Kenneth Laster works with Damien Becton and is the wonderful artist on the project, Try Not to Die. This title is currently crowdfunding through Kickstarter **HERE** and brings some heat with a wonderful idea for a horror project! Try Not to Die throws horror movie protagonists up against their respective horror movie killers and monsters. This is a horror story you should not miss out on!!
COMIC BOOK YETI: It’s a pleasure to be able to interview you on such a wonderful project such as Try Not to Die! How has everything been going for you in 2023?
KENNETH LASTER: So far so good! Excited to have this project on its feet!
CBY: I really love how you combined familiar characters from horror movies to not only coexist together, but to go up against each of their villain counterparts. How did you come up with the idea for this project?
KL: Damien revealed the secret history of this project to me in another interview. This originally started as a pitch for the Band of Bards anthology From the Static. Damien came up with the title first, but a lot of the building blocks were there, horror protagonists pitted against each other’s antagonists, but it was definitely a lot for a small page count. It didn’t get picked up which was a negative and a positive because he eventually brought the project to me after seeing my work and wanting to work with a Black artist. One thing that really drew me to the project was being a co-creator, having written a lot of my own stories myself. It’s been a really great collaboration and the project has changed a ton from that original idea.
CBY: I could certainly try to guess on my end, but what specific horror movies did you need to use for this project and why?
KL: There are a lot of influences, some that are spoilers just to discuss but a big element at least in this first issue is Scream. We open on a riff on the iconic Drew Barrymore cold open and stay with that character throughout the issue. On top of the more literal riffs on the character, there’s a lot of the meta-humor and mystery elements that inspire the whole series. Additionally, you can catch our takes on Halloween, Get Out, and Shaun of the Dead in the main cast and there are a few other films that will become apparent in the issue but we need to leave some room for surprises!
CBY: Did you make any changes to the characters to help fit the vision and mission for your project?
KL: Yep! Every character in this book is more of a riff or a remix on whatever source material we’re pulling from, design-wise. Damian gave a long runway in terms of imagining new takes on the characters. The Babysitter for example is a riff on Laurie Strode. Originally she was designed very closely to how she appeared in the very first Halloween but we had a conversation on how to differentiate her from The Student (our Drew Barrymore riff). So she gets pulled further away from the OG Halloween and becomes kind of the veteran of the group that pulls elements of where Jamie Lee Curtis ends up in those movies, some Y2k flair from H20, and a pinterest board of Lashana Lynch and voila we have our Babysitter.
CBY: As you worked on the project, what became the most enjoyable moments in creating Try Not to Die?
KL: For me it was definitely getting over my fear of horror movies! I was a film student so I had always been fascinated by horror films but always too afraid to sit down and watch them, so getting a reason to sit down (with the lights on in the middle of the day) with films like Halloween, Evil Dead 2, and The Thing, and taking in what makes those films work and how to adapt them into our story was really fun.
CBY: When it came time to illustrate, how did you communicate best to make sure the vision for the project was upheld throughout this step?
KL: We mostly communicated through twitter DMs but I think early on I pitched a Google Hangout call and we had a big chat on story beats and a general production timeline. But mostly quick DMs here and there with progress shots designing characters, lots of sketches. But when it came to the pages, we were pretty much on the same page and Damien is very supportive of any tweaks or ideas I toss in, so pretty smooth sailing from there!
CBY: Were there any horror movie characters you weren’t able to utilize within the project, where you wish you could have?
KL: Not really! That’s one of the fun things about this project is that the toy box is wide open. Now, are all of those toys off-brand versions? Maybe so! But who hasn’t had fun creating their own legally distinct world with an Arachnid-Hero action figure. But we have a lot of ideas of different movies and even games we can put our own spin on with this story.
CBY: What future plans do you have for Try Not to Die?
KL: Right now we have an outline for an initial four issue arc but like I said we have a long list of character archetypes and tropes that we’d love to throw in the mix if this book goes longer
CBY: Are you able to disclose what projects you are currently working on or will be working on for the future?
KL: I know Damien has Tales from Nottingham #5 dropping this month which is exciting and I believe Worlds Away #3 just went out to backers and #4 is still in production. That book is also getting distribution with Band of Bards as well!
Right now I’m committed to TNTD for the future but I’ve been sprucing up a Black anticapitalist space western script that I hope to get going again next year, likely through crowdfunding.
CBY: Where can readers find you on the web or via social media?
KL: You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @disasterlaster on both and check out my work on kennethrlaster.com! Damien is @damienbecton on Twitter and bectonbectonbecton on Instagram. His website is damienbecton.com
As for Try Not to Die, you can visit trynot2die.net and it’ll take you right to our Kickstarter page where you can back this project now!
CBY: I can’t thank you enough for joining me in this interview, as I am all-in on everything regarding this project! The art and story really come together to create a vision we have not seen yet within the horror genre of comic books. As I cannot wait to see what the future holds, I am hoping this project runs smoothly for you and that you receive an overwhelming amount of support!