This experiment made me realize how hard it is to write horror! As much as people like to complain about the triteness of the horror genre, crafting a story that thrills as much as it compels is as much a Herculean task as any other type of more “acceptable” genre fiction. To make this piece feel more like the other comics I picked for my mentor pieces, I would need to do more brainstorming on what exactly bothers me about objectification and what scares me about what attitudes and structures it feeds into. When I began diving into that itself more is where I believe I started getting into the meat of what this story could focus on, if I dove more into those feelings over storytelling beats I think I could find a theme that I could build a story around. If I had focused a little more on those foundations in the sketch draft over trying to figure out characters and plot right away, I would be more satisfied with what I have.
That being said, I had to think really hard about making work about womanhood in the horror genre, which is supersaturated with completely outdated notions of femininity and the place of a woman within the genre. Women are certainly central characters in many a slasher flick and Creepshow comic, but their fates are usually determined by whether or not they’ve had sex in the last 80 minutes of the movie (if you’re a final girl or the one who goes first). Plenty of pulpy horror comics are populated with, intentionally or not, women who act as overzealous stereotypes of ye olde “nasty woman”: the incredibly beautiful yet totally vain, unfaithful, and greedy ex wife who get what’s coming to her, the naggy wife who drives her man away, and on and on until the end of time. While I feel like the comics I picked worked actively against those stereotypes of women in the horror genre, it didn’t change the fact that even most of the stories I picked were written about women by men (I was especially thinking of movies like “It Follows” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, both horror movies that can be read as critical of society’s ownership of women’s bodies/sexualities, both written and directed by men). As much as I love horror, I was really worried about falling into these genre conventions in trying to write a story of my own. I also wish I had done more work with the pieces I picked that were written by women, taking inspiration in the ways they specifically apply themes of objectification to the horror genre.
I’ve also been wondering if it would be a smart idea to make a horror comic that more closely resembles my origin piece or if it built more solidly off of my previous experiments. I remember some parts of my first experiment were focused on what specifically about the films I watched in my origin piece made me so frightened/affected by them, and in my second experiment I focused on “object-women” specifically in the granddaddy of sci-fi horror tv shows, “The Twilight Zone”. If I had looked to more of the conclusions I had made in each of these pieces, would I have had a better time figuring out my sketch draft? Maybe. But this is definitely not the last time I want to experiment with this genre.