Under the Surface with Christopher Twin
Time to dive under the surface with another debut graphic novelist! This October, we’ll be celebrating the release of Bad Medicine, the second title in our Young Adult imprint, Emanata.
Created by Christopher Twin, an incredibly talented artist who grew up on the Swan River First Nations reservation in northern Alberta and now lives and works in Edmonton, Bad Medicine is a collection of linked horror stories that are inspired by Cree folklore and modern Cree life.
The stories begin when a group of teens wander out to the river near their homes to build a fire. As they huddle around the fire in the darkness, they share stories of spirits and shapeshifters, trying to outdo each other, and the evening evolves into an impromptu storytelling competition.
Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians, has already given it some pretty high praise: “Bad Medicine’s about as good as medicine can get — stories with blood on the ground, sure, but a lot left in the heart, too.”
4 QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER TWIN
1. I love how you’ve structured Bad Medicine — essentially, it’s a series of graphic shorts linked by the shared experience of teens sitting around a campfire. What inspired you to use this format? Were there any unexpected challenges?
I have always liked horror anthologies. Comics like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror were always interesting to me when I weas young. Stephen King’s books of short stories are also an influence on Bad Medicine. For me the challenge was to link the stories together by having the characters tell them in a way that seemed natural to me. The way Indigenous people spread their knowledge via stories very much influenced Bad Medicine.
2. What did you enjoy most about creating a graphic novel for teens? How did this audience shift the way you approached the subject matter?
I like introducing a teenage audience to horror that isn’t too hard to digest, yet doesn’t treat its audience like children. I tried to write the stories in a way that could be a bridge between adolescent subject matter and more mature stories. I think teens appreciate being able to read material that an adult would be able to read and enjoy.
3. Which was the hardest story to write? Why?
“Tracy’s Ghost” (or “The Highway,” not too sure what to title the story) was the hardest to write. It deals with issues that are very sensitive to me and many other Indigenous people. I had to make sure I treated the MMIW subject with great care and sensitivity. “The Monster Inside” was also difficult as its subject is one that modern Indigenous people deal with on a daily basis.
4. Who are your creative influences?
Junji Ito, Frank Miller, Katsuhiro Otomo, Grant Morrison, David Finch, Alan Moore, Ed Brubaker, Sean Philips, Fiona Staples, And Brian K. Vaughn. There are so many more that I would need to write a second book to name them all!