What happens when a sixteen year-old girl is faced with a new baby on her own? Imagine that overwhelming feeling combined with another horrifying event- discovering that your sweet newborn baby is the Anti-Christ. That’s what happens in the new AfterShock series Babyteeth which saw its first issue released on June 7th. We had an opportunity to sit down with writer Donny Cates and get the scoop on the series!
Donny- Thanks for talking with me! You’ve really made a name for yourself recently with some cool fantasy and horror stories!
So tell us a little bit about Babyteeth. What’s the elevator pitch for the series?
Well, it’s the easiest one yet! It’s about a sixteen year-old girl who gives birth to the Anti-Christ, and hilarity ensues!
So is it leaning a leaning more towards a horror story, or is it a bit more of a horror-comedy?
Well it’s funny, because when the reviews started coming in for REdneck and people started referring to it by the genre of horror. I never think about genre. I never considered Redneck to be horror book, it’s just about a family who just happen to be vampires. Just like I don’t consider God Country to be a fantasy story, or a sci-fi story. It’s something I’m never really conscious of. Certainly though, when you put the Anti-Christ in a book, it tends to lean toward that and I understand that. Really what’s interesting about Babyteeth, in all honesty, it’s probably the sweetest, kindest work I’ve ever done. Really, it’s about Sadie, about the girl, because the baby, well, it’s a baby, right?! It might as well be a football for all it’s active in the story. [laughs]
I mean, it’s really about Sadie, this sweet girl that I’ve come to be really fond of. She’s a lot like me when I was sixteen. Kind of a nerd, loves comics, all those kinds of things. When I think of the story, to answer your question, yeah there’s going to be some scary stuff, and there’s going to be some action stuff, but I think people will be the most shocked by is how sweet of a story, and how quiet at times it becomes.
So it’s more of a family story that uses the horror trope of the devil baby as a backdrop?
Well, I don’t know if I’d call it that. Things get moving pretty quick. There’s obviously the birth. There’s also two factions that are heavily interested in Sadie’s child. There’s one who wants to obviously kill this child because of what it is. And the other wants to put it on a throne, also because of what they this it is. And then stuck in the middle of all this is just this normal kid and is sixteen and is trying to hide being pregnant, her single dad and her older sister. That’s really kind of the main cast.
Really in tone, it has more in common with something like Paper Girls. Where like there’s a lot of really crazy sci-fi stuff, but at its core it’s really about these girls and how they grow. But replace all that sci-fi time travely stuff with this Anti-Christ stuff. [laughs]
That’s a great way to put it. [laughs] Now you mention Sadie, her sister and her dad, who we all meet in the first issue. Are there any other important characters to know going into the series?
Yes there are, but not any I am going to ruin by telling you about right now. The full cast will be rounded out by the end of the first arc, the first five issues, and I’ll leave it at that. It’s just more fun if you don’t know about everyone that’s showing up.
So one thing I found interesting that you set this story in Salt Lake, the home of the Mormon church. Is there any… symbolism with the story being set in a city with such a strong religious identity? Or was it a bit of picking a name out of a hat for where the story begins?
Well, it definitely wasn’t picking a name out of a hat. It was a couple of things. One, the majority of my books lately have been set in Texas, and I didn’t want to get typecast as the Texas guy. Also, one of the major inspirations for this story is my brother, who had a baby about two years ago. My brothers wife and her family are from there in Salt Lake.
I got to go out for the holidays, and really spent time in that town and really come to love that town. So the fact that I’m writing about a baby, it’s pretty much coinciding with the fact that I have my brother’s kid in my life all of a sudden.
It does not hurt at all though that when you think about Salt Lake City, it’s very evocative of a very, not exactly an ideal place to be unmarried and pregnant… Not a great place to have the Anti-Christ, and kind of a hilarious place to have the Anti-Christ. So it all lined up. Iw anted to write a place I’d at least been to and knew something about and not just bulls–t my way through things. (I end up doing my fair share of that though.) All of those things combined to kind of land on that setting.
Why do think horror is a great lense to examine other things? Why do you think that’s so evocative?
I can’t really speak for others. I don’t consider myself a horror writer. I just kind of write the kind of stories that are attractive to me. While I can’t speak for other horror writers, but I just kind write from a place, but a lot of art in general, comes from a place of things people are afraid of.
Vampires are a great example, and have been for sexuality or a marginalized group of people. Zombies are the exact same way. That extends to a lot of things, like look at the 60’s. There are a lot of superheroes who got their powers from nuclear things, or the 40’s where the heroes came from the war.
Horror is just the natural extension of that expression. There’s a way to do that with superheroes, and a way to do that with the Anti-Christ. I just don’t think about horror.
And anyways, to answer your question (and you’ll edit this down so it sounds like I know what the f— I’m talking about) yeah, I think it really is just what writers and artists and creators have always done, with things that scare us and inspire us. The best art comes from being scared.
Thanks Donny! Do you have any last thoughts you want to leave with ComicBuzz readers?
No, I think we covered it all. Keep on reading Redneck, Babyteeth, and look for some really cool announcements coming announcements coming out the next two months, one in June, and a massive massive on that’ll be a SDCC timed sort of thing.
Thank you again! Check out Babyteeth out now!
Tony Thornley is a Mormon geek dad, blogger, Spider-Man and Superman aficionado, amateur novelist and all around awesome guy. He was born and raised in Utah and has been reading comics since age five. His first comic series was GI Joe and he was doomed from there. You can follow him on Twitter @brawl2099.