‘Gothic Tales of Haunted Love’ comic book staff chats with 1428 Elm


 At 1428 Elm, we had the chance to sit down with Hope Nicholson, the publisher of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and two of her talented contributors, Ronn Sutton and Janet Hetherington.

Get ready for this blast from the past!

The Backstory:

Hope Nicholson is a small press publisher based out of Winnipeg, MB. She is also the curator of the Dark Horse collections The Secret Loves of Geek Girls & The Secret Loves of Geeks, the organizer of the Margaret Atwood Angel Catbird series, and the writer of the feminist comics history The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen (Quirk Books).

A Kickstarter campaign was launched on July 15th for Gothic Tales of Haunted Love. This is a new anthology comic that is an homage to the short-lived 1970s genre. It’s a fresh take, with creators from different genders, sexualities, and cultures telling stories that take the characters into innovative plots.

Ronn Sutton worked on Elvira, Mistress of the Dark for 46 issues. He has also worked for a variety of publishers including Claypool, Dark Horse and Moonstone. Check out his website  www.ronnsutton.com to see some of the cool projects he has been involved in.

Janet Hetherington wrote both lead and back-up stories for Elvira for six years, and is a frequent collaborator of Ronn Sutton. She has also worked with Hope on the Secret Loves of Geek Girls. Learn more about her at best-destiny.com.

The Interview:

The Beginning

1428 Elm: How did you become interested in comics?

Hope Nicholson: I’ve always loved reading them, I think a lot of kids learn to read with comics, then drop them as they become more interested in movies, tv or – rarely – prose books. I never ever dreamed I could work in the industry, but with the advent of Kickstarter suddenly it was a possibility! And though learning on the fly, for the last 4 years I’ve been working consistently in the industry.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love- Janet and Ronn – Courtesy of Janet Hetherington

Ronn Sutton: As a child, I read every comic I could get my hands on, which was a considerable amount. I’ve now been drawing comics for decades. My earliest work started to be published in the early 1970s mostly in fanzines. I’ve drawn several hundred comics and am best known for my horror comics work.

Janet Hetherington: I`ve been reading comics since I was a kid. I was lucky that I got to read a lot of different ones  I was a huge DC fan and loved Wonder Woman and Supergirl, but my idol was Lois Lane.

In 1997, I created, wrote, drew and self-published a comic book series called Eternal Romance, which consisted of short “dating horror stories.” The comic lasted four issues and then was collected into a trade paperback, Eternally Yours: Illustrated Stories of Eternal Romance. It was fun and a rather silly project that appealed to teen girls.

Dark Horse

1428 Elm: How did you become involved with Dark Horse?

Hope Nicholson: Oh, that’s interesting. Mark Millar recommended an editor from Dark Horse, Daniel Chabon, when I told him I was trying to find a good home for the Margaret Atwood graphic novel Angel Catbird. It immediately was a great fit and we have been off and running ever since! I do projects occasionally with them when I think it can reach a wide audience, and otherwise I still keep my niche publishing house.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love – Elvira Mistress of the Dark – Courtesy of Claypool

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

How did you become involved with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark?

Ronn Sutton: I sent out art samples to Claypool Comics editor Richard Howell, who initially had no work for me. But sometime later I drew “The Legend of El Vira”, which appeared as a two-parter in Elvira, Mistress of the Dark #57 & 58. Over a nine-year period, I drew nearly 50 Elvira stories between #57 to #166 (the final issue).

When Janet came on board as one of the writers, I had more influence as to the nature of the story or characters we portrayed. I had a great time drawing the comic, I’d do so again in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever arose. We met Cassandra Peterson a number of times and she was as pleasant as you would expect. At one comic con appearance they sat Elvira, Janet and myself side-by-side all weekend long.

Janet Hetherington: Ronn and I have known each other since the late 1980s. In the 90s, we collaborated a lot on comics published by Millennium Comics, including a spider-vampire character we co-created called Spinnerette.

We worked a lot together on stories for Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, and I would frequently shape pitches around things Ronn wanted to draw. Ronn and I will work together or separately, depending on the project.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love – Crush -Courtesy of Hope Nicholson

Reaching into the Past

1428 Elm: Tell me about Gothic Tales of Haunted Love. What made you want to revive the 70’s genre?

Hope Nicholson:  When I was studying the history of comics, decade by decade, I discovered this genre and was immediately absorbed! It was scary, spooky, enthralling – and occasionally very campy!

The modern anthology has a bit less camp than the original version and a lot more diversity. I also wanted to nod towards gothic romance classics, so we’re reprinting a restored version of Sanho Kim’s story The Promise, a comic that was published in Korean and English – in North America in the 1970s! Along with classic gothic romance artwork by artists like Lou Marchetti who did so many iconic covers.

The Hook

1428 Elm: What interested you in becoming a part of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love?

Ronn Sutton: I’ve ALWAYS wanted to draw a Gothic romance/horror story. I don’t have much interest in superhero comics. As both a reader and an artist I prefer horror, science fiction, detective, humor, etc. I’ve even drawn four romance comics.

Janet Hetherington: As soon as I heard Hope was going to do this book, I sent her two story ideas. I knew Ronn was a huge gothic romance fan and would want to draw a story. As for me, well, my supernatural comic book Eternal Romance is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. So, it is a perfect fit.


1428 Elm: Tell us about your Kickstarter goals, Hope. What would make the campaign a success in your mind?

Hope Nicholson:  Honestly, getting the project fully funded at all is a success, but in a perfect world?

Getting funded on the first day so I wouldn’t have to stress during the rest of the campaign would be amazing!

The Future

1428 Elm: Do you have any plans to convert Gothic Tales into an anthology series for cable or any other medium?

Hope Nicholson: A series like Dark Shadows maybe?? Ha, I do work in film sometimes, but mostly my experience is in documentary. And all the creators own the rights to the stories so if there ever was any interest, a publisher would have to approach them directly. I’m sure each of them would be thrilled!

San Diego Comic Con

If you happen to be in the San Diego area this weekend, you can catch Hope and Janet at the Bedside Press panel at Comic Con on Saturday, July 22 – Room 26AB – 7:30 to 8:30 pm.

They will also be signing Secret Loves of Geek Girls books at the Dark Horse Booth on Friday, July 21 – 4:to to 4:50 pm. When she isn’t hanging out with Hope you can find Janet at Artist Alley spot BB-7.

Next: Dark Ink: Interviewing Scream Factory and NECA artist Nathan Milliner (Part I)

Does this unique horror comic anthology sound exciting? Will you be checking out the Kickstarter campaign? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.