Through words and illustrations, Aaron Eischeid’s “Aversion: A Zine of Therapeutic Vignettes” is speculative fiction that explores mind and body, sex and soul, religion and politics, young gay awakenings, gay love, and the horror of conversion therapy.
Along with a maze of sexual escape, a literal “eye” doctor, a lady with a thirst for red, and various other monsters of the imagination, the trippy horror takes a turn into mysterious metaphor, the most dominant being comparisons to training, conditioning, and controlling dogs.
Aaron gets deep into the creation of the story and the horror from which it is inspired on his site. But he did take some time to answer the usual probing questions from Boys, Bears & Scares.
BB&S: Hey, Aaron. I’m including the link to your site for further reading, but before the horror quickie questions, I was hoping you could just give us some brief insights into what readers can expect from your writing, why writing gay themes is important to you, and what horror projects you might have in the works now.
AARON: Fantastical freeform would be the most succinct way to describe my writing. You learn the basic structures of writing as you grow up, take creative courses, reading others’ works, etc. But then, especially in horror, you discover that structure is incredibly, and necessarily, malleable according to what you want to say or what feeling you wish to evoke. So, expect a flow against the grain. I am also a deeply visual thinker. Immersing a reader into a world, a situation, has always been the top priority because that is what unsettles the most: when words plunge you into a picture that you may or may not want to be in…but certainly do not want to leave just yet.
As for the gay themes, incorporating them is essential to helping bring vital representation of our minority community to what is honestly a minority genre. Fear is the basest emotion of people. We are at our most vulnerable when we are afraid. In that place, there is the possibility to scare and to find power. The monsters of our genre are as much a reflection of ourselves as they are our imaginations. They terrify us because oftentimes they ARE us. Monsters represent the misunderstood, the repressed, or the simply purely evil we face day to day. As a dedicated fan and artist, I look to dissect these beasts to reconcile the truth and have a bloody good time.
Apart from the AVERSION series, there is a flesh-themed collection of short stories creeping to the page, and then a short film about the quite current terrors surrounding private education and queer identity is in development.
BB&S: Okay, are you ready for a quickie…or ten? First, what are your favorite horror subgenres?
AARON: Ten quickies. I like to make it last. J Favorites would have to be slashers, body horror, anthologies, ghost stories, and John Carpenter (we can all agree he’s a subgenre, right?).
BB&S: What scares you most in a horror movie?
AARON: Dread. Sustained atmospheric dread. Nothing frays my nerves like being played like a taut instrument for an hour and a half because it’s going to linger with me later.
Also, spectacularly open endings where the movie isn’t over even if the credits roll. I’ve been watching for Michael Myers outside my window since I was 8.
BB&S: Horror mixed with comedy. Yes or no?
AARON: Yes, but only if that’s the intention through and through. Humor can break a moment of tension but it can also bust an entire mood. Fright Night, Night Of The Creeps, Seed Of Chucky—those are the templates.
BB&S: Sex and nudity in horror. Yes or no?
AARON: Umm HELL YES. Sex is as natural as death and they both deserve to be played with. We’re humans, we have desire and we need to express them! One of my favorite missions of a horror film was Adam Marcus’ Jason Goes To Hell because with the sex scene in the tent he wanted equal amounts of male nudity because there wasn’t enough in the genre. I’m not opposed.
BB&S: Final girl or final guy?
AARON: Final girl. No question.
BB&S: Who are some of your favorite scream queens?
AARON: Call me rote and old school, but I never tire of Jamie Lee Curtis. She was my first scream queen and will forever be my favorite. Such a winning personality and ability to exhibit real fear and then follow it up with ingenuity. Also, non-horror related, her in A Fish Called Wanda is gold.
Otherwise, Adrienne King, Amy Steel (April Fool’s Day is vastly underrated), Brinke Stevens, Karen Black, and I’m counting Elvira because girl’s amazing.
BB&S: Favorite iconic horror baddie?
AARON: Michael Myers. Nothing matches the boogeyman except maybe the devil or Pinhead.
BB&S: What are some of your favorite horror TV shows?
AARON: Confession: I do not watch a lot of television but out of what I have consumed, Tales From The Crypt, seasons 1-3 of American Horror Story, the short-lived Masters Of Horror on Showtime, and then Ash Vs. Evil Dead.
BB&S: What songs or artists might be on your Halloween party playlist?
AARON: Siouxsie & the Banshees, Tangerine Dream scores, Christopher Young’s Hellraiser soundtracks, John Carpenter, “The Monster Mash”.
BB&S: And finally, who are your favorite horror authors?
AARON: Clive Barker, a man I was lucky to call mentor and friend and to whom I owe so much. Stephen King. Shirley Jackson. Edgar Allan Poe. R.L. Stine (did you ever read his adult novel Superstitious?!) Armando Munoz. So many amazing authors out there.
BB&S: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Aaron!