This open call is for phantasmagorically inclined artists wanting to add Internet-published horror comics to their portfolio and take part in DEADWEIGHT, a standalone, four-issue series that will merge into a shared universe.

When brazen celebrity ghost hunters race into a New England tourist trap hellbent on proving to their financial benefactors the town is just as supernaturally subservient as advertised, they quickly learn that acid tests burn. Psychological horror exploration smashes into summer blockbuster spectacle in this haunted house tale on a metropolitan scale as stranded protagonist Cotton Atwater navigates the wraithlike fog that blankets the town, evades the possessed residents, and is ultimately forced to confront his inner, gaseous, flesh-confused demons. Begun the Danse Macabre has; the fears and vices of our ensnared protagonist roam the town's streets in ectoplasmic bodies, seeking him out to force a reckoning with his troubled past and haunted future in a larger shared universe.

The two key components of this comic that need nailing down - and your homework as auditioning artists - are the Deadweight Suit and Ectoplasm.

The suit is described in the script as follows: ďsomething that was created by a parapsychologically inclined farmhand with leathercraft skills in a barn that recreated the Nativity Scene night after oblivious night, was auctioned off upon his untimely death, gathered dust touring the country in a sideshow fashion line, knew intimately one too many sultry attics, and finally found its way into Cotton's venture." While not exactly the origin of the suit, the vibe of musty brown leather and moth-eaten equipment is there, and that is your takeaway.

Specific details are as follows:

It is a full-body leather suit piecemealed together on the road and concealing every scrap of skin, so there's no fleshy access point for ghosts to infiltrate and possess.
Given the suitís technoccult theme, the helmet is of the utmost importance to the trademark silhouette (patent-pending, so letís make something worth slapping a down payment on). One of the teased concepts is of a crescent moon-shape with inflections of a mannequin but even less relatable. Go spelunking in the uncanny valley for we have military applications to consider here - terrify the enemy before you even fire a precious shot, taking them out instead with melee economics. Another concept is of a face-swallowing leather cowl with assorted goggles and lenses sown in asymmetrically behind a high, interlocking collar that reaches up to the bridge of the nose. Think of the collar on an EOD bomb suit with the sleekness of a gimp suit from the 17th century. Think Tim Burton sketch on the back of a diner napkin fleshed out further in a Clive Barker portrait auctioned off cheap before Weta Workshop physically realized it just in time for their storeroom that the palm-reader said would catch fire last year. NO HOODIES.

We are, of course, open to other suggestions just so long as they are the black sheep grazing under a starless, stygian night - the blackest of black sheep, the oddest of odd, the most off kilter Warhammer 40K-, Destiny-, Gears of War-, Call of Duty-, and the Halo-enthused need not apply.

Exposed wires run the length of the suit, crisscrossing at the chest where a superhero logo might go. Far from an overlooked design flaw, addressing this visual indication of Cottonís financial underdog status comes when the suit is tradeshow ready. A long way off, but a boy (even one as deranged from birth as Cotton) can dream.
In effect, design the vacuum-sealed, occult warfare equivalent of the EOD bomb suit married to the Strizh Spacesuit.

The ectoplasm is described in the script as follows chronologically:

ďEctoplasm pushes passed the orifices to pool and congeal on the birdís body. The ectoplasmís in its embryological stage here - a pre-fetus of messy organic chemistry. Almost benign really, relatively speaking, of course. Visually, itís a brew of muslin, toothpaste, soap, gelatin, and egg white. The bars on the cage yield and bend to the birdís hysteria, now infused with wraithlike steroids, but the bird still cannot escape; forces beyond its control prevent it. [...] Ectoplasm enters fetal stage - solidifying mindfulness, remembering it once had legs and arms but canít for the life of it remember where they were on the body or how they worked. It grows as many limbs as it can until it can get its head on straight; or grow one at the very least. The substance thickens, takes on a gluey consciousness, like animated candle wax stalagmites. Bone-thin faces and scraggly arms press against the membrane like semen gremlins coming to life with carnivorous consciousness. The canary becomes emaciated, losing close to fifty-percent body mass. [...] The ectoplasm comes to life! Emaciated, noseless, and eyeless creatures about an inch or less in height emerge from the ectoplasm but don't become autonomous of it; there's always a leg or an arm connecting each creature to the whole mass. The ooze is unambiguously semen-inspired.Ē

This entire possession scene is completely and noticeably BLOODLESS/GORELESS. We are going for clean body horror in this comic, something akin to Junji Ito's Uzumaki, because what's scarier than seeing the disembowelment? Not seeing it, not explicitly anyways. Implication is the name of the game sweeping the nation. Think of ectoplasm as internal bleeding - hazardous from within, individualized, medically ostracized from external, amateur aid. The skin of our possessed will become nigh infinitely elastic, able to contain the organic transformation but not without radically changing its original shape.

The main source of inspiration for our brand-name ectoplasm is the surrealist automatism of English artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare. Our ectoplasmic arms and legs bleed and feed into eyebrows and appendixes in the grips of anti-gravitational ocean currents.

In conclusion, experimental styles are welcome; mixed mediums a plus; thick inking skills a boon.

As far as wage and compensation goes, we are going to pursue funding through Kickstarter and personal investment which will ultimately be up to what we acquire through our Kickstarter. Right now we are aiming at launching 4 to 6 different series for our first collected volumes, but we will be releasing 4-6 first issues of each of our series at the beginning of the Kickstarter. Each first issue is going to be unpaid, but the hope is to be able to make enough funding that we can do the remaining issues of the series. Deadweight is one of those series, and we are looking for someone that would be open to joining our company to help push this series to be truly amazing and to really create something different that hasnít been captured in the horror/superhero genre, and we hope that you have the passion to help us do that. If you are interested, please email me at support@optikcomics.com and attach an example or examples of your work and the best way to reach you. We really look forward to talking further, and thank you in advance.

Kindest Regards,
Optik Comics