I’m always a cheerleader for anyone in the horror community especially women in horror. One of the ghouls who I think deserves the most credit is hands down, Christal VanEtten aka The Superghoul. She creates such amazing content, is a diehard supporter of the horror community, and is an inspiration to us all. I was happy to interview her about how she got involved in the horror genre, what inspired her to create The SuperGhoul, and much more!
PopHorror – It’s great to finally connect with you, Christal! You love that horror genre. What is your first memory of when you knew this was something you loved, that it felt special to you?
Christal VanEtten – I always give credit to my dad when it comes to sparking the interest of horror. It was unintentional but my dad and his Marine Corps squadron would put on these haunted houses every year when I was a kid overseas, and I was bold enough to think I could handle it. I ended up having to be escorted out because I lost it not even 10 steps inside the haunted house. The thrill of the scare must have set in soon afterward because I started to seek out horror movies (when I wasn’t supposed to) and would plan to share them during sleepovers. Those nights, I found myself loving the genre more and more, but my love of horror wasn’t truly actualized until I moved back to the United States to start my college education. I was a closet nerd in many ways. With a love for Star Trek, comic book characters, horror, et cetera, I never felt comfortable sharing that with others when I was in middle school and high school. This was mostly due to being shamed by classmates in the 6th grade for loving the show Charmed so much. Little did I know how much things would change for me.
When I got to college, I learned it was okay to express your interests in different ways thanks to new friends I made. I went to my first horror convention (Crypticon Seattle) in 2013 and that’s what really sealed my love of horror. Better late than never, right? I took my first steps into that convention hall and I found my place; I found my people. It felt like home.
PopHorror – I love that story. I think we all felt that way at one point or another and it’s an amazing feel feeling to finally find your people. Your coven. You are known for The Superghoul. What inspired you to create that?
Christal VanEtten – TheSuperghoul.com was something I debated starting for a few years. The name itself is a play on words that covers my interest in the horror community and comic community (Supergirl but make it horror). I wanted a place where I could geek out over all things horror in a controlled digital space and create a platform to inspire just as others in our special genre community inspired me.
PopHorror – Love how you got the name and you definitely inspire people! How long has it been running?
Christal VanEtten – I started working on it in late 2017 but the full launch didn’t happen until January 2018. It’s still a baby, but a baby I’m f*cking proud of.
PopHorror – As you should be. It’s f*cking amazing and you’ve had such success in a short period of time! Do you have a goal or mission for your site?
Christal VanEtten – While I’m aiming to grow the site so that it’s a more consistent source for horror news and interviews, the mission of TheSuperghoul.com has always been to inspire others to go for that dream that they’ve pushed aside for so long while nurturing what the existing community has to offer. I like to think of it as the cheerleader companion. We all love to geek out and nerd out over the horror things we love. This is another spot for those misfits out there.
PopHorror – Same girl, same! The Superghoul has a great following. What does it feel like to have that support?
Christal VanEtten – It’s honestly wild to me. Things take time to grow, and while The Superghoul still has a lot of room for growth, watching the support double then triple has been surreal and I’m truly grateful for each person adding to the body count.
PopHorror – What’s your favorite thing about your site?
Christal VanEtten – Content quality reigns supreme over aesthetics, but I have to say… I’m so in love with the design of it. I connected with LOVET AGENCY, a branding and web design agency out of Los Angeles, to help give it that ghoulish touch I was looking for as I had nothing but a logo (designed by Sarah Threet). The Creative Director Sayeh Pezeshki is not a horror person but she understood my vision and produced this beautiful website design that really puts the original look of the site to shame.
PopHorror – Couldn’t agree more. I love everything about your site. It feels like home and the graphics are stunning! Beyond your site, are you involved with other aspects of the horror community?
Christal VanEtten – Yes! The Superghoul is a long-time supporter and sponsor of Friday Night Frights Tacoma which is a monthly horror movie event based in Tacoma, Washington hosted by Anthony Dluzak. I’m also the Social Media Director of FredHeads The Documentary which is currently in post-production. In addition to that, I’ve had the pleasure of working with actress and director Mi Chelle Nessk as an associate producer for the horror anthology Horrors of the PNW VI under Gloomy Sunday Productions and graphics assist for Just a Prick under Gloomy Sunday Productions and Roux-Ga-Roux Productions. Online though? I’m cheering on the whole lot of ya!
PopHorror – That’s amazing. I didn’t know you were involved in all of those things and I LOVE ALL OF THOSE THINGS! Do you have any goals this year?
Christal VanEtten – Two things in particular: Tackle more events and grow the contributor team! I have a few colleagues who contribute to the site and am hoping to add more as the year goes on.
PopHorror – *Raises hand* I would love to contribute some time for you! Who are some of the women who inspire you?
Christal VanEtten – Excuse me while I unroll this long scroll of mine. *clears throat…err…cracks fingers*
- Gigi Saul Guerrero (El Gigante, Culture Shock, 10/31) legitimately inspired me and motivated me to do the thing. I first met her as a fan at Crypticon Seattle and we got to talking at one of the after-parties. I told her my story and she laid some truth bombs down for me along the lines of dropping things that were holding me back from obtaining things that would make me happy.
- Mi Chelle Nessk (Horrors of the PNW, O. Unilateralis) was at first a professional colleague but then our relationship evolved into a sisterhood. She inspires me continuously to keep up the good fight in all facets of my life. Imposter syndrome, B.S. online, everything.
- Blair Bathory (FEAR HAUS) was the first woman in horror to end up in my press inbox after the site launch. She believed in me and after visiting the set of FEAR HAUS, I witnessed first-hand her authentic passion and dedication that should be the fire in all of us.
- Tonjia Atomic (Manos Returns, Plain Devil) is a driven woman who continuously shows support and kindness in times I needed it most.
- Ariel Fisher (Shudder’s The Bite) and I first met in 2018. While being an all-around amazing friend to me in such a way that words could never accurately capture my gratitude, she’s the reason why I continuously aim to shake out of my comfort zone in writing.
- The women behind FredHeads The Documentary are exceptional and have played significant roles in my growth through the most trying of times.
PopHorror – YESSS! Those are some exceptionally fantastic women! Favorite horror director?
Christal VanEtten – It’s a strong tie between Clive Barker and Wes Craven. Their creative visions really paved the foundation of my love for horror.
PopHorror – Hell yes. I love Wes Craven – totally Freddy Girl! What would you like to see happen more in the horror genre?
Christal VanEtten – I would love to see more accountability and empathy in the horror community. We have a great community overall, but it’s hard to ignore apologist behaviors and disputes seen online especially in Facebook groups. It’s incredibly disheartening.