Larime Taylor is another one of those awesome people who is talented in all aspects of comics. He has this great series called Voice in the Dark, which just finished it’s first run. In between mini series, I thought it’d be cool to chat with him about the series and where he’s going in general. His wife Sylv Taylor makes a cool cameo as well.
Before we get there, I just want to say right here in print how much I admire Larime. Larime has struggled far more than most people realize or even begin to understand, and yet somehow, he has managed to produce amazing work that has quietly become one of my favorite books to read every month its out. My respect is vast.
I should talk about the series a little bit first. A Voice in the Dark is a series that features a character Zoey, a bright college student who is struggling with her impulses to murder. She ends up becoming a DJ for her student radio station with a show called A Voice in the Dark, in which Zoey’s darker side comes out and advises people. In spite of that outlet, her murderous impulses were still there.
It all crescendos into issue 7, where Zoey decides to kill again. Issue 7 is one of my all time favorite comics. Zoey works out exactly how she was going to pull it off, and plotted and planned exactly how she was going to pull it off. The issue is a lot of build up as Zoey makes her move for the kill. After pages of build up, the moment happens. More importantly than the crime itself, what happens afterward is a neat hook to close the first series on. It was an incredible feat of storytelling that I can’t help but take my hat off to.
Larime writes with incredible meticulousness – an attention to detail that is impressive, both in logic and in sound storytelling. If I was reading prose, his stuff would make sense in that medium. But this is comics, and one of the things that has impressed me most with Voice in the Dark is how much Larime’s art has grown, both in storytelling and in quality. The first issues in the particular were strongly carried by his words. As each issue has gone by, Larime’s art has leapt and evolved into which by the time the last issue hits, you can see the art carry and compliment the story. The growth of an artist is truly magic to behold, and I really think Larime has come onto his own with the conclusion of the first arc.
With the trade’s impending arrival this week, here’s the interview. I hope you enjoy it.
Joshua Pantalleresco: I have to ask this right away. Do you ever have any interest in murder in general? I ask this because of how meticulous Zoey is in 7. She had that down to a tee. I was impressed with your attention to detail.
Larime Taylor: Since I’m writing it from her perspective and she’s supposed to be highly intelligent, with a homicide cop for an uncle that’s one of the best in the field, I really have to cross all the ‘t’s and dot all the ‘i’s. I have to make her thorough and careful, yeah. So Zoey knows which buildings have cameras, where they are, what kinds of forensics get done, and so on. I want the story to stay realistic and believable, so I have to really research all of that. Being disabled, I’m always having to plan and analyze everything ahead of time in my daily life, so it’s something I’m used to.
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JP: So with the first two arcs now finished, it seems to me the whole town seems to be shrouded in with killers in general. Will that be explored in the next part?
LT: Some, but it’s not the major focus. It was done as a bit of theme and ambiance to give the location some personality. NAILBITER is doing a story more about how a town goes bad, or why it turns out killers, and so I’m not going to get too heavily into that in my book. My book is about a very personal struggle. That will be more window dressing throughout the series.
JP: Looking back at the first seven issues, is there any one scene in particular you are most proud of?
LT: I’m not sure there’s a favorite one, there are things I like about different scenes and even different issues, but it varies. Issue #7 has the least dialogue and narration of the whole series, and I’m proud that my art can finally carry an issue like that. There are some visual beats in that issue that I couldn’t have pulled off back in #2 or even #5. I just wasn’t strong enough yet as an artist. It’s good to know that I can do those things now. That the art is starting to come up to the level of the writing instead of the writing carrying it all.
JP: What part of the story came easier for you, the writing or the illustration?
LT: Oh the writing by far. I’m a much better writer than artist. I’ve had to restrain myself as a writer because of my limited range as an artist, and I’ve had to tell more when I should be showing. That’s finally starting to improve, as I mentioned, but I can write an issue in 2-4 days. I need 20 to do the art.
JP: Can you talk to me a bit about the covers? I love the coloring Sylv does with it. So how do you guys put the covers together?
LT: Sure. Mostly I do the lines and provide Sylv with that and any photos I used, and she goes from there and makes my mediocre lines look awesome. Sylv?
Sylv Taylor: Larime’s awesome lines are a great starting point, since he gives me room to paint in a lot of detail. We discuss how he envisions the scene, where the lighting should come from, what colors he’d like to see used.
Sometimes what I come up with is just about exactly how he saw it; he might send back some revisions if there’s time, and I make the adjustments. Our visions may end up very different (an idea that’s discussed doesn’t always translate exactly the same to the page), but ultimately the final call is his, and I’ll chuck it and start over.
Sometimes an idea will occur to me mid-process, (such as switching the original blood-red background on Issue #6 to stark black with a white floodlight), and he’ll go along with it if it ends up with a stronger result. I usually save two versions in this case, to show him my idea, but keep the original in case he doesn’t dig it.
For example, he did not like some of his lines on one of the covers (we were under a tight deadline and had no time for revisions), so I suggested deconstructing it in a rougher painting style, while keeping heavy detail in the other part of the image. That ended up being one of our stronger covers just because the end result (issue #5) became a visual metaphor for the whole series.
JP: what inspired this story?
LT: It basically started out as a parody/homage to the 80’s and 90’s slasher films I grew up on. I wanted to subvert all the tropes. The ethnic character always dies first, so in my story she’d be the sole survivor. Then I came up with the idea of her surviving because she’s actually the killer. It all grew out of that, and became far more serious along the way.
JP: you got the trade coming up. Any cool features you can talk about here?
LT: There’s a look at my process and how I make the book. There are early character designs, and a section on Zoey’s evolution. Things like that. Kind of ‘behind the scenes’ bonus material. I originally planned to put two backup stories in there, written by other writers and drawn by me, but there wasn’t time.
JP: so what happens next with volume 2?
LT: It’ll start with another flash-forward putting Zoey in a very bad situation, then unfold the story of how she got there and how she gets out of it. It deals with the fallout of her murders at the end of the first volume.
JP: what’s your favorite thing to draw?
LT: Faces. It’s what I’m actually good at. Women in particular.
As stated above, A Voice in the Dark will be on sale this week. It reprints issues one through seven of the first series and as stated above is one amazing comic. Check it out. In the fall, the second series A Voice in the Dark: Get your gun starts in September. Larime has a webpage at http://larimetaylor.com.
He can also be found on twitter at @XLarimeX and his facebook is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Larime-Taylor/182922468460495.
I want to thank Larime and Sylv for their time and I wish them both continued success.