Artists Charles N.’s collaboration with Elytron Frass on the recent comic Vitiators showcased a cool, chaotic aesthetic – Pages splashed with all manner of horrors; tied together with a clear understanding of telling stories through the visual medium.
In the comic, the reader experiences hundreds of ghastly demises, along with body horror, sexual depravity, and apocalyptic landscapes. This controlled chaos turned out to be the ideal fit for Charles’s unique visual stylings.
In order to get to know Charles better we reached out via email to ask him more about the project, his process, and his inspirations.
Read our interview with Charles below…
(We interviewed Vitiators writer Elytron Frass earlier this month – Just click the hyperlink to give it a read!)
When and why did you first become interested in comics, art, and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?
Ever since I was able to hold a crayon. It seems it just came naturally.
I think it’s hereditary, my father made a lot of artworks.
As a kid I would draw a lot of horror movie characters and monsters.
Especially Grey Aliens and Jason Voorhees.
Who are some of your favourite comics makers, artists, filmmakers, writers and musicians?
…and what is it about their works that so inspire and move you?
I think that ever since I started listening to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Deerhunter and Death Grips in high school I really started drawing a lot more, and also when I started getting into perverted visuals.
But one day I was listening to the Japanese noise rock band Les Rallizes Denudes and I just fell into this track of consistent drawing. The tone and style of these bands fill my mind with various dark imagery.
Music has always been the primary source for motivation.
When working on Vitiators I listened to a lot of Brainbombs, Christian Death, Total Abuse and staple Japanoise artists.
Video Games like the Fallout series and FromSoftware games had a big influence for their high detail post apocalypse settings.
As for Movies, mainly those of the 80s and 90s. Including anime OVAs like Violence Jack and Devilman for the Violence and again, high detail.
As for manga, early chapters of Berserk and Junji Ito‘s works.
Other Art including Works of Hieronymus Bosch, Toshio Saeki and Raymond Pettibon.
Can you tell us about your creative process when drawing – from initial concept to end product?
For vitiators many of the concept designs began as doodles in a composition book.
Then I just sketch it, ink it out and scan it.
When following the script elytron created, I would sometimes add extra panels to focus on different parts of a scene.
All of Vitators was done on thin printer paper. Once I scanned the pages, I would edit them in Photoshop.
Can you please tell us about how the idea of Vitators came about?
…and how the project evolved from core concept to working with Elytron to bring the project to life.
After posting this piece on twitter a mutual friend contacted me asking if I was interested in collabing with Elytron on something involving orphans, assassins and demons.
Elytron told me about how he liked the image. He even asked if we could just put it in the book as is, instead I did something in the same vein. This resulted in the Vitators’ chapter sex room.
Everything since that is a blur, I don’t know how I did it honestly.
What role do you feel extreme art fills in our cultural landscape?
Are you ever concerned about how your work will be interpreted when pushing it into taboo subject matter?
All of my art is a catharsis for my fear and hatred involving myself and other people.
When it comes to consuming this kind of art it feels like a form of masochism. Though if viewing my art offers relief from violent intent like drawing it does, I’m not sure. I think it might influence it actually, but that’s not my intention.
I guess it’s morally better than viewing a gladiator fight.
Concerns regarding interpretation and reactions from moralists were there from the start, but frankly I don’t see Vitiators as that transgressive. To me it’s just a horror comic.
The art in Vitiators is varied in the way panels can be very chaotic or abstract depending on the story. Is there a favourite sequence or panels that you feel exemplifies your artistic vision best?
The fly transformation page is my favorite in terms of panelling, because it uses the edges of objects as separation.
How has your view of comics changed since you first got interested?
Are you optimistic for the future of independent comics in the West?
I always thought barely anyone read comics in the West, other than Weaboos reading Manga. But now I see a lot of western artists doing their own thing and getting much more popular than me; so yes I’m optimistic for Indie comics.
Vitiators is a book drenched in death and suffering of people...
I would feel amiss not to ask you your own beliefs on the subject of death, whether from a spiritual (or lack thereof) or an artistic standpoint and the message it conveys… Or if it is just fun to draw extreme subject matter?
I do think it’s just fun to draw a lot of death and violence.
I’ve never really witnessed death or experienced much violence, which is perhaps why I find it so interesting.
In terms of spiritual belief, I don’t have anything solid. It does seem like I’m being led by signs on a path somewhere, hopefully not hell.
If you could draw the horrible demise of any comic book character as part of actual canon, who would you choose and how would you want them to perish?
I would wanna draw Batman getting fucked to death by Jester Suit Harley Quinn with a big spikey strap-on.
What role did toys play in your upbringing, if any?
I would often play with action figures, and have a monster like Venom or something hunting a GI Joe or a Barbie Doll.
I don’t think I ever had the monster lose.
What are the top three things you own?
My computer, my weights and my desk.
What is the best way for people to keep up with what you are working on?
Are there any projects you want to plug?
I’m mostly active on Instagram @stretchedskin.
Anything big will be posted on my twitter.
And I have a website that I use to post comics on https://stretchedskin.com/.
I’m working on one big comic project right now but I’m bound to post some standalone pieces from time to time.
- Charles N aka Stretched Skin – Website
- Charles N aka Stretched Skin – twitter
- Charles N aka Stretched Skin – Instagram
- Link to Buy ‘Vitiators’ – via Expat Press
- ‘Vitiators’ – GoodReads Entry
- Review of ‘Vitiators’ by Jenny Mugridge – via Grimoire of Horror
- Review of ‘Vitiators’ by Adam Symchuk – via The Aither
- Interview with Elytron Frass – via The Aither
All images supplied by Charles.