J. Michael Donohue bravely enters the Yeti Cave to chat with Jimmy Gaspero about his anthology of horror shorts, why he writes comics, and loving a bit of dark humor amongst the terror.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Joe, thank you for joining me in the Yeti Cave to discuss Morsels, coming to Kickstarter on February 22nd. How have you been doing?
J. MICHAEL DONOHUE: I’ve been good. Crazy busy with life and comics, but good. I’m also excited to be here in the Yeti Cave.
CBY: We're excited to have you! Your bio on your website says, “From a young age, Joe knew he wanted to be a writer.” Ignoring the next sentence in that bio for the time being, what attracted you to the idea of being a writer when you were a kid, and is the reality of being a writer as an adult anything like you’d thought it would be?
JMD: Man, that’s a tough question. I can remember growing up on Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Eerie, Indiana, and Goosebumps. Not only that, but I devoured all of R.L. Stine’s books. I loved these stories and had this innate desire to make up my own stories, and the rest is history. As for your second question, I can’t say that the reality of being a writer matches up with the fantasy because I’m not currently living in a giant mansion with a room full of all the books I’ve written and a swimming pool full of money, but I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and where I’m going.
CBY: I was such a huge fan of Eerie, Indiana too.
Why write comics? Why do you do it?
JMD: I write comics because I love them. I think they’re such a powerful medium. Plus, I love seeing the characters and worlds that I create come to life.
CBY: You’ve described Morsels as “...a collection of 8 delectably bite-sized horror stories.” Were these stories specifically developed for this or short comics you have collected along the way? Is there anything that connects these stories to each other?
JMD: It’s definitely a mix of both. The first four stories that I used are ones that I’ve created with artists over the last two years and once I decided to put this collection together I wrote four brand new tales. None of the stories are intentionally interconnected but evil knows no end, so maybe these could be looked at as little windows into the world.
CBY: What are some of your favorite horror stories, whether that’s books/comics/television/movies?
JMD: Apparently you want to be here all day. There are so many horror stories that have a special place in my heart but a few of my favorites would have to be Halloween, Creepshow, and Poltergeist (movies); 30 Days of Night, Resonant, and The Autumnal (comics); X-Files, Goosebumps, and Tales from the Crypt (television); and The Shining, Cycle of the Werewolf, and Blood Sugar (books).
CBY: What scares you in real life?
JMD: The real world scares the crap out of me at the moment, but as for movies and such, Michael Meyers has always scared the crap out of me because there’s no rhyme or reason for what he does. He’s this tsunami of terror that wipes out everything in his path.
CBY: You were kind enough to send me a preview of a few of the stories. Thank you for that. I think if I had to pick a favorite it would be “El Cuco” with art from Christian DiBari, colors by Roman Stevens, and lettered by Jim Campbell, although “Together Forever” is an extremely close second, artwork by J. Paul Schiek. Working with several different artists on these stories, what do you look for in the creators you want to work with?
JMD: One thing I’ve loved about working on Morsels was the opportunity to work with so many different artists and I’ve found them in many different ways. Christian was an artist whose work I had admired for a long time and it took a while but our schedules were finally able to align. J. Schiek actually took a shot on me. I put out a post on Twitter to see if any artists wanted to collaborate and J. answered the call. I’ve also found myself writing stories for specific artists because their style caught my eye.
CBY: The preview you sent me also had an ad for monster masks in it with a few standout options including Maw from Resonant, the Bog Wight from The Plot, and Judge Valkenheiser from Nothing But Trouble. I, too, am a big fan of Vault Comics. I also think Nothing But Trouble (1991) is absolutely bonkers but an underrated gem that combines comedy with horror elements. There is certainly a draft of that script that is easily a full-on horror film. When writing horror yourself do you like to work in comedic elements or are you more of a purist?
JMD: I wouldn’t say that I go full comedy, at least not yet, in my scripts, but I do love a bit of dark humor in a lot of my work. I love the dark twists in Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt and can’t help adding those dark and twisted endings to my work.
CBY: Speaking of Resonant, which I always enjoy speaking about Resonant, you have a short with J. Paul Schiek called Rebecca: Tales of Resonant on your website. What is it about Resonant that drew you in and how’d Rebecca come about?
JMD: I have a special place in my heart for Resonant. I had stopped reading comics for a while (for shame, I know) and when I finally found myself perusing the aisles of my LCS I got drawn in by the cover and never looked back. What grabbed me was this post-apocalyptic world where any minute our deepest impulses are ready to be awakened. I also loved the differing perspectives on the phenomena. That’s what inspired me to write Rebecca. Plus, David Andry is a fantastic human being.
CBY: Do you have a long-term comics/writing goal?
JMD: I think any writer has the goal of quitting their day job to write full-time and that’s definitely what I want, but most importantly I want to tell stories. I have so many stories that I want to tell, so to one day have the privilege to share them with the world is my main goal.
CBY: Are there any comic creators working today whose work inspires/influences you?
JMD: Man, there are so many comic creators that I admire and that inspire me. There’s Michael Moreci, David Andry, Jeff Lemire, Tim Daniel, Adam Cahoon, Steve Niles, Rich Douek, Ram V, and so many more.
CBY: If you were the curator for a comics museum, which 3 books do you want to make absolutely sure are included?
JMD: Oh, this is a tough one. Let’s say E.C. Archives: Tales from the Crypt Vol. 1, 30 Days of Night, and Jughead: The Hunger.
CBY: Fantastic choices! Any other projects CBY readers should check out? Do you have any plans for what’s next after Morsels?
JMD: I have a two-part story written with Michael W. Conrad in the upcoming anthology Project Big Hype, as well as another horror project I’m hoping to crowdfund later this year.
CBY: Where can you be found online?
JMD: I’m like Waldo, there’s no finding me. Just kidding. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @jmichaeldonohue.
CBY: Thank you so much, Joe!