Kris Jerome is the prolific writer and founder behind Dark Tidings Press. The independent comic book studio which creates anti-capitalist dark comic book stories which are in similar vein to household names like Neil Gaiman. One such comic book which has received plenty of Kickstarter notice is Discordia and Jerome is back to expand his Discordia universe with the addition of The Rotted Lyre.
To help promote The Rotted Lyre Issues 1 + 2 on Kickstarter, Kris and Dark Tidings Press have partnered with Bad Bug Media to boost their reach. I caught up with Kris to discuss his thoughts on the comic book world and media influence on his writing style.
READ NEXT ARTICLE: Oblivion Song WILL END with Issue 36
Thanks for your time today. To get us started could you tell the readers what you do in the world of comics?
Kris Jerome: Thanks for reaching out! I have the dubious distinction of being a comic writer!
You’ve enjoyed some success thanks to the advent of Kickstarter when it’s come to releasing your comic book, Discordia. Could you tell us more about the world of Discordia and the characters that inhabit it?
Kris Jerome: Discordia is a secondary-world horror series that serves as a catch-all for all of my twisted ideas. The main series takes place on the fictional continent of Odessa some 35 years after a brutal war with the fascist empire the Concord of Odessa.
The Concord formed as a response to untold generations of Odessa living in fear of a variety of monsters that stalk the remote reaches of the continent; from vampires and werewolves to dark gods that peddle dangerous drugs. When all hope seemed lost for the rebel nations holding out against the Concord calamity struck in the form of an extraterrestrial invasion, bringing with it a dangerous plague that nearly destroyed both sides of the conflict. To maintain their stranglehold on the continent, the Concord awakened something from the depths of the ocean that warped reality and wiped out most life in Odessa, leaving the remnants to become known as Discordia.
Where the main story picks up we have the last remnants of humanity and several alien races trying to eke out a miserable existence on the edges of the Discordia wasteland. Cole Fischer, a tortured veteran from the war with the Concord is scraping by as a private investigator after the end of prohibition put him out of work as a bootlegger.
Cole is approached by a woman representing a secret organization that wants to restore order to the world, but to do so they need Cole to travel into Discordia to find a missing girl. Cole is aided in his quest by Kross, a friend from his bootlegging days, and Regina, a prostitute fleeing to Discordia from the monsters at home.
Your success seems to have led you to create your own independent imprint. How did this come about?
Kris Jerome: Dark Tidings Press was actually started to publish my fantasy novels, the first of which is titled Wrath of Fallen. After two novels and several short stories were published under the imprint, my Discordia co-creator and artist friend Patrick Buermeyer and I crowdfunded a graphic novel, Tarnished, that takes place in the same world as my novels. The experience working on Tarnished was rewarding enough that we decided to create an entire series together, and the world of Discordia was born.
Let’s talk about writing and artistic influences. What imagery did you have going on your mad mind when it came to writing the first issue of Discordia?
Kris Jerome: Discordia wears many of its inspirations on its sleeve. I was deep into reading Hellboy and its related series’ when I initially came up with the idea of the Concord of Odessa and the world they were trying to conquer. I felt like the Nazi villains in Hellboy were (initially) dispatched too quickly, and would have made for a great ongoing set of villains, so I started coming up with a setting that would support something of that nature.
I also knew that in dealing with something as serious as fascism, fictional or otherwise, I needed to grapple with the politics just as much as come up with cool monsters. The first issue of Discordia has elements of PTSD and trauma from war, characters dealing with racism, references to Nazi experimentation, the historical Operation Paperclip, and I try to handle these issues as being more than throwaway references but something the characters and story actually has to address.
On the monster side, Patrick and I are both huge horror fans, and try to take all of our favorite monsters and tropes and put our own spin on them. The werewolf antagonist in Issue #1 definitely was influenced by our love of the genre (think elements of Dog Soldiers, Wolfman, etc.) I knew that I wanted to move away from the recent trend of werewolves being large wolves, and go back to the frightening humanoid designs of the past. Patrick really wanted the wolves to have features of their human counterparts be visible in their designs as well, which I think translated to the page in a very awesome way.
If you could choose any creator to be your spirit animal (living or dead) who would it be?
Kris Jerome: This is a tough one! From a writing perspective, I have taken the most inspiration from Mike Mignola, not just in comics but in my novels as well. The way that Mike’s worlds jump around from time period to time period, with adventures and stories connecting across spin-offs and are often out of order really appeals to me. I like the idea of creating a world that is just as compelling as any singular character.
I want the world of Discordia to be just as compelling to my readers as the world of Hellboy or Baltimore is to me. That way when a character’s story or a series arc is over, you know that there are more secrets, more characters, and more settings that you want to explore in the world, it is all different enough that nothing gets stale.
Other media can often shape our creations in ways we didn’t expect. What other forms of media do you digest when putting pen to paper?
Kris Jerome: While I’m in the actual process of writing I generally just listen to music, but the larger part of my process is brainstorming, and for that, I love to get inspired by watching or playing horror movies and games. I was definitely in the creative process of Issue 1 when playing through Resident Evil Village, for example.
While I draw a lot of inspiration from horror movies and shows, there is nothing quite like actually playing through a horror game to get my mind working on ideas to fit into the twisted world of Discordia. I’ve got an entire slasher spinoff in my head because of my time playing Dead by Daylight!
Your upcoming Kickstarter campaign is for The Rotted Lyre which seems to be an offshoot story to the Discordia world. How do the two series differ?
Kris Jerome: Discordia is a straightforward narrative structure with reoccurring characters that are trying to accomplish a goal. Think of it as one story with 15 chapters. The Rotted Lyre on the other hand is a world-building exercise, a meta-narrative, and an in-universe piece of media. Each issue of the Rotted Lyre focuses on the myths and legends of a different country in Odessa, as related by a professor from the Royal Sinoch University. It is written as if you are reading the Rotted Lyre pamphlet that is published in the world of Discordia.
Each issue has a framed narrative showing the professor and his primary source for these stories, an undead bard named Bendylwynn. The framed narrative is always illustrated by Patrick, while the following shorts that illustrate the legends, poems, songs, and nursery rhymes of the country are illustrated by guest artists.
No prior knowledge of Discordia, or even the Rotted Lyre itself, is needed to jump into this series. Each issue stands alone, and each short within each issue tells its own creepy tale from the region. Eventually, the Rotted Lyre series will cover every country in Odessa, allowing fans that read everything in this universe to have a greater view of the world. Those who have read the Rotted Lyre will find cool easter eggs in the main series as characters travel through the countries covered by the spinoff.
Assuming Rotted Lyre is a smashing success, what’s next for you and your creative endeavours? More comics?
Kris Jerome: Immediately after this, we plan to dive into the next few issues of Discordia to get that story really moving along. Currently, we are up to Issue #2 in the main series (with an oversized #0 and a Make 100 short also having been published). Issue #3 and #4 of Discordia see our characters actually enter the eponymous wasteland and see the horrors within.
Outside of comics, I am working on a few more pieces of short fiction in my Gods and Men cycle so that I can publish them all together in the collection, Before the Breaking, as well as the final book in my Broken Pact trilogy titled Tears of the Godless.
Thanks for your time. Where can people find you online?
Kris Jerome: You can follow Rotted Lyre’s progress on Twitter and Facebook @DiscordiaComic, or on our website DiscordiaComic.net.
Editor’s note: Register your interest in The Rotted Lyre by heading to the Kickstarter page – CLICK HERE.
READ NEXT ARTICLE: Oblivion Song WILL END with Issue 36