In this flame, it all burns the same.
Coming this December from Mad Cave Studios is the newest thriller from Anthony Cleveland, Charred Remains. Illustrated by Andrea Mutti and lettered by Taylor Esposito, Charred Remains follows Amy Durant, the sole-survivor of a deadly inferno, as she tries to reveal the truth about a sinister being made of ash and smoke, The Fire Man.
Mad Cave Studios’ marketing manager, Maya Lopez, sat down with Anthony to chat about his inspirations, his creative process, the making of Charred Remains, and more! Check it out below!
Q: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Anthony! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Anthony: Sure! Visual storytelling has always captivated me & it was something I knew I wanted to do. So finally after working part time at a few odd jobs, I decided to finally make the jump. I self-published a comic and not long after that I went on to write several series at Mad Cave Studios.
Q: What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to writing comics?
Anthony: Finding heart in stories is important to me. I think I have to start there for inspiration. Lately, I’ve been putting a lot more introspection into my writing and that’s been helpful for finding the inspiration I need.
Q: In Charred Remains, we follow Amy Durant as she tries to bring the truth of The Fire Man to light. What was your biggest inspiration in writing this story?
Anthony: Charred Remains was my first opportunity to write a story that was firmly in the horror genre— that was both motivational and inspirational. This was something I’ve been chasing since I began penning comics. My other series are horror, but more so horror adjacent. Charred Remains is my first try at really scaring readers.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your personal connection to Charred Remains?
Anthony: I was a coroner deputy for four years, and that was the last odd job I worked before I started to pursue comic writing. Coroner cases that involved collecting charred remains probably got to me the most. I wanted to bring as much of those feelings and experiences there into this comic.
Q: Was there any special research that went into writing Charred Remains?
Anthony: I watched a lot of old noir films and studied up on New Orleans history and infrastructure. That city’s canal system and pump stations still fascinate me.
Q: What got you into creating comics?
Anthony: With visual storytelling, my first choice was always filmmaking. The struggle with that is you have to depend on and organize so many people. Comics clicked better for me because it’s a more intimate collaboration. There’s just something about going from the mind to ink on the page to tell a story… It will never stop being magic to me.
Q: Which character in Charred Remains do you personally connect with the most?
Anthony: Probably Vic. He’s fatherly and I feel like he makes a lot of the choices I would.
Q: What do you hope for people to take away from Charred Remains?
Anthony: I want readers to walk away with a few great scares. That was my goal when I started writing comics in general. Andrea truly nailed it with the imagery in Charred Remains & I know we’re going to creep a lot of people out.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about what your writing process looks like?
Anthony: Lately my horror ideas have been coming from really meditating on what scares me. Charred Remains is a good example – I really don’t revisit memories of coroner cases like ones in this comic, but there’s safety in revisiting them through a safe lens of a genre and medium I love. After the idea begins to form from those fears and memories, I go into playlist creation to find sounds that match the story. Then I listen to that on repeat and let the book come together.
Q: Who/what are your biggest influences as a creator?
Anthony: When I jumped into self-publishing, it was Brian K. Vaughan & a ton of Jeff Lemire. I think now I look at a lot of horror manga & novels. My influences are kind of all over the place.
Q: From Stargazer, Grimm Tales from the Cave, and Show’s End, to Charred Remains, you’ve had an incredible history of writing horror with Mad Cave Studios. Do you have any particular horror stories, whether comics, books, or films, that you’d recommend to readers?
Anthony: These are the ones that have been stuck in my head the most this year– Book: The Elementals. Comic: The Sickness. Manga: Anything by Masaya Hokazono. Film: Hellbender
Q: Any upcoming projects we should know about? Anthony: I have a creator-owned horror book releasing next year. This is one I’ve been working on in some way or another for over ten years & I’m beyond excited to share it. Q: Any cons you’ll be attending in the near future?
Anthony: I’d really like to do NYCC next year for that creator-owned book. I may visit C2E2, but the only con I table at is my local NWI Comic Con.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
Anthony: I’m eager for reader reactions on Charred Remains! Let us know what you think of it!
ABOUT ANTHONY CLEVELAND
Anthony Cleveland began writing comics after departing from his position as County Coroner Deputy to pursue self-publishing. Shortly after, he was selected in Mad Cave Studios’ talent search and went on to write the hit series Show’s End, Stargazer, and a short featured in Grimm Tales from the Cave, a horror anthology showcasing many of today’s top talents in the genre. Anthony lives in Indiana with his wife and three children.
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