“One bloody thing after another” is something you might say during a hectic day at work, but in Joey Comeau’s newest novel it’s literal: coughed-up pieces of bloody, dead animals eaten by what was a human character. The co-creator of A Softer World launches his latest work, One Bloody Thing After Another, in Halifax today (Thursday, May 27 at Strange Adventures, 4-8pm, free)—-it’s a horror novel that saw Comeau pick up a bloodier pen than usual to create a grisly tale, while still keeping his funny, sexy and sweet writing style intact.
It tells the story of an old man, his ancient yet endearing dog and the headless ghost that greets them both when the pair return from their daily walk; of Jackie, her anger issues, her dead mother’s ghost and the crush she has on her best friend, Ann and of Ann, whose mother has turned into a live-animal-eating monster and whose sister is about to follow in her mother’s clawing footsteps.
“It’s not as much about the grisly stuff, although that’s there,” says Comeau on an early morning phone call from Toronto. “It’s fun to twist back and forth between grisly stuff, sad stuff, sweet stuff, funny stuff—-so people don’t really know what to expect next.” Comeau adds that while he enjoys horror movies, he’s more interested in the unexpected, and exploring the characters. That doesn’t mean that One Bloody Thing After Another, marketed as a young adult novel and centred on teenage characters Jackie and Ann, takes any hesitant steps toward sexuality, violence or gore.
“It occurred to me writing it that it could be a young adult novel, and when I thought that I was like, ‘Well I’ve got to avoid writing it like I think it’s going to be a young adult novel,’ because nobody likes to be written down to, and if I’m thinking, ‘Oh this is for a kid I can’t put this,’ or ‘Oh this is for a kid I can’t have it be about this,’ then obviously a kid reading it is going to read that and be like ‘Fuck you, I can handle things.’”
With scenes of werewolf-like creatures eating dogs, kittens and a baby, there’s no threat of censorship in what is, amidst all the blood, a respectful novel about relationships and family. Comeau guesses that fans of his web comic A Softer World will be the first to pick up the horror novel, and he knows a large part of that readership is youth from 14 to 20 years old: a demographic he receives plenty of emails from, especially for his first novel, Lockpick Pornography.
“I get a lot of emails from young gay teenagers, and I mean that’s a book with really explicit sex and violence. Not that this book has a lot of sex in it, but it does have queer teenagers, and queer teenagers don’t get a lot of chances to read about themselves, and when they do it’s coming-of-age stories or coming-out stories; it’s good to have something that is fun for them to read.”
One Bloody Thing After Another isn’t the only project Comeau’s been working on. He and Softer co-creator Emily Horne have just published a second collection of the web comic that includes strips from 2005 to 2009, and Comeau recently finished a sequel to Lockpick Pornography online (lockpickbook.net). Ask Comeau about all of his bloody things in person at tonight’s launch.