You are the creator of the horror comic 'The Werewolf of NYC'. What is the main theme of the story? How is New York depicted in the comic?
The theme for The Werewolf of NYC is desperation. The need to be relevant in the world, and taking drastic actions to receive attention by people you will never meet. The main character Albert Shaw is an overweight werewolf that has shut himself away from the world living in a one room broken down apartment in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. After decades of isolation, he views an illegal underage sex tape (without his knowing it to be illegal), regains his evil nature and begins to prowl the streets of New York City.
This New York City is set in the 1980s. It was a time of high crime, vandalism and corruption. I chose this time and setting to bring a New York City that was disgusting and ruthless. To get more of this environment, rather than mimic an old age look to the comic, I actually printed the story on classic newsprint. The type of paper comics during the 1980s were actually printed on. It brings an authentic low quality VHS feel to the comic to turn against the current high digital press quality, high def, BluRay feel or the faux vintage look.
What aspect of visual story telling do you enjoy most?
It would have to be the prep work. The sketches, the research and mental preparation for the project. Whenever I create a project, such as The Werewolf of NYC, I research heavily on the time period of New York City and take on the actual characters mentality to get an insight of his mannerisms and goals.
For researching the time period, I would visit NYC's Public Library microfilm center and pull out news articles to find out what was happening during the current events of the time. All to get the mood and tension felt during the time period for Werewolf of NYC, being August, 1984. I would also find out particular dates to use as background information to give visual clues rather than simply stating the date. Actual weather reports helped as well, bringing a detail I may have ignored and gives an extra detail into the story and how I should write for the character.
Mentally, I would live out the characters thoughts and shaped my body to get the understanding of being overweight. I put on 40 pounds of fat which made me extremely depressed. A lot of the images seen in the comic are referenced from pictures of how I actually looked. The 'cottage cheese' look of the style wasn't a gimmick to be different but how I actually felt. Sweaty, oily and falling into a downward spiral.
What is your opinion on the American cultural climate?
I think we're stuck. We're in this rehash or new nostalgia productions. Updating nostalgia hoping to relive a certain point of our lives perhaps when happier. I myself suffered from getting involved with too many of these kind of projects such as anniversary shows, tribute shows and such.
I don't see many experimental or "dangerous" thinkers in comic books or film. It all has this sense of safety and "Michael Bayism", "Hipster" money driven mentality. I just don't believe or see any passion behind the work that is being produced. But, I do see a light of hope at times, as people become more aware of the what is actually being fed to them. It's like a tidal wave passed by with greats such as Gary Panter, David Mazzucchelli, Alan Moore, Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Ivan Brunetti and Jerry Moriarity, and at the moment we're going through the roll back of that wave for the next group of talent that will bring excitement into everyones hearts.
You have worked on the comics version of The Simpsons. What have you learned from that experience?
Working with the Simpsons was a great experience. For most of my career I've been an independent creator not policed by editors or art directors. My time with the Simpsons helped me understand that side of commercial publication and creation that lead to some other great projects in the mainstream with Big Yellow Taxi inc. developing mobile applications. But, I'm a nail and hammer kind of guy that needs to get dirty from the creating process. A kind of Grindhouse mentality with comic books I hope will have a rebirth soon.
If you could be a character from a comic, movie, series, game or book, who would you like to be?
It would have to be Mad Max. I love those movies and character. I've always had a dream of escaping to the desert and living a lonely life. It's my heaven.