On November 11, the first issue of IDW’s latest comic series Scarenthood will finally be released. The series follows a group of parents who discover a sinister force lurking under the Church Hall of their children’s school. One parent, Cormac, realizes the force may have attached itself to him and his daughter, and he must fight to protect them. The series will be four issues total and will release monthly. It was created by Nick Roche (Transformers: The Wrecker Saga) and Chris O’Halloran (Immortal Hulk). Find our review of issue #1 here.
Recently, Nerds and Beyond was fortunate to interview Nick Roche. He discusses creating the characters and tone of Scarenthood, what to expect from the series, parenthood, and more. Read on for an inside look into Scarenthood.
Nerds and Beyond: You, quite literally, play on parents’ fear about not being able to protect their children from all the bad in the world. What pushed you to tell that story?
Nick Roche: As soon as I became burdened with offspring, those were my exact feelings — complete lack of qualification to adequately care for another human being. Of course, you realize that all parents actually feel that way, apart from the 1-in-5 that are deluded, and the 1-in-3 of those that are proven sociopaths. We had our little girl for a couple of years before her brother showed up (through uncertain methods), and I went from only needing to think about the drawing board in front of me, to having to be aware of the wider world and its effects on my kid.
Nerds and Beyond: One thing I really love about this story is the dynamic with Cormac and Bethany [aka Scooper]. How did you approach creating their relationship?
Nick Roche: It’s nice to hear that their relationship lands, I never wanted to be too cloying or heavy-handed with it, and I wanted to make sure both parties are likeable together and separately. It’s mainly drawn from the early years with my own daughter, right down to the daft nicknames and toddler non sequiturs. Hopefully she and I aren’t too obnoxious, because if we are, I’ve misjudged things terribly, and readers are gonna actively LOVE seeing this family go through hell over the four issues …
Nerds and Beyond: Along the same vein, Cormac is quite an intriguing character. Did you know from the beginning you wanted to focus more heavily on him, or did he eventually standout as you were working on the story?
Nick Roche: He’s the main character really, he’s new-ish in town, and is in a fresh situation that finds him caring for his daughter alone. So, as we meet the other grown-ups in the story for the first time, and observe their dynamics, we’re with Cormac as he navigates this new social situation he’s reluctantly found himself in. Also, the backstory, and … baggage that he brings with him (why is he alone? What happened to his wife?) are also things that are responsible for the creepiness that starts to make itself known throughout the series.
Nerds and Beyond: There’s a good balance of dialogue and visuals in issue #1. When you had the idea and began the creation process, did you approach it with the art in mind first and dialogue after, or vice versa?
Nick Roche: In this instance, characters and plot came first, but I blocked out the issues with thumbnails, drawing loose indications of figures, and that helped me pace out the story, and told me that I needed x amount of dialogue to accompany the y amount of action I’d doodled out. The art style is cartoony enough, but in some ways not as loose or as bouncy as maybe I thought it might be? But it’s deliberately designed to be stylized to counter the mundane real-word scenes, and also lull the readers into thinking the stakes are low so we can really shock them when things get real for Cormac and Scooper.
Nerds and Beyond: You do an excellent job establishing a creepy “make sure you check under your bed tonight” vibe. What were some of the easier parts about doing so, and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Nick Roche: I think the commonality of those domestic fears makes it easy to tap into. And it’s especially amplified when there’s a kid at stake. Scarenthood imagines that those collective chills about noises in the garage, or feelings of being watched on a lonely forest path are founded, so it’s just a case of building on those. As far as challenges, maybe actually being confined to those real-world locations and trying to ground them while amping up the scares can be hard. Sometimes you want to go crazier visually but pushing too far takes you out of the world and the tone that’s been set. And we’re pacing ourselves for #4 anyway.
Nerds and Beyond: What are you most proud of with Scarenthood?
Nick Roche: The outlandish claims of our conspiracy theorist, Flynno. He’s not the sort of tinfoil hat-wearer that will get anyone killed with claims about contagions and wireless phone networks, but the fact that he takes all his facts from alternative news “sources” makes him very entertaining to write. His claim about a prominent Irish rock singer on page 2 of #1 is hard to beat, but we try.
Nerds and Beyond: Without any spoilers, what can readers look forward to in the remaining issues of the series?
Nick Roche: Some woefully unprepared parents struggling to juggle their morning social lives and childcare routines with their investigations into a 40-year-old-plus mystery involving Flynno’s missing brother; a calamitous father/daughter walk in the woods leading to the further isolation between Cormac and Scooper, and a dramatic act of landscape gardening. Plus, an EMF meter that might be a dildo.
Nerds and Beyond: What do you find most rewarding about your work in general?
Nick Roche: When I work on licensed books like Spider-Man or Transformers, it’s a great feeling to have connected with the fans of those properties by maybe bringing something new to it. With Scarenthood, which is all-new and my first foray into creator-owned waters, it’s just been mind-blowing anytime someone “gets it.” I’m as surprised as anyone that I’d spend time on something that’s set in Ireland with relatively realistic and commonplace scenarios — always thought I’d be cooking up something with capes and robots. But to see readers connecting with a project this personal, and one that isn’t often depicted in comics, is heartening enough to make me think that maybe I’m not wasting my time.
Nerds and Beyond: Since we are in spooky season, what are some of your go-to comics, books, or movies to get you in the spirit?
Nick Roche: Weirdly, I’m not a horror guy, but I love ducking into the short stories of MR James and the Pan Book of Horror. Comics-wise, From Hell made me sleep with the light on as an adult, and the Doctor Dee/24 hours in a diner story from Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes is always a winner. It’s the perfect time of year to watch BBC’s classic hoax event Ghostwatch too, which is very much a forebear of Scarenthood.
Thank you to Nick Roche for taking time to answer our questions! Issue #1 of Scarenthood will be available on November 11. Visit your local comic book shop to pick up your copy!