Approaching artistic exploration with an unapologetic brutality, Elytron Frass and artist Charles N’s comic ‘Vitiators‘ from 2022 is a shock to the system – Drawing from the extremes of Eastern and Western art and culture.
We wanted to speak with the creators behind the comic to get a better idea of how it came about and to learn about the project’s influences.
The following is our interview with writer Elytron Frass…
(Our interview with artist Charles N is to follow in a later post – So stay tuned to our socials for that!)
When and why did you first become interested in comics, art, and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?
The violence I lived through in my earliest years was the art I absorbed, whether at home or on the highway: Once seeing a woman who’d been flung out of her windshield splattered into the shoulder of I-95…her legs folded over her shoulders, her scalp peeled off of her skull.
The insects I’d capture, dismember, and collage into alien forms.
Those were the pivots I had. Anything considered as art in the classical sense wasn’t accessible at that time.
By my late teens I was out on my own. Only then was I consumed by the underground arts and the local occult scene.
For anything in particular to speak to me it had to feel extremely forbidden and challenging. I’ve only ever had a weak stomach for food. From Joel Peter-Witkin‘s photography to Wittkop’s Necrophiliac, Bataille’s Story of the Eye, or magical grimoires like The Lesser Key of Solomon, I needed to feel like the influences I had exposed myself to would sear like a cross in my hands.
And some did.
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?
As far as authors go I broadly prefer the French decadents and the Latin American magical realists. Yet I do also read direct sources on esoterism, folklore, world religion, biology and nihilistic philosophy.
I’ll cite some musical influences a bit later on but as far as films and filmmakers go old Category III cinema from both Indonesia and Hong Kong continues to inspire, but so does pornography and the darkest corners of the internet.
Can you please tell us about how the idea of Vitiators came about, and how the project evolved from core concept to working with Charles N to bring the project to life.
I was looking for a new direction to go in after completing my eroguro hybrid novel, Liber Exuvia. That book was surprisingly successful for a completely independent work, but I knew I couldn’t replicate it or even make something remotely as good within the same medium.
So I decided to switch mediums. I always wanted to do a graphic novel anyhow.
I found Charles N. on twitter through a mutual acquaintance who helped facilitate our first correspondence. We then put each other through emotional and psychological torment for the project’s duration and somehow came out with both a finished product and a lasting friendship.
Vitiators went through many revisions throughout its 2 year process. It was originally set to be a bit more serious and erotic and even laconic in prose style, but once all the panels were finished I knew that it had to be rewritten as an anti-erotic dark comedy with an excessive prose style to fully work and best match Charles’ artistry.
I don’t regret doing this.
Anything that one might critique as a flaw only enhances Vitiators’ outsideness, abrasiveness and refusal to conform to restraint. We come from the outside, Charles and I. If you’re on the inside you’re forced to cross over to where we stand for art and anything we’ve made or will ever make because we aren’t meeting you on the inside, we aren’t coming to you.
How would you explain Vitiators to someone who has never heard of it?
I’m not sure that I would explain it beyond the synopsis. But I will say that it’s a book you should leave in a public place after you’re finished with it.
The people I want to experience it most are the one’s not expecting or asking for it.
Those are the instances when a work transcends an impression, for better or worse.
Manga’s inspiration on Western comic creators seems to have only really pierced the mainstream, with people trying to recreate the popularity of Shonen. Vitiators is one of the few books I have read that taps into the ero-guro of the East and evolves it instead of copies it.
Was this part of the plan with Vitiators or more a byproduct of being interested in manga in general?
A bit of both?
I’ve always been someone who fuses extremes from the East and the West. An outsider’s manga-comic hybrid was always the goal. Legend of the Overfiend meets Raw Deal Comics by way of Henry Darger‘s Vivian Girls.
Do you feel extreme art has become less viable as a medium?
… and were there any challenges you faced when approaching a publisher and finding an audience for Vitiators?
Expat Press was immediately interested, and I already had a good rapport with its publisher, Manuel Marrero. I can’t say for sure about Vitiators’ viability, but it’s off to a promising start.
I do what I do for glory and spitefulness, not monetary gain. But all that I make becomes my child and I’d rather not see it defer on the playground or on the killing fields. So I hustle to self promote as much as I can… get reviewers to read it.
All press is press whether negative or positive.
Still Vitiators belongs to the fringes. This wouldn’t be very cult if it was on an enfranchised bookshelf near you.
If you could choose a soundtrack to Vitiators, give me 10 bands that would be featured.
In order of importance from West to East: Brainbombs, Christian Death, Throbbing Gristle, Rapeman, and Suicidal Rap Orgy; Hanatarash, Basket of Death, Boredoms, Genkaku Allergy, Acid Mothers Afrirampo (a collaboration between Acid Mothers Temple and Afrirampo).
Do you feel you excel in the collaborative process?
…and do you have any dream collaborations?
Living the dream currently. I’m in a few collaborations of which are all very distinct.
The one that’s furthest along is a graphic novel collab between me and another pseudonymous author/artist who goes by Durban Moffer. That’s going to be a self-serious and more painterly and laconic true crime graphic novel set in contemporary Russia which focuses on primarily 3 lesser known maniacs I’ve been studying for a while.
In collaboration I prefer to work mainly with anonymous and pseudonymous authors given I am one and enjoy the unknown and unknowability of all that comes with that darkly vital territory. But I’m open to working with certain named authors and artists as well.
I just loathe when someone assumes that I’m whichever named author I’m currently associating with. Elytron Frass is my only moniker at the moment, and I’ve stayed off of all social grids otherwise.
If you could spend the day with any iconic figure (past or present) – Who would it be, what would you want to ask them about, and where would you go?
I don’t really know if I would seek anyone out whose works I admire unless it was to strike a collaboration or for networking purposes. Sometimes lasting correspondences blossom from those instances but that’s never my aim. I’m not a chaser, nor do I place artists on the same pedestal as their works. Most artists are completely insufferable, myself included.
Besides art never needs to be judged morally or, worse, politically if you’re able to distance yourself from the person who made it. The same applies to performative arts.
That said, I did reach out to Jimmy Screamerclauz to provide a blurb for Vitiators (which he agreed to). I greatly admire his animations, especially Where the Dead Go to Die.
It was a professional exchange, and I personally prefer that sort of transaction.
Drugs – waste of time or gateway to the universe?
My maxim has always been “excess in moderation” (a phrase borrowed from comedian Doug Stanhope.)
I indulge in marijuana and hallucinogens in that regard but abstain from more addictive substances from harder drugs to caffeine and alcohol.
What are the top three items you own?
I still have the first insect I’d ever mounted in its original makeshift case made from a cardboard ring box with the top of its lid cut out & replaced with a clear piece of plastic used for displaying dental x-rays.
The beetle’s commonly known as the horned passalus. they screech when you pick them up and do vocally communicate with one another.
There’s a wood carved Garuda statue I brought back with me from Indonesia over a decade ago.
And lastly there’s this porcelain hand that I often utilize ritualistically.
I stole it from a warehouse that doubled as a seasonal Halloween haunted house that me and some friends broke into for fun.
What is the best way for people to keep up with what you are working on?
Are there any projects you want to plug?
Twitter is where I am primarily active.
There’s nothing that will be released soon enough to consider for plugging as of yet. But I did do a blurb for a fellow author’s novella that really left an impression on me. It’s called RedBlackInfinite by Alexander Kattke. I believe it’s available on Amazon. Look it up.
It’s the sort of writing that makes you question the author’s sanity (as intended).
It’s brilliantly horrific.
- Elytron Frass – Website (via Neutral Spaces)
- Elytron Frass – twitter
- Elytron Frass – Instagram
- Elytron Frass – GoodReads Page
- Link to Buy ‘Vitiators’ – via Expat Press
- ‘Vitiators’ – GoodReads Entry
- ‘Liber Exuvia’ – GoodReads Entry
- Review of ‘Vitiators’ by Jenny Mugridge – via Grimoire of Horror
- Review of ‘Vitiators’ by Adam Symchuk – via The Aither