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If horror were just measured by how much objectionable content one could squeeze beneath an R-rating, the cartoonish webcomic Flatwood wouldn’t rate very high on the fear factor, but fortunately, that’s not how fear is measured. I asked webcomic creator Zachary Parker to shine some light on the mysterious Flatwood.

“Horror is all about evil that threatens to consume everything.  If you make one wrong move, the darkness will swallow you up,” Parker explained. “But Horror is rarely hopeless. There usually exists a way through it, a way to reach the other side, a way for the evil to be defeated. Despite all its gloominess, that's really what Flatwood is all about.”

There’s a religious element to the story, as the forgotten souls of Flatwood await salvation in the form of the Man on the White Horse. Parker sees Flatwood as an attempt to reconcile horror with other forms of Christian entertainment.

“There would definitely be a disconnect between Horror and this idea that anything Christian has be rosy-cheeked, gee-whiz entertainment. That's what I'm trying to oppose,” says Parker. “The main idea of Christianity and Flatwood is that there's a light shining in a dark place — not that there's a dark spot on a light place.”

Parker enjoys webcomics because of the process of “gradual creation.” As he explains, “You don't have the finished product in front of you when you start it. It's a journey. If I'd tried to write Flatwood , as a novel or a screenplay, it wouldn't have worked. One of my problems is relentless self-editing. I would have re-written the beginning 500 times and given up. On top of that, I knew that creating Flatwood's sense of creepiness would be much easier and more effective through artwork.”

Though Flatwood is on a sporadic update schedule at the moment, Parker is keeping himself busy by working on a book on the subject of Greek and Roman mythology. Parker says, “I'm taking ten classic myths and turning them into plays that are meant to be read aloud in the classroom..”

Having worked on Flatwood for nearly four years, Parker did reveal a little of what’s in store for his amnesic hero Alex. “Up until now Alex has had a very limited view of Flatwood, meeting a few pieces of it at a time, but now he's coming to the point where the forces that move these pieces are going to come into focus.  All hell and a little bit of heaven is going to break loose. Can I be more cryptic?  What do you need to know:  it's going to be cool.”

For now, Parker is updating Flatwood sporadically whenever he can. His book is due out in Spring 2009.

 

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