Alan Robert Talks Killogy
Byon Nov 8, 2012
Earlier this week, we posted our review of Killogy, Alan Robert’s follow-up to the horror-comic classics Wire Hangers and Crawl to Me. To further flesh out our Killogy coverage, Robert agreed to talk with Chiller about his inspirations for this horrifically hilarious genre outing.
CHILLER: How did the idea for Killogy first develop and what was the process of finding/determining your main cast?
AR: Last winter, I found myself in the home stretch of finishing up my Crawl to Me series for IDW. I was in such a groove drawing everyday that I just didn’t wanna stop. I was kickin’ around the idea of trying something completely different for my next series, you know, throwing a bit of dark comedy into the mix. Crawl to Me was such an emotionally heavy and serious book that I was really looking forward to tackling a series with a different feel.
I grew up on The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Tales from The Crypt. I also loved Stephen King’s Night Shift, a collection of his short stories. From that, I felt inspired to create my own series of bizarre self-contained short stories. With Killogy, I expanded on that idea a bit by establishing three isolated stories that connected its characters within a larger, overarching story arc. Even before the last issue of Crawl to Me was published, I pitched IDW my Killogy concept and they green-lit the series right away and we put a deal in place. At that stage, no celebrities were attached to the project.
A few months later, I began creating the character designs for Killogy. The three main characters consisted of a Mafia hitman, a down-on-his-luck street-wise gambler, and a crazed young female killer. I purposely wanted the characters to look very different from each other. I knew early on that personality-wise they would have very little in common with each other. In my mind, their visual separation would help reinforce the tension that would grow quickly between them. A few weeks into the design phase and I started to realize that my characters looked a whole like the celebrities I ended up approaching. I suppose my love for Scorsese movies and The Ramones had a lot to do with that, eh?
I had never seen a creator-owned series like this done before, you know – using the likenesses of celebrities to “play” characters in an original comic series, so I wasn’t sure what was even entailed with getting legal permission from these stars in order to move forward. I reached out to one of my film-producing partners, Jeff Mazzola, who contacted Frank Vincent directly (the two had known each other from back in the day, they had done a movie together) and Frank showed interest in Killogy right away. He had done some voice-over work recently for some video games and animated films, so starring in a comic book intrigued him. I sent him a proposal and he loved the idea right off the bat.
Getting Marky Ramone involved was a similar chain of events. I met with him in person at Sirius XM Radio where he hosts a punk show after a mutual friend from the music business introduced us. I pitched him the concept and he immediately dug the idea, especially that his character used a baseball bat as a weapon. The last piece of the puzzle was Brea Grant. Chris Ryall at IDW connected us. She had written a horror comic called “We Will Bury You” the year prior, so I knew she was a horror fan and she showed interest right away, too.
One by one, they all signed on and I was able to move forward with the idea. I tell ya, it was an unbelievable feeling to accomplish that feat. I feel that the use of their likenesses rounds out these characters and adds a whole other dimension to the books. On a fan level, it’s so much fun to interact with these guys on a regular basis, sharing artwork with them and hearing their enthusiastic reactions about it. It’s a lot of fun for me, as you’d imagine.
CHILLER: What were their reactions when first seeing the finished product?
AR: Amazing! They were thrilled with it, really, which was a big relief for me. I don’t work with a hard script… just more of a loose story outline. So each of the celebrities put a lot of trust in my storytelling abilities. When the cast actually read their characters’ dialogue for the first time, in panel, they were all super excited about how it turned out. I actually had dinner with Frank shortly after issue #1 was completed and he was truly impressed. He couldn’t get over the artwork and how I captured him. He really, really enjoyed it and that made me proud.
Afterwards, when I put together the animated trailer for Killogy, that was another highlight because the stars involved really saw the potential for it. It would be very interesting to see this comic one day evolve into an animated show using the actor’s voiceovers. Like an edgy cartoon for adults or something. You never know!
CHILLER: You have a very distinct art style that remains intact here, but the color choices are much more pronounced than in your previous work. What was your visual approach to this project?
AR: From the very beginning of the project, I made a very conscious decision to adopt a new art style for Killogy. I didn’t want to repeat myself. I wanted to try a more stripped down pulpy feel, reminiscent of an old rock concert poster or something. I retrained myself to draw in the months prior to starting issue #1. It was important for me to establish a new style and stick with it throughout the series. It was a huge challenge for me and certainly a bit of a gamble to switch things up just as Crawl to Me was gaining fans and momentum. But, I felt that if I was going to draw real people in this, I didn’t want them to be hidden behind textures and digital lighting effects; a style I used for my two other titles. I wanted this book to look gritty and realistic, which is the main reason I’m using heavy shadow work, a ton of fine detail, and a very limited desaturated color palette. I think that all of those elements combined help to create the world in Killogy.
CHILLER: After this arc plays out and each of the leads have their stories told, what are your plans for the Killogy brand? Would future arcs pair various actors in different genre scenarios or would you continue the story begun in this universe?
AR: I would love to continue with Killogy with more stories. If I were to move forward with it, future volumes would incorporate three new stars with three new stories. But it would be cool if it took place within the same world established here in this first series. I would really enjoy eventually building it up to several volumes, where you might have up to nine extremely different celebrities interacting with one another in this bizarre world. I think that would be very cool and interesting.
CHILLER: There's a distinct change in tone here from Crawl to Me and Wire Hangers. What prompted that departure and what were the challenges/rewards with exploring and expanding your voice as a storyteller?
AR: Let me say this. I love Quentin Tarantino. I think he’s one of the best storytellers out there. Killogy is basically my attempt at creating an original comic series that incorporates a lot of the qualities of a Tarantino film; strong meaty characters, extreme dark comedy, uncompromising violence, and the addition of timeline jumps that move the story forward instead of detracting from it. Once Killogy is finished I’d love to send him a copy to see what he thinks. Tarantino is probably my biggest inspiration in the creation Killogy.
The success of Crawl to Me and Wire Hangers gave me the confidence to try something this bold and different. I admit, this was a huge undertaking. Drawing the likenesses of some of my childhood heroes was very important for me to get right. These characters couldn’t just resemble Frank, Marky and Brea. They had to be them. I spent a lot of time researching and watching interviews of each of the stars to ensure I got their mannerisms just right. If a single panel lacked the essence of any one of them, I’d immediately scrap it.
Also, communicating directly with the stars on this project fueled the high standards I set for myself. I wanted to represent these guys in the way their fans (including myself) would want to see them represented in a gritty comic series. Killogy is a completely different approach for me stylistically, artistically and as an author. The challenges I face while creating each issue may seem daunting at times because I’ve taken on all roles in creating it; writing, penciling, inking, coloring and lettering. But because I’ve taken on all of those responsibilities, the reward is that much greater when it’s complete. Anyway, whenever I find the pressure getting to me I just throw on Goodfellas and watch Frank’s “Now go get your shinebox!” scene. That always makes me laugh and everything falls right back into place.