In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer/artist Ed Piskor talks about his cyber thriller, Red Room #1 (Fantagraphics). Find out what happens to a struggling family when they encounter criminals who are live-streaming their murders on the dark web.
PLOT: “Criminals livestream murders on the dark web for fun and profit. The series will be told through a series of interconnected, stand alone stories, focusing on unsavory characters that lurk in the most grotesque corners of cyberspace. The murders are a mystery, the victims unknown. Aided by the anonymous dark web and nearly untraceable crypto-currency, business is booming and the viewership is ever-growing.”
Ahead of the first issue’s release date on May 19th, writer/artist Ed Piskor opens up about how the idea for Red Room came about, how horror movies influenced the character designs, and what readers should expect in the following second issue. I loved the first issue; so I can’t wait for you to grab the first issue! Follow Ed and I as we head on over to the artist’s corner to discuss the craft of making comic books.
Villain Media: Red Room tackles social norms, drug culture, and technology through satire. Tell me about the inspiration behind Red Room.
Ed Piskor: It’s a comic created from the mind of someone who grew up in VHS movie rental stores, who played lots of Mortal Kombat, and who was hanging out with nerdy friends on weekend nights when Joe Bob Briggs was the host of Monstervision on TNT. There were comics that captured that same spirit, things like The Crow, Faust, and a host of Northstar and Caliber Press comics back in the day but there hasn’t been one in a long time. Nature abhors a vacuum, as they say, so here we are, RED ROOM.
VM: At the emotional core of the story, which I really enjoyed, is the relationship between a father and daughter. Tell me about how Bree-Bree and Davis depend on each other.
EP: Well, the tandem exists based on the examples we have where people are associated with serial killers without ever knowing it, the BTK killer comes to mind. I also like those programs like Sopranos where we see clear examples of how awful our guy is yet he still has the family persona.
VM: Tell me about the character designs about the splatter punk outlaws. Their masks come from a mixture of BDSM, poker cards, and slasher movies.
EP: Yes! In my dreams I imagine my RED ROOM celebrities being cosplayed at conventions in the future and I wanted all these costumes to be kind of easy to fabricate, using real world stuff for the most part. That’s huge to me. Since I’m creating my own world I want to adorn it with the coolest looking freaks I can think of.
VM: I was amazed at how you turned the panel/page into a chat room. What were the challenges of putting together the comments section, the camera feed, and the tips?
EP: No challenges, but it was fun to think about the bare bones, hand coded, aesthetic of the chat windows and stuff. Gotta imagine that the program has to be stripped down as much as possible so that law enforcement can’t find little back doors to bust our bad guys!
VM: Tell me about Mistress Pentagram, who is a smart, violent, and elusive criminal mastermind. She always appears to be steps ahead of everyone else.
EP: It’s a business she’s running. A family business. She’s inherited a well oiled machine and isn’t interested in gumming up the works. Complacent could be an appropriate adjective, which means she needs an injection of excitement to keep the fickle audience interested. She plays it safe and will do anything possible never to get caught.
VM: What can you say about the second issue of Red Room?
EP: Every issue is self contained which is important to me. The second issue will feature Poker Face and feature a prime example of how they procure their victims for the slaughter. There’s so much unsettling stuff in there. Every next issue is the best comic I ever made.
VM: How did Red Room change you as an artist/writer?
EP: I’m at the 50% mark right now in terms of production. I can tell I’m getting better and I can’t wait to see how I’ve grown by issue 12.
Red Room #1 arrives on May 19th, 2021.