INTERVIEW: Sloane Leong’s Haunting House Whispers Dark Tales in Graveneye

A red door greets you as you turn the first pages of Graveneye. “The first time we met, I bit her,” come the words, thick ink whispering darkly against bright red. As Mary timidly steps inside, nursing the wound on her hand, the house itself introduces us to Ilsa, tall and stern, waiting silently to greet her new housemaid. From here, their lives will circle around each other in strange ways, with Ilsa slipping into the night to sate her demonic hunger, and Mary diligently cleaning and hiding her bruises.

Graveneye is a lush tale of dark passion and obsession. Of secrets and violence, and two women quietly brought together under the watchful eye of a mansion that has seen things, yet keeps its inhabitants’ secrets.

This chilling tale of gothic horror and psychological suspense belongs to Sloane Leong (Prism Stalker), brought to life in black, white, and stark red by Anna Bowles. Here, Leong shares some of the secrets of her unusual haunted house…

The profile of a woman with long black hair and blood running from her mouth. He head is tilted up with the moon behind her. Below is the image of a large mansion in a forest  and a young woman walking towards it

What was the inspiration for the main characters, including the house itself? Did they come to mind first and then the story concept evolved around them, or vice versa?

Graveneye began as a short prose story, the majority of which is still present as the house’s dialogue in the comic. It stemmed from a personal experience of a friend developing feelings for me to the point where I felt that it seemed a bit self-destructive for them and made me uncomfortable; we had to end our friendship. I learned their feelings had been developing totally unbeknownst to me for a long time and that greatly inspired the foundation for the story. Isla and Marie both have their own perceptions of each other that are built completely within their own head and not based on anything real like, say, things verbally communicated or their actions. It’s all an image of what they want the other to be for them. So I had these two women who are both in their own fantasy world and I didn’t want to privilege one point of view over the other so I introduced the house as the narrator, which was really fun for me to write and personify as a character.

There is so much detail in the house, right down to the various types of material used in each section of the structure. Are there particular meanings behind the material, specifically, the trees from which the house’s wood comes from?

The architecture of the house was only vaguely described by me but really brought to life through Anna’s extensive research and knowledge. I wanted the house to have a sort of Frankenstein-ian feel, where the design of it feels grafted on from different aesthetic eras, a product of its various owners. It’s a large and long-lived creature and has undergone repairs and redesigns, all of which have shaped who it is. I also wanted it to feel labyrinthian, where everything seems eerily unfamiliar but sparks deja vu at the same time. The type of tree has no special meaning for me but I did want to explore how the house feels about its genesis as descending from multiple elements of nature, which it ruminates on in the duration of its narration.

The color choice for the book is very distinctive. Why did you choose to go with black, white, and red to tell your story? Did you consider other options before settling on these three colors?

I can’t remember the exact conversation but I know I found Anna’s inking absolutely stunning on its own and the choice of limited palette really compliments her technique. I know I have a reputation for being a hypercolorful artist but I adore black and white comics the most! Plus, with the themes we were exploring, it just felt fitting.

The font choice is also very powerful as the voice of the house. Why did you choose to have the house tell this story?

That font isn’t a font at all, it’s actually Anna’s handwriting! It’s gorgeous! The title design is also hand-drawn by Anna.

As for the house as the point of view character, I had multiple motivations. First, I wanted to tell the story of these two women from a sort of ‘alien’ perspective. The house is non-judgmental and considers both of their behaviors as pleasantly unusual even when they veer into the violent and obsessive. I also just enjoyed developing the voice of the house and writing it; it has no stake in anything besides being a house and serving those that live in it. I thought it was a refreshing perspective to frame this story in which could easily become a more simplistic tale of victim and killer. I also liked the idea of this house being a sort of ‘stone tape’; it replays and perpetuates the darker ambitions of those that live in it, becoming this ancestral mass of evil that infects those in its walls, like a black mold.


Graveneye is available now from TKO Studios, and you can read an excerpt here.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.

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