Corey Taylor is a man that never sleeps. In addition to being the front man for the metal juggernaut, Slipknot, Taylor also is the singer for hard rock outfit Stone Sour. He tours relentlessly throughout the year and when he is not on the road he is in the studio working on new music. His creative muse never rests and he has created some of the most memorable hard rock and heavy metal records of the past few decades.
When it came time to put together a new Stone Sour record, Taylor was inspired to write a short story that was eventually used as the basis for the group’s new 2-album concept record, House Of Gold & Bones Part 1 & 2. The story lent itself to be turned into some blistering hard rock.
Taylor is a lifelong comic book fan and has professed his love for the medium in countless interviews. With the prose narrative for “House Of Gold & Bones” already written, Taylor decided that the story leant itself to be adapted into comic book form. After pitching the book to a couple publishers Dark Horse Comics stepped in and helped Taylor bring the idea to fruition.
The official synopsis for the comic book reads, “Trapped in an alternate reality, the Human must make his way to the House of Gold & Bones as he is chased by a crazed mob and taunted by mysterious ally Allen. What the Human discovers on his journey will be his salvation . . . or his destruction.”
Taylor was kind enough to sit down one-on-one with Bloody-Disgusting to chat about his debut as a comic book writer and the evolution of House of Gold & Bones from short story to musical album, and now comic book.
BD: First let me congratulate you on having your first book hit store shelves. I’m sure you’re like a very proud twisted father to have this thing out.
Corey Taylor: It’s pretty exciting. It’s been a long time coming and it’s one of those things that I never thought I would have an opportunity to do. Now that it’s happening, and the book is coming out, I still can’t believe that it’s real.
BD: Have you had a chance to get to a comic shop and pick up a copy yet?
CT: Not yet. I’m in Atlanta today, so I know a couple good shops around here where I can go and take a picture of it actually there on store shelves. That way I can show people and say, “Look what I did!”
BD: Tell us a bit about the genesis for the short story that eventually became the comic book?
CT: I had this idea for a while, for a short story that would accompany the Stone Sour album or just an album in general. I always had this idea, but it was just a nugget, and it was never anything fleshed out or anything extensive. It always just sat on the back burner for a really long time, until the first Slipknot tour that we did after Paul died. Until then, I had kind of put creativity aside for a while, because I wasn’t there yet in my head. While we were out there on the road, the idea just came to me and all the sudden I could see the beginning, the middle and the end, very vividly. I could see the characters coming together in my head, and that kind of triggered the music that I contributed to both Stone Sour albums. In the end things became much bigger in scope than the original idea, but when the idea came to me I just kept feverishly writing things down in notebooks, fleshing out the characters and putting together a chain of events. By the time we finally got into the studio this whole concept was about 98% finished, so I finalized it while we were in the studio. That was kind of where the idea to make it a comic book came from.
BD: So when you knew you wanted to make it into an illustrated comic book did you just pitch it around to publishers?
CT: It was a very strange process to be honest. We were out on the road and there were a couple comic book companies interested, but it just seemed like it was a waiting game. One month turned into three months, and I just kind of said to myself that these people were either in or out. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for some boardroom to decide if this was something they wanted to get behind, so I ended up walking away from two rather big companies. Dark Horse was just the first company to come in and say, “We get this and we understand what you are trying to do.” They were the first to get it, not only from a creative standpoint, but they were also the first to understand it as a mini-series. They were ready to go and that’s what I was looking for. I wanted someone to be as excited about it as I was. It could have been an independent small publisher and I would have been all about it if the excitement was there. I just love the fact that Dark Horse were the ones to really get it because I have been a fan of their books, since I seriously started collecting comics in the early ’90s.
BD: So now you have a publisher on board, and you have this vision in your head of what you want it to become. How do you go about selecting an artist for this book you see inside your mind?
CT: It was pretty interesting, because this was all new to me. With everything there was a learning curve, and it was almost a lesson in how not to do things. (Laughs) Dark Horse asked me to put together a list of artists that I wanted to work with, and then they came back to me and said that some of them wouldn’t work either because they had never worked for the company or they weren’t available. They compiled a list of people that were available, and I just started going through their work. The thing that I loved about Richard P. Clark was that he was really good at rendering real people as well as fictitious characters. I liked that because I wanted the art style to have this reality based look to it and not be too cartoony or farfetched. Richard was the perfect guy to do it, and he really nailed it. You’ll see with Part 1 and as we move into Part 2, that it just keeps getting better and better.
BD: Your accustomed to bring your ideas to fruition musically, but was it difficult to adapt it to a visual medium for the comic?
CT: It was definitely different. I’m so used to just writing everything down and describing it in words, but that was part of the learning curve, was to learn how to write a script. My first couple attempts were pretty terrible to be honest, but Dark Horse came back to me and said, “This is what you are doing wrong and this is what you should try.” They encouraged me and with every script I get a little better. That was another one of reasons I’m glad I went with Dark Horse to publish this, because they really held my hand throughout the entire process. They really helped me figure out what I should do, and when I was doing something good they let me know how I should embellish it. it was a really crazy process going back and forth and making sure that I was saying what I wanted to say with the comic book, but at the same time correctly describing the what was going on, so that Richard could illustrate it. I also had to make sure that I left enough room for Richard to breathe artistically, and it wasn’t just a series of voiceovers on the page.
BD: You’ve stated that the House of Gold & Bones is a “a morality play about a man who’s standing at the crossroads of his life trying to figure out what to do next.” Was any part of this book autobiographical?
CT: A lot of this came back to my life, but mainly it was kind of my take on the people that I had grown up with and how they were getting on with their lives. It was kind of a dissertation on whether people are really truly living their lives or are just stagnant. I took parts of those of those lives and used them to create this character, because I wanted to make a point that there are too many people in this world who are not living their lives. There are too many people that have just sort of given up, and that is when life just becomes surviving day by day. That is no way to live. For me, I wanted to show this story of a guy that had made certain decisions in his life, and was now stuck in this self-destructive rut. He is then forced to make a choice, that he could either remain where he is or go to the next level and evolve into the person that he always wanted to be.
BD: This comic has a very mysterious vibe to it, almost as if it were an episode of the Twilight Zone. Did you intentionally leave things open for interpretation for the reader?
CT: Definitely. I’ve always described it as a dark Wizard of Oz, where this person wakes up in a world that he doesn’t understand, but yet he’s such a big part of it. He doesn’t even realize that he’s a part of it until then end, and I love the fact that everything comes back to him. You’ll find as the series progresses that everything comes back to him, and I knew that I wanted to set it up in a way that people were saying to themselves, “What is going on?” and give it this Twin Peaks kind of vibe. I didn’t want the readers to have the answers right away. I know that is a problem that some critics have had with the book, is that they don’t fully understand what is going on but you just have to wait. If I gave readers all the answers right out of the gate, nobody would want to read issue #2. Half the fun is the anticipation of waiting to find out what is going to happen next.
BD: Is the book a complete story or is there more stories to tell within the House of Gold & Bones?
CT: No. The short story that I wrote was for the new album, and the book will just be the four issue mini-series. If I tried to push it for more, I think it would feel like I’m trying to push it, and it would take away from the poignancy of the story I’m trying to tell. Everyone keeps asking me if there is going to be a House of Bones Part 3, but this is it. This is the story that I wanted to tell and the way I wanted it to be. Sometimes sequels just don’t work ya’ know. (Laughs) Being a massive movie fan, I can count on all my fingers and toes when they don’t work, so I think this is exactly what it needs to be. It needed to be a four issue mini-series that told the specific story that I wanted to tell. It needed to be self-contained, because that is where it lived and breathed.
BD: Could you see yourself doing more comic book related writing after this?
CT: Maybe. I never say never because that is the best way to make god laugh out loud. I’m still a fan and I have so much more respect for the writers and the artists now than I did before. For me to do it again, I guess it would depend on the story and if it was something that I think would work, then maybe. I have a great relationship with the people at Dark Horse and I can only hope that they enjoyed the work that I put into this, but it would have to be the right thing. I wouldn’t want to put out something that was a re-tread of something that has already been written or something that I’ve already done before. It would have to be something very specific, and completely different.
BD: A number of musicians have made their foray into comics with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, Alan Robert from Life of Agony, Claudio from Coheed and Cambria, and Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance. What do you think it is about hard rock and metal musicians, that allows them to be able to create in both mediums?
CT: I think that hard rock and heavy metal are very visual forms of music. The music instills imagery even when there is no imagery to be had. I’ve always thought there was a parallel between hard rock and heavy metal and action/adventure movies or horror movies. You find that sort of tension in the music and you find that reflection in there. I think comics are no different, and they are very evocative. Everyone that I know that makes heavy metal music either was a comic book geek or still is a comic book geek, and it’s usually the latter. I think in a way being a comic book fan inspires you to write that sort of music. I think it can go both ways and if you are a fan of heavy metal it can inspire you to make these crazy creative comic books, and being a comic fan can inspire you to create very amazing and dramatic music as well. I think there will always be a correlation between the two, and it there will always be a time when those two things go hand and hand. I think it just makes for better art, better music and better comics.
BD: Cory thanks for taking the time to talk to Bloody-Disgusting today. We’re all big fans of your work.
CT: Absolutely man; I’m a fan of the website too, so thank you.