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Emily Carroll Answers Your Questions In Her Comica Chat

Posted: November 17, 2014

Many thanks to Comica Festival Twitter followers for sending in your questions for Emily Carroll to answer this lunchtime about her fabulous Faber book Through The Woods. Here she is signing at Gosh! in London tonight, photo courtesy of David Clayton.

Below we are presenting her complete Comica Chat tweets together with some extra web-exclusive questions for Emily, available only on this Blog! Enjoy!

The Gothic Graphic Story at The British Library

And don’t forget to book the last remaining tickets for Emily Carroll in a live Comica Conversation with Isabel Greenberg, The Gothic Graphic Story, in the Bronte Room of The British Library Conference Centre from 7pm to 8.30pm including book signings. Here is the booking link… See you there!


Welcome Emily Carroll. Thanks for talking to us about your work and your Graphic Novel Through The Woods.

How’d you decide to pursue comics over animation?

EMILY: It was actually pretty simple - I’m awful at animation.

I went to school for it, but my grades were terrible, I’m too impatient.

Comics let me work quickly, and also by myself (which is good, as I’m rather solitary anyway).

What do you think is distinctive about storytelling via comics vs film?

EMILY:  Aside from elements like music, sound cues and so on, probably how time is controlled.

In film you can control how long a shot appears on screen for, whereas in comics you can’t really control how long someone looks at a panel.

But the upside of comics is that I can draw whatever I want without worrying about limitations of technology, camera or sfx. :0)

Love the pacing of your web comics & the layouts you use in print. Does one influence the other?

EMILY:  Not consciously, I don’t think. I am very aware of timing, but it probably relies more on the story itself than the format.

What scares you?

EMILY:  Oof, honestly, too many things to list.

The dark. Noises IN the dark.

I still check under the bed sometimes, it’s terrible.

Do you have a fave book/film/comic that has had an impact on your storytelling?

EMILY:  The Scary Stories to “Tell in the Dark” series by Alvin Schwartz has been a huge influence, especially in the rhythm of my short horror stories.

Art-wise, The Highwayman as illustrated by Charles Keeping has been pretty influential.

I read both of these when I was a little kid and they both stuck.

They still scare me actually (and are still delightful, of course).

Would you like to see any of your stories animated? ‘Out of Skin’ my fave and would be amazing!

EMILY:  Haha so long as I didn’t have to animate them myself, yeah, that’d be great!

I’d probably choose the same story as you too.

You rarely close your stories: is engaging reader’s imagination key to good horror?

EMILY:  Tastes vary, but for me - yes.

I am frequently let down by stories that over explain whatever the horror is.

It makes things less threatening when you discover they can be solved or how they can be defeated.

(Not to mention that the reader’s imagination is always going to conjure something worse than I could ever fulfill anyway!)

Some of your comics online are interactive. How did you end up thinking to do that? Inspiration?

EMILY: It’s probably from all the video games I play!

It’s fun to figure out new ways to build mood or suspense, and so I borrow certain elements from games here and there and try them out to see if they work.

It’s just a lot of experimenting really.

What is your writing process like? Do you use outlines, thumbails, scripts or is it more free-form? 

EMILY:  It depends (on the time I have, if I’m working with another person, my mood).

More often than not I will do thumbnails and script alongside that, just loose notes, but occasionally I will do something like make a list of story beats and flesh them out from there.

I’m experimenting with just straight script writing now too, with notes to help me visualize.

Describe the room where you usually create comics?

EMILY: I share a little office with my wife (who makes games).

The walls are painted bright red (well, it’s sorta orange) and there is usually a massive cat (also sorta orange) sprawled out on the floor next to me. :0)

What are your interests outside of creating comics?

EMILY: If I’m not making comics (and that’s rare, I spend the bulk of my time these days making comics) then I’m probably playing video games, and when the weather’s warm I laze about outside reading novels a lot.

I also like going on walks, and I go to my town’s local library a few times a week.

Creatively, I’m interested in making games, though unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for that these days.

Where are you now and what can you see?

EMILY: I am in my hotel room in London, and I can see all the usual hotel trappings, as well as my reflection in the mirror opposite me, and a television show about gardening beside that (but muted, so I can focus!).

What are you currently reading?

EMILY: I’m just about to start reading the new Stephen King book, Revival.

I have absolutely no idea what it’s about and haven’t read anything about it in advance, so I’m looking forward to it.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her-him?

EMILY: Right now, one of my favourite authors is Margaret Laurence.

Her 1966 book A Jest of God is proving to be a major influence on a new story I’m writing, both in terms of characters and themes (and to some degree, setting).

While her work can often seem rather sad, even bleak, there’s a dry humour to it I very much enjoy, and I admire the ability to pull that off.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

EMILY: Oh, I have to say I most look like a Moomin troll.

Who is your hero-heroine from outside graphic novels and comics?

EMILY: Hm, the first person to come to mind is Margaret Atwood.

She’s been one of my biggest influences ever since I was a teenager.

She’s an incredible writer, but on top of admiring her stories and prose (and poetry, for that matter), I also appreciate her environmental activism and political work.

Thanks for doing this chat with Comica, Emily Carroll :0)

EMILY: Thank YOU! :0) And thanks everyone for all the questions!

Yes, Thanks to everyone who tweeted for great questions! @tisisbahoosh @DClayton72 @davethecrane @RytKing and @rachelnabors
We love questions, but we like answers more.

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