Monday, July 18, 2016

"Visitations" - by Comic Book Creator Scott Larson

Comic book creator Scott Larsen has a unique and interesting idea. It is one I would like to share with my Cemetery Traveler readers.

Back in the winter of 2015-16, I saw a few of Scott's posts on Instagram. They involved graphic art drawings of cemeteries, so I became intrigued. Scott’s comic book project, Visitations, was created and drawn by him, the writing shared with Len Strazewski. It is set in crime-ridden Victorian-era Chicago. Gracehill Cemetery, a fictitious Victorian graveyard in that city, plays a central role in Visitations. Scott has drawn his versions of actual monuments in actual Chicago cemeteries. Some of them come to life! It’s a fabulous idea. Other real Chicago locations are drawn into the story.

Issue #1 opens with a crime committed in Gracehill, Chicago’s oldest cemetery.

Scott tells me:
"Gracehill is a fictional cemetery based on Graceland and Rosehill cemeteries in Chicago. Both are resting places for many of the city of Chicago founders. Rosehill is in the neighborhood I grew up in and my Great Grandfather is buried there. I recently learned that my Great Great grandparents, who were immigrants from Sweden are buried in Graceland. Working on a genealogy project for my family I went to see their graves and was astounded by the monuments that were in the cemetery. Around this same time I was looking for a new project to work on. The characters, some of whom are based on the monuments, and the plot for the first issue came to me in a dream after I had visited and the story progressed from there."

Scott was gracious enough to send me some photos of himself with some of the monuments he has drawn for Visitations. Maybe my readers recognize some of them? For a good introduction to Visitations, let me quote from Scott’s Indiegogo fundraiser site:

What is Visitations?
"Visitations is a story of Chicago, as witnessed through the eyes of characters residing in the city's oldest cemetery. It's part historical fact, part fantasy horror, and part adventure. As the narrative unfolds, the history of Chicago unfolds as well. From the Great Fire of 1871 to the election of President Barack Obama, Visitations tells a tale of rebirth and the growth of a modern metropolis.

Meet Clayton Blackwood, magician and adventurer living in Chicago at the turn of the century. Blackwood and his ghostly group of friends believe they have successfully robbed crime boss Diamond Jim Colosimo of a cursed object. Little do they know they have the wrong talisman. When a mysterious stranger from Blackwood's past unleashes the horror they were trying to prevent throughout the city, this group of apparitions must leave the safe confines of the cemetery in which they reside and face their worst nightmares."

Scott Larson with one of the monuments he drew into his story

Earlier I mentioned Scott’s fundraising site on Indiegogo. What’s that all about? Issue #1 of Visitations was, for a limited time, available as a free download. A hard copy was also available (for $6, including shipping). However, Issue #2, due out at Halloween 2016, will be a bit more elusive. It’s creation was dependent upon Scott raising $3500 to cover the cost of publishing.

Crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo may not be such a novel concept in this day and age, but I have to give Scott Larson credit for making this work. People are typically not willing to give you money to fund a project unless they believe in what you’re doing. Scott successfully funded Issue #2 of Visitations this way. He met his $3500 goal.

Gothic architecture never looked so good!
Scott sent me a copy of Issue #1 and it was great fun reading. Its basically to introduce us to all the characters (check out the links at the end to learn more). Now, how would you cemetery enthusiasts out there like to be drawn into Scott’s next comic?! Scott offered, in his Indiegogo campaign, that for contributions over a certain amount (see link for details), he would draw you in as your choice of a cemetery monument or ghost in Issue #2! I donated some money to fund it, so with any luck, I’ll end up a ghost so that I may forever haunt my enemies (one of my secret desires).

Some of Scott's artwork from his Google+ site

Visitations Comic Book Issue 2 “The Great Balloon Disaster”

I ran a few questions by Scott for Cemetery Traveler readers:

How can someone purchase or download a copy of Issue #1 at this point?
"Anyone who would like to read a digital copy can contact me by email at I'll send that person a PDF of the issue for FREE.
Print copies are currently SOLD OUT. There will be a second printing coming soon. A first print can still be found in 2 Chicago comic shops:
Graham Crackers Comics ( Chicago Loop location) 312-629-1810
Chicago Comics 773-528-1983
Supplies are limited and once they are gone there are no more."

How do you share the writing with Len Strazewski?
"Len is acting as a creative consultant so far. I'm doing the writing and he's helping with the dialogue. He has really helped with the development of the characters. When I took the story to him to get his opinion and he developed the backgrounds and origins for each on the spot (I had no clue what the histories were since the first story came from my unconsciousness). His favorite character is The Entertainer (the headless man) and Len has a story that he will be writing for him that has ties to present day Chicago."

Visitations comic book creator Scott Larson

I hope you will join Scott Larson in his Visitations adventure! Please follow Scott at these links: