P. Emerson Williams: Notes From The Underground (2006)


Written By: James Curcio


P. Emerson Williams was known in the early Nineties Goth scene as the artist in residence at Ghastly magazine and illustrator for many other Goth and occult publications, including Isolation, PhantaZmagoria, Esoterra and Isten Magazine. His illustrations have been collected in the books Enshroud and “Panic Pandemic”, the latter including a double CD album by his Industrial Black Metal project, Choronzon. Peter’s vocal and various instrumental stylings adorn many tracks on James Curcio’s collaborative album “subQtaneous: Some Still Despair In A Prozac Nation.

He stretched the boundaries of Goth with Veil of Thorns and Beyond Flesh, and originated Industrial Black Metal with Choronzon. He has explored musical ideas further working in films, starting with contributions to the soundtracks and scores for the movies Damnatus and Haunt. Most recently he released F. W. Murnau classic Nosferatu with an hypnotic and appropriately creepy score.
Mr. Williams was out of the public eye for a few years during which he went more deeply into his occult studies. This period of study and meditation was ended with the release of Era Vulgaris and Psychosis Ex Machina, the second and third Choronzon albums, and a collaboration with Leilah Wendell on Necromance, an art book based on artists’ representations of the personification of death was published by Westgate press in 2003. He has exhibited his paintings in Norway, Scotland, England, Boston, New Orleans and Florida.

He did pencils and inks for Chasing The Wish (www.chasingthewish.net) book one, and is presently working on pencils for the second half of Fas Ferox (www.fasferox.com) episode one. Given P. Emerson Williams extensive track record of cross-medium and genre art over the past thirty years, it is likely he will become an underground legend. This may have occurred already, yet given his reclusiveness, it’s unlikely he would notice. Nevertheless, he was tracked down by fellow artist James Curcio, where they discussed the role of the artist, religion, misanthropy and past and present projects:

James Curcio: Digging into the past first… What is Industrial Black Metal and how did it come to be?

P. Emerson Williams: Industrial Black Metal grew out of an approach that was initially a deconstruction of a conservative and hide-bound genre of pseudo-rebellious music. Later ritual elements were added. Many of the releases are the original performances that have been cut up and put into song form. At the time I was starting out, in the mid to late -80’s, there were only a handful of people who even knew what Black metal was. It couldn’t really be called a “scene”, for what pockets of activity there was tended to center around isolated areas in Norway, Greece and “small town USA.” It’s the old story of things springing from rituals in the woods. I didn’t really have anything specific in mind when I started to make those strange Choronzon tapes, but they took on a life of their own.

James Curcio: While working on the mixing for subQtaneous with Ken Schaefer, and mixing in some of your vocal parts, I have to admit that an inside joke has arisen… so I have to ask you, do you record vocals in a candle filled room while wearing crushed velvet?

P. Emerson Williams: I do burn copious amounts of Dragon’s Blood and Frankincense… I’m wearing a pink slip right now.

James Curcio: (Laughs) You mentioned that there’s a ritual element in your work – I know the same is true with me, especially with projects like Babalon – but I’m curious how that element is integrated for you.

P. Emerson Williams: Joseph Campbell separated types of art into objects that cause aesthetic arrest and religious artifacts. In my mind, what I do is both, or at least, I’m too lazy to try to be one or the other.

James Curcio: I’ve always been unclear really on how you distinguish one from the other.

P. Emerson Williams: There’s a different between expressing a philosophy or experience and creating the experience in the viewer or listener. The need for ritual seems to be something fundamental to human nature. In a way, I’m exploring that need and analyzing it as much as I’m adding my own elements to rituals. The act of performing itself is likely to have grown out of religious rituals back in prehistory.
James Curcio: It can be hard to distinguish between art and pr*ography these days too. At least in James Joyce’s definition – pr*ography makes you want to possess the object, whereas art creates a harmonious relationship.

P. Emerson Williams: These days, all popular culture is pr*ography.

James Curcio: I think that’s true. It can be hard, for me anyway, not to then create “art” which merely satirizes that fact. That’s something I’m always resisting because I don’t think it really says a whole lot – people who get that already get it, and those who don’t never will, or simply don’t care. Making fun of pop culture with a pop culture product can be entertaining, but it certainly isn’t art.

P. Emerson Williams: I think that’s part of the danger… The temptation to fall into political advocacy, but that happens within the game of societal convention… Usually when I do something along those lines, I’ll get it out, and then discard it. A couple of weeks ago, I watched the PBS Frontline documentary on Rupert Murdock and the Disinfo doc on Fox News back to back. One thing that stuck out to me was his determination and single-mindedness. I don’t see that on the other side of the equation… that is, the counter cultural types… Us.

James Curcio: You know if we actually believe what we are saying about art and pr*ography, then we should probably start billing ourselves as pr*ographers. Even if your intention is all for the creation in the process… The second you’re done with it you have to go out and tell people about it, and in some way reveal to them why they should engage with it. When I moved out to Los Angeles I kind of flirted with the idea… following from that… of playing this character, changing my name to Lance Fabulous, frosting my hair and wearing lots of chains. Thankfully I was saved from that embarrassment by premature baldness. I blame that on LA, too.

P. Emerson Williams: We’d certainly get more attention that way.

James Curcio: See there you go. You’re selling your face, your style or lack thereof. Art itself, like religion, is one of the most natural acts, yet when it is brought back into the social sphere in a commodity and appearance oriented culture, it becomes one of the biggest shams in the world. If you resist that necessity you might wind up doing art as a “hobby.” Still – and this is where artists shrug and put food in their mouths — choosing between hobby artist and pr*ographer, I’m going with the latter. And I’d also rather be a pr*ographer than a member of the avant garde, who are so desperate to avoid the effects capitalism has on the artistic process that they simply create art that is meant as some kind of commentary on the death of art, or “what is art?” and intellectualize it to the point that the question itself becomes meaningless, and no one is entertained.

I know I just said a sham, but Barnum & Bailey entertained people, and though that is far from the only function of art, that is the candy coated pill we use to lure them back time and again. But I think artists should both entertain and educate. Also, I’m strictly going by Joyce’s definition of pr*ography here, to make a point, and because I find it amusing… but I’m not saying pr*ography in this sense is without value, simply that it is a completely different stance. If it exploits anyone, it is not the creator, but the audience. I’m really talking about the commodification of art, not pr*nography in the regular sense at all. …Okay, I admit it. I just like the name “Lance Fabulous.”

P. Emerson Williams: I’m still looking for a cabin in the woods.

James Curcio: If I could find a group of artists down to earth enough, a commune would work for me, or at least having communal working space again like I had in the past… Well that comes down to finances as well as the alchemy of personalities. Come to think of it, “Commune” has this horrible 60s reek to it, doesn’t it? Like patchouli and some indeterminable musk. Mothballs. Poorly thought out wife swapping. Shoddy electrical wiring. Let’s come up with a better word, while we’re at it.

Since we’re on the topic of the visual arts… could you tell me more about your gallery showings?

P. Emerson Williams: My first show was at the age of twelve in Norway. One of my teachers entered me without telling the selection committee that I was a kid. I sold my first piece at that show. There’s a tremendous support for young and emerging artists in Norway, so I was shown a lot at a very young age, which probably spoiled me a bit.

James Curcio: Yeah, though I really haven’t been out of the US nearly as much as I would like, I’ve always had the sense that the attitude of almost… I guess it’s derision… towards artists doesn’t exist in all other parts of the world. Unless if you’re kind of a pop icon or manage to carve out a niche for yourself – something which is possible but very difficult to do – you kind of have this de facto reputation of being lazy or a reject if your primary profession is artist. So you can call it spoiled, but I think it’s really cool. Who knows, if you’d started out in an environment hostile to these things… Do you think this is true? That a different psychological stance results from artists coming into their own in a more hospitable environment?

P. Emerson Williams: There’s no doubt in my mind that it does. There’s much less time spent feeling the angst over whether doing it is possible at all…

James Curcio: Or whether the activity has value…

P. Emerson Williams: Yes. I think that leaves the creative act much more open to deeper things than why society does this, that or the other thing… I can barely remember what it was like not to have to justify being an artist at all.

James Curcio: Yeah the dichotomy there, especially traveling between cultures, must be confusing.

P. Emerson Williams: That doesn’t mean that dark and strange things aren’t created. Possibly more, but one will not have baptists rallying round to give free publicity…

James Curcio: (Laughs) Yeah, one funny thing about being an artist in America… There’s still general freedom from censorship– instead of being censored you just piss people off, which gives you free press.

P. Emerson Williams: I was part of a youth art organization that had exchanges of exhibitions with other art organizations all over Europe. This led me to opportunities to be shown in France, and England and I had about fifty pieces in a traveling exhibition that started in Scotland and went on throughout the British Isles. Small showings in Maine were unexceptional, but they happened often and kept me working and growing. There are many watercolor seascapes hanging in homes across the country bearing my name that have otherworldly apparitions staring at the viewer if one looks long enough. When I started out in Boston, I took part in odd combinations at events at Doc’s Place and some roaming illegal after hours clubs, combining home made grooves for the DJ’s and my visuals. Much of what I tried there was later worked into the Veil of Thorns live experience. A few Choronzon events held in abandoned places were much more immersive versions of that experience.

I had a gallery in New York for about a second before I did my disappearing act. The first place I showed coming out of that period was the portrait of Azrael that still hangs at the Westgate Gallery in New Orleans. I knew it belonged there when I was working on it. It can be seen in the “Necromance “ book. For the first year that I lived in Orlando, I took part in an experimental gallery downtown called GARP. Showing regularly there and having the freedom to experiment more with performance and multimedia was great. We were shut down in the end to make room for a condo complex aimed at yuppies who want to be close to all the downtown Orlando meat market nightclubs. The others involved in GARP are still doing regular guerilla showings and events all over town, but I went into my cave to create. Since then, the only place I’ve shown was at the Dark Arts Fest in Salt Lake City last year. Other things have taken precedence for the moment.

James Curcio: Whether it’s with the ideas you deal with, or the genre, or the process, working on the fringe can be really trying. Yet it seems some of your work has an underground following. How did you create your previous albums, and how did you get them out there?

P. Emerson Williams: Getting coverage has been tough. At times, I’ve had to spend more time interviewing than creating. Creating work that comes from a spiritual or occult viewpoint makes it hard for reviewers who have entertainment as a frame of reference to get it. Philosophically, I think the original Industrial bands are a good reference, but imitating the artifacts already produced by Throbbing Gristle et al would serve no purpose.

James Curcio: Plus Gen would probably throw animal feces at you or something for it.

P. Emerson Williams: (Laughs) …I’ve never had a budget, except for when Nocturnal Art bought me a Roland VS880 for the recording of “Magog Agog”. Everything has been self-produced in various locations. Using the standalone digital 8-track made it easy to record in abandoned buildings and warehouses. I use mostly organic sounds, but put the arrangements together using virtual samplers.

James Curcio: How did you get into comics?

P. Emerson Williams: I was producing mostly irreverently humorous comics at a very young age in Bergen, Norway. I had two friends who were sharing work and techniques with me at the time, and we were getting into some juvenile blasphemy. One, Frode Øverli, has been producing comics consistently since -85, while I’ve gone off in many other directions before getting back into comics with Chasing The Wish.

James Curcio: There are a number of unusual elements in Chasing The Wish, both in how it is made and in how it’s been released… Obviously as it is based on Dave Szulborski’s first game by the same name, and he worked with us throughout the process… you know in part I’m talking about Alternate Reality Gaming. What is your take on alternate reality gaming? How does it relate to the comic?

P. Emerson Williams: Is it a game masquerading as a great, multi-universe conspiracy, or a great, multi-universe conspiracy masquerading as a game? The flux of aspects between fiction and real world, cultural artifact and mass interaction is pretty intense. I think it’s infecting us all. Eight months of online and “real-life” gaming must have been a bitch to compress into your initial scripts. I mean, the internet as a medium is unique, so an Alternate Reality Game with thousands of players would be hard to translate.

James Curcio: Initially I was going to write the script, from Dave Szulborski’s notes. …And it’s not that I didn’t feel I was capable, but I thought it would draw me away somewhat from my other roles. So I brought Jason Stackhouse in… We had just finished the initial work on the Fas Ferox World Walkthrough… we wrote up this hundred or so page document, which we later whittled down to about 30 pages for publication. Jason has a knack for paring things down, so he seemed like the perfect match for what we needed.

P. Emerson Williams: You definitely had to wear a lot of hats as it was.

James Curcio: Yeah. Art direction, layout and coloring is enough for me. I had to bear with Jason’s grumbling about it, as he’d go through all this content and call me up like “James, I have no idea how I’m going to make a script out of thousands of conversations and puzzles and clues and… What have you gotten me into, man?” But you know, he did. I could pat myself on the back but really my task working with him on something like this is quite simple: I let him vent, offer the occasional piece of advice, and know that in the process of ranting about it in the back of his mind he’s already figured out what he’s going to do to “fix” it. Once I get a draft from him I can edit and add direction to the artist, but up until that point it’s fairly hands off. He’s really one of my favorite people to work with.

P. Emerson Williams: I don’t envy him the task of whittling all that down…

James Curcio: (Laughs) Me neither. But you know from my perspective, it’s more important to tell a story from it, than to try to remain true to every little piece of source information. Of course you want to be true to the core of what you’re adapting, and that’s kind of the first task, figuring out what that core is. As an adaptation, I felt free to take some liberties. As you know, in the first stage of the process I usually try to get the team just tossing ideas out there. Later, hopefully we’ll figure out which are good and which are bad. And some of them can be subtle. For instance, with Chasing The Wish, I had this idea of making it in the near future – where technology is a step further along, but it’s a more realistic future I think. People aren’t zipping around in air cars, they’re still driving their beat up car from the 90s or whatever. In fact, the economy is a bit worse off. But you still see people using these translucent monitors, or having dermal microphones like the one Sam is wearing… I like the idea of people just using them as part of their everyday lives like we do our cell phones… you don’t see people explaining it or looking at themselves like they’re ‘living in the future.’ And I didn’t want it to be explicit to the audience either, just something they could kind of pick up on… I must admit, in retrospect, I know we’re going to have to explain Sam’s dermal microphone more… because everyone I know, when they get to page 5, ask… “what’s that thing on her neck?” (Laughs.) Sometimes when you’re working closely with something it can be hard to look at it from the outside. I thought it was a subtle element people would puzzle over, but not something that would leap out at them like that. I know that’s part of my job description, and maybe I bungled there. Well, what’re you going to do? “Fix it in post.” If that’s the worst mistake I made, I think I can live with that.

P. Emerson Williams: That’s the pre-production part I wasn’t a part of with the first book…

James Curcio: Yeah. Anyhow, that was part of how I placated Jason, and helped him focus on the script– I would continually remind him that we’re boiling the essential story out of these thousands of personal interactions, and then repainting it… literally. If you can’t take some liberties with an adaptation than why the hell do it in the first place? Just leave it in it’s original medium and let it be.

P. Emerson Williams: There’s no replacing the experience of being submerged in the game… the real time aspect and unpredictability, especially.

James Curcio: Exactly. Each medium has its own strength and weakness.

P. Emerson Williams: It might be interesting to put that kind of interactivity back into an online comic…

James Curcio: Well in a way that’s what’s happening now with Chasing The Wish, don’t you think? There’s a truly original, experimental element to it. The first Chasing The Wish game was done without corporate funding, unlike a lot of other ARGs, yet it received some major press and drew in thousands of players. In the process of re-interpreting that new medium into another medium, I think the hope is in part to turn people on to the ARG as a form of entertainment that is much more interactive and adaptive than anything that has come before. The limiting factor is people’s creativity and free time… As opposed to our more technological, “virtual reality” ideas of interactivity… that kind of project I wouldn’t take on unless I had a couple more zeros in my paycheck, you know? And that’s bringing us back into the realm of the movie industry…

P. Emerson Williams: I see the ARG really creating experiences that are many times better than what these overpaid Hollywood types could.

James Curcio: Well, it’s so easy to snub your nose at Hollywood, and in some ways it is warranted. But I do look at it from their perspective too. I mean, in what other industry are you asked to sink several hundred million dollars in a dozen ventures, with the expectation that only one or two will make a big profit, and the rest probably don’t even recoup? It’s the same with the record industry. It makes people scared, and that kills originality and creativity. In my mind where the fault lies, as you said, is the overpaid part. It really shouldn’t cost five million dollars to make a “small budget” movie.

P. Emerson Williams: I’m impressed with how important the audience – for lack of a better word – is with something like CTW, and how incredible a phenomenon it became precisely because of them. I don’t even think that words like “audience” apply here… maybe “participants”… And people seem to be ahead of the press in this phenomenon.

James Curcio: Yeah, there were quite a few people refreshing the order page for the comic, just waiting for them to be able to pre-order. The second the page was updated you had these posts from people on a number of forums, “it’s up! It’s up!” And this is really before even the banners were rolled out. The people in those communities are really dedicated… they have a relationship not only with the games but with the characters within them. It’s a refreshing change for me… in most projects I’ve worked on, the work has received attention, but with an incredibly limited attention span. Your album or book that you’ve put three years of your life into is just something most people check out, order, listen to once or twice, and throw in the bin with thousands of others. I really like the fact that ARGs inspire people to ask questions, to get involved, and to work together… for the most part its cooperative, not competitive. And it definitely isn’t passive. How long had you known about ARGs before you were brought onboard with the Chasing The Wish comic?

P. Emerson Williams: In terms of the phenomenon overall… I hadn’t been aware of it until getting involved. I’m getting a better idea of who’s been watching my life. I see great possibilities, and it’s always desirable to be called “Puppet master”

James Curcio: That’s true, though except in the creation of the media, I’m staying well away from mastering people’s puppets. Or at least I think I am…

P. Emerson Williams: No Metallica references or I’m out of here. (Laughs.) In the right… or wrong? hands the possibilities for manipulation and abuse are there. Are the corporate media doing anything different from what goes on in an ARG, though? Consensus reality is the greatest ARG.

James Curcio: They’ve even set up these enclaves of people who answer their phones and represent the “entity” of the corporation — as you know it’s legally an entity. And they’re all playing these roles determined by the game they’re playing. I don’t see it as being any different. Except maybe that most conscious Alternate Reality Games aren’t run with the intention of keeping people’s enjoyment at an absolute minimum at all times.

P. Emerson Williams: We do that kind of game playing from the time we learn what makes mommy pay attention to us

James Curcio: That’s true. But… I don’t know about you… I had my share of teen angst too, but something happened to me when I was sixteen… I suddenly realized I didn’t have to play any of those games. And at the same time I couldn’t figure out what was me underneath the games. The harder I looked, the more confusing it became. Everything was a reflection of everything else. And when I bit down to what I thought was the core, I didn’t at all account for what would happen as a result. None of us are free until we all are. That story is Join My Cult! in a nutshell.

P. Emerson Williams: I think I went through the Trance Of Sorrow from the age of thirteen until I was Thirty.

James Curcio: That long… that’s a rough ride.

P. Emerson Williams: technically that was a gross overstatement of fact, but I have been amazed how quickly folks in your age group are freeing themselves from limiting traditions of thought. Much of my difficulty stems from the fact that I never had the socializing capacity. It’s like being a sociopath, except I feel compassion for others…

James Curcio: I was never good at it… but I tried to do it in the accepted ways until I was sixteen.

P. Emerson Williams: I could tell very early on that people were acting for each other, but I can’t make myself do it. I’m just not convincing.

James Curcio: Well I’m sure some of the absurd postures both of us strike, which are meant mostly to be jokes or caricatures of people who take it seriously, could still be called acting in a way.

P. Emerson Williams: Yeah, my Satanist posture was fun. They’re as ridiculous as Baptists.

James Curcio: They really are.

P. Emerson Williams: I performed the Abremelin working at thirty, lost my mind, job, home, family. Best thing that could have happened…

James Curcio: Many of the topics we’ve discussed obviously factor into your work… Now, I know as an artist I know this is a bitch of a question… but is there an underlying drive or theme that carries through the projects you choose to work on, or is it really specific to each project?

P. Emerson Williams: Early on I was interested in the fear of Death, and its negation…

James Curcio: Sex? I mean, those two are often linked together. Though I think it would be more the procreation side that is linked than eroticism.

P. Emerson Williams: Yes. Later it was what happens to an individual who opens up the fourth chakra, Anahata.

James Curcio: Yeah… the idea of waking up to the Other. Doing that in a way where they aren’t a reflection of your projections isn’t easy.

P. Emerson Williams: The process of image making is central here, and intimately where it regards sex, procreation, and desire. This takes one outside of society or on the Left Hand Path… though I don’t mean in Aleister Crowley’s definition.

James Curcio: What definition would you use for “Left Hand Path”?

P. Emerson Williams: Crowley’s definition of the Left Hand Path goes back to my reference to a sociopaths personality. There’s no way back. …I don’t know, it’s kind of like the metaphor in the novel “Flatland.” Society is the reality tunnel that is given. Nothing outside that can even be perceived until one is outside or above it. A character in a two dimensional universe has no way to describe what it sees if it is thrown “up.” A sociopath is similarly observing the game from outside, but there is no other viewpoint through which to proceed, so they’ll manipulate the game.

James Curcio: The Flatland metaphor is definitely a useful one… It seems to come up for me a lot. That initial complete confusion and reshuffling that happens when you are forced out of your element I think is the peak initiation experience. Some never really re-frame afterwards, and initiations continue from there… But for better or worse, like virginity, or the first hit of acid that works, there’s something unique about that first plunge.

P. Emerson Williams: In terms of the heart chakra thing… I think it’s hard for a Westerner to understand what a Tibetan monk means when he says “compassion.” In our culture, it tends to mean maudlin hand-wringing. In our current American society, initiation rituals are largely confined to High School societal conditioning rites, and creepy college fraternal organizations.

James Curcio: Yeah… I can’t even conceive the ways that Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have mucked things up. Don’t get me wrong, the biggest tragedy is that there are people who actually live their religion and are incredible people… the systems work, but only within specific contexts, and when approached with subtlety, a broader perspective, and of course, sanity. They are meant to be codes that when followed break you out of one stage of primate evolution, and bring you into another one. Religion in its social aspect is meant to be a humanizing force. Yet what do you see people using it for? The exact opposite. It’s such a travesty that there really aren’t words to describe it. That is, aside from …“f*cking morons.”

P. Emerson Williams: They don’t understand the truth at the center of their own traditions. Being Westerners, we owe a lot to Christian and Jewish mystics who risked torture and murder to transmit ideas and knowledge through the ages. What’s the point of a religion, if you’re not living it? Most religious people are more attuned to the sociological aspects of being in a religious community, and have no understanding. There are some in the clergy, and many rabbis who understand this, but it’s a matter of the “flock’s” expectations.

James Curcio: It’s interesting how certain ideologies or beliefs are hard to practice or uphold when in a space where other more entrenched beliefs are vying with them. I feel that a lot, where when I’m living in certain areas I find it much easier to follow certain practices, and even think certain thoughts, than others. When I’m in a mentally hostile space, oftentimes those thoughts turn into a mental argument. Or I’ll find myself having a mental argument with someone in my head, and then realize they feel a certain way from that– then of course I test it by asking them. The most disturbing thing really is that it’s almost always spot on. I don’t think of it as telepathy I think it’s something we all do and don’t realize. That, or I’m nuts.

P. Emerson Williams: I’ve observed that. I’ve seen a mood shift happen over thousands of miles among people I’m in touch with, with no seeming connection. (Maybe I put them in a bad mood…?) We’re experiencing this mass hallucination that we’re separate beings. Richard Wright’s book “The Outsider” was a revelation to me when I read it at seventeen. The irreligious, communist perspective notwithstanding. I’ve done many things to bring on the situations and occurrences I feared the most. Of course, I do that in my work, only to find it creeping into my daily experience.

James Curcio: Well as you know, the work we do can be a banishment but it is an invocation too. And the two usually work concurrently. Maybe, when you move away from one thing you always have to move towards something else, and vice versa.

P. Emerson Williams: Much of it — the proliferation of cultural artifacts I’ve produced — has been born out of self-initiation. There are many who are working outside established groups these days, and some are almost sane. In Chaos magic, there’s is little banishment going on. That can be freeing, and at the same time, like trying to dance in a cluttered room.

James Curcio: I’m really curious to know what the experience of working on Chasing The Wish has been like for you. I kind of recruited you a quarter of the way in because Jessika couldn’t take the bulk of the workload singlehandedly… I also think she, like many of us as we worked on this, was hit with a lot of setbacks.

P. Emerson Williams: Working on this has definitely been a challenge. The source material is huge, and I felt I had a lot to prove. I met with a lot of helpful feedback and great patience, which I appreciated. …You and I were both learning what I am capable of. At times it seemed like we were the only ones working in a large space, but ultimately that worked well. It took a bit of catching up too, since I came in after the pre-production process.

James Curcio: In my experience the first project in collabs like this, at least when the people involved haven’t known one another for years… a lot of it is feeling for strengths and weaknesses. A good writer, art director, editor, colorist, or whatever is going to try to play to the strengths of everyone else on the team. …But you have to know what they are. I think Jason Stackhouse will probably be better equipped to put together the first draft of the script for the next book now that he knows who he’s pitching for.

P. Emerson Williams: Honestly, you may have a better understanding of my strengths, as far as this project is concerned, than I do at this point… though I feel very confident moving forward.

James Curcio: As do I. Confident, and curious. By the end of Book One I feel like we were starting to hit our stride, in terms of a fluid process. There’s something exciting and scary about taking a project of this scope with new people, but I think it’s even more exciting to start branching out once you have a mutually beneficial rhythm with your team. I think we’ll be able to do that with the second and third books.
There’s one last think I wanted to talk about, related to these pitfalls that we experienced. Do you think they’re coincidental?

P. Emerson Williams: I think we’ve created some waves that are being returned in unexpected ways. By working with these ideas of being outside, and the energies we’ve separately brought to it, everything that wasn’t specifically directed still had to manifest somehow… We don’t necessarily see hovering figures in trench coats when forces are alerted to our little endeavor…

James Curcio: Sometimes the metaphors life hands us are more – or less – subtle, depending on how you look at it. One of the dilemmas I was faced with about a quarter of the way in was my partner falling ill, and the illustration issue. So now, do I take on the full time work of two people, and try to do the graphic novel in my nonexistent “spare time,” or do I find the right person to assist in the illustration – you – and continue on full tilt, turning a blind eye to my material and financial needs?

P. Emerson Williams: Yeah that’s something I still have to keep in mind. Financially, it’s tough. We did a tremendous amount of work between us. But the difficult parts of life are still there if we do the normal things.

James Curcio: Yeah… I lost that apartment, but I don’t think I could live with myself if I’d taken the other path. It’s the sensible thing to do in the short term, but that short term can turn into the rest of your life, and you get known as a flake amongst other artists because you can never finish a contract. To an extent it is stubborn idealism, I acknowledge that, but I also think that the only way you have any chance of really flying is to jump off that damn cliff. I’m not trying to argue against day jobs, what I’m saying is don’t settle, and if you’re forced into a situation where it has to be one or the other, who you are is defined by that choice. I simply don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not working on an album, or a graphic novel, or a novel – or all three at the same time, more often than not. Getting back to that adolescent identity crisis, of finding yourself underneath the social expectation and games, that was kind of my salvation – the Work. I always say the reason I didn’t become an addict of some kind is that I never really had the time. I’m addicted to the work, and I mean that both ways… I mean for good and bad. I don’t need anything else.

P. Emerson Williams: Me too. And you know, I had much more money as a Whole Foods manager, but things were still f*cked up. There were just stupid games coming at me from all angles. I just think of what I’ll make of the whole experience at the end of this life. What did I do, who did I love, and was it worth it. I don’t want to bore Azrael to tears when I meet him. …I still don’t know what people do with their time. I can understand farmers, fishermen, crafts people, but not lawyers or real estate agents.

James Curcio: Take a truly random stroll through Myspace.com sometime. I just suggest you keep all sharp objects away from your computer.

P. Emerson Williams: I’d rather throw myself into a river of snot.

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Chasing The Wish : Book One (of three) is available now at http://www.thewishcomic.com and became available in stores July 2006. Chasing The Wish #1 by Dave Szulborski, James Curcio, Jason Stackhouse, P. Emerson Williams, Add’l content by Jessika Kaos, and Wm. Hamilton. © 2006 Dave Szulborski & James Cucio.
Feature Credit:
James Curcio http://www.jamescurcio.net
Right wingers have called him “the worst thing to happen to your children since Marilyn Manson.” This could be for any number of reasons. He performs in industrial rock concerts, bitches incessantly on his blog, skulks about in dark recording studios, organizes bisexual pagan rallies and concubine led hash brownie bake offs with his girlfriend, and writes dystopian novels for a generation of disenfranchised drug addicts. Sometimes he plays with his cat, Siddhartha.
Some of these evil projects have included Join My Cult!, a satirical post-modern novel released through New Falcon Press in 2004. The sequel is presently in production. He has contributed generally irreverent articles on sex, magick, and myth to TOPY Broadcast #10, Konton Magazine, the Lemon Puppy Quarterly, Generation Hex (Disinformation) & Magick On the Edge (Immanion Press.) A CD of the panel discussion presented by the co-authors of Generation Hex at Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is presently in the works. These projects have received rave reviews from sources as disparate as Jive Magazine, Genesis P. Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle), and Grant Morrison (The Invisibles, The Filth.)
He is creative director both for Chasing The Wish, a graphic novel based on Dave Szulorski’s popular Alternate Reality Game by the same name, and Fas Ferox, a multimedia epic with a team of artists including Christian Cordella, Edson Campos, and creative consultant Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods, Mirror Mask.) Both of these projects saw their first releases in early 2006.
Musically, he has performed and produced for numerous acts and projects including Elektroworx, with whom he opened up for Front242 at the Trocadero in Philadelphia, SubQtaneous: Some Still Despair In A Prozac Nation and Babalon, an Orange County (CA) based prog/schizophrenarock band that broke up in 2003. He is the producer of a number of podcasts, including the pilot episode of the Bedtime Stories With the Antichrist show which has seen hundreds of thousands of downloads since its debut on the Greylodge podcasting system in June 2005.