The founders, donors, and board of Creators for Creators are proud to announce Nicolette Bocalan, also known as skelehime, as the recipient of our 2020 grant, for her project The Acorn, an impressively ambitious horror comic.
Bocalan has been posting horror comics online under her skelehime name for some time now, and The Acorn is a project where she intends to take her skills to the next level. “The Acorn is the story of a trio of siblings who travel to a remote forest where their father, a scientist, disappeared one year ago. They have only two clues to his whereabouts: his final letter and the enclosed acorn,” Bocalan explained. “This is a story I’ve been chewing on for a couple years, since I went on a trip to Yosemite National Park with my parents. They have some HUGE trees out there, just absolutely monstrous! Standing next to these trees, it’s easy to feel intimidated. We actually don’t understand a whole lot about forest ecosystems. The Acorn will be the longest comic I’ve ever written, so wish me luck!”
“Love the art, love the set-up, love the dialog. The world needs more horror comics like this.” – C. Spike Trotman
“I’m hooked.” – Kelly Sue DeConnick
“I love how immediate it reads. Very effective storyteller. There’s no confusion at all, since she paces her comics like a seasoned pro. Her pitch and doing a long-form story feels like the next evolution of her work, and I can’t wait to see where she takes it.” – Nick Dragotta
“Somehow encompasses the massiveness of silence. Eerie and effortless, clearly the work of someone ready to scale up their stories in size, scope, and weight. The sample frustrated me because I couldn’t read more.” – Matt Fraction
“I like that this is a creator who is fully formed through doing their own strips online, and that the grant could be used to help them make a more ambitious piece of work in print. Making the grant facilitate something she has the talent for but not the resources. Her work is really impressive, the raw and unnerving lines that would just be a mess in another artist’s hands are so well crafted. Erratic, but deliberately crafted. I appreciate her goal to do a different kind of horror story too, especially when she makes a point of saying her goal is to make ‘story-driven scares specifically for comics.’” – Declan Shalvey
Creators for Creators is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization intended to encourage, support, and promote original works through grants and education. Once a year, a $30,000 grant is awarded to a single cartoonist or writer/artist duo in order to support the creation of a new and original work of a length between sixty-four and one hundred pages. The recipient is selected by a committee of comics creators according to rigorous criteria.
Previous recipients include M. Dean for the project I Am Young in 2017, Desvitio for David’s Gate in 2018, and Shobo and Shofela Coker for Outcasts of Jupiter in 2019. Recipients of the grant have total control over how and where they choose to publish their project once it is completed, as long as they retain the rights to their work.
The Creators for Creators grant is fully funded and operated by a group of comics creators who seek to give back to their community. You can find more information about the grant at http://creatorsforcreators.org, and visit Nicolette Bocalan’s website, Twitter and Instagram.
Congratulations, Nicolette, on being the 2020 recipient of the Creators for Creators Grant. Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi!! I’m Nicolette (or skelehime) and I’m a horror cartoonist. My work features haunted technology, ghosts, urban legends, and dangers that lurk beneath the surface of real life!
I was born in the Philippines and grew up in the Bay Area, California. I’ve been drawing seriously since high school, and I’ve been making horror comics since 2017. I love horror movies and books, junk food, and my ancient cat, Loki.
What drew you to comics and making them?
I came of age in the early 2000’s, when the webcomics scene was really starting to get cooking (Smackjeeves, anybody??). Anyone with an internet connection and some way of mark-making could publish a comic and find an audience. It was no longer necessary to go through the gatekeeping of traditional publishing. You didn’t even need to be able to draw or write!! Indie comics still hold this sort of magic for me. It’s a medium that doesn’t ask for permission and it belongs to everyone.
Nowadays, I’m all about making horror comics. Art is subjective and that’s true for horror too. But I do like that there is a slight objective aspect to horror—either it’s scary or it’s not! I’m always working really hard to design my comics to REALLY scare the beans out of people in ways that maybe movies and prose fiction can’t.
You pace and compose your stories really well visually. In your application you shared a short story called The Magazine, and in it you use a simple close-up to great effect. I’m curious where you learned to draw and what inspires the visual aspect of your storytelling?
Wow thanks! I took a drawing class in high school and learned the basics of composition and a couple observational drawing exercise that I still do as warm-ups to this day. I use a reference for almost everything. Being able to draw from a reference accurately is the closest we get to a magic bullet in drawing, in my opinion!
Apart from that, I’m self-taught. I just read a TON of comics, and manga especially. When I find a comic I really like, I read it very carefully and critically. What do I like about this page and why? Where does my eye linger? What panels am I paying close attention to, and which ones am I zipping past? A few of the books I keep on hand to reread and study before I start a comic: You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis, This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, and the first volume of Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.
I’m also concerned with what devices readers are most likely to be using, assumptions they might bring to the work, and things like that. Readability is especially important for a genre like horror, where the story already has a lot of mystery and ambiguity by design!
Your proposed title is The Acorn. Can you tell us a little bit about it? What can readers expect?
The Acorn is the story of a trio of siblings who travel to a remote forest where their father, a scientist, disappeared one year ago. They have only two clues to his whereabouts: his final letter and the enclosed acorn.
This is a story I’ve been chewing on for a couple years, since I went on a trip to Yosemite National Park with my parents. They have some HUGE trees out there, just absolutely monstrous! Standing next to these trees, it’s easy to feel intimidated. We actually don’t understand a whole lot about forest ecosystems.
The Acorn will be the longest comic I’ve ever written, so wish me luck!
Congrats again! Any closing words?
I cannot thank you all enough for choosing me to receive this grant. I’m so excited to get to write this story! I will work hard and do my best to make you all proud!!