Viktor Kerney wears many hats from his activism to gay pop culture critic and co host of the MEGASheen podcast and writer for BuzzFeed and Bilerico. Kerney created the hashtag #GayMediaSoWhite to bring attention to how gay media’s erasure of queer people of color. Most recently Kerney has been busy breathing words into Brandon and Jackson’s story in the web comic Strange Lore.
Gay League: Viktor, you focus on gay pop culture as well as an activist for various social causes. How has the experience of creating a serial webcomic been for you?
Viktor T Kerney: It’s been a blast. I enjoy creating complex characters and exploring legends, folklore, fantasy and supernatural elements. This story was always inside me and I needed to get it out there.
GL: Tell me about your love for all things horror.
VTK: Oh man… I don’t know how to explain it. I just love things that scare you and challenge you. When I first saw Friday the 13th as a young kid I just fell in love with horror. Also reading the infamous children’s book Scary Stories You Can Tell In The Dark was a game changer. The illustrations and the stories really sent my imagination out the door. I started writing my own scary stories when at 10 years-old and I can remember one of my teachers was worried that I was disturbed due to one of my stories. My mom wasn’t concerned, she thought I was a good writer.
GL: How did you come up with Strange Lore’s premise and characters?
VTK: Well, I knew that the characters had to be of color. Brandon is Black and Jackson is multiracial. I wanted to make sure I had queer characters of color at the forefront. It was a ‘must have’ in the story. As for the premise, to be honest, it came from all of the YA books that I was seeing. Like Twilight and Hunger Games, I wanted to have a story that has supernatural and action elements, but with queer characters. Also, there’s not many queer stories out there so, I wanted to contribute as much as possible to the genre.
GL: Given your interest in the genre Strange Lore’s horror foundation with some Southern Gothic flavor doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s also a romance story with self discovery. What intrigues you about the these aspects in the story?
VTK: Good question… The South has so much rich history. There is so much folklore that besets the particular area of our country. I am so obsessed with Southern folklore and I would love to explore it in future stories. The romantic part is needed because we need to see queer characters of color in love. I believe romantic stories are important and key to our community.
GL: What do you like or find challenging as the writer?
VTK: Writing can be tough because you are trying to flush out all of your ideas and put it on the page. And it can be a lot, especially for those who are very creative and have so many ideas you want to express on the page. I enjoy writing and creating new worlds but what can be challenging is what to really focus on. That’s why I suggest creating an outline just to get your story fleshed out before you writing it.
GL: As important as horror and myth are in Strange Lore you’re also addressing social issues and myths. Most notably you accomplished this with the support shown to Brandon by his family in Marion and the staff at the diner while others in town are blatantly bigots. Would you talk about this and any other topics you’re weaving into the story?
VTK: I wanted to make Marion a town that was tolerant in the south. I wanted the focus to be more about supernatural pieces versus a town that could be horribly bigoted and racist. And we see elements of that in the story. However, I wanted to create a possible place that is supportive and encouraging for young queer Southern folk.
GL: Who are your collaborators on Strange Lore and how did they come on board?
VTK: Antonio Brandao is the main artist, Terry Blas and his husband Scott Green did the colors and Bruno Chiroleu did the letters.
I found Antonio on Deviant Art. His art reminded me of the old comic art of comics I grew up with. I’m known Terry since the Bent Con days. He’s so talented and his coloring is pure perfection. After everything was done, I found Bruno on Facebook. Bruno is not just a letterer, he’s a writer and an artist as well.
GL: What was it like for you to see the art bringing your ideas to life?
VTK: I cried the first time I saw Antonio’s art and panels. It was so weird to see my ideas and vision on the page.
GL: What are your hopes for Strange Lore as a story, both for yourself and readers?
VTK: I hope that the Kickstarter campaign works and we publish the story as a graphic novel. And I hope people enjoy the book and really support the characters within the story.
GL: Any teasers you can share volume two?
VTK: We will learn more about Jackson’s past including an ex. Brandon will learn a lot more about his family background and what his true potential. And one more thing, Brandon and Jackson are not ready for what’s to come in the following story.
GL: Thanks and best wishes on the project, Viktor!
Watch the Strange Lore video and please visit the Strange Lore crowdfund page!