Artist Michael Walsh is turning the tables on the anthology format for a new horror series that pairs him up with different writers for each issue: before finally, himself.(opens in new tab)
Scheduled to debut April 7, The Silver Coin (opens in new tab) pairs Walsh with writers Chip Zdarsky, Kelly Thompson, Jeff Lemire, and Ed Brisson for an episodic horror series centered around a cursed coin. And while each issue is standalone, Walsh has worked with the writers to make sure they all co-exist in the same universe - leading to some possible surprises.
With the first issue due out in days, we connected with the man behind it all, artist/writer Michael Walson, to get a grip on this unique format, his idea of horrors, and how this could lead to more down the road.
Newsarama: Michael, let's jump right in: how did you come up with the idea for Silver Coin?
Michael Walsh: After finishing Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice (opens in new tab) with [Jeff Lemire,] I was itching to get back into the creator-owned world.
I wanted to work on a horror book and really liked the idea of an anthology series with rotating writers as opposed to artists. I wanted the series to feel a bit different than some of the other anthology-style work being produced and decided I'd use a prompt to get all the writers moving in the same direction.
I came up with the idea of a cursed coin on a whim and as we started putting the comic book together the world gained definition and connectivity. It grew into something deeper and more involved than I originally imagined.
Nrama: Why did you think Image Comics would be the perfect fit for this type of story?
Walsh: Image is the premier publisher of creator-owned comics in the western market and offers not only the best deal for creators but complete autonomy and authorship.
I also value the insight and experience of someone like [Image Comics partner/publisher] Eric Stephenson helming the ship.
Nrama: What attracts you to horror?(opens in new tab)
Walsh: Horror has been one of my favorite genres for a very long time. I grew up with night terrors and initially had an aversion to horror media, worrying they would trigger dreams and sleepwalking. As I got older that aversion turned into fascination, curiosity, and then obsession.
I find comics themselves such an interesting medium to explore horror, using page turns and shocking imagery to disturb and frighten the reader. It takes a lot of thoughtful planning to use sequential storytelling to your advantage when creating a horror comic book.
Nrama: Horror is such a wide genre. Does each story have a chance to explore different subgenres of horror?
Walsh: Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: I didn't specifically ask the writers to explore different subgenres. I just asked to tell me a scary story with the given prompt and world constraints, which were very few. We ended up landing with a very eclectic mix of sub-genres.
We have Twilight Zone (opens in new tab), slasher, crime, cyberpunk, and witchcraft. One of the great delights of this comic was reading each new script as they came in and getting new insight into the respective writers' fears.(opens in new tab)
Nrama: What made you want to do the art for every issue?
Walsh: I'm an artist first, writer second. I really just wanted to tell a bunch of different kinds of horror stories and also show how important the art is in a shared world.
Nrama: You have an all-star line-up ranging from Jeff Lemire to Kelly Thompson. How did you connect with these writers?
Walsh: Every writer involved in Silver Coin is someone that I've worked with previously and have built a rapport with. I knew what to expect professionally from everyone involved and knew that they would all be a joy to work with. I admire all of their works as a fan of the medium and they are also good people who I knew would do really interesting things with the prompts I provided.(opens in new tab)
Nrama: What made you want to create a connected universe?
Walsh: I thought it would be fun to use the format to build towards something.
Because I'm also writing an issue, I was able to drop easter eggs throughout the early series and build suspense and questions that would be answered and paid off down the road. Where does the coin come from? Who is the crow? Stay tuned!
Nrama: Did all the writers have to work together to make this feel connected or did they play in their separate sandboxes?
Walsh: Every writer shared scripts but there was no conscious push to connect stories. If it worked for them to have characters crossover or re-appear I was more than happy to do that.
On the other hand, if anyone wanted to do something completely stand-alone, I was into that as well. For me, whatever works for the story itself is always best,(opens in new tab)
Nrama: Would you like to create a sequel?
Walsh: I would! This is a very rich world to mine and we've set up some deep mythologies with long-term payoffs.
Nrama: If so, would you have the same writers or a new batch of creators?
Walsh: We'll just have to see what shakes out over the next few months as the first issues are released into the wild. I don't want to spoil any long-term possibilities just yet.
The Silver Coin #1 will be available simultaneously in comic stores and on digital platforms. For the best digital comics experience, read our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices (opens in new tab).