Interview: The Freaks Come Out For Mad Cave's 'Show's End'


Last year, when publisher Mad Cave Studios' talent search came to a conclusion, only eight creators out of many were left standing. Two of those creators were writer Anthony Cleveland and artist Jeferson Sadzinski. And in 2019, with their comic Show's End, they will finally be able to showcase their talent to the larger comic book world. 

PREVIEWSworld had a chance to sit down with one of the ringmasters of Show's End - writer Anthony Cleveland. In the following interview, he talks about the contest, his collaboration with artist Jeferson Sadzinski, and their story about a 12-year-old girl seeking refuge within a traveling freak show.

Show's End #1 (JUN191829is available at comic shops on August 7th. 

PREVIEWSworld: What was your reaction when you won the Mad Cave talent contest?

Anthony Cleveland: I've been writing indie comics for a few years, so...I'm pretty familiar with rejection. When I was told I was a finalist, I tried to not get overly excited in case it didn't work out, but our first few meetings went great and I was able to secure my spot early. The whole experience felt affirming, to be honest: "See, you don't suck after all!"

PREVIEWSworld: How did Show’s End come about as a project?

Anthony Cleveland: The story came together very quickly. Mad Cave wanted to do a story set at a circus or carnival in the 20's, and everything else was left to me to run with. Although Show's End is a fantasy comic at heart, I approached it like a horror story. When I did that, a lot of the scenes and images came together quickly. I also pulled from a lot of carnival lore and circus history as well.

I didn't speak with Jef until later in the process and I tried not to put any expectations on what I thought the art should look like. When I saw Jef's work, I knew right away that we had the right look for Show's End.

PREVIEWSworld: Tell us about Loralye. What makes her central to Show's End's story?

Anthony Cleveland: Loralye is a runaway who knows very little about the world around her. She finds the carnival and is immediately entranced by the lights and performances at the show. She feels like she's finally found her place and asks to stay. The performers don't understand, because she looks like a regular, plain little girl. They don't see what about the freak show appeals so much to her. Slowly, she gains the carnival's trust and we learn she's hiding a secret that's more freakish than anything at the show...

PREVIEWSworld: Have you seen the 1932 movie Freaks? It's hard not to think of that film when hearing about this comic.

Anthony Cleveland: I love Freaks and all of Tod Browning's circus movies. They absolutely had a massive influence on this comic. I feel like you can't have a story like this without acknowledging that film or paying tribute to it in some way. A lot of my reference material came from the film as well. [That said,] I think what's important in a story like this is to respect the characters. I knew it was important to approach all the characters as people and not props. As much as I love Tod Browning's Freaks, a lot of his characters are there to be background figures and just do their acts on screen as a gimmick. Even though our characters are just illustrations, I never wanted panels or scenes where we linger on observing how different they may appear. I'm more interested in the reader trying to see what makes them tick.

PREVIEWSworld: In terms of audience, who is Show’s End for?

Anthony Cleveland: I wanted to make Show's End accessible to a wide audience. I kept in mind the elements I enjoyed from young adult books, anime, Ray Bradbury novels, and Lovecraft shorts. It's really a wide mix. I also strived to make it welcoming to a broad audience without sacrificing the moments where the comic needed to be more intense. I think there's something for anyone who's interested in a story like this.

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