Friday, October 2, 2015

Flashback: Top 10 Zombie Comics To Rot Your Brain

(This is a flashback to my very first piece on Zombie Zone News (from April 27, 2010) and I will be sharing some of my other favorite posts from that site in the future. I would stand by this list today, with just a few additions...)

Anyone whose mother ever said “Those comic books will rot your brain!” knows a thing or two about decomposing gray matter. So, how wonderfully appropriate to talk about some of the best zombie comics out there! The great thing about zombies is that they could potentially pop up anywhere – all you need is a glowing comet passing through Earth’s atmosphere, an unexplainable gas cloud erupting from an underground fissure or some good old-fashioned biochemical engineering gone wrong. And there have been multitudes of books out over the years, fitting every possible locale and time period, so where to begin? Well, let me suggest my ten faves and we can go from there.

1. The Walking Dead (Image Comics, 2003-present) I almost feel bad for numbers 2-10 by including this book, because it leaves a hell of a legacy to live up to. Any non-anthology horror comic to reach issue #50 (let alone #71, which drops April 28th) is remarkable. In 2003, writer Robert Kirkman introduced the world to Rick Grimes, a small-town cop who wakes up in a hospital shortly after zombies have begun their reign of terror. As Rick finds his family, they discover more survivors trying to find somewhere secure to start a new life. But is there any safe harbor in a sea of the undead?

This book proves that storytelling can create just as visceral a reaction as any graphic gore. Done in a sleek black and white style, Dead has made readers plenty squeamish both with and without visual flourish - Tony Moore’s art set the standard with the original story arc, and Charlie Adlard has been doing a fantastic job since he took over (way back on issue 7). Often, we are more shocked at what the living are willing to do when societal conventions fall away than we are at the obvious behaviors of the undead. And Kirkman’s willingness to kill off any of the title characters if the tale veers that way has left many stunned jaws hanging open. This October, TV viewers will be invited into this world as well – AMC has picked up a six episode first season that will adapt Dead for the small screen.

2. Living Corpse (Zenescope Entertainment, 2007-present) – What happens when one of the ranks of the undead suddenly becomes self-aware and gets a rush of memories from his previous life? You get the hero of the book…duh! Searching for redemption while struggling with his need for human brains, The Corpse has become a gatekeeper for our world. He tries to keep out all the demons and beasties as they try to pass into our reality, and he may even hang out with Frankenstein’s monster now and again…not that he’s trying to name-drop or anything. Currently in talks to jump publishers, the title is still in full production on its big screen transformation – the Living Corpse movie is tentatively scheduled to release in October 2010 in 3D.

3. Zombie (Marvel MAX Comics, 2006-2007) – A revamp of the campy ‘70s B&W magazine Tales of the Zombie, the retelling presents title character Simon Garth as a bank robber with a conscience. Enter the military (complete with crazy scientist!) and some canisters of “experimental gas”, and I think we all know what happens next. This book sets up Garth’s transformation into a self-aware zombie with a penchant for saving people as he travels the world. Like the old Hulk TV show, but with more biting…,204,203,200_.jpg
 4. Victorian Undead (DC Comics/Wildstorm, 2009-present) – This utterly entertaining “Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies” story isn’t even finished yet (the final issue drops April 28th) and it’s in my top ten – which should tell you something. It turns out that even a plague of the undead can’t squelch the rivalry between Holmes and his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty. If poor Watson can keep from soiling his britches long enough, I think Holmes may just have the upper hand.

5. Jesus Hates Zombies (Alterna Comics, 2007-present) – The story starts out in the anthology volume Jesus Hates Zombies: Those Slack-Jawed Blues, giving a glimpse of why the Son of God would hate ANYTHING, let alone smash their skulls in with a blessed baseball bat. And with faith waning in this post-apocalyptic backdrop, Jesus was lucky to find a true believer…even if it comes in the unlikely guise of his zombie sidekick, Laz. The two continue to kick butt in the four- part sequel Jesus Hates Zombies, Lincoln Hates Werewolves: Yea, Though I Walk, in which they pick up more misfit sidekicks and gain an adversary of formerly angelic proportions…

6. Marvel Zombies (Marvel Comics, 2005-2006) – So, what if Spider-Man decided to gnaw on your brainpan instead of trying to save you? Who better to answer that question than Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman (who wrote the first 2 mini-series). In this universe, the zombie virus seems to target superheroes – and regular folks should probably learn to run really fast.

7. Zombie Tales (Boom! Studios, 2005-2009) – Following in the footsteps of such infamous horror anthologies as Tales From the Crypt and Creepy magazine, this collection of shorts began with a series of prestige format one-shots, and eventually morphed into a 12 issue series. The various issues boasted such industry giants as Keith Giffen (Lobo) and Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). And with zombies as the stars of every tale, how can you go wrong?

8. Zombie Highway (Digital Webbing/Bughouse Comics, 2003-2007) – Mouse, Kuji, Tag and Yeti are four unlikely traveling companions transporting a mysterious stolen package to a shady buyer. But when the dead begin to rise, somehow these jokers become mankind’s best hope. And zombies aren’t the only ones after them - there’s a creepy hitman (who just happens to look like he stepped out of a ‘50s sitcom) with his pregnant zombie wife, the lawmen they’ve pissed off along the way and a fairly innocent looking fellow…who happens to be able to mystically transform zombies into demonic “hunters”. The boys better watch their backs – especially if Yeti never finds a pair of pants. It would suck to face down the zompocalypse in your tighty whities…

9. ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worms (Dark Horse Comics, 1997) – Mike “Hellboy” Mignola wrote this retro EC comics style tale of a Hyperborean mummy (Azzul Gotha) determined to sacrifice mankind to ancient worm gods. Enter a heroic team of adventurers and scholars as they try to thwart his plot. But alas, Gotha's zombie minions would be loosed on humanity only to return in future mini-series set in that universe. If you thought the creepiness and gore were absent from Worms, the follow-ups provided both in spades…

10. Living With Zombies (Goat Head Publishing and on the web at, 2005-present) - Imagine a mashup of Clerks and Night of the Living Dead, and you’re pretty close to the plotline of this book. This supremely indie comic is the comedic story of two friends (and their faithful sidekick, Poop Dog) who had spent a lifetime watching zombie flicks and preparing for the inevitable undead uprising were proven right. Ahhh, the joys of finding your first abandoned chainsaw, and slicing through some revenant giblets… could there be anything more exhilarating? And, god help me, one of the book’s main duo is another character who enjoys battling undead hordes while not wearing pants. Is that two too many in one Top 10 list?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Red Stylo & Hellcat Press Are Having Open Comic Anthology Submissions!

Okay, all you aspiring comic book creators - now's your time to shine! There are two comic anthologies in the works right now, and they're looking for submissions from you. One is going to be filled with stories about a very specific rock club, while the other will be tales of horror crafted by all female creators - and both have the potential to be utterly fantastic books! So how do you get involved, you ask? Keep your pants on, kids...all will be revealed below:

27: A Comic Anthology by Red Stylo Media

This antho will contain stories based on rock'n'roll's famous "27 Club". What's that? Well, it's not half of Studio 54, if that's what you were thinking. The 27 Club isn't actually a place at all, but rather a group of rock legends. It's all spelled out pretty clearly on the submissions page, and here's a snippet to give you the background:

Stars burn hot, bright and then go out forever, but their light shines on for ages after. Members of the “27 Club” reached musical stardom early in life and died too young– specifically, the tender age of 27. Some of the club’s more famous members include Jim Morrison (The Doors), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), and Amy Winehouse.

This new book is following hot on the heels of Red Stylo's previous anthology, Killer Queen - which very lovingly collected tales based on Queen and Freddie Mercury. This proves that they know how to be reverent to the real-life musicians who provide the muse for the stories, yet create a brand new landscape for them to play in. Red Stylo have also allowed creators the opportunity to explore the worlds of Shakespeare (Shakespeare Shaken), Edgar Allan Poe (Poe Twisted) and Frankenstein (Unfashioned Creatures). I can't wait to see what they come up with for this book!

The deadline is Februray 15th. I'm providing the submissions link below and, as usual, you should read the guidelines fully. That said...go make some comics:
And be sure to "like" Red Stylo's Facebook page to keep updated on all their news.

Dark Lady by Hellcat Press

Founded in 2014, Hellcat Press may be fairly new to the scene - but that doesn't mean they're unfamiliar with comic anthologies. Co-founder Lindsay Moore has had stories featured in the first three volumes of the horror antho Hellbound (published by River Bird Comics, a Boston Comics Roundtable production). Her passion for the project has me convinced this is going to be one to keep an eye on. And the cute pictures of kitties on the Hellcat web site certainly didn't hurt...

What's the skinny on the book itself? Lindsay sent me the following to give you the basics:

Hellcat Press is on a mission: to produce a horror comic anthology by October 2015. We are currently accepting submissions for our premier, all-female horror anthology, “Dark Lady.” If you are a woman with a horror story to tell, then Hellcat Press wants to hear it! For more details, please see:
Far left: art from "Dolly" by Lindsay Moore & Alex Cormack. Far right: art from "Garbage" by Lindsay Moore &     Donna Peters-Martinez with Joey Peters

The deadline is February 1st - and again, make sure to completely read the submission guidelines. This one is pretty self-explanatory on the "all-female" portion of things. So, guys - just wait for the next sign-up, okay? Be sure to check out the rest of the web site while you're there, and give the Hellcat Press Facebook page a like while you're at it!

That's all we've got for now, folks! When the books are finished, hopefully we'll have a more in-depth look on Strange Kids Club...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hartford Comic Con 2014: Weird Tales From Cons Gone By

For the inaugural year of Hartford Comic Con, it was certainly packed with geeky goodness - so much so that my Q & A over at Strange Kids Club was bursting at the seams and had to be split into two pieces! I'm proud to present the second part of that here on my dusty ol' blog, where guests from the Con recount...weird tales of Cons gone by:

Rich Woodall - Artist Alley Comics (Kyrra: Alien Jungle Girl, Johnny Raygun)

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Rich: Best Con Experience: The first year I was doing Johnny Raygun with my Partner in Comics, Matt Talbot, we set up at Wizard World Chicago. We had a great time, but the highlight of the show was hanging out with Erik Larsen until 3 or 4 in the morning talking about Jack Kirby and comics in general… and then we drove him to the airport and he told us about the next 2 years worth of Savage Dragon story lines.

Worst Con Experience: Man, it's hard to pick a worst… I generally love going to cons, and don't see the negative in much, but if I had to pick a worst, I think it would have to be sitting next to a guy selling a book called Jacques Da-Cock and screaming the title every time someone walked by… trying to sell an all ages book next to that was kinda rough.

Weirdest Con Experience: I once complimented a Buffy shirt as someone walked by. The couple took that as a sign to stop and pitch Matt and I their Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scooby Doo Fan Fict. This might not have been so bad if they took turns pitching, but both were very excited and pitched at the exact same time. So, for 5 minutes all we heard was high pitched noise with the random character name thrown in there. After the pitch Matt looked over at me and said "don't EVER complement anyone again!"

Jack Purcell - Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Jack: My best con story was in NYC where I sold a beautiful splash page before the show started, got to be part of a project announcement with Stan Lee and got offered a part time job teaching at RISD CE (*Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education). An amazing weekend!

Mark Frankel - Wayward Raven Media (Signed C: The Missing, Horsemen)

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Mark: Let me preface my answer with the statement that I truly enjoy talking to the all the folks who go to cons, no matter who they are or what they are into. I'm a little unusual, as are the other guys in Wayward Raven, so I love attending conventions and hanging out with folks who are as passionate, nerdy and excited about comics and the conventions as I am. I'm there to sell, but I'm also there to have fun. Without the awesome people we meet at these things, I can't imagine I would still be doing it. Every now and again, however, there is that one person you just can't reach.

The first time I exhibited, we had a guy come up to us and ask if we wanted to buy his novel. Not buy it to publish it, but just buy a copy. I think he was asking $30 or $40 bucks for it. I don't think it was bound normally either (although I'm sure any number of places would have done it for him. Kinkos or Staples for example), just a general stapled together manifesto. I only recall ever seeing the one copy too. I tried to politely decline, explaining that we were there to sell books, not buy them. He visited us off an on for the next couple days, still with the one copy. I guess no one else was buying either. Maybe if he only wanted five or ten bucks someone would have taken it off his hands. Or not, who knows. I have not seen him since, I hope that with some guidance it has worked out for him.

Joey Esposito - Footprints

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Joey: The worst, and coincidentally weirdest, con story to date is from Comikaze Expo a few years back in LA. It was the first day of the show, still early in the morning, and a gentlemen came over to my table to browse my wares; specifically Footprints, a black-and-white noir comic that was feature prominently in my setup. He flipped through it a bit, thought for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and said, "This is exactly the kind of book I wouldn't order for my store." He walked away after that. So that was pretty weird. 

Ken Kristensen - Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth, Indestructible
Todd The Ugliest Kid Facebook Page

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Ken: The thing that always amazes me at cons is when hardcore Superman fans come up and ask me to sign Superman Returns movie posters. I was in graduate school when I served as location manager on that movie --and I worked my ass off. So it feels good to be recognized years later, but it still blows my mind because it's not like I'm the writer or director. That's one of the great things about fandom -- getting recognized even if you were only a small part of something.

Slade Wilson - Cosplayer (Deathstroke & Chameleon)

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Slade: Well at Free Comic Book Day, a Ghostbuster used my kali sticks in a not so nice pose behind me.

Ryan Browne - ZombiePETZ

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Ryan: Probably the best was last year at NYCC, getting the chance to meet Stan Lee. He's the reason most of us do what we do. He is a great man, humble beyond belief! One of the weirdest experiences so far isn't really weird as much as it was surreal - getting to meet The Crow comic creator James O'Barr, who is one of my biggest influences. I spent a solid 45 minutes talking with him while discussing everything from his past writing stories to how he doesn't tend to do sketches anymore at conventions. While chatting with him he was doodling in his book and when he finished he had a huge 11x17 crow sketch that he gave me as a gift. I am still to this day speechless. As far as bad experiences I haven't really had any yet (fingers crossed). Hopefully I won't ever have anything bad happen at a con.

Jason Deeble - Monster Haiku

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Jason: My first time selling my books was at a dog park. It was some kind of dog parade or dog festival. I can't exactly remember. I know I had a table out in a field and it started snowing like crazy. I think I may have sold two books that day. I felt like a rock star.

Alex Cormack - Oxymoron

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Alex: I’ve had a lot of good times at cons to really nail down one. Meeting people, seeing friends, traveling, but one of my favorite things is to meet people face to face for the first time who I have been working with through emails.

The worst, well... hmmm... I’m not sure if I have a worst story yet, there’s been a bunch of things that people would do to get on my nerves but nothing too terrible and nothing too interesting.

But weirdest, well that’s another story! One time I was drawing sketches for people in books we were selling of your basic characters - Spider-Man, Batman, etc. - and this one guy asked me to draw a self portrait in his book. And as I was drawing myself, he started to criticize the drawing telling me that my eyebrows were thicker, or that my nose was bigger and so on. Another time I was at a show with, at the time my girlfriend now my wife, and a guy came up and asked us to sign pictures of ourselves that he found somewhere on the internet. The last one I’ll mention is a guy I met on a Free Comic Book Day and I asked if he would like to see a book I was selling, and he began to yell at me that God is dead and that his no good ex-wife did not understand that and that’s why they are separated, then stormed off swearing. But anyways it’s all a part of the fun.

Adam Miller - ZombieBomb, Hartford Comic Con Coordinator

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Adam: A couple years ago we were working on a book called ZombieBomb. It was a horror anthology and ended up being a pretty good ride for a bit. At the time we were selling books and having fun and had gained a little real world notice for it. A filmmaker named Tom Bennett took interest in us and started documenting our adventures for a web series. At a convention in Philadelphia, Norman Reedus (of Walking Dead and Boondock Saints fame) showed up at our table very excited about the artwork he saw. He payed us a nice compliment and quickly returned to his booth. It happened so fast we were all caught a little flat-footed and never got footage of him visiting us. We regrouped and found Reedus again a short time after. We asked him if we wouldn't mind appearing on our show in support of the book, and he said he'd happy to do it. Once turning the camera on, Tom asked him to say a few words - the catch being that Tom thought his name was Sean Patrick Flannery (his Boondock Saints cast mate). Upon us confusing their names, Sean Patrick Flannery, who was standing just feet away, caught wind of it all and ambushed us. He jumped in and began making fun of the whole situation, and all on tape no less. Both actors were amazingly good sports about it all and despite having a little egg on our face, we landed on our feet and got a great segment out of it. It eventually become our most watched video (YouTube link) and is still one of my all-time favorite con stories.

Frank Malec - Mashups, Designs and Tees

Juano's Addiction: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Frank: My best con story is that I've pretty much perfected the art of getting into any panel I want to see at NYCC with out having to wait in line. It doesn't work for main hall though...

Matthew Fletcher - Station Studios

Surfin' Dead: What's your best/worst/weirdest Con story to date?

Matthew: Weirdest Con story?  Haha, that's an easy one!  Early in my career, when I first starting doing sketches at shows (but still didn't know any better), a college-age kid comes up to our table and asks if I do commissions.  "Of course" I said "What are you looking for?".  Mind you, I wasn't getting nearly as many opportunities to sketch at shows back then so I was eager to draw and make some cash in the process.  As he starts pulling out an incredibly thick manila folder from his backpack, he excitedly answers "Well, I was hoping you could do a drawing of John Mayer!"…...All I can remember is my brain tripping and falling on its face.  

Of the list of hundreds of possible superheroes, villains, or pop culture icons that could have come out of his mouth, this was definitely not one of them.  

Am I a fan of John Mayer's music?  Hell, no.  But, I'm relatively familiar with who he is and what he looks like.  Am I thinking it's a little weird that this kid wants a John Mayer sketch?  100%!  But who am I to judge? 

I figured I'm decent with likenesses anyway, how bad could it be?  So, my brain picks itself up off the floor and I say "Sure, why not."  

What happens next is where the nightmare begins. 

He of course is ecstatic (My guess later was that no one else was stupid enough to take this on).  

He asks if I know the song "Waiting on the World to Change".  I tell him that I had heard of it.  He then goes on, AT LENGTH, telling me how much this song means to him and how this song changed his life.  How the world is a terrible place with so many awful things happening for no reason and that we can all change the world.  Now, don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful sentiment that I think many people share, and I very much appreciate how special this song is to him.  HOWEVER!  This conversation just went from weird to creepy in a matter of seconds and I'm starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the personal information being shared with me.  

Next, as he hands over the incredibly large manila folder filled with reference photos of John Mayer, he tells me exactly how the piece should be laid out.  "I want John to be sitting in a throne.  With rockets on it.  In outer space.  And for him to be floating in front of the Earth.  And I want the Earth to be cracking open and exploding, with the words 'Waiting on the World to Change' written below the exploding Earth."


We've just gone plaid people!

This is literally the worst commission idea I've ever heard!  Every ounce of my body is screaming for me to say "NO" to this, but for some reason my head keeps nodding, and the word "yes" keeps coming out of my mouth.  The kid finally walks away and I'm left staring blankly into the crowd with drool coming out of my mouth.  My buddy is looking at me dumbfounded and asks, "Did you agree to do that?".  With a look of horror, I turned to him and nodded.

I then spent the rest of that day at the show, that night in our room, and most of the next day at the show, drawing and coloring that piece.  

In the end, I charged way less than I should have for a piece that complicated, and passed up at least 5 other sketches that weekend while working on it.  On top of all of that, because he wanted to save money, he opted for me to do the piece on 9x12 instead of 11x15 which is incredibly small for a piece of that description.  Especially considering that I was expected to capture someone's likeness.  In all honesty, telling him "No thank you" really would have been better for both of us; because what he asked for was a sketch of John Mayer floating on a rocket throne, in space, in front of an exploding Earth with the phrase "Waiting on the World to Change", but, what he got was a sketch of a man that kind of looks like David Boreanaz floating on a rocket throne, in space, in front of an exploding Earth with the phrase "Waiting for the World to Change".

The moral of this story:  Thank god "Your Body is a Wonderland" wasn't his favorite John Mayer song.

A big thanks goes out to all who participated! Here's hoping next year is even bigger and weirder...

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 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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio was NOT taken down by stomach cancer. Here's how I know:

Dio was the only one with the iron sac to take the vocal reins of Black Sabbath after Ozzy departed. The rumors that Mr. Osbourne only left Sabbath because of a "mystical bitchslap" laid down by RJD's personal wizard only makes it more impressive.

Not only did he popularize the infamous "devil horns" hand gesture that is a heavy metal staple, he also beat the devil's ass and told him that he was taking HIS horns away. That's how he rolled.

RJD consorted with witches, slew dragons and fought off hordes of demons with little more than his own voice...and possibly a giant sword. Don't believe me? Check out this video, and you may change your mind:

That's how I know it couldn't have been stomach cancer, an evil that couldn't be fought on the fields of battle. He deserved to go out in a glorious fight, making the landscape quake with his thundering voice before meeting his equals in Valhalla. And that's the end I choose to remember...

R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010). You will be remembered well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's True Kids...Daddy's Been Moonlighting For Zombies

You may have heard rumors that I've been writing for some crazy zombie web site. I'm here to tell you...that it's true. I know, you're wondering why I would stop fighting the hordes of the undead and start creating fluff pieces to promote them.

Rest easy kids - it's called "deep cover".

I've set myself up as a zombiephile with the handle of "Surfin' Dead" on the Zombie Zone News web site. I've even written my first piece about the Top 10 Zombie Comics To Rot Your Brain. They've begun to trust me.

And that's how we'll win. Pretty soon, I'll have the locations for all their undead tea parties or curling matches or...y'know, whatever evil things these revenant bastards like to do. And then...kablooie! No more nasty yellow teeth trying to gnaw on your giblets!

Don't worry, I'll be back soon with more craziness on Juano's Addiction. I might even tell you about all the crazy dreams I've been having...