Shock. Gore. Sacrilege. And more! GUILLOZINE contains art and stories that dare to push the boundaries. Available both for free online and for physical purchase on Amazon, GUILLOZINE is really a no boundaries zine.
GenderTerror had the good fortune of being able to interview both parts of Two Dead Queers, K.M. Claude and R.E. Hellinger, about not only the zine and the future, but also about their creative process.
GenderTerror: Let’s start off with the obvious, what is Two Dead Queers?
K. M. Claude: You’ve got Two Dead Queers the brand or institution or whatever you want to call this overarching beast and then the zine series Two Dead Queers Present which’re two separate but interrelated, symbiotic entities. Two Dead Queers as a whole is about creating art and stories without shame, without silence, and without censorship, and strives to deliver works by queer horror creatives for anyone and everyone who’s interested — or at least who dares.
R.E. Hellinger: With Two Dead Queers Present, we wanted to be able to offer something we made and enjoyed making for free. It’s a sort of love letter to those who already love Claude’s art and to those who love weird horror. We want people to find our zine and go “hey! This is neat!” and not only get excited for our next zine release or other projects we may be separately working on, but also encourage them to put their own wonderful weirdness out into the world.
GT: What does the project plan on covering and accomplishing?
Hellinger: Right now we’re focused on putting out more zines- we’re creating a sort of flexible release schedule between the two of us and have a few ideas for future issues. Like GUILLOZINE, each zine will be loosely wrapped around a broad theme that we’ll explore separately before stitching our separate parts together to make something as equally chilling and bizarre as GUILLOZINE.
Claude: Yeah right now the focus is on making these readily available bodies of work, getting our stuff out there and established. The goal of the not too distant future is to bring copies of our Two Dead Queers Present series to various zine festivals and comic conventions, whether together as Two Dead Queers or even alone. If this whole thing really takes off, a long-term goal we’d talked about was making a sort of publishing imprint or “lit mag” or publishing house that queer horror creatives who often get shoved to the side in mainstream spaces for being too queer and get shoved aside in queer spaces for being too gross or too icky or too “edgy” could get their work published under. But that’s definitely a long term goal (unless someone wants to drop a ton of money in our laps. Six fig money preferred.)
GT: What do each of you bring to the table, besides art by Claude and writing by R.E. How do you two play off each other’s creative differences?
Claude: I think there is an assumption based on reputation that, when they see our names, “oh Claude’s doing the art and Hellinger’s doing the writing” because I’m known for more art than writing but actually Hellinger did two art pieces for GUILLOZINE (and learned a whole digital art program might I add — I am very proud of them because that takes a lot of time and energy and learning art programs in a time crunch is brutal.) Hell, I’d like to see them do more art if they’re down for it — I’ve seen some old comics they did back in college, they’re a brilliant artist! — and who knows, I might wanna write something down the line. We definitely encourage each other to make whatever the hell the other wants to make regardless of what buttons might get pushed or pearls might be clutched.
Hellinger: It’s fun to do a project like this with Claude- we’ve been dating for almost a year now!- because it’s us getting to create and problem solve together doing something we both enjoy. Grocery shopping and other adult-problem-solving with Claude is fine, but getting to create horror with him really sparks joy in me. Throughout the process of creating the first issue of Two Dead Queers Present, Claude really encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone- like putting my drawings out in front of the public. We also got to share ideas with one another- and hearing the other get excited and enthusiastic about an idea was usually all we needed to see that idea through to a finished product. The creation of GUILLOZINE was a lot about accountability, encouragement, and having another set of eyes- I guess you could say it was as much about our relationship as it was about the end product.
GT: The project seems to be pushing both your comforts then, making you explore areas you do not feel as strong in. What have you learned from working on this zine and working on a project together?
Hellinger: Honesty…that we’re a really good couple… I stepped outside my comfort zone a little with this project- learning an art program, trusting myself to put content out there- but it’s definitely where I wanted to be. We got to see one another at different lows and highs throughout the project, you know? It was a challenging project with especially long hours for Claude, but my immediate reaction after we’d released GUILLOZINE was to go “…I wanna make another one”. I think that’s very telling. When it comes to long-distance relationships you often hear people who aren’t 700 miles away from their lover say that long distance will make living together more challenging for you because you haven’t had to be in each other’s space as much before. I’m sure it’ll present it’s own challenges, but this project definitely put us in each other’s spaces and we came out of the experience wanting more of that. The depth of Claude’s love and encouragement feels fucking boundless sometimes and it’s because of him that I stepped outside of my comfort zone to begin with. I already knew we loved one another- but GUILLOZINE emphasized that for me.
Claude: I’ve put together and lead enough projects and book publications that a lot of the regular motions (well, besides building a website from square one) are in my comfort zone — layout this, compile that, re-learn this software, all that fun stuff — but it’s much different when it’s no longer just MY project that I made or spearheaded or MY responsibility that I’ve been put in charge of and given. It’s OURS: our project, our responsibility, our horrific gruesome little baby. Which is both a lot less pressure and a lot more pressure all at once: I’m not alone in making this happen and have my partner not just subserviently reporting to me or supporting me but actually equally carrying the load which is GREAT but at the same time if it fails, it’s not just my ass that’s hurting for it it’s theirs too and that’s scary, y’know? I’m a mini-control freak, my natural reaction is “oh I’ll just do it” because if I fail, well only I failed, no one else is suffering for it, it’s all my bad. So giving up that control and being vulnerable and asking my partner to trust me that much and also be just as vulnerable all the while we both work our asses off–it’s scary, it’s a lot TO ask, and it’s well out of any comfort zone I like to be in but it worked, we did it, and I think we realized it’s not so bad. If we can make and publish a forty page zine on a freshly built website that we gotta market from the ground up and still love each other while living some 700 miles apart well then shit, we can do anything!
GT: I have to go with the typical, how do you feel about people believing that GUILLOZINE goes too far in certain regards?
Claude: I don’t think anyone so far feels GUILLOZINE goes too far? I haven’t seen “kill yourself” in my tumblr inbox for it yet and usually I would (especially given the content in GUILLOZINE.) We’ve gotten a few high ratings on itch.io and amazon and goodreads — in fact, there’s a really delightful, in-depth review on goodreads by Guttz Curzon — and a couple folks on twitter and tumblr have messaged me singing its praises, I dunno about Hellinger.
Hellinger: I haven’t heard anything on the contrary either… I think there’s been an overwhelmingly positive reaction to GUILLOZINE. It’s almost like people have been waiting for something in this vein, you know? They want something raw and dripping and gross and spooky and I guess we were able to deliver, which is very exciting. Even if we do end up getting some hate down the line, we’ve seen there are people- OVER 200 PEOPLE- who like what we’ve made and this is for them. Besides, since it’s a free digital zine, Claude was very careful about putting a content warning icon on our site that readers can click on to see what this particular issue contains before deciding if they still want to download it or not. I think Claude did a fantastic job with the cover, too- it lets people know they’re in for some pulpy horror goodness, which typically doesn’t care about boundaries or yuck-factors.
Claude: Thanks babes — and to jump off what Hellinger is saying, ditto, I think people HAVE been waiting for something like this (god knows I have, I won’t shut up about the topic of queer indie horror on twitter…or to Hellinger…or to all two of my friends…) even if they’re too afraid to SAY they want it, even if some’ll demonize the genre or concept (and then, of course, glut themselves on it in the other tab.) It’s like sex in fundie Christian communities or something, you know?
Hellinger: Hah. Amen to that.
Claude: Plus even though it’s not paywalled — the digital zine IS free — you as a reader HAVE to click the site link and HAVE to click the download link (where there is a message about age and checking out the content warnings on the website.) You have to make a willing decision to engage. Cant be like OH IT JUST DOWNLOADED TO MY COMPUTER! I DUNNO HOW THAT GOT THERE! Don’t work that way. Turns out, a lot of people WANT to engage with and consume this sort of boundary-pushing content.
Hellinger: We’re putting the content we want out into the world. The rest is on the reader. It’s fair.
GT: What’s next? What can people expect from Issue 2?
Hellinger: More of the same weirdo nightmare fuel, but we’ll give you a hint…. ;)
Claude: Well right now it’s called QUARANZINE though that could always change…might wake up and it’s OINGO-BOINGO FANZINE volume 1 of 69.
Hellinger: It’ll be QUARANZINE, we’re just memesters. (But if it was 1 of 69? NICE.)
GT: Will the issues have an interconnected theme with recurring characters or will everything be stand alone?
Hellinger: Right now we’re kind of riding that “-ZINE” train, trying to wrap our titles around the word -ZINE (like GUILLOZINE….QUARANZINE) just for the hell of it. It’s fun. Obviously our branding will remain consistent for the foreseeable future and such but it’s really more of a free-for-all. We don’t intend to connect characters and stories and art throughout the issues. At the same time, I can’t promise characters like my knife-wielding Luci from “A Brief Education in Violence” won’t reappear in another issue down the line. It’s mostly just whatever we want to create per issue without feeling the need to pull it all together with a big red bow.
Claude: We know we want an annual Halloween zine that serves as a bit of a free-for-all horror show so like flu season you can count on it coming ‘round every year. But yeah, no, there’s no 100% gua-ron-tee either way that characters will recur or that you’ll never see them ever again.
GT: Where is the finish line? IS there even a finish line?
Claude: For Two Dead Queers Present, we’ll eventually run out of -ZINE based pun titles outside of our planned annual Halloween issue but honestly, if we wanna keep going after we run out of quality puns, we’ll just make a new zine series line or something. Two Dead Queers itself is eternal.
Hellinger: This horror show ain’t over ‘til we say so!
Two Dead Queers is the shambling brainchild of K. M. Claude (left) and R. E. Hellinger (right). Stitching bits of art and prose together to craft the resplendently horrible, Two Dead Queers is a creative project that takes no prisoners and makes no excuses.
Everything created for Two Dead Queers was made out of its creators’ desire to not only make art and stories but to share them too: without shame, without silence, and without censorship. Therefore, we are proud to offer digital copies of our zines free of charge and physical copies merely for the cost of printing.
Two Dead Queers aims to produce high quality horror for those that dare revel in all its gruesomeness, so step into the shadows as we explore the dark together.