Crafting chilling, original horror tales that put a vice-grip on audiences is a rarity. Doing that in comics? That’s akin to running across a unicorn deep in the woods in the thick of night. Fortunately, we have writer Garth Matthams and artist Kenan Halilović to perform such storytelling miracles, as seen in their immensely popular webcomic Witch Creek Road, found on Webtoons and with the distinction of once being one of the platform’s Featured Comics. Loosely set in the same world, Witch Creek Road offers stories for fans of all stripes of horror fans, from slasher romps, to demonic dangers, to paranoia run amok. How they weave into one another is part of the fun and mystery of Witch Creek Road, a “love letter to the horror genre,” according to Matthams.

Matthams and Halilović recently launched a Kickstarter in partnership with Rocketship Entertainment to collect all three volumes of the Witch Creek Road webcomic in one massive omnibus. In addition to the enormous tome, Matthams, Halilović, and Rocketship are offering a bevy of phenomenally fun and frightful stretch goals and add-ons for backers of the campaign.

I spoke with Mr. Matthams and Mr. Halilović about the idea behind Witch Creek Road, their horror story inspiration, how horror stories—and all stories—are character-driven, and making familiar horror tropes feel vibrant and new.



FreakSugar: For folks who might not be familiar with the webcomic, what can you tell us about the conceit of Witch Creek Road?

Garth Matthams: At its core, it focuses on the struggle to survive against forces that shouldn’t exist, or forces we’re not meant to interact with. At times, it’s nihilistic in its view, because, in reality, we probably wouldn’t survive against these forces. But the characters still try, sometimes at the cost of others, and sometimes at the cost of their own humanity. Even those who survive don’t walk away unscathed.

FS: What is the behind-the-scenes story of Witch Creek Road? How did the two of you meet and begin collaborating on the webcomic?

GM: I noticed Kenan posting on the DeviantArt forums and thought his art was amazing. I reached out to see if he was available to work on a project, and luckily, he said yes.

At the time, we weren’t planning on a webcomic. I only started cutting up the pages and posting them to Webtoon because I wanted to get the story out in front of as many people as I could – and posting it on an established platform like Webtoon seemed like a good idea at the time. But I was truly a Webtoon novice. I didn’t understand what “Featured” was, or that there was even an opportunity to get paid by Webtoon. When Webtoon eventually contacted me to discuss the possibility of becoming a Featured Comic; I had to Google what that meant.

It was truly a case of me blundering my way into something awesome!



Kenan Halilović: Garth approached me on DeviantArt regarding working with him on his horror comic. I was looking for work at the time and we quickly came to an agreement. To be honest, even though I did do a couple of horror comics before, I never really liked horror as a genre, but something clicked between me and Garth, and it was like we were seeing things in the same way. It was amazing, we got into a flow and I got really interested and passionate about the story and the characters, especially the Wolves and Sara, and from there I followed wherever Garth was leading, and I enjoyed every second working with him.

FS: The words and pictures marry beautifully in the comic. What is that collaboration process like? Can you walk us through it?

GM: That’s all Kenan. He takes my scripts and somehow manages to perfectly capture the scene I had been imagining. It’s uncanny.

In the beginning, I used to provide a lot more detail in the scripts – now I only provide enough detail to convey the basics, and I step back and let Kenan create. Sometimes, I don’t even provide a panel description – only the dialogue. And Kenan always nails it. He’s a master at capturing a scene.

KH: Garth and I clicked right away and could work together effortlessly from the start. Garth gave me pointers in the beginning and to me it was clear as day what he was aiming for in every scene. After that, Garth basically let me do whatever I think works best and even add or take out panels if I think it will be better for the flow of the story. I appreciate that he trusts me so much, and I think that our mutual trust and understanding is the thing that made WCR what it is and made it possible for the two of us to work together for all of these years and counting. Garth is a hell of a writer and a hell of a person.



FS: In Witch Creek Road, you take horror tropes we know and mold them in ways that we’ve never seen before. Do you set out to do that or do you just let the stories take you where they will?

GM: I’d like to say it’s all original, but I definitely leaned into a lot of tropes myself. It’s hard not to. I strongly believe there are no completely original stories left to tell, and there haven’t been for a while now. It’s more about starting with something familiar, and then putting your own spin onto it. That’s my goal: for it to be both familiar but different, and to hopefully catch the reader off guard at times with an unexpected twist.

FS: There are so many types of horror tales for fans of all inclinations. What do you think makes a good horror story? Are there any repeating elements that you think are present in all horror stories?

GM: I think a lot of stories – not horror stories, but just stories in general – are driven by the characters. With horror, it’s driven by the situation. Something bad happens, and whoever finds themselves caught in that scenario has to figure out a way to survive.

With a rom-com, for example, we follow two characters. Maybe they have a bad first impression of one another. But then, over time, their opinions begin to change. And then, just as they’re about to get together, an obstacle or misunderstanding occurs, which then needs to be overcome in order to achieve the happy ending. But the story develops from the characters. And it needs to be those two characters for the story to develop in the way that it does.

With horror, the story already exists and is simply waiting for someone to stumble across it. The puzzle box that, when solved, opens a doorway to hell. The incantation that, when read or played back, summons the demons. The underground lake that, following an earthquake, releases a group of prehistoric piranhas into a nearby lake. A horror story is like a spider’s web waiting for the fly.

Horror doesn’t wait for the right person. It’ll swallow whoever comes near.

With all that said, a good horror story needs to find a way to make us care about the characters involved so that we want them to survive. It also needs to put a unique spin on a scenario we may have already seen a dozen times over.

KH: As far as horror movies goes, I was always afraid of them and when I would watch them I couldn’t sleep for a night, at least two after. So, I avoided them like the plague. But from the ones I did watch I can say that the most chill in my bones caused the psychological ones, ones where you can barely see what is chasing you, where you can only see glimpses of whatever unholy thing is after you, the unease you feel during the whole thing. That said, what really makes you stick around in those kinds of movies are the characters and they should be, in my opinion, interesting enough and intelligent enough to the point that they would do mostly what any other normal human would do in their situation and make you question your own decisions in certain situations. As a whole I think any story should have that capacity to make us question ourselves and see certain things in a slightly different perspective.



FS: I find it interesting what moments you allow to breathe in your stories and which moments you decide to turn up the speed on. Is that impacted by the webcomic format or just how you want to pace the stories or both?

GM: For me, it was mostly influenced by the pacing of horror movies. Horror movies can have some very intense scenes, but also moments of extreme calm. Sometimes even moments of beauty, or of humor. I think you need those quiet moments for the characters (and the audience) to breathe. It’s the so-called “quiet before the storm”.

FS: What are your favorite horror stories? Do they add inspiration to your work?

GM: I don’t think it’s possible to not be influenced or inspired by the stories you enjoy.

For Witch Creek Road, HP Lovecraft was definitely an influence – though the biggest influence for Season 1 was the short story, “The Hounds of Tindalos” by Frank Belknap Long.

Various horror movies would have also played a part, though it’s been so long since I started writing this story that it’s hard to pinpoint which movies may have contributed toward some of the ideas.

In terms of my favorite horror stories, I tend to gravitate toward “fun horror”. Movies like Evil Dead 2, Re-Animator, and Night of the Demons are prime examples. I also absolutely love the horror masterpieces, like The Thing and The Shining. And one of my all-time favorites is Cabin in the Woods. I was definitely the target audience for that movie.

KH: Some of my favorite horror movies are among others: Alien, The Village, The Silence of the Lambs, and Signs.



FS: You have stated that Witch Creek Road was originally meant to be one season, but more loosely connected stories sprung from that initial story. What was the process like creating a larger Witch Creek Road universe?

GM: The main reason Witch Creek Road was originally meant to be just one season was a simple lack of funds. Making comics is expensive, and I had just enough money set aside to create the original five issues. I wanted to be able to say, Hey, I made this. And at least I tried.

Prior to Witch Creek Road, I had done a story called “The Living Finger”. “The Living Finger” ended with a two-page epilogue where, in the background, you can see some artifacts of power. One was the book that was used to summon the Wolves in Witch Creek Road Season 1. One was the knife that belonged to the Skinned Man in Season 2. And we see Pandora’s heart, which comes into play in Season 3. So, there were definitely some stories I wanted to tell – I just didn’t think I’d get a chance to tell them. Becoming a Featured Comic on Webtoons provided me with that opportunity, and I’ll always be thankful to Webtoons for that.

FS: If you wanted to describe Witch Creek Road in a few sentences to hook new audiences, how would you do it?

GM: Ah, this is my kryptonite, but here we go:

Witch Creek Road is a loosely connected group of stories set in the various sub-genres of horror: demon-summoning-gone-wrong survival horror, the supernatural slasher, the who-can-you-trust tale of paranoia, and so on. The stories begin to overlap and eventually crash together in what I can only describe as an obsessive love letter to the horror genre as a whole.

KH: Witch Creek Road is a story about ordinary people who come face to face with something supernatural and evil and some of them get changed by it for the better, some of them get changed by it for the worse and some of them die by it, spectacularly.



FS: On to the Kickstarter itself, what can you tell us about the campaign?

GM: The Kickstarter is for a collected omnibus of the first three stories: Volume 1: Witch Creek Road; Volume 2: Skinned; and Volume 3: Infested. But more than that, it’s a director’s cut version of these stories.

When we were working with Webtoon, there were certain concessions that needed to be made. For example, characters appeared in Skinned that were never intended to be there. And, in order to hit our deadlines, we used guest artists for some of the backup stories in seasons two and three (the Infested storyline). We’ve gone back and returned these stories to how they were originally intended. In the case of Skinned, the added characters were removed, and the original ending was restored. For Infested, Kenan provided entirely new art – which was definitely a huge undertaking since that story was over one hundred pages.

In the end, we wanted to provide the best possible version of Witch Creek Road as we could.



FS: What can you tell us about some of the rewards that backers can expect?

GM: There are a few different reward levels, ranging from the PDF, to a softcover edition of Season 1, to getting drawn into the comic itself! The three reward tiers I’m personally most excited for are:

The Omnibus! It’s 400+ pages of horror goodness, hardcover, and in a beautiful slipcase. It’s literally everything I could have wanted but didn’t have the resources to create myself (so a huge thanks to Rocketship Entertainment for taking the lead here)!

The Kenan-related stretch goals are also very appealing. I love Kenan’s art, so if I didn’t work with Kenan directly, I’d be getting myself one of the commissions. Also, getting drawn into the comic is also a fun option. I’ve participated in this type of reward before, with other campaigns, and it’s fun to be able to point to something and say, Hey, that’s me! (Fun fact: You can see me drawn into attendance at Axe Cop’s wedding, looking all concerned that the bride is late).

I’m also looking forward to some of the merch. This is something else I haven’t had the resources to invest into, but Rocketship Entertainment is creating pins, prints and patches. I’ll definitely be looking forward to getting my hands onto some of these!

Overall, it’s an awesome-looking campaign, and I hope people are able to check it out!

KH: All I can say is thanks to anyone who contributed to the campaign and to the people who opted for the original commission, I say, you will not will not be disappointed. That’s a promise.

At the time of the publication of this interview, the Kickstarter for the Witch Creek Road Omnibus has already hit its initial goal more than six times over with all stretch goals unlocked! You still have over three weeks to dive into a world of horror the likes of which (witch?) you’ve never seen!