DARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S NEW GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 4: HOBO HEART
Since the days of Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu and Henry James, there has been a fascinating link between romance and the darkly horrifying. In many ways this makes perfect sense – perhaps the only emotion we experience with anywhere near the same intensity as fear is love.
As a horror storytelling device, love (along with revenge), is one of the most powerful motivating forces. If any emotions were able to bridge the gap between the realm of the living and the afterlife, surely love is one of the most believable?
This is before we even look at the potent source of horror that is twisted, unrequited obsessive love – the sort of sick possessiveness that motivates real world monsters such as stalkers.
This week I look at a monster who is intrinsically linked to love and the day on which most people celebrate romance, Valentine’s Day. This monster is Hobo Heart.
The character of Hobo Heart is the creation of Chris ‘Oz’ Fulton, a talented artist who has gained a huge following over at the bustling DeviantArt community.
In fact, so popular and highly regarded is Fulton’s work, when the A-Team of Mr Creepypasta and Vincent Vena Cava joined forces to create their superb Creepypasta comic, Fulton was one of the artists they got to contribute.
Fulton’s most famous creation, Hobo Heart, first appeared in a number of images he posted on DeviantArt (https://chrisozfulton.deviantart.com) back in 2014. Hobo is a visually striking character, his face and body painted to resemble a skeleton, with piercing blue eyes and ashen hair. In some pictures he sports a large pair of feathery wings, much like the archetypal image of an angel.
The interesting design and Fulton’s considerable skill as an artist ensured the creation gathered plenty of fans, and they all wanted to know one thing – what was Hobo’s story?
Those fans didn’t have to wait long, because Fulton published the first Hobo Heart story to DeviantArt on 29 January 2015 (https://chrisozfulton.deviantart.com/art/Hobo-Heart-510238827).
It’s a short and simple piece that establishes some of the basic mythos of the character without truly expanding upon it. In a lot of ways it serves almost the same role as the pre-opening credit stinger sequences used so admirably by shows such as The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural.
It opens with a police report, in which a pair of detectives lament the discovery of a corpse bearing the same tell-tale markings of a ruthless killer they are tracking. The M.O. is grisly – this killer removes the hearts of his victims, leaving the organ from his last victim beside the body of his next one.
From here we meet a pair of teens, Valerie and Tomy, who choose to park and fool around in a secluded rural spot late at night. It is soon revealed that Valerie is cheating on her boyfriend – and to compound matters, Tomy is said boyfriend’s best friend.
Those of you aware of the morality tale role of many horror stories will already know where this is heading, but for those who don’t, suffice it to say that things do not go the way the planned…
Yes, the story is simple, and the writing may not be as polished as you might expect from a professional, but Hobo Heart is an interesting little story (and I do mean little, it’s extremely short). The malevolent nature of Hobo Heart is introduced well and the nightmarish nature of the attack on the cheating teens is extremely disturbing.
Sure, we all have a fear of dismemberment, we all have bodies that are familiar, safe, the one constant throughout our lives. The thought of it becoming damaged or failing is (pardon the pun) heartbreaking, but that our lives could be ended by somebody else taking that which belongs to us is truly frightening.
However, perhaps most disturbing is the nature of Hobo’s aura of despair that he exudes.
Depression is not just an emotional affliction, it affects sufferers physically, draining them of all will and energy. Hobo has the ability to cause his victims to experience this.
To me, the most disturbing thing about Hobo Heart isn’t that the monster tears out the hearts of his victims – it’s that he robs them of the will to try to stop him.
The story was a hit, but it left fans wanting more – and they were to soon get exactly that.
On 14 February 2015 (Valentine’s Day) Fulton released the next chapter in Hobo’s story – Hobo Heart: Stitches.
And if the first chapter was to have been accused of failing to explain and expand on the story, the same criticism certainly could not be levelled against this part. Because Stitches, was an origin story.
Stitches tells of CC, a seemingly normal teen girl who meets a strange boy one day. The boy has a dog, dubious social skills… and the image of a skull emblazoned on his skin.
Despite the boy’s oddness, she feels a strong bond towards him, while he becomes fascinated with the fact that she seems immune to his aura of despair. They spend more time together, growing closer as they took about the mysterious boy’s past, the fact he is what he calls ‘a gemberling’, and what he calls his important purpose for existing.
And from this, love blossoms, and CC presents the mysterious boy with a Valentine’s Day card.
After the boy says his heart had no home until he met CC, she gives him a name: Hobo Heart.
However, while Hobo is forever an outcast, CC has friends – friends who notice the adverse effect spending time with her mystery beau seems to be having on her health.
These friends encourage her to leave Hobo, and CC finds herself in a tug of war… one which builds to a horrifying conclusion.
Stitches is a marked improvement over the original Hobo Heart story, hinting at a fascinating wider mythology involving six demonic souls and a supernatural effort to keep these forces under control – one that is not afraid to create its own monsters along the way.
The relationship between CC and Hobo is the crux of the story and, for the most part, it works. The tragic misunderstanding at the climax of the story is a clever piece of plotting, and the horror of the truth about exactly how inhuman Hobo is handled very well indeed.
It’s no surprise that Stitches was so well received by fans, nor that it provoked even more questions from them.
Fulton provided some answers is a well-crafted character sheet for Hobo Heart, a beautifully diagrammed piece that he posted to DeviantArt in September 2015 (https://chrisozfulton.deviantart.com/art/Hobo-Heart-Creepypasta-Character-Sheet-563452729).
However, that wasn’t to be the last piece in the Hobo Heart puzzle – and Fulton’s next offering was another break in format.
Following on from images, then prose, Hobo Heart: Open Wounds was actually a collaboration with fellow creator Goldco1n and released as a two-part audio piece narrated by Mr Creepypasta on his hugely popular YouTube channel on 15 February 2015.
You can listen to the first part here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibV7Y3Si2Sk&index=3&list=PL3vq3HFjqkVlst5O9DxLhDKKUmSarl8zx and the second part here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc49Np9Y9qs&index=4&list=PL3vq3HFjqkVlst5O9DxLhDKKUmSarl8zx.
Mr Creepypasta has in fact performed readings of all four Hobo Heart stories, which he has gathered into this handy playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3vq3HFjqkVlst5O9DxLhDKKUmSarl8zx
Open Wounds continued to expand on the rich mythos created by Fulton, tying various dangling threads of plot together in a clever and natural way.
Once again we follow the detectives investigating the grisly ‘Cupid murders’.
However, as they delve deeper into the shocking crimes we soon come to realise that there are far worse monsters out there than Gemberlings.
Even as they beleaguered police force pieces together the truth, anti-hero Hobo is struck with an equally devastating revelation as the past returns to haunt him – one that sets him on a path that offers plenty of scope for drama and excitement in future stories.
It’s easy to see why Hobo Heart has become such a popular creation among the Creepypasta community. A large part of the fandom, especially on DeviantArt, comprises of teens – particularly girls – who are drawn to darker, more dangerous characters.
One need only look at the way some female fans speak about Harry Potter anti-heroes Professor Snape and Draco Malfoy to see that in some cases there really does seem to be an element of truth in the old cliche that some girls love a bad boy.
Fellow Creepypasta icons Jeff the Killer and Jason the Toymaker have proven to be almost pin-ups for Pasta fans and, if anything, Hobo Heart is a more sympathetic and suitable character for such attention. He has sparkling blue eyes, he’s young and he’s a hopeless romantic. Aside from the whole heart-removing thing, he’s practically boyfriend material!
But suggesting that Hobo Heart’s popularity can be solely attributed to breathless fangirls is to do Fulton’s creativity and talent a grave disservice.
The story of Hobo is extremely imaginative, combining the emotional elements of the tale with a mythology that combines Haitian voodoo and demonic prophecies of destruction. It’s a testament to Fulton’s skill that he uses these elements to enrich his splendid scary morality tale.
Fulton was kind enough to agree to speak with The Slaughtered Bird about Hobo Heart and his creative process in bringing such a popular character to life.
Our interview follows below.
STEVEN HICKEY: Hi Chris, thanks for agreeing to speak with us.
First, In your own words, tell us a little about Hobo Heart.
CHRIS ‘OZ’ FULTON: Hobo Heart is a Gemberling. Gemberlings are creatures I created. They are zombie puppets or golems created through voodoo magic. The creator can create a gemberling and assign them tasks or use them as servants in general.
SH: Next, is there a preferred reading/listening order for the stories?
OZ: Hobo Heart: Stitches; Hobo Heart; Hobo Heart: Open Wounds Open Wounds is an audio drama co-written with Goldco1n. Mr. Creepypasta narrated it on his channel. Open Wounds is a two-part story and has never been published in written form – the only place to hear it is on Mr CP’s channel. He also made a playlist on his channel where you can listen to them all in order.
SH: What served as your inspiration for the character?
OZ: Hobo Heart is my favorite creation. In the beginning he was an outlet for me. When I was feeling stressed or depressed or any strong emotion, he was my go to guy to vent through. Never happy though, I’ve only ever drew him happy once, but I have never publicly posted the piece.
SH: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?
OZ: The image came first
SH: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?
OZ: I’m a huge fan of Creepypasta. I started out doing early fan arts of the characters.
One day Mr. Creepypasta saw my art, we got in contact. Then I started doing images for him and his channel.
I love the Puppeteer by Bleedingheartworks (her art is amazing check her out) and Jeff- I love me some Jeff. Not so much his story but his image. He’s just a lot of fun to draw.
SH: Why do you think Creepypastas in general, and especially Hobo Heart, have been so popular with the fans?
OZ: I think Creepypasta is popular because people love horror. Horror will never die.
I think people like these characters because they use their imaginations to fill in the blanks and imagine the scenes. The Rake terrified me, mostly because of what he looked like in my mind and how he moves. When I set out to write Hobo’s story, there wasn’t really a “Valentine’s Day Monster” so I purposely made the events take place then. The story was released on Valentine’s day.
Hobo’s story is about being unfaithful to who you love and to yourself. I suppose every Valentine’s day there are people without significant others to share the day with and there is always someone being unfaithful.
I think readers and fans that have been in bad relationships can relate to Hobo and enjoy his story in that sense. It’s certainly how he was created.
SH: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
OZ: Stephen King, Vincent Vena Cava, Edgar Allan Poe, HP Lovecraft
SH: What work of your own are you most proud of?
OZ: Hobo Is my favorite.
SH: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, that have impressed you?
OZ: I’m impressed by it all. I will never get used to the idea of someone wanting to draw something I created. It’s an amazing feeling.
The cosplayers blow my mind. There are some who even make his wings. It’s most impressive.
At conventions and shows it almost brings me to tears when a Hobo or C.C. comes to see me.
SH: Your artwork is fantastic. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?
OZ: I didn’t have the best childhood.
My father abandoned me, my sister, and mom when I was 2. I have never met him.
I draw on those strong emotions and try to relay them in my art.
I was self taught. I spent a lot of time as a child by myself with only a pencil and paper.
SH: Will you return to the story of Hobo Heart in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?
OZ: Yes, I am currently working on a new Hobo Heart story as we speak. It’s the telling of how he became a gemberling.
His true identity, his real name, and the name of his dog. Many people are concerned with the name of the dog, LOL!
Coolest thing for fans at the moment, Stitches has been published in a short story novel. With fellow Creepypasta authors like Bleeding Heart Works. Madame Macabre, Vincent V. Cava, CreepsMcPasta and many more. You can get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
It’s pretty cool to actually hold the physical story in the pages of a book.
SH: And finally, are there any sites or projects that you’d like me to send my readers to for more of your work?
OZ: I have an Instagram, Facebook Art page, Tumblr, and of course Deviant Art page, They are all my name Chris Oz Fulton. I try to keep it simple and all of them the same name.
SH: Thanks once again for speaking with us.
Hobo Heart may be a modern monster, but deep down, his is one of the oldest stories there is.
Hobo is a product of love unchecked, and vengeance incarnate against the unfaithful. It’s a story of the dangers of the heart, the risks of opening yourself up to others and the craziness within us all when passions are allowed to run wild.
It’s a story about dangers to which we can all empathise, and perhaps, that is the scariest thing of all.
Come back next week when I’ll be discussing one of the most frightening stories to ever haunt Creepypasta fans.
Until then, value your heart.