Human horror can spring from many places, and sometimes no place scarier than from our own minds. That’s what comic creator Lee Loughridge found when inspiration struck from a nightmare of his own, using that experience for his new comic Midstate, debuting this Tuesday, from Amazon’s Comixology Originals exclusive digital content line. With over 30 years as an award-winning colorist in comics, Midstate is Loughridge’s first foray into comic book writing, and this inaugural outing is off to a stunning supernatural start. In Midstate, a disgraced clairvoyant hopes to regain his reputation and his purpose when a series of missing persons cases crops up in his small Virginia town. Teaming with artist Mack Chater and letterer and designer Rob Tweedie, Midstate looks to be the perfect tale for fans of horror, from without and from within.

We spoke with Mr. Loughridge recently about the idea behind Midstate, how the inspiration for the story sprung from a dark nightmare, how his past work has inspired him, and venturing into this new creative role in comics after being in the industry for over three decades.


MIDSTATE #1 cover


FreakSugar: Before we get into Midstate itself, this is your comics-writing debut. How long have you wanted to dive into that side of comics?

Lee Loughridge: First off, thanks for this, much appreciated!

I’ve always written out ideas, log lines, short synopsis, etc. with the hopes of turning them into something. Eventually. For decades in comics, you were pigeon-holed into whatever job you were doing.  If you were an inker you were never considered for a writing position, etc. I pitched ideas throughout the years and they were never looked at nor even considered. I was a colorist. Colorists don’t write. I was also never really interested in writing superheroes and that was what was in fashion in the 90’s/early 2000’s. I was always more of a situational, slice of life kind of guy. So thankfully the industry has a want for that now.

FS: What kind of feelings are going through your mind as you write the book and anticipate the comics’ debut?

LL: I was just talking with a friend about the fact that this is one of those jobs that you pour your heart into and will most likely have it stepped on by critics/readers. No one stands over a mechanic scrutinizing their work and not paying them if it doesn’t satisfy. It’s pretty crazy, but at the end of the day I am writing stories that I am interested in writing. Hopefully people enjoy them, if not, so be it, I had a blast putting it together.

FS: On to the book itself, what can you tell us about the conceit of Midstate?

LL: Dr. Mark Jounce is Ft. Arlington Virginias newest resident. Dr. Jounce believes to have “Midstate” conversations with the Devil. The “Midstate” is the time the soul stays with the body just after death. It is oftentimes fleeting.

FS: Midstate seems to be an interesting mix of all sorts of narrative traditions and choices. What was the inspiration for your story?

LL: The inspiration came from a nightmare I had. A man in a wheelchair had his arms draped over a bloodied dead body lying on a medical bed. The dead body was speaking to him. I shouted “who are you talking to??” He responded “the Devil.” I woke up totally freaked out and wrote it down. That was ultimately the spark. The characters are a mix of people I have known and the location speaks to the small lake town I grew up in.



FS: You’ve worked in comics for some time. How has that work inspired you?

LL: I’ve been at this for over 30 years now. I have read thousands of scripts. Some are fantastic, some are generic, some are awful. Everyone is a critic, I have been one my entire life, so it was time to get up off my ass and see if my ideas could measure up.

FS: Are there any other projects coming down the lane you’d like to talk about?

LL: I have another announcement coming in April for a book I am doing with Image and Giant Generator. It has been years in the making and we are all really excited about it. I have to keep a lid on it for now. My plan is to have at least one series out per year. I have about 9 already completed and in various stages of development.

FS: If you had a final pitch for Midstate, what would it be?

LL: Here is a version of the pitch I think encompasses the book:

Paul Rinaldi is a pathetic, middle-aged, self-proclaimed clairvoyant living in small town West Virginia. Paul lost his psychic practice after being accused of fraudulent behavior. A string of missing persons, coupled with terrifying visions, gives Paul purpose and a new-found relationship with the town’s newest detective Abigail Dahlin.  Paul and Abi set their sights on the town’s newest resident, Dr. Mark Jounce.  Dr. Jounce is a highly respected, 62-year-old paraplegic. The doctor believes he can communicate with the Devil during the “midstate”. This “state” is the length of time the soul stays with the body just after death.  More dialog with the Devil means more killing needs to happen. Let’s see if the village idiot and the rookie detective can stop him before it’s too late.

Midstate #1 debuts this Tuesday, March 12, 2024, from Amazon’s Comixology Originals exclusive digital content line.

From the official press release:

Award-winning colorist Lee Loughridge (Nostalgia, Batman Adventures) makes his comics writing debut with the series MIDSTATE, a psychological crime thriller starring a disgraced clairvoyant. Featuring interior art and covers by Mack Chater, colors by Lee Loughridge, and lettering and design by Rob Tweedie, MIDSTATE#1 arrives on March 12, 2024, from Amazon’s Comixology Originals exclusive digital content line.

“The idea for MIDSTATE came from a dream I had,” says Loughridge. “It was of a man talking with a corpse. When I asked who he was talking to, he said, “The Devil.” I woke up, wrote it down and got to work.”

In MIDSTATE Paul Rinaldi sees things. When he sleeps, he has what are known as lucid dreams. However, after being falsely accused of fraudulent behavior, he lost his psychic practice and became the laughingstock of the small town of Ft. Arlington, VA. The fact is, Rinaldi is wildly gifted, only furthering his frustrations as a middle-aged, self-proclaimed clairvoyant.

But a string of missing persons cases, coupled with terrifying visions, gives Rinaldi new purpose. In an effort to rebuild his reputation, Rinaldi teams up with the town’s rookie detective, Abigail Dahlin, who is busy chasing down her own leads, in an attempt to solve the cases using his psychic abilities.

When the arrival of a highly esteemed paraplegic doctor sparks suspicion, they set their sights on the mysterious new resident, Dr. Mark Jounce. Together they will either get to the bottom of things or die trying!

“I have been coloring other peoples’ comics stories for nearly 30 years,” Loughridge continued. “In fact, I just learned that I’m the #1 colorist, in terms of volume, in U.S. history! Now I’m taking the leap to writing, and of course, coloring, my very own. It’s been really challenging and exciting, and I hope people enjoy it.”

About the Creators:

Lee Loughridge is a human man, despite his ever-depleting testosterone, who has been working primarily in the comics industry for almost 30 years. He has worked on hundreds of titles for virtually every company in the business.  His work spans Batman Adventures, The Good Asian, Deadly Class, Nostalgia, Somna, Gone, Killadelphia, Fables and more. He made 3 humans a long time ago, thus cementing his legacy for future generations. Follow him: Instagram @leeloughridge and @zylonolstudio, X @leeloughridge

Mack Chater is an Eisner-nominated comic book artist. He is the co-creator of Sword Daughter.