Freakishly Good: Anthony Cleveland On His Comic, Show's End
Anthony Cleveland is writer, father, and factotum. In 2017, he published his comic book Siver Skin #0, and his short horror comic, 'The Crib,' was featured in Alterna Comic's 2018 IF Anthology. His latest endeavor, Show’s End, is set for an August release through Mad Cave Studios, and based off what we know so far, it’s gonna be a freakishly good read.
“Equal parts brutal and beautiful, Show's End takes place in Georgia during the1920s and follows Loralye, a 12-year-old runaway seeking refuge with a traveling group of freak show performers. At first, she isn't welcomed for being too “ordinary.” But what her new found family doesn't know, is that Loralye is hiding a secret more freakish than anyone could ever imagine.”
Show’s End releases in August from Mad Cave Studios.”
Viddy Well: Well, we’re finally here! We can now talk about Show’s End, the comic book you’ve been working on for so long.
Anthony Cleveland: I know! It feels longer than it’s actually been to be honest. I think I started work on this in September of last year, but it feels like it’s been a year or longer.
VW: You’ve teased over the months that the comic was something circus related with most of the accompanying images being from Todd Browning’s Freaks.
AC: Right, the comic is horror/fantasy story about a young girl that runs away to join a traveling freak show in the 1920s, and that film (Freaks) was easily the primary influence.
VW: Were there other films that influenced you while writing this comic?
AC: Actually, no. [laughs] And besides the setting of Freaks, Show’s End doesn’t have much in common with it either. There’s a lot of movie scenes and frames that influenced my writing, but beyond that there’s not a lot of films out there like Show’s End that I can think of.
VW: That’s interesting to hear, because in our interview for your last comic (Silver Skin) you mention you would watch werewolf films on repeat.
AC: I watched A LOT of Universal monster movies while writing that comic, and I think those repeated views did carry over into Show’s End as well — mostly with the Bride of Frankenstein. All of the misunderstood monster scenes were in my mind while writing this comic, though you may not see it on the page.
VW: But, you can see the classic Universal horror influence in a lot of your characters as well.
AC: Very true. If film has any influence over anything in this project, it's in the characters. For a quick break down, Daxton Rickles the dwarf showrunner is a combination of many characters from Even Dwarfs Started Small, the skeleton tattooed sword swallower, Twigs, is heavily inspired by Bob Flanagan in the documentary Sick, and Madam Vadoma was influenced by Maleva the Gypsy in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.
VW: Bob Flanagan in Sick is really a deep cut. What about his story did you use as an influence on you character?
AC: The thing about Bob’s story that always stuck with me was his reason why he was a sadomasochist in his performance art. He was always sick and in pain because of cystic fibrosis and his grueling performance art was a way for him to hurt his body back for all the pain it’s brought him. I took a lot of his outlook and put it into Twigs.
VW: If there’s not a film you can closely tie Show’s End to, what would you say is the genre it clings closest to?
AC: Fantasy I suppose, but a very dark one. Horror is here too of course, but I tried my hardest to keep it to our main character’s, Loralye, point of view of wonder at what she’s seeing — that’s why I say fantasy. At it’s core it’s a “runaway to join the circus story,” only I added demons, magick, and zombies to it.
VW: Is there any additional hype you’d like to leave with our readers?
AC: Yes! Jef Sadzinski’s art is absolutely insane in this comic. His upcoming character designs blew me away. I wish I could share them! Jef really brought this world to life in a way that was better than anything I had in mind and I can’t wait for people to get their eyes on it.
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