by Brandon Barrows
THE House of Fear: The Grumpledowns Gang and the Case of the Mail-Order Shoggoths, published by Ten31 Publishing, is a comic I’m exceptionally proud of. You may have read my detective series Jack Hammer (Action Lab) or my horror graphic novel Mythos (Caliber Comics), or maybe not. Those are, after all, both books targeted at specific audiences. But I’ve wanted to do something that appeals to the widest possible audience, something truly all-ages for a long time. Something anyone can pick up and enjoy, whether they’re long-time comics fans or just getting into them.
Why? Because I read a lot of all-ages comics myself, comics that are supposed to be fun and accessible to anyone. And while there are a lot of comics out there that claim to be just that, many aren’t. Too often, unfortunately, “all-ages” translates to “kids’ comics” in the minds of publishers and fans. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what’s out there is perfectly fine for beginning readers, but kids confident in their reading and adults won’t find much to enjoy in them.
Truly all-ages books like Spongebob Comics, Mouseguard, The Stuff of Legend, and the Adventure Time comic, when it was written by Ryan North, are all-ages books that are not only that, but series I really enjoy. They’re fun, action- and story-packed comics that work on multiple levels directed at multiple audience so well that it almost seems effortless. They are also stories that meant something. They aren’t just fluff meant to fill pages and be forgotten once you’ve finished reading.
And that’s what I wanted to create, too. Targeting audiences is perfectly fine, and often a smart thing to do, but I wanted to do something different with my next project – something everyone can enjoy, regardless of age. Something an adult or a kid can read and enjoy on their own or that they can enjoy together.
When Ten31’s publisher, James W. Powell, gave me the chance to do exactly that, I had an idea, but wasn’t sure if I was up to the task of creating something on the level of what I was hoping for. Despite those misgivings, I took the idea I had and wrote a comic from it and, while it was pretty decent, James then helped me tweak and refine that script until it truly became one of the best I’ve ever written.
James then did an amazing job (seriously, he’s a fantastic editor and publisher) of finding the best artistic talent to bring it to life.
The Grumpledowns Gang are kids, but theirs is a fun story that kids or adults or anyone in between can enjoy and get their fill of scary fun and action – and maybe even take note of a little life lesson tucked in there somewhere. And the art is just amazing. It’s beautiful, but more than that, it’s incredible to me that it’s virtually exactly what I saw in my head. Artists Rafael Loureiro and Josh Jensen make a powerful team on the interior art, James Hislope’s front- and back-cover pieces are creepily gorgeous and Matt Krotzer’s letters are some of my favorite in the business.
If you like comics, horror fiction or have a kid who likes either, if you’ve ever read any of my comics work or if you haven’t, but want to give it a shot, please check out the Kickstarter campaign Ten31 is currently running, pledge your support and share the word. This is a very important book to me, with characters I care deeply about, and if it’s successful, I’ll do my best to bring even more of their stories into the world.
Check out the Kickstarter campaign here (including a fourteen page preview!)
And keep up with updates at www.ten31publishing.com and www.brandonbarrowscomics.com
Follow us on twitter @Ten31Publishing and @BrandonBarrows
House of Fear: The Grumpledowns Gang and the Case of the Mail-Order Shoggoths
Written by Brandon Barrows
Art by Rafael Loureiro and James Hislope
Colors by Josh Jensen
Letters by Matt Krotzer
Edited by James W. Powell
Kickstarter opened 5/16/17, closes 6/17/17. Expected to ship to backers July, 2017.
Fourth-grader Ben Grumpledowns has sent away for a package of grow-your-own monsters… just add water! But when his science teacher accidentally flushes them down the toilet, the school is overrun with huge, tentacled creatures! Ben and his friends must find a way to defeat the beasts before they destroy the school or worse – ruin the Halloween carnival! It’s kids vs. shoggoths in this all-new, all-ages, Lovecraftian horror comic!