambiance helped shape the feel of the story years later. I was in the military for a number of years and moved back and forth across the United States several times. That cross-country drive, and the shifting landscapes, provided an excellent backdrop for the hunt between the Marshal and the Rougarou.
BD: As the founder of Uncharted Wilderness Studios, what is the publishing company’s mission, and what do you feel “defines” the books in your catalog?
GC: Our mission is to provide good stories told well and explore the uncharted wilderness of original storytelling. We look to bring new and original stories to readers, and shy away from retellings of previously existing characters.
Our books run the gamut from horror / western, like Rougarou, to comedy and science fiction, and everything in between. I’m always drawn to stories that have a bit of magic, whimsy, or the supernatural tied in. The goal is to let the readers escape the real world for a little while between the covers of one of our books.
BD: What can you tell us about the shared creative process of bringing this story to life?
GC: The creative team behind this book was amazing, and it would not be what it is without their contributions. Jose Rondon provided the incredible line art for the issue and the cover. I sent him the script and some very rough thumbnail sketches to give him an idea of the layout I had in my head in case the script wasn’t clear. Since the story takes place in the mid-1800s I also put together a reference deck with historical photos of locations, wardrobe, furnishings, props, characters, etc. Anything that would save him time and effort in putting together his panels. Jose absolutely nailed every page and brought those script pages to life. The pages then went to Felipe Obando for coloring and he added depth and atmosphere to every page. His expert use of the color palette differentiated the locations and time periods throughout the story. Finally, the pages went to Deron Bennet and his team at AndWorld Design to add the lettering. Lettering is always the make or break for every comic, but the AndWorld Design team absolutely delivered. When everything was complete, the amazing logo design for the book was created by artist Zack Ketz. He brought so many incredible options to the table and then worked tirelessly to refine the logo to perfectly capture the look and feel of the story.
The entire creative team brought a wealth of talent to this story and the readers are the beneficiaries.
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 Rougarou will connect with and impact readers?
GC: I hope that it will spark an interest in readers to explore more into both American history and its folklore. There are so many interesting stories out there that we never hear about. If Rougarou connects with them and inspires them to learn more about the time period and folklore, I’d consider that a success.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the story into subsequent story arcs (or into other entertainment mediums) if given the opportunity?
GC: The story could definitely be expanded within the world created in this book, but I was very focused on making sure that this was a story that stood on its own. If this book resonates with readers and they would like to go on additional adventures in this world, I would be very happy to accommodate that.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
GC: We will be launching our 1950s sci-fi comedy, The World of Tomorrow, in comic shops as the full 6-issue limited series. We launched issue 1 on Kickstarter a while back, but COVID put the in-store release of the series on hold for a while.
We also have a horror /comedy series in production, as well as a prose book series starring our company mascots Randolph the diver and Tops his pet polar bear.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Rougarou and your other work?
GC: Instagram is our main social media outlet (@unchartedwildernessstudios) and it is where you can find out about our latest releases and which conventions we will be exhibiting at. Our website (www.uwstudios.com) is the best way to get in contact and to sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Rougarou is available for order now through your local comic shop and will be in stores September 28th. Orders are due July 18th, so make sure to visit your local comic shop and request your copy before then.