Nadia Shammas and Marie Enger’s Where Black Stars Rise, an eldritch horror graphic novel that explores mental illness and reimagines Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow in modern-day Brooklyn, will be published by Nightfire on August 2nd, 2022! Take a sneak peek at the interior art below.
“Along the shore the cloud waves break, the twin suns sink behind the lake. The shadows lengthen in Carcosa…”
Dr. Amal Robardin, a newly licensed therapist who has recently immigrated to Brooklyn from Beirut, is treating her first patient: Yasmin, a 23-year-old schizophrenic. The two get off to a rocky start, and as Yasmin’s night terrors increase and the looming figure at the foot of her bed creeps closer every night, Amal begins to worry that she’s out of her depth.
Yasmin is convinced something greater than delusion is happening, and quickly becomes obsessed with Robert Chambers’ The King in Yellow. Believing the book to have her answers, she goes out seeking an option beyond therapy. Shortly after, Yasmin vanishes.
Distraught over Yasmin’s sudden disappearance, Amal attempts to retrace her patient’s last steps—and accidentally slips through dimensions, ending up in Carcosa, realm of the King in Yellow. Trapped and determined to find her way out, Amal enlists the help of a mysterious guide, but is he a friend… or her tormentor?
“…Strange is the night where black stars rise, and strange moons circle through the skies. But stranger still is lost Carcosa.”
Here’s what Nadia Shammas has to say:
“From what I remember, it started with a Hastur sketch Marie did for fun and showed me. I was instantly hooked with the way they drew him, all disjoined shapes forming a face of sharp angles. It wasn’t even a face, really, but it felt recognizable and unrecognizable at the same time. For me, that’s the basis of fear: something you know made unknowable to you.
I had been thinking about my relationship to genre, and to eldritch horror in particular, quite a bit around that time. I was used to reading and loving works that held no love for me or my culture, and I was re-evaluating what it meant to grow up seeing myself through someone else’s eyes. The eyes of someone who didn’t believe in my humanity. So, when Marie and my friend Danny Lore both recommended The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, followed shortly with Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw, it was a total revolution. There were creators doing eldritch horror better than the originators ever could, creating new contexts within the very works that simultaneously inspired and wounded me.
This book ended up with a lot more of myself than I originally expected. With the incredible work of and collaboration with Marie, Kelly, and Diana Pho, I feel like all that carnage and raw nerves has been sculpted into something I’m really proud of.”
Here’s what Marie Enger has to say:
“Unfortunately, and I hope my memory is wrong, I think I first talked to Nadia about Where Black Stars Rise while I was out by some McDumpsters because, also unfortunately, the sense memory I have associated with ‘Cassilda’s Song’ – the first attempt Nadia and I made at what would later become Where Black Stars Rise – is the smell of old fish sandwiches and hot trash. I must have stood out there for like 30-40 minutes, so focused on what our version of Carcosa would become that I forgot I was standing in garbage.
That’s Carcosa for you.
I’m not particularly ‘inspired’ by my schizophrenia because, quite frankly, it’s hard to be inspired by something that makes your day to day needlessly difficult. But I can’t pretend that my experiences didn’t leave me with a unique approach to creating unsettling and claustrophobic visuals, and that I don’t spend a lot of my free time contemplating if terror would look better at a Dutch angle or just off panel. I’m grateful that I found a collaborator who agreed – it looks best in yellow.”
And from Kelly Lonesome, senior editor at Nightfire:
“We’re so excited to publish a story as special as this with Nightfire – the imprint’s first graphic novel! My former colleague Diana Pho acquired and ushered the story to its final form, and I simply feel very honored to help bring it to shelves. Nadia and Marie have created a really incredible story in a stunning package, which is going to really resonate with horror readers.
This reimagining of the classic Robert Chambers book The King in Yellow follows two women on an increasingly trippy journey that ultimately ends up in the fictional cosmic realm of the King in Yellow – Carcosa – where they grapple with their past so that they may find peace in their future. I can’t wait for readers to see the breathtaking final product next summer!”
NADIA SHAMMAS is a Palestinian-American writer from Brooklyn, NY. She’s best known for being the co-creator of Squire with Sara Alfageeh, as well as being the creator of CORPUS: Comic Anthology of Bodily Ailments. Her work often focuses on identity, memory, and decolonizing genre tropes. When she’s not writing, she’s trying to perfect her cold brew recipe and win the love of her cats, Lilith and Dash.
MARIE ENGER is a St. Louis-based creator who spends a lot of time listening to loud music in the dark and creating weird stuff. While you wait for Where Black Stars Rise, Controlled Burn, and all that secret stuff they can’t talk about yet, you can play their dark occult western TTRPG, Casket Land, read their bootleg-of-a-bootleg, Nosferatu!, or get in the eldritch zone with their super-sad comic, The Bones of This Place.
Where Black Stars Rise will hit shelves on August 2nd, 2022. In the meantime, we’re thrilled to offer a sneak peek at the interior art–click on each image to open it full-size: