Dillon Gilbertson writes: I woke up in a cold sweat, my skin so pale I thought the blood had fully drained from my body; nauseated to the point of delirium. Witnessing the eldritch figure at the front of the vessel, my body attempted to leap overboard before my mind could even comprehend the ghostly gondolier, but one of the other 22 passengers foiled my escape and pulled me back to my seat. I screamed, “Where the hell am I?!” But the only response I received was “#SeeYouInHell”.
As the fog of confusion began to clear, I realized the figure was Genevieve Trainor and the ferry she was steering was Red Stylo Media. Slowly, my memories began to return; my shipmates were fellow writers and artists and the stream we were traveling was a live Kickstarter campaign. Our destination? What Fresh Hell is This?, a new comic anthology inspired by Dante’s Inferno.
“My name is Dillon Gilbertson” I reminded myself, trying my best not to lose my tenuous grip on reality. “I currently live in San Diego, California, and I’ve been writing comics for seven years; 10 if you count the ill-fated and poorly conceived Bear Arm Baby web-comic I wrote in 2009.” It was working. The more I recited my own history, the clearer my current situation became.
“In 2018, I released the first two issues of a five-part horror mini-series called Sweet Heart on Comixology and ComixCentral, where it won a People’s Choice Award for Comic of the Year. Soon after winning the award, the series was picked up by Action Lab Danger Zone. The series has since been temporarily removed from online vendors to be re-released online and in comic shops under the Danger Zone imprint come early 2020. The story follows a family living in Ellicott City, Massachusetts, that is routinely stalked by the monsters living in the surrounding forest. Once a creature chooses its prey, it will follow them for life until it successfully devours them. The series is dawn by Francesco Iaquinta, colored by Marco Pagnotta, and lettered by Saida Temofonte.”
I soon recalled the title “Sweet Heart” was chosen because it is 1. the nickname the protagonist’s grandma gives her, 2. ironic as the girl is very crude and 3. a play on words for the theme of the book as a thinly veiled analogy for life with diabetes. The idea of the book is to connect with people who suffer from diabetes, addiction, depression, or any number of “monsters” that have followed them their entire lives.
As I looked back to my shipmates, I saw an array of skillful writers and artists. Helen Robinson, Rob Pilkington, Kame, Grant McLaughlin—and the one who’d prevented my premature departure, Aly High. They were literally radiating with excitement, a glow so bright I had to squint to protect my eyes. Their demeanor, accompanied by the prodigious work I recognized them for,indicated that being on this, the S.S. Red Stylo Media, was a noteworthy achievement.
But what else had I done? If I was worthy to join them on this journey, surely I must have a larger body of work. I extricated my phone from my pocket and promptly Googled myself (the cell service in Hell is surprisingly robust), which led me to my online portfolio at DillonDoesComics.Com. Here I found confirmation I needed to convince myself I belonged with these other first-rate creators. Along with my previous works, I found I was also working with Michael Kus on a Sci-Fi short story called Albert-VII about the experiments NASA performed on monkeys in the 1940s and an existential, 22 page 1-shot with Anastasia Longoria about what might happen when we die.
“Die? Holy Hell, am I dead!? Is that how I got here?!” I felt my heart begin to race. “Focus, Dillon! Talk about the Kickstarter!” In self-induced panic, I slapped myself in the face, and suddenly, it all came back.
What Fresh Hell is This? is new comic anthology with 100+ pages of hellacious comics from 23 infernal creators (including me)! The frame of the book follows Danny, newly cast at an old Hollywood movie studio which, as it just so happens, is also Hell as described in Dante’s Inferno. A rather incompetent performer, Danny is continuously shuffled through 9 different sound stages (circles of Hell) while central casting figure out where to place him. And as he travels through each circle? You guessed it: New looks at each of Dante’s nine circles of hell, each told by a different creative team, along with a look at the origin of the worst of all studio bosses, Satan.
Danny and Talent Agent
Our journey … Er, the Kickstarter for What Fresh Hell is This? runs until October 1, and we still have plenty of awesome rewards for backers like you. If you aren’t able to give to the campaign, please share it around so others might join the fun!
With my wits back in their proper place, I looked once again over the others in Red Stylo Media, my eyes no longer sensitive to their impressive shine as I, too, was now glowing with excitement. Aly High and I have a real wild story for the 8th circle of Hell reserved for those who commit Fraud. And with Genevieve as our editor, this book is gonna be one HELL of a read. I could not be more thrilled to be a part of it. #SeeYouInHell
There’s a special place in Hell for Bleeding Cool Readers: back our new anthology on Kickstarter and get a FREE Hellywood Bumper sticker! (tag us @red_stylo and @bleedingcool when you pledge and we’ll automatically note your rewards!)
Thanks for reading,