As the spookiest of seasons descends upon us, we are having conversations about creativity with those with a penchant for the macabre. To kick off Octo-best-month-of-the-year, we are chatting with Corinne Halbert, the mastermind behind some wicked comics, paintings and more that blend themes both spine-chilling and sensual. In this installment of Spillin' the Beans, Corinne talks about her art, her inspiration, and of course, coffee!
Hi Corinne, thanks for taking some time to Spill The Beans. Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Painting, illustration and cartooning are my passions and I specialize in erotic horror and horror comics. For my art business, Hate Baby Comix I work as a freelance illustrator for hire, creating custom artwork for clothing companies, bands and other clients. I sell my original paintings and have created a line of merchandise that I sell in my online shop: corinnehalbert.bigcartel.com
Corinne Halbert, conjuring up some of our Black Magic.
To date, I've self-published six issues of my comic book Hate Baby amongst numerous other titles. I've contributed comic strips to Black Eye and Magic Whistle and have illustrations published in four Feral House coloring books. My day job consists of peddling zines, comics, and other incendiary literature at Chicago’s revered Quimby’s Bookstore.
My husband, Scott R. Miller and I table at comics and art expos as much as possible which is a great opportunity to meet other artists and patrons in person. We've tabled at Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) in Chicago, IL every year from 2015 - 2018. I also tabled at CAKE solo in 2013 and 2014. Scott and I exhibited at Short Run in Seattle, WA in 2015 and Lowbrow Con in Portland, OR in 2017. We're very excited to be tabling again this year at Short Run in Seattle, WA in Nov 2018.
Corinne at Cobra Lounge for the recent Wild Life Flea Market at The Snake Pit.
"Death Is Always Watching", India ink on paper 2016.
When did you first begin expressing yourself artistically, and how did it evolve for you?
I’ve been drawing since I was three years old. The art bug bit me very young, it’s been my biggest passion as long a I can remember. Around fourteen years old is when I started getting more serious about pursuing it as a career but I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a small child.
Lady Like comic, 2017.
What would you consider the biggest influences on your work, and have you seen these evolve over time?
Other artists and movies have been the biggest influence on my art practice. Some of my favorite artists are Al Columbia, Junji Ito, Charles Burns, Gregory Jacobsen and Heather Benjamin. I tend to like dark, transgressive work and have had a healthy obsession with death since I was a teenager. I’m a huge horror movie nut and my husband and I love to watch movies together. Anything cult, horror, b-movie, sleazy or just plain campy or bad are our usual fair. My taste definitely evolves as I get older but when I truly love an artist, band or movie, I’m all in. I’m a loyal fan when I lock in on something I really connect with.
"The Horror Art of Corinne Halbert", Full color folding zine, APEP Publications, 2016. Out Of Print.
Can you describe your process?
For my paintings I begin with a pencil sketch. I work on Arches hot-press 140lb watercolor paper and Ampersand Hardbord watercolor panels for the most part. Then I ink the pencil lines with India ink, Koh-i-Noor Universal drawing ink is my favorite. After I’ve inked I move on to the painting stage. I use Holbein Acryla gouache and watercolor mostly and I’m always trying to step up my chops when it comes to lighting, shading, and creating volume and atmosphere. My paintings used to be more flat and I’m trying to create more volume in the past year or two. After I’ve painted the whole piece, I do one last round of line inking with India ink.
Detail from "Dark Creature", 2018.
It seems that we share a love of all things horror. How did your interest in horror start, and what are you particularly drawn to?
I first started getting into horror movies in middle school and high school as well as Stephen King books. Stephen King was my gateway to my love of horror fiction. I was a Film/Video major when I was getting my BFA at MassArt in Boston and that experience really opened my eyes as to how many different kinds of fantastic and weird movies are out there. So I’ve been watching as many movies as I can over the last few decades and am particularly drawn to 80’s slashers, body horror and splatter films.
"Coffin Romance", 2017.What are some of your favorite horror movies, books, and comics?
How much of an inspiration and influence do you think music is on your work, and what would you call some of your favorite bands/musicians?
Huge. I listen to music and podcasts mostly while working on art. I’ve been a big fan of music since I was a small child and even terribly played the guitar for fun at one point in my life. Swans, Melvins, Butthole Surfers, Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, and Lord Mantis to name a few of my favorites.
Ok, it’s coffee time. Do you like that stuff?
Yes! I’ve loved coffee since I was fourteen years old. As soon as my friends were old enough to drive a favorite activity was to go to Bickford's, a chain of greasy spoon diners in Massachusetts, and drink coffee and chain smoke cigarettes. A habit I’ve thankfully broken at this point, the chain smoking that is.
What do you look for in a good cup of coffee?
I prefer dark roasts, the darker the better. But really I love all coffee roasts and also enjoy espresso. I usually have two cups at home in the morning right when I wake up and by a red eye on my way into work.
How do you make coffee at home?
I have a grinder and French Press I like to use as much as possible. The press makes the smoothest cup and I usually put a little bit of honey and almond milk in it. I also use a Keurig when I need to make a cup quickly and I’m on the go.
A French Press, photo by Kristan Lieb.
If you are grabbing a coffee at a cafe, what is your go-to?
I go to Gallery Cafe in Wicker Park mostly. It’s really close to my work and they make delicious roasts daily. Very friendly staff and environment too. In the summer I really enjoy the Nitro Cold Brew on draft at Stan’s Donuts, also in Wicker Park. Every now and then as a special treat I’ll get a mocha with soy milk at the Whole Foods coffee bar in Lincoln Park.
Are there coffees from particular regions that you are particularly fond of?
I tend to like the taste of beans from Colombia and Guatemala the best but honestly I like them all!
How do you feel that coffee intersects with your creativity?
I drink coffee every day so it’s really important to my work. If I have the day off I will usually make a cup to drink as I begin to work on my painting or illustration for that day.
Thanks so much, Corinne. Lastly, have you heard any good jokes lately?
Q: Have you heard about those new corduroy pillows?
A: They're making headlines.
And, I bought some shoes from a drug dealer earlier. I don't know what he laced them with, but I've been tripping all day.