Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blood & Gourd: Bringing The Fun Back To Horror Comics


You know what has always been at the top of my comic pull list to read every week? Not the big superhero spectacle, not an artsy black & white crime noir book, not the smartly written sci-fi epic. No, it's usually a ridiculous horror romp. You know the one - with monsters rampaging and people running in terror. It reminds me of simpler times, of the eighties... where the hair was big, the movies were craptastic and men in rubber suits created our nightmares.

And now I've found a book that promises to return horror to a time when it was still fun - Blood & Gourd. These guys have a tale of terror that they've been dying to tell for years now, and it's very close to becoming a reality. Their Indiegogo campaign to fund the book ends tomorrow (Jan. 19th) at midnight PST , and they're OH so close to their goal. The writers (Jenz Lund and DH Shultis) took time out of their schedule to bring their inspiration - the monstrous Gourdfather himself - here for ol' Doc Curdle to interview. This can only end horribly...so let's get this circus underway:

Doctor Curdle/Zombie Zone News: So, what're you - some kind of Pumpkin King? I'm pretty sure I've made pies out of your minions before.

The Gourdfather/Blood & Gourd: When in sorrow you think of dark autumn days, full of rain, you think of me. I walk the sodden pasture lane and am the bareness of a withered blood-slicked tree. I, desolate and linen grey, clinging with mist and rot, carry the light of hell in my face while the hatred of damned souls writhes within my vines.  The sturdy seedling with arched body comes, shouldering its way past crumbling wet earth.  I move in savage shade and darkness with bitterness and dread.

DC/ZZN: Ooookay (Doc pulls the pumpkin guts and seeds that were released from the Gourdfather during his rant off of his face)...seriously, though - why should I care about a pumpkin deity who could probably be taken down by Linus and his wooby? I mean, I bet they're in your patch waiting for you right now...

GF/BaG: The leaves are all dead, the scraping and creeping of my vines is un-ending.  The wall, unmended, has broken down at last. I seek the aching drift of all things within the tillings of your city’s razing. I whisper from the lowest chambers and open your hearts to doubt. Those of you not asleep will mark the creeping cold and shed the hope of day. You will dress your fear in blood and have your death by gourd.

DC/ZZN: Okay, RELAX...let's talk about your book. Why are Jenz, DH and Dave the ones to tell your tale?

GF/BaG: I told them so, at last, to beg and be beholden. I spoke to them of horror and those asleep in pretty dreams of zombie money and shimmering faces. I looked for them in scarce times and fixed thier gazes to my creation. Things aren’t what they used to be, nothing else would do to quell the entropic boredom death of all things horror. I needed vessels who could shun the bland sameness behind the wallowing corporate art of sparkling vampires and pornographic gore. I demanded servants who could brush aside the dirt of dull zombies. Jenz K. Lund and DH Shultis heard my call and drew me from my seed to hasten your fiery end.

DC/ZZN:  .....
I can't work with this guy. Ask a simple question, get a villainous monologue. Squee, get Surfin' Dead in here! Maybe he can get something out of the writer nerds.

Surfin' Dead/Zombie Zone News: What the f... Doc! You said you could handle this on your own!

DC/ZZN: To be fair, I wasn't expecting to be covered in pumpkin sputum. Which I am. Would you like me to share some with you so you can get a feel for what the interview has been like so far?

SD/ZZN: Ugh, get that slime away from me! Sorry guys, let's hit the reset button here. Jenz, DH - where did the original concept come from, and how did it evolve?

Jenz Lund/Blood & Gourd: The story seemed to come to life on its own. It started as a short, low budget movie script about kids on skateboards fighting off pumpkin headed people with baseball bats. It wasn’t long until we realized we didn’t have the time or the budget to pull it off. I thought I came up with a simple solution: let’s make it a comic book! Here we are three years later.

DH Shultis/Blood & Gourd: The concept started on two fronts: the characters and the monsters. After Jenz told me his idea for the pumpkin monsters, we had a ton of fun developing the concept into a rich lore and a whole new world of horror. The characters came to life in a similar way. We knew we wanted to make our characters real, three dimensional people who were up against something horrible and shocking. The interplay of diverse real people and otherworldly nightmarish creatures became, for me, the heart of the script. 

SD/ZZN: How did you come together, and where has your artist - Dave Acosta - been hiding?

JL/BaG: DH and I met in graduate school. I remember being on a big John Waters kick at the time and striking up a conversation about him. It turned out that we shared an appreciation for good horror and smart, satirical, junkfood cinema. We attended an annual hororr film festival in Olympia called All Freakin’ Night, and by sunrise, we knew we wanted to work together. I have no idea where Dave Acosta’s been hiding, we’re just lucky he let us find him.

DH/BaG: When Jenz and I started working together it was a way to keep writing and to keep our artistic blood flowing.  The project helped us create and sustain a meaningful friendship. It was the fun of it all that kept us working together and kept the project going. Our writing sessions were part work and part good fun. We take pleasure in making each other laugh and cringe at the same time.  Acosta was a real gem of a find. We have only started working with him recently, and hope to continue to do so. We’ve been impressed with his art- and with his ability to interpret the script into some stunning art.

SD/ZZN: How grand of a scope is there for the story of B & G? Is there one definitive beginning and end, or is there wiggle room for some offshoots along the way?

JL/BaG: We’ve always loved the Marvel and DC universe concept. We have the story written in three acts, but there’s a ton of room for growth. Not for the sake of milking it like The Hobbit movies, but to branch out the world. We don’t want to give too much away, but perpetual Samhain stops time itself, leaving everybody trapped in night that never seems to end. Time really isn’t an issue at that point.

DH/BaG: The story we want to tell with Blood and Gourd has a definite three act structure.  It’s fast, wild, and comes to an epic conclusion. That being said, we’ve created a rich and full universe around the story- one that could be harvested for all kinds of offshoots and spin-offs. We wanted to tell an exciting story that leaves the reader wanting more. We’d love to be able to tell more tales from this universe, and we think readers would like those stories as well.

SD/ZZN: Do you see this becoming a print book, or could there at least be a collection down the road if things take off?

JL/BaG: It’s been our dream since day one to hold a print copy of Blood & Gourd in our hands. We want something a kid can read under the covers with a flashlight. We’ll be doing a limited run of promotional, printed comics sometime in May. A signed copy is one of the funding perks on our Indiegogo campaign. We hope to have a collection together by next Halloween.

DH/BaG: Yes. Oh, yes. Blood & Gourd will be a printed comic book someday soon.

SD/ZZN: What are a few pieces of classic horror that really spoke to you and influenced the creation of B & G?

JL/BaG: EC Comics, Eerie and Creepy magazines, Mars Attacks trading cards, movies like Creepshow, The Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Creeps, and (the original) Dawn of the Dead. Of course, Stephen King and HP Lovecraft have their slime-dripping, bloody tendrils all over this thing too. It also stems from a dissatisfaction with the state of modern horror. Horror needs more than torture-porn, monster romance, and the grim, grey world of survival zombie stories.

DH/BaG: Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, MST3K, and some creepy flicks like Psycho, not to mention the real classics of horror with Bella Lugosi and Vincent Price. Along with the movies and writers Jenz mentions, a lot of my writing queues come from the sci-fi greats: Asimov, Phillip K. Dick, Heilein, and H.G Wells.  Comic book wise, I’m a huge Batman fan and love Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.    

SD/ZZN: Are there any current comics, or particular writers and artists, that you follow and draw inspiration from?

JL/BaG: Eric Powell is a national treasure and I love Neil Gaiman to death.

DH/BaG: Robert Kirkman is a must mention. I have recently started following Dirk Manning, and really like his approach to writing comic books.

SD/ZZN: As new comic creators, what have been some of your learning curve moments so far?

JL/BaG: Somebody once told me that you may get those first, five pages done, but good luck with the last five. A great, dependable artist is hard to find and worth every penny. Also, I was more of a control freak intitally. Now I let the artist draw from the script their own interpretation, we make some tweaks collaboratively, and we’re good to go. It seems to work really well. Promotion is a pain in the ass! There’s a sea of really loud people out there and it takes all your energy to keep pounding away. You better really love what you're doing or you’ll run away screaming. Hell, you might anyway.

DH/BaG: Dude. I feel like I’m working on a graduate degree in comic book creation.  The last five months have been especially full of learning moments.  Successfully taking a product from cradle to market is not an easy task. My clearest learning moments have happened while talking with comic book store owners. These guys had seen their share of would-be creators fail and stall out mid-project. Jenz and I have managed to make sure our project survived long enough to get past the stage where most people seem to give up.  

SD/ZZN: With some great penciled pages and new art coming at a quick pace now, do you see yourselves hitting the convention circuit this year?

JL/BaG: That’s the plan. Our stretch goals on the Indiegogo campaign will focus on coloring the first 30 pages and getting us on our way.

DH/BaG: One of my life goals is to sit at a comic book convention with some posters and a few print copies of this comic book.  I feel like we’ll hit a few conventions this year, and may be real tour rats in 2015. 

SD/ZZN: What would be the band/song/album to provide the soundtrack for your Gourdpocalypse?

JL/BaG: I write characters and scenes based on certain songs and/or bands I love. If Blood & Gourd were a movie, the title sequences would kick off with Cecilia Ann by The Pixies. I’d definitely throw some Zero Boys, Bad Brains, Stooges, CSS, Cramps, Black Flag, Fugazi, Melvins, Minor Threat, The Replacements, Young Evils, The Blow, Santigold, Sonics, and since it takes place in Olympia, WA – some K and Kill Rockstars shit too. Blood & Gourd is very much an angsty, fun, punk rock comic book.

DH/BaG: The Venn Diagram of Jenz’s and my musical taste would have some overlap- and some non-overlap. For me, the soundtrack is The Misfits (Glenn Danzig), Whorehouse of Representatives, "Zulu Death Mask" by Deadbolt, with some Mojo Nixon for travelling music.  The Reverend Horton Heat might be playing at the farm when it all starts happening. The dark moments of the night would be set to Metallica’s “Call of Cthulu” or some weird droning Mogwai track.

SD/ZZN: Thanks so much for answering our questions!

And be sure to check out the Blood & Gourd Indiegogo page soon, 'cause tomorrow at midnight PST *poof* you're out of time!
Blood & Gourd Indiegogo page
Blood & Gourd on Facebook
Blood & Gourd on Twitter

And if you want to check out more of my insanity:
My posts as "Surfin' Dead" on Zombie Zone News
Surfin' Dead on Facebook
Surfin' Dead on Twitter

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