Listen up Folk Horror fans! There’s a new mythic monster in town calling out to you from those dark woods at the edge of town that you know you’re supposed to stay away from. Described by creators Armando Zanker, Grant DeArmitt, Shan Bennion, and Lucas Gattoni as a blend of Twin Peaks, Picnic At Hanging Rock, and American Gods, Ratatosk is ready to leap off the page and haunt your dreams. But this spooky investigative page-turner needs your help! Support your local weirdos and grab yourself a copy of this ambitious paranormal project before it’s June 24th cutoff date and enjoy 24 pages of crowd-funded creepiness.
The independent spirit is the spark that has lit the entertainment world on fire decade after decade. But grit, determination, and vision is nothing without the support of investors like you. Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity and Rob Zombie’s 31 (not to mention countless horror board games and video games) wouldn’t exist without the support of the horror community and I think we can all agree the world is a much cooler place with more horror to give us nightmares.
We recently sat down with the creators behind Ratatosk to discuss the origins of their pagan cult inspired graphic novel and, of course, whether or not they’ve even seen a pair of eyes staring back at them from the dark woods at night. Ratatoskis currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and it’s so close to achieving its goal that you could be the person to push it past the finish line! Click HERE for more info and fund this indie project.
Read on for a preview of the first 5 pages of Ratatoskand an excusive look at the Blair Witch Project-inspired variant cover of the graphic novel, by artist Rio Burton!
“…partially inspired by our mutual love for the movie Krampus, I went looking for a big, hairy beast in various mythologies…”
NOFS: What was the inspiration for Ratatosk? Where did the idea come from?
Armando Zanker (Artist): You’ll have to ask Grant for the idea, but I’d had a chat over dinner and someone told a story about suddenly finding themselves alone, with their picnic lunch, with about a hundred squirrels and how it was the most unnerving, creepy thing that had ever happened to them, and shortly after, Grant pitched this horror story, so it kinda was like the dark side of the universe manifesting something, and like every horror character ever, instead of running the other way, I was like, of course we have to do it!
Grant DeArmitt (Writer): Armando and I had been talking about doing a creature feature for a while, partially inspired by our mutual love for the movie Krampus. I went looking for a big, hairy beast in various mythologies and landed on the character Ratatoskr. Ratatoskr (yes, we removed the last ‘R’) is a squirrel from Norse mythology who goes up and down Yggdrassil, the World Tree. Little else is known about it, so there was a lot of room to play with what the character is and turn it into something monstrous.
NOFS: Every town you visit across the country has a weird cryptid, or a haunting, or an unexplained encounter. Why do you think urban legends are so persistent and alluring?
Shan Bennion (Colorist): I love urban legends! I think it’s a way of explaining that, creeping worry of the dark, of the night, of the stranger. [It’s] easier to explain the strangeness of the world away, if you give it a face, no matter how frightening it is.
Lucas Gattoni (Letterer): That’s true, my city has a really weird one, which is a bald woman that lurks around the downtown creek screaming for their children. I think it’s because they let us keep that sensation of the unnatural close to our hearts, like these are things that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend… so they feel closer!
NOFS: Do you have any eerie encounters? Any bigfoot howls in the night, or things in the sky that you can’t explain away?
DeArmitt: I have seen a ghost, a UFO, and a third thing that most people laugh at me for, so I won’t say it here. I’ll give you a hint, though: I was in Ireland.
Bennion: I remember once, traveling to Wales to scramble up this old wild trail with a friend. Dead quiet, was the wrong season for tourists but perfect for us. Didn’t see another soul. And there was this mossed woods that we had to walk through, so thick and blanketed and verdant that you felt your weight dip when you trod on the greenery of it. Quiet and still, not a single bird either. And I had this sense of, if there ever were Fae creatures, they would be here and they would be watching. [I] was *very* vigilant that my friend only picked up dead twigs for our fire, nothing living. Anything else would be disrespectful to whoever let us pass through unharmed.
Gattoni: Every. Single. Night.
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NOFS: Do you remember the first graphic novel or comic that blew your mind?
Bennion: Oh easily, it was a Hellboy comic, though I don’t remember which issue. I’d only ever seen Marvel and DC (courtesy of my siblings) and to find something so dark and shadowed and colourful, steeped in fantasy *and* sciencefiction? It’s what got me into comics in the first place.
Gattoni: The first that REALLY blew my mind must have been The Killing Joke. It’s raw energy and brutality really stood out for me, like “hey, you’re not reading kiddies comics anymore!”.
NOFS: I’ve always been fascinated by comic book & graphic novel scripts. They really are a medium of their own. Grant, what’s your writing process like?
DeArmitt: Evolving! I’ve been writing comic scripts for a decade now and it’s only been in the last couple years that I feel I’ve gotten across what was in my head. I still feel like I have a long way to go, but that’s not me being self-deprecatory. Improvement in this medium is a really good feeling for me, and I look forward to a whole lot more of it. In more specific terms, my process is to decide on the number of pages a script is going to be, then break down the story to fit that number. I decide what is going to happen on each page then flesh it out from there, choosing the number of panels, writing the dialogue, and describing the “shot” you’re going to see in each panel.
The benefit of this is that, as long as the artists know what’s roughly supposed to happen on each page, they can pick up where my writing lacks. For example; say I describe a scene I can see in my head, but doesn’t translate from what I’ve written, or doesn’t actually work on the page. The artist can rework the scene from what I’ve written, while still achieving the story beat. Not that I’m trying to make a habit of that; it shouldn’t be on them to fix every scene!
NOFS: Armando, you and Grant were the first to be on this project. How did the two of you work together to build the world of Ratatosk?
Zanker: We’d wanted to do something for a little while, this started like a little short story that organically developed into something bigger, and it’s been a blast every step.
NOFS: In a world where Hollywood is making a $100M adaptation of Ratatosk, what’s your dream casting for the lead roles?
Bennion: Oooh, that’s a hard one. I’m not a huge movie buff, but I could probably tell you what voice actors I’d get for a podcast!
Zanker: Hmmm…A Blumhouse production starring Joséphine Jobert as Cassie?
“[It’s] easier to explain the strangeness of the world away, if you give it a face, no matter how frightening it is.”
Ratatoskis currently seeking funding on Kickstarter and it’s so close to achieving its goal that you could be the person to push it past the finish line! Click HERE for more info and to fund indie horror projects like Ratatosk, cause the world is a much cooler place with more horror for us all to enjoy. Share your thoughts about the book with us over on Twitter or start a discussion with the Fiends over in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord!