Originally published in Reglar Wiglar Magazine.
Corinne Halbert is the creator of the terror-ific comic Acid Nun (recently published in a hardbound edition by San Franciso's Silver Sprocket). The book is filled with colorful, lushly illustrated, horror-inspired images that tell the story of Annie, the Acid Nun, and her bad trip through a psyche crowded with trauma and pain. It's a spiritual, psychedelic journey to be sure.
What are you waiting for? Read this interview with Acid Nun Creator Corinne Halbert — Chris Auman
REGLAR WIGLAR: Hello. As for your personal geography, you were born in Alaska, but moved to the Boston suburbs when you were very young, how did your family come to live in Alaska?
CORINNE HALBERT: My mom wanted to get away from everything. She was very young, 19 or 20 years old, and wanted to explore beyond Massachusetts. So she hightailed it as far away as she could, which ended up being Anchorage, Alaska. She met my dad out there and well, the rest is history.
RW: You then moved from Alaska to Massachusetts when you were three. That’s also the age you started drawing. Do you have any memories of that brief time in Alaska?
CH: Shockingly, I do have two memories, but they have nothing to do with Alaska. One is losing my mind in ecstasy at a Showbiz Pizza-type place. The animatronics, the games, the pizza! I was having FUN. And the other memory is being alone and scared in my crib, crying. I was drawing avidly the moment I could pick up a crayon. It’s been my favorite activity my entire life.
RW: What were your favorite subjects to draw, maybe not as a three-year-old, but as a grade school or middle school kid?
CH: Ha! Oh man, I LOVED drawing horses, pegasus, puppies, cartoon characters, people, anything Halloween or fall related. When I was a little older, eight or so, I would check those “How to Draw Animals” books out of the school library. I would skip past the part where they want you to make circles to get the proportions right, and go to the final drawings and copy those. I was pretty much always drawing as much as I could.
RW: What were your main interests in high school? Did you hang out with the arty kids, metal or goth crowd, punk rockers?
CH: Ha! Omg, this is taking me down memory lane. I was severely depressed in high school so I had some issues. But I did have a lot of fun and some wild times. Your instincts are accurate as most of my friends were goth or metal. We got into some insane adventures I will never forget. We would party a lot, watch movies, lose our minds on psychedelics in the woods, ya know, teenager stuff!
RW: When did your fascination for horror movies and darker subject matter begin?
CH: I experienced a sort of abnormal amount of familial death at a very young age so I was destined for morbidity right from the start. I would say, when my dad died when I was eight was a huge turning point in my life. I was absolutely devastated and too young to understand what was happening, lacking the ability to process my emotions. He wasn’t living with us for those years before his death and was very absent in my life. It’s one of my deepest regrets, not having the chance to know my father better. But I was really obsessed with Edward Gorey and Vincent Price before he passed so my flair for the dark side came early. It really ramped up in high school.
RW: After high school, where did you go to art school?
CH: Massachusetts College of Art is where I earned my BFA in Film/Video. I had fully intended to major in painting but took an Intro to Film class with the brilliant and sadly late, Mark Lapore. He pulled me aside at the end of the semester and stated that he felt I would be an asset for the department. I was very lucky to learn under him, Saul Levine, and some other phenomenal teachers. It ignited my long-lasting love affair with film and I feel eternally grateful to have been turned on to Avant-garde and cult cinema at such a young age.
RW: What did you do, or where did you live after art school but before you moved to Chicago?
CH: After graduating from Mass Art, I stuck around in Boston for one of the most depressing years of my life. I just don’t fit in in Boston. It was great while I was in school, but it’s so drenched in Puritan values, it makes my skin crawl. Beautiful city, great people, I have absolutely no desire to live there ever again.
So I moved to Providence, RI where I lived with a bunch of artists. We had a whole house with super cheap rent for two years. I think I paid $266 for my room! Which sounds insane compared to today's cost of living.
We even had our own art collective called, “The Order of the Elephant.” We put on a few art shows and live music events. CF performed once at our place, under their musical act, “Kites”!
Providence was a much better fit for me. I got to check out some amazing art shows and saw so much mind-melting live music. Bands like Wolf Eyes, Lightning Bolt, and a crap ton of metal bands. The metal bands often went to the Worcester Palladium or Great Woods (now Tweeter Center) in Massachusetts. I was a frequent visitor at both venues. I saw Type O Negative, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Rob Zombie, Suicidal Tendencies, the list goes on…
RW: In the mid-2000s, I believe, you came to Chicago to start earning a graduate degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What was the degree in?
CH: That is correct! I moved out to Chicago to get my MFA in painting and drawing. SAIC was great for a lot of reasons and I met some fantastic friends there. One of the most amazing experiences for me was being a teaching assistant for Richard Hull and Jim Nutt. I’m a huge fan of both of their work and they were such a huge inspiration to me and incredible to work alongside. I will never forget the day I did a studio visit with Jim Nutt and he actually liked my work! It was one of the best feelings of my entire life.
He is a treasure and an utterly brilliant artist.
RW: When did you start making zines/comics and how did those projects lead to Acid Nun?
CH: I started making zines in 2009. I had made a few before that point in 2006 but got more serious about it a little bit later. I self-published Hate Baby #1 in 2010 and went on to make six issues. I have self-published solo or collaboratively, probably about 30 zines and comics. I had always wanted to do a long-form comic but felt I needed more experience under my belt because I wanted it to be really good. So doing shorter stories and single issues made a lot of sense to me. That’s how I was able to accomplish my Acid Nun graphic novel too. I broke it down into three single issues, knowing the whole time it would be collected into a single volume.
I started Acid Nun in 2021, springboarding off of an 8-page story I did for Harry Nordlinger’s anthology Vacuum Decay. The story was called “Little Bones Lie”. I picked up right where that story ended and Acid Nun was born!
RW: You are an alum of Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago. Did you make zines/comics before you worked at Quimby's or is that why you wanted to work there, as an immersion program of sorts?
CH: Oh yes. I adored Quimby’s the moment I set foot in the building. It was then and still remains one of my favorite places on Earth. Liz Mason is Chicago’s premiere zine maven and a good friend. I was incredibly lucky to work there and had so many wonderful adventures. It was an invaluable learning experience, getting me familiar with many angles of the small press comics world and publishing scene.
RW: You have described your earlier titles as, and I’m paraphrasing here: zines with comics tendencies. Is that still true now that you’ve finished a book-length project or has Acid Nun arrived as a fully realized graphic novel?
CH: Ha! Yes, they were very disjointed in terms of storytelling and very heavily focused on the artwork. I have worked very hard to improve my writing and I’m proud to say Acid Nun is equally focused on the writing and the artwork. Acid Nun is a very personal story for me and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever created artistically. I put a piece of my heart and soul into that book.
RW: How did your relationship with Silver Sprocket come about?
CH: I loved Silver Sprocket from the moment I first learned about them and remember giving Avi a bunch of my stickers at CAKE in maybe, 2016? We had been familiar with each other for a while and chatted at various comics expos over the years. Once I had completed the first issue of Acid Nun, I sent a rough version of it to several small press publishers and they wanted it! They were my top pick so I was utterly thrilled!
Silver Sprocket was amazing to work with and I’m super grateful my book was published by them. I’m constantly singing their praises, Avi, Ari, and Carina are all fabulous folks and do exceptional work in the comics community.
RW: What are you currently working on? Do you have anything coming out in the near future?
CH: I’ve done quite a good chunk of work so far this year, but everything is being released later on in 2023. I’ve done two slipcase covers for Vinegar Syndrome releases, the poster artwork for two different independent film festivals and I completed work for two comics anthologies, an eight-page story for Viscere #1 Body Horror and a four-page story for Meanwhile: A Comic Shop Anthology.
My life is in a major period of transition at the moment so I have to take care of some business before I can dive into my next projects. I want to start a new long-form comic and have been throwing ingredients in my witch's cauldron for the past six months or so. It will be exciting when I’m settled and can start working on another book and some new paintings as well. I’m making tiny paintings in the meantime that have been selling well in my online shop.