Creator Interview: melaredblu’s Here I Lie Awake
Updated: Jul 30
Today we talk to melaredblu, the talented and thoughtful creator behind psychological horror webcomic, Here I Lie Awake.
Melaredblu is a longtime amateur comic creator. Works include Here I Lie Awake, The Refraction of Princess Chroma, and a handful of fanworks and collabs. May or may not be an actual pencil.
Night after sleepless night, Zoey is plagued with an unsettling, persistent sensation that keeps her awake and leaves her bristling with dread. The first night was a nuisance, the first week, an ordeal. Three months later, and she's okay, everything's okay, she'll be just fine...if she could only sleep.
Melaredblu, how long have you been making comics and what got you into them?
Technically, I started making comics in sketchbooks back when I was in high school, but I started my first webcomic over ten years ago. I already enjoyed the medium because I love to draw and write, so having webcomics as a way to get the stories I wanted to tell out there has been great.
What is the main genre of your comic? What appeals most to you about it?
Here I Lie Awake is a psychological horror, with more emphasis on the psychological. I like suspenseful stories that focus on a character’s personal fears, insecurities, and flaws as the main obstacles they have to face. Whether it’s metaphorical or mundane, there is something very engaging about a story where a lot of the conflict comes from within.
I’m inclined to agree! Exploring the internal peaks and valleys of a character is just as gripping as exterior peaks and valleys. I really appreciate your attention to detail and the beats you explore. So what inspired you to create Here I Lie Awake?
You know that “the ceiling feels heavy” thing Zoey keeps repeating? I’ve actually felt that sensation before many times. I’ve never really been able to figure out what the cause was, and it would eventually go away. Creepy. Unsettling. But fleeting and harmless.
Now imagine if you felt like that every night. Subtle, inexplicable weight and pressure from somewhere vaguely above you. You can’t fall asleep. You can’t ignore it. You start to dread that feeling from the deepest pit of your chest. Every night you lie awake, hoping it will finally go away. You try everything you can to mute it, from white noise to sleep aids. Nothing helps, not really. And you’re learning the hard way just how much of a toll sleep deprivation can take on your mind and body.
Sounds horrible, right? You should read the comic and see the trainwreck for yourself.
Do you have any favorite artists who influenced the style or vibe for this work?
My favorite horror creator is Junji Ito. I feel like I’ve borrowed a few artistic ideas from him. For example, using characters and settings that are pretty ordinary looking to set the stage, only to hit the reader with a page where you see something distorted and uncanny in a character or place that seemed normal a moment ago.
I love that! I’m not surprised that he is your favorite. So from start to finish, what's the process like to create a page?
I start with a script for the dialog, then on a blank page, I block out where I’ll put the panels and make a loose thumbnail in each panel. Once I have the page composition down, I place the word bubbles so they won’t end up covering up too much of the art later. From there, I ink the panels one at a time and then add the color/shading. I usually do this after work or on the weekend over the course of a few days, often with some YouTube video playing in the background while I draw.
Very cool, what’s your go to sort of thing to listen to while you work on a page?
Usually video game content. Let's Plays, Reviews, Lore, etc.
How long will Here I Lie Awake be, if you know? You have mentioned before that the story was originally going to be a shorter piece.
It’ll be as long as it needs to be. Not every issue a character has will be resolved by the end, but I want to take the time to thoroughly explore who these people are, why they are the way they are, and how they’re being affected by what’s happening now. The plot itself isn’t terribly intricate and I could finish the comic in less than a year if I did nothing but story progression, but that’s not really where I want the focus to be. So for now, I don’t have a deadline to finish this.
What's the biggest hurdle you've faced while working on this comic? If you could go back in time to talk to your past self about Here I Lie Awake, what would you say?
“Hey. So I see that instead of drawing these characters beforehand to come up with a good design, you’re just drawing them however you feel like drawing them when they make their first appearance. Cool, cool. So how do you like having your characters constantly be off-model? What, you don’t like that? Huh. If only you had a reference sheet or something instead of making things up on the spot. Anyway, there’s gonna be a global pandemic three years from now goodluckwiththatbye.”
But to be completely honest, the biggest hurdle was actually the period of time where I was doing three weekly comics at once. The burnout was unreal. Never again.
You mention burnout from working on 3 comics all at the same time, and that is a lot to manage. Holy cow. How did you recover from the burnout, and do you have any tips for avoiding the crisp for fellow comic creators?
Ah, that's a pretty situational answer. The reason I got the third comic off my plate is because during the initial lockdowns, I wasn't able to work at all for a month. So I decided to just sit down and finish the darn thing so it would be off my weekly to-do list. But I guess if I were to give a suggestion that doesn't count on the Rona, I think I'd say that going on hiatus isn't a crime. I had to do it at least once to rebuild buffer.
“When you're getting burned out to the point that your work is visibly suffering for it, the best thing to do is slow down.”
What is your favorite part of working on your comic?
Finishing a page. There is something very satisfying about seeing all my work finally laid out, complete, and ready to put in the queue.
Who is your favorite character to write for and draw, are they the same?
I love drawing Zoey. Her gaunt face and lank hair give her a very distinct look. She also has some of the best facial expressions in the comic and most of my favorite pages feature her. In terms of writing, though, I think Reggie is probably the most interesting character to explore. He’s the oldest, he’s been through the most, and his relationship with everyone is complicated.
What about least favorite character to write and draw for, are they the same?
Robin! Drawing a newborn is so difficult. He just never looks quite right to me. I guess he’d also be my least favorite to write, since the little guy gives me absolutely nothing to work with. Blech. Boring.
But if I had to pick one of the main characters and not a literal infant, I suppose I’d say I have a harder time writing Nat than anyone else. She’s not supposed to be as dysfunctional as some of the other characters, but she does have her own depth and personal problems. But because so much of her character arc is influenced by what’s happening to other people and her reactions to that, I have trouble finding ways to make her feel like her own person.
Do you have anything planned after you finish Here I Lie Awake?
Boy do I! I have a fantasy comic I've had swimming in my head since I was a teen, but it keeps changing and I'm not ready to start it yet. I have the characters and setting, but the story is...uh. Maybe there's a story?
Actually, when I started my first webcomic, The Refraction of Princess Chroma, it was meant to be practice to see if I could even stick with it before I took on a "serious" story. I'm glad I did that, because I had no clue what I was doing and I learned so much in the process.
Lastly, would Zoey like a piece of cake?
Maybe after she gets that dental crown. Sugar and cracked molars don’t mix.
Where’s the best place to find Mel? The place they host their Here I Lie Awake and their other work!
I don’t have much of an online presence, but you can always find my work on Comicfury.
Thank you so much for your time, melaredblu! Be sure to check out Here I Lie Awake and other projects they get up to! You know it’ll be good.
If you’re interested in a potential interview for your comic, shoot us an email! This is the first post of its kind but not the last.