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The PROJECT: CRYPTID team steps into the Yeti Cave

Updated: 4 days ago

Andrew Irvin, Interviews Editor, welcomes some of the Project: Cryptid team to discuss the collected anthology and their roles in bringing it to the world. Check out Ahoy Comics for more!

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Hanna, we appreciate you bringing everyone together today. Paul, Henry, and Alisa; thank you for joining us in the Yeti Cave for a topic that obviously hits close to home for the site! 



ALISA KWITNEY: Of all the Cryptids, I do believe that Yetis are the most popular. They are the Golden Doodles of the Cryptid Community.


PAUL CONSTANT: Thank you! I’m honored to be a part of the Yeti-on-Yeti discourse.


HANNA BAHEDRY: You have such a lovely cave! Are these moving pictures I see on the wall here the same thing as the real world outside?


CBY: We appreciate the recognition. I haven’t had the opportunity to give every Project: Cryptid issue an exhaustive read, but I’ve gotten up to speed as best I can, and it was a lot of fun. Clearly the serialized format could run for years given the breadth of cryptozoology to draw from. Given its open-ended nature, how has the discussion shaped up with AHOY Comics any interest in stories beyond the current run of issues announced? What is everyone’s role in the line-up thus far, and going forward?



AK: In addition to “Chupahuahua” and “I Just Haven’t Met You Yeti,” (issues two and nine, respectively), Mauricet and I are approved to do a third story. We introduced three characters in the first tale — three middle aged, feisty females — and this would be the third woman’s story, which will probably be set in Florida, at a Trumpy resort, with manicured golf courses built over swampland and swampy denizens, not all of them human.


PC: I was asked to contribute a story to the early batch of issues, but hopefully as the series

continues I’ll get to dig into some of the really weird cryptozoological choices out there. I think there’s a lot of room for this series to grow and change and explore the subject matter in hugely different ways, and with an editor as smart as Sarah Star Litt helming the book, the possibilities are endless.


HENRY BARAJAS: I have been friends with the editor, Sarah Litt, for years. I’ve been such a fan of the work she has ushered into this world, so it was no-brainer to take this opportunity to answer the call, so to speak. My “role” was to write a short cryptid story in issue #4 titled the Beast of Gevaudan.


HAB: As long as there are mysterious unknowable things in the world and ways to make them funny, Project: Cryptid can and should continue. I worked on the project both as a writer and a publicist, and I hope to wear both hats again going forward — no matter how silly I look or how often the haters call me Hanna “Two Hats” Bahedry behind my back.



CBY: I hope we get to see more of everyone's contributions as the series continues. Now, as an Ohioan, I was excited to see the Loveland Frogman vignette. There are also plenty of cryptids I’ve never heard of, like the Gumberoo from the Northwest Territories. I see we’ve got a Jersey Devil, a sea serpent, skunk ape, pooka, and much to our delight, a yeti included amongst others in this second 6-issue run. Can you tell us a bit about what creatures are on-deck for future issues, how you all got involved, and what other cryptids you’d like to see included? Did everyone bring their own cryptid preferences and pitches to the table? 



AK: Sarah approached me and I just started burbling out ideas. I had recently been in Taos, New Mexico and really wanted to set a tale out there on the mesa, and the Chupacabra seemed an appropriate choice for the location. The Yeti story came out of my unearthing pictures of my mother’s 1980’s senior cruise to Alaska, and the third, as yet unpublished tale, will involve a Snallygaster. I lived in Florida in the eighties, and there was always some unsuspecting little old lady walking her poodle through a golf course and then disappearing into the belly of an alligator. Alligators are not to be underestimated. Still, I find birds scarier than reptiles. Look in a chicken’s eye and you just know she’s remembering a time when she was a velociraptor and you were a little hobbit-like creature.


PC: I picked the Gumberoo for my story in the volume because as a Seattleite, I wanted to pick an animal that felt authentic to my home. The pitch for my story came from the idea of

Gumberoo as the forest’s kind of corrective measure to all the plundering and colonizing going on in the Northwest in the late 19th century, and Sarah was a fantastic editor in that she helped shape my pitch and make it even more itself. As to what’s ahead, we’ve done a lot with the human end of the cryptid spectrum so far, but there are lots of cryptids that are more animal-like — giant sharks, giant otters, giant hippos — that I think offer an opportunity to get really weird, narratively speaking.


HEB: Sarah’s email came right after watching the What Do We In the Shadows episode revolving around the Jersey Devil, so I already had cryptids on my mind. But I had seen an episode of Puppet History on the Beast of Gevaudan around the same time. As a Latinx author, the no-brainer for me was to tackle the Chupacabra because it’s such a popular myth with brown people. But I loved the story behind the child eating beat terrorizing the French countryside in 1764, which led to me suggesting Salomee Luce-Antoinette to draw the comic. Salomee was the only person I wanted to draw our story. It was a perfect storm.


HAB: I’ve been involved with AHOY for several years through my work as a publicist for Superfan Promotions; I’m also the writer of AHOY’s monthly newsletter, which I must shamelessly plug here, and have written a few short stories for AHOY’s awesome backmatter as well as a chapter of their prose serial, “Partially Naked Came the Corpse!” Editor Sarah Litt reached out to me to ask whether I’d want to write a short story or comic for the new series; I’ve been writing prose forever but I’d never written a comic, so I figured it was as good a time as any to start! I researched so many cryptids trying to find the right one and found myself tickled pink by so many weird ones I’d never heard of (The Devouring Gourd! The Bermuda Blob! Crungus!?) that I decided not to choose and to instead write an ensemble piece with all the cryptids together. Who knew that Snallygaster and Mothman would have such incredible chemistry?!



CBY: Everyone being allowed their own angle of approach to their contributions is good to learn about this title. Should we expect to see any recurring characters, like the titular Chupahuahua of the first story (who certainly has potential to show up again) and Diana Montalvan of Caminos Mysteriosos, or will everything be standalone? Did you have any discussions amongst yourselves around the scope of the world; is this one cryptid-laden narrative universe, or is each story an isolated iteration of reality?



AK: I love how, in romance novels, the couples from previous stories show up like previous Bachelor contestants. Nothing bad happens to them, no story stuff occurs, they just show up in a cameo, wearing really sumptuous fashions and eating something decadent. So, yes, those Chupahuahua puppies might just make an appearance, but if they do, they will probably not do anything worth reporting. 


PC: I’d love to write a sequel to my story in the volume—I think the Gumberoo have a lot of

hidden depth to be explored—but I’m not sure if the stories are part of a Cryptid-verse or not.

Personally, I hope so.


HEB: There’s a reason why TBoG ended the way it did. The beast is still loose, according to the history books. Marie-Jeanne Vallet is a historical person of interest that is ripped with story. She was a badass lady beast killer in the 1700s. The series practically writes itself. 


HAB: I’d love to write more stories based in the weird little world I created where all the cryptids meet in an undisclosed location once a month to discuss important cryptid business. How did Snallygaster and Mothman become besties? Who gave the Devouring Gourd their gavel? What was the legendary Bermuda Blob like as a young bloblet in his prime? The comics write themselves, honestly.



CBY: I'm glad people have more ideas all queued up! The term “monster of the week” gets thrown around regarding the format of shows like X-Files or Kolchak: the Night Stalker (see my recent interview with James Aquilone for more on what's going down with Kolchak!) Those are just the first two that come to my mind, but can you relate to our readers some of the inspirations you may have had in mind when deciding to put together your own “monster of the week” contribution?



AK: My main Cryptid inspirations from old TV are The Golden Girls, The Love Boat (which actually did have a Yeti episode) and the original Twilight Zone. I was negatively influenced by the Scooby Doo cartoons, which always started out with something that was clearly 100% supernatural and then finked out by pretending there had been visible puppet strings or an obvious face mask. 


PC: The trick in every monster story, I think, is to add enough humanity that it’s relatable but not enough so that it’s predictable, you know? Once I decided I was going to write about the Gumberoo, I tried to think of what kind of people would interact with them, and how the

Gumberoo would judge those people as they interacted with the Northwest wilderness before it became truly settled. It turned out to be a conversation about the many ways to deal with unknown territory—both the so-called “untouched wilderness” and the boundaries of a new marriage.


HEB: As a life-long serialized comic book reader, Project: Cryptid was my opportunity to give back to that “monster of the week” feeling. I love horror. But to pull it off with a comic is something I have a lot of fun doing. The Beast of Gevaudan, to me, is one of the lesser known cryptids compared to a Moth Man or Jersey Devil, so it was fun to not only put my spin on the folklore, but also give it the comic book treatment for what I think is the first time.


HAB: I decided to lean into the humor over the horror for my story, as that’s my comfort zone and I was already out of my depth as a first-time comics writer. Also, writing about a whole gaggle of cryptids at once was a great way to take the pressure off myself when I knew a ton of writers I admired with far more experience would be taking on the same assignment as me. Once I put all the cryptids in a room together, it was a blast to tease out what their personalities and dynamics might be like. I decided the Yeti and Bigfoot were natural rivals, that Nessy would be so sick of all the tourists at her loch that she’d decide to travel the world and become a tourist herself, and that the Mothman — despite his dark and dour appearance — is actually just a misunderstood goodtimer at heart. And look: no one’s got any proof I’m wrong!


CBY: It's a delight hearing how everyone handles the task differently. Alisa, I read your comic, G.I.L.T. last year and loved it (I even wrote an interview question set for you that must’ve gotten lost in the shuffle) - with your diverse range of interests, I’m curious what everyone else is working on at the moment. With the opportunity to plug any and all projects, what does everyone have in the works?



AK: Oh my God, I am so sorry! I will answer those questions forthwith, if you still want them…but not at this moment, as I am typing in a hotel room and have to make a plane back to the States. Mauricet and I do have a project in the works, and I am busily writing the fifth issue as my partner draws the fourth. Mauricet and I do have another project in the works, and I am busily writing the fifth issue as my partner draws the fourth. Not much more I can say at this juncture without invoking the wrath of AHOY's fastidious PR team, but I'll just say keep your eyes trained on the skies this Halloween season…


PC: First up, isn’t Alisa Kwitney great? I’ve been following her since she was an editor at Vertigo and her name on a project has always signified quality. So it’s been a thrill to learn that she’s a fantastic comic writer in her own right, and I’ve loved all her projects for AHOY. As to what’s next for me, I’m working on a couple of projects I can’t announce just yet because they’re not quite near enough to completion. They’re in genres that are new to me: One of them is an all-ages comic that is an exploration of the history of kids’ comics, and the other is a non-fiction comic. They’re both a lot of fun, and challenging in very different ways. I’m learning a lot, which is super-fun.


HAB: I will yet again shamelessly plug the AHOY newsletter, which some people who may or may not have given birth to me swear up and down is the funnest newsletter they’ve ever read. On the prose side of things I’m working on a novel-in-stories; a few stories from it have already been published at always crashing and the Maine Review, if unhinged short fiction about people making terrible decisions is your thing.



CBY: The camaraderie between the team and excitement for what lies ahead is palpable. Does anyone have any personal experiences, or secondhand accounts from people you know, of cryptids or inexplicable phenomena? During my time at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, I went through the curriculum on the Red List of Threatened Species, and I wouldn’t have previously considered the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker a cryptid, since it’s certain it did exist at one point (and we know where it would fit within our understanding of taxonomy). What sort of background research and fact-checking went into making sure the cryptozoology fanatics out there had those tidy introductory dossiers to enjoy at the start of each story?



AK: Aside from a brief Bigfoot encounter in Davie Florida at the Seminole Nudist Camp in the mid seventies, I have nothing to report. 


PC: Along the lines of your encounter with the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, I once encountered a perfect ring of pink lady’s slippers flowers in the forest of Maine. They were nearly extinct at the time—this was decades ago—and to see these super-rare, super-delicate flowers in perfect formation felt like some kind of magic. Other than that, I don’t usually put myself in situations that are wild enough that I might encounter a bizarre cryptid. As to research, the fun thing about researching creatures that may or may not exist is pretty much also the fun thing about reading superhero comics with 60 or 70 years of history behind them: Everything is as real as you want it to be, and you can pick and choose your reality from the dense lore that exists around the central figure. You can never manage to include the full story because it’s so contradictory and complicated, so you can have fun building the story you want out of all those strange spare parts.


HEB: I’m Mexican. My family has made big claims to have seen ghosts, monsters, and the devil himself. Unfortunately, I have never had any of these encounters. But a guy can hope.


HAB: Editor Sarah Litt is the mastermind behind those handy little dossiers before each story. As for me, I hold out hope that one day I’ll catch a glimpse of the Devouring Gourd — and god willing, I’ll devour it before it devours me.


CBY: Now, Matt Ligeti, the Comic Book Yeti himself, wrote “Florida Man: Passion of the Skunk Ape” for issue #8. I know a bit about how his interest and involvement in comics arose - can you all share a bit about how you initially became interested in comics, and how you ended up first getting involved with AHOY Comics?  



AK: Cain and Abel, the caretakers of the House of Mystery and House of Secrets respectively, used to watch me on alternative Wednesdays and Fridays when my mother went back to school to get her undergraduate degree. From there, I went on to hang out with all the cool old horror hosts — The Three Witches, Professor Coffin and Arachne, and eventually, when I was old enough to wear platform shoes and triple pierce my ears, Vampirella. Years later, I decided to apply to DC Comics for an editorial position during a snowstorm, and a kindly woodworker offered me some sage advice. That woodworker was Tom Peyer.


PC: I’m a journalist writing about politics, books, and economics in Seattle, and I was lucky

enough to meet AHOY Editor-in-Chief Tom “Please Call Me Chief” Peyer on social media

because he liked a couple of pieces I wrote. We bonded over our mutual love of the Legion of

Super-Heroes—Matter-Eater-Lad is my ride-or-die. I learned how to read on all those old LOSH (Legion of Super-Heroes) and Superman comics, and comics have always been a part of my life. So when Tom launched AHOY, he asked if I had any pitches. As it happened, I’d always wanted to tell a story about jocks from the 1980s who wind up in our hyper-nerdy times, and so I sent a pitch and we started working on Planet of the Nerds together with the great Alan Robinson on art.


HEB: My parents were big Antique Roadshow watchers during the 90s. They thought buying a bunch of comic book collections and having me appraise them might get them rich, but they had no idea I would actually read the damn things. I was able to pour through a mess of comics of all genres and kinds. But I also got to read magazines about comics, so learning about the stuff Timely and EC Comics that predated capes got me interested in horror, specifically. It’s hard to ignore the work AHOY is putting out there. I am lucky to have worked with a publisher that pays their talent on time and well. 


HAB: I started out in literary publishing as an intern for agent Dara Hyde; a few years later, I was looking for work and Dara referred me to her husband David, who runs the comics publicity company Superfan Promotions. Before then my main exposure to comics was Archie, Maus and Fun Home. That was almost five years ago now, and since joining Superfan I’ve really fallen in love with the medium and all the mind-blowingly cool and diverse stories being told here. Superfan’s been working with AHOY since Day 1 and they welcomed me onto the team with open arms — truly some of the kindest and funniest people in comics. Soon enough I started writing the AHOY newsletter, which I guess gave them the wild idea that I was funny and could write well enough, which led to me writing a few short stories for their backmatter, a chapter of the prose serial, and, now, my first comic! I’m extremely lucky they like me as much as I like them.



CBY: Hearing everyone's distinct journey into the comics medium is encouraging. On a different note, cosplay is a huge component of comic convention culture, so in your experience, can you share with our readers the all-time most impressive cryptid costumes you may have seen over the years? What sort of creature always catches your eye in a crowd?



AK: I have yet to see a Yeti at a convention, but when I do, I have pledged to marry whoever is inside that costume, be it man, woman, or not a costume. 


PC: I don’t know if I’ve seen a lot of cryptids at conventions, but I have seen some great Bigfoot costumes here in the Northwest. My absolute favorite, though, is Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. That soulful articulated face breaks me every time.


HEB: If someone dresses up as The Beast of Gevaudan, I’ll probably drop down on one knee.


HAB: I would love to see someone attempt a Bermuda Blob costume. Though I suppose sometimes you need to be the change you want to see in the world… SDCC 2024, here I blob!



CBY: Having seen creepypasta characters like The Rake, Siren Head, or Slenderman emerge online in the last fifteen years or so, are there any constructed cryptids you’ve all come across that have gripped your attention and imagination? What goes into building a truly eerie or disturbing supernatural creature, both conceptually and visually?



AK: I’ve just started watching Scavengers Reign on Netflix, and I think Hollow, the froggy telepathic symbiote that extrudes black goo, is a fabulously ambiguous invention.


PC: This is not strictly a cryptid, but more of a cryptolocation: I’m obsessed with The

Backrooms, which is kind of a liminal space hiding behind modern buildings. The Backrooms

feels to me like it might be the missing link in all these modern creepypasta cryptids—it’s the

space where Slenderman runs free in between his haunting episodes. For years I’ve had

dreams that I’m in a giant mall that connects to spaces all over the world, and The Backrooms are the tunnels that connect that interspatial mall. Who knows what kind of rodents, insects, and humanoids live back there?


HEB: The challenge for this project was the page count. But it was fun to jump right in the fire. The trick is being able to give your reader enough information while being “cryptic” to have some allure. Using the medium to your advantage and trying to elicit fear is something you hope comes off as genuine while not trying to be corny or over the top. The beast isn’t fully seen until the last couple of pages of the story. But all the credit goes to Salomee's craftsmanship as a page designer, and drawing the best hair in comics. 


HAB: One of the wildest modern cryptids I came across in my research — and who eventually made it into my comic — is Crungus, an AI-generated cryptid for the new millennium. Apparently a bunch of people typed “Crungus” into an AI generator and the same creepy figure kept popping up over and over. I knew I had to include him in the misfit gang of cryptids, and artist Lane Lloyd did an absolutely bang-up job bringing him to life, including his ever-changing number of fingers.



CBY: So many new stories to explore! Now that we’ve unpacked everyone’s interest in the cryptozoological, what comics and other media have been providing you with inspiration that our readers should give their attention after they check out Project Cryptid?



AK: I have been delighting in rereading old House of Mystery and House of Secrets comics. 


PC: My favorite comic this year has been Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees, and cryptid

fans will find a lot to love in this sinister story of serial-killing anthropomorphic forest animals. A lot of folks are doing brilliant work that I love right now—Erica Henderson, Kyle Starks, Caroline Cash, Ryan North—but no book has captured my imagination the way Beneath the Trees has.


HEB: I am waiting with bated breath for Mat Bors and Fred Harper’s Toxic Avenger series in October. Tell your local comic shop you need that in your pull when that gets solicited. But if you need something now, I am burning through Kentaro Miura’s Beserk, loved DSTLRY’s Somna—and I’m slowly reading You Know Al by Ring Lardner.


HAB: I cannot get enough of the My Bad series, another AHOY comic by writers Mark Russell and Bryce Ingman and artist Peter Krause. It’s a superhero parody that is so gloriously absurd and off-the-wall, and now that they’re on their third installment, the world’s ridiculous lore is only getting weirder in the best possible way. I mean, where else in comics will you find a superhero like Amazing Adams, a former US president who was dared by Thomas Jefferson to run through a “weird tunnel” and emerged in modern times with super strength that only lasts so long as he’s not wearing a shirt? Very few other places, I’d venture. Very few.



CBY: Thanks for joining us in the Yeti Cave today, everyone! Please let us know where we can find your portfolio, publications, and social media in any links you’d like to include below:


Instagram: @k.witty

X: @akwitney


PC: Thanks for having me! You can subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at

https://buttondown.email/paulconstant. I write about what I’m writing, what I’m reading, and what I’m thinking, and I usually send it out on the last day of every month. If that’s too much commitment, you can find me online at https://paulconstant.com.



HAB: Thanks so much for having us! You can find me on the artist formerly known as Twitter at @hbahedry and on Bluesky at @baheds, or just head to my website hannabahedry.me. And since comedy writers love the rule of three’s, I’ll remind you all one more time to sign up for the AHOY newsletter to learn more about what’s coming up for AHOY!

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