Laughter: An Interview With Gavin Dillinger And Y. Sanders

Laughter is a comic about a family in mourning. After losing their father to demonic possession by a demon called The Sorgier, the family unit is forced to cope with loss and the realization of a force they have never believed in. Though the family exists free from the threat of the demon, they can still see its face and hear its laughter.

Creators Gavin Dillinger and Y. Sanders chatted with comicspit regarding the comic and its Kickstarter, which is live now.

Tim: Why would you name a sad book Laughter?

Gavin: While many associate laughter with happiness, that is not necessarily the case. Laughter can be an agreement of emotion between two parties, or it could be at the expense of one who has fallen (sometimes literally) on bad luck. Someone walks into a door, trips and lands on their face, or tries to fund a comic but comes up short and fades further into obscurity than they already are; all of these things can provoke a joyous response from the observe at the expense of the one experiencing it. Laughter itself is not monochromatic so to speak.

Anyways, it’s called laughter cause the demon laughs at them.

Tim: Laughter is a generally sad book. What’s the key part of having the art reflect that?

Y.: Shadows. Lots of shadows. Also, paying extra special attention to the characters’ facial expressions, environments, and negative space. Those are some of the elements I find essential in conveying the somber tone of Laughter.

Tim: This Kickstarter is for book one of four. How long do you expect me to be sad?

Gavin: Seeing as I know you’re a trade waiter, I suspect I want you to be sad for a single sitting. As for everyone else who reads Laughter, if they want the sadness to end, then I highly advise funding the book so they can get it over with.

Tim: How do you balance the intense gross elements of say a demon eating a face versus a somber funeral?

Y.: Finding a way to balance those two elements is the most fun. After setting up the stage for what should be a very somber moment in the characters’ lives I wanted to contrast that by the slow and unsettling introduction of our main antagonist. Once the demon has been introduced it’s no longer your run of the mill funeral anymore. Something sinister is on the horizon. It’s the perfect opportunity to introduce the more horror and grotesque elements of the story.

Tim: Can you touch on the demonic possession aspect of the book? I don’t like to be scared.

Gavin: Demonic possession is not a new concept in horror. It’s spun from superstitions built around ailments at a time when there were no other explanations for mental illness. There’s a million movies, novels, poems, and comic books about the tragedy of demonic possession, but I wanted to focus on the trauma. So often we’re left with characters surviving, but never see them recovering. People can get PTSD from nearly anything. Do you expect me to believe that an agnostic family isn’t going to fall apart when they realize demons exist? How much more an atheist family?

And who do you go to for that? If you see a psychiatrist to work through your grief, the first mention of a demon will likely lead to a prescription, and while prescriptions can be great for handling PTSD and mental illness, they don’t do anything for a actual, physical demon.

Tim: The family can still see and hear the demon. Will that bring horror elements to the book? If so, how is it bringing horror to a static medium?

Y.: Trying to translate horror of the story into a static medium does pose it own set of unique challenges. I pulled from as many sources as possible, such as The Shining, Halloween, the works of Junji Ito, and etc. to try and figure out what makes those particular works of horror ‘scary’ to me and try to translate that into the pages as best as I could.

Tim: If the family is free of the threat of The Sorgier, where does the tension come from?

Gavin: The demon can no longer touch them, but it can be there to laugh at their misery. And it does just that. The Sorgier serves as a reminder to the family that they have experienced a substantial horror. They will never be able to move on. The threat is not death; death is a release! The threat is the constant torture of mockery.

Tim: Were there any pivotal moments that led you to this point with your art in comics, versus art in another field (or another field altogether)?

Y.: My mom has always been a fan of comics and she introduced them to me as a child. We would frequent local comic book shops together when I was younger. I really have her to thank for my love of the medium. It helped to fuel my own desire to create comics that will inspire others as much as my favorite comics have inspired me.

Tim: Y, you’re an accomplished artist in your own right. Why work with a nobody like Gavin?

Y.: When Gavin and I first talked about the project I was immediately intrigued. So many times in stories you see the monster cause chaos and destruction to the characters. Yet, it’s a nice change to see the aftermath of that chaos and destruction and explore how that affected the survivors. It’s similar to romance when the entire story is dedicated to the couple getting together, but you never get to see how their relationship panned out afterwards.

It’s a concept I am very interested in exploring so I jumped on the chance to work on this project with Gavin.

Tim: Gavin, your collaborators are a lot more accomplished than you. I don’t have a question. Just pointing that out.

Gavin: No one is more disappointed in me than me.

Laughter is on Kickstarter now.

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