Posts tagged Interview
Back in June we did an interview with Liz Manashil about the music video for “You’re So Pony”. It may have taken longer than we would’ve liked, but here is part two of that, with artist Beth Thornley.
1) How long have you been working as a musician?
I took piano lessons as a kid, so it feels like I’ve been working as a musician my whole life. Even if I was making a living as a waitress, music was always a part of my life. But, regarding making a living as only a musician, that’s only happened in the past 3-4 years as I’ve been able to get songs licensed to TV/film.
2) Where do you get inspiration for your songs?
Everyday life and people watching; sometimes love relationships, but mostly just general life.
3) What was it like working with Liz for the video? Did you collaborate much or mostly follow her vision for what the video should be like?
Working with Liz was great because she was always available to listen to my thoughts and concerns. She had the vision about the overall concept so she took the lead. I had confidence in her and in her ideas.
4) What are your plans for the future? Any new projects we can look forward to?
I am recording an EP and hope to have it ready for release soon. There will be 4 songs on it. I thought it would take less time to get an EP recorded (as opposed to a full length LP), but alas, it seems to take nearly the same amount of time!
Thanks to both Liz and Beth for agreeing to do these interviews. You can find the video for “You’re So Pony” here.
The Nerds in Babeland resident music nerd (that’s me!) recently had a chance to interview Emii, star of the music video for Mr. Romeo feat. Snoop Dogg! The video intrigues me because of the obvious video game influence (plus it’s damn catchy, if I do say so myself). We talked to Emii about martial arts, working with Snoop Dogg, and general nerdiness. Hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
1) I hear you’re trained in martial arts. What type are you trained in and how long have you been doing it for?
It’s been about thirteen years since I began, but I’ve definitely taken breaks since music has always been #1. I’ve taken Wing Chun, Northern Shaolin, American Kenpo, and Tae Kwon Do. I am currently training in Muay Thai and Boxing and would love to try Brazilian Jiujitsu when I can make the time for it. I’ve always had a passion for training and learning about different martial arts styles.
Some videos of my current training:
1) …up with the sun, there’s no school like old school.
2) Even early mornings can be fun.
2) You also used to work in a comic shop. What was that experience like for you? How have you found it connects to your music, if at all?
When I worked at the comic book shop in NYC, I would work all day, go to the studio to write and record all night, and then I would head straight back to work at the comic book shop the next morning. Comic books were a huge source of inspiration for me when I was young, and they still influence me positively today.
3) You worked on the music video for “Mr. Romeo” with the legendary Snoop Dogg, Can you tell us how that came to be and what it was like? Any good stories from working with him?
After writing “Mr. Romeo”, my producer and I were tossing around the idea of someone adding a bit of magic to it. Snoop’s name had come up, but really… how the hell do you get in touch with Snoop Dogg? Well, insanely enough, the day I was recording master vocals for the song, the owner of the recording studio came in and he loved the vibe. He happened to have Snoop’s manager’s number in his phone. From there, Snoop heard the track, loved it, and here we are today. Snoop was a pleasure to work with and the coolest cat I’ve met in music so far.
4) The video was designed to look like the Final Fantasy video game series. I will admit not knowing much about hip-hop, but I would imagine this is quite unusual. Whose idea was that and how easy was it to implement?
Actually, much of my fashion sense is influenced heavily by Final Fantasy, Assassin’s Creed, and other similarly-styled video game / science fiction creations. The music video itself was vaguely aesthetically inspired by the 1986 fantasy film “Legend”. I wanted to create a music video that not only told the story of “Mr. Romeo”, but reflected on my own personality and interests. Thankfully, my team is also extremely creative and together we were able to create something that I am proud to share with my beautiful fans.
5) I heard you once held the Hammer of Thor during a tour of Marvel Headquarters. Can you tell us anything about the tour or how the experience felt?
For one, I really did not want to let go of that hammer! Never in my entire life had I imagined that I would get that experience, and I was in grateful awe the entire time I was there. Agent M showed me around and introduced me to some amazing people, and at the conclusion of the tour my publicist looked at me and said, “That was a highlight of your career, wasn’t it?”. Yes, yes it was.
6) I like to end every interview with this last question – Here at Nerds in Babeland we like to nerd-out about things. What is something you like to nerd-out about?
ANYTHING Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, video games (mostly old-school Nintendo/PS2/PS3/XBox 360), sci-fi/fantasy/horror novels, anything martial arts related, and most definitely anything technology. I think that covers the basics for me.
Guest Post/Interview conducted by Chelsee Yee. Yee is a marketing intern with Overturn. She is a sophomore at Seattle University majoring in Journalism, with an additional interest in Criminal Justice. She enjoys reading Stephen King novels and watching horror flicks on the weekends.
Chelsee Yee: How do you manage playing the multi-role of being the director, producer, actor,
screenwriter, and composer for Overturn? It seems like a difficult and stressful task to
accomplish. Do you have a secret to facing this challenge?
John Deryl: There is no secret. But there is something very important. It is a real passion. My passion is to
make Overturn a high quality project. That is why I do so many different jobs. Every day I face
many challenges, but I know that eventually I will win because only I can limit myself. Other
people, no matter what they say or think, do not really influence my decisions. I do not like to
waste time on something cheap or trivial, and being the leading actor, screenwriter, director,
producer, and composer helps me control every aspect of the series and make sure that it
satisfies my demands for high quality.
CY: What can fans expect from Season 2? How does it compare to Season 1? How many
more seasons will Overturn run for?
JD: Overturn is unpredictable. There will be many surprises in Season 2. Undoubtedly, fans will
feel the same captivating atmosphere from Season 1, but in the new season, Overturn changes
dramatically. New characters, unexpected plot turns, beautiful fighting scenes and much
more will absorb them deeper into the world of our story. As for the number of seasons, I can’t
tell you exactly how many of them we will create. But I can say that the concept of Overturn is
so global that the series will have a multitude of subsequent seasons.
CY: Overturn holds the title of being “the first international sci-fi mystery web series.” Do
you plan on using other languages or subtitles in your show?
JD: Yes, our show is unique for having a cast and crew from different countries. We are using
other languages in it as well. For example, in the first season, Philippa Peter who plays Lisha,
spoke some phrases in one of the Nigerian languages. In Season 2, our audience will hear
Russian. Of course, we are planning to dub the show in other languages. We currently have
subtitles available for the audience. By the way, our fans help us a lot. They volunteer their
time to translate subtitles into their own languages, so that people of their countries can
watch the show on our website.
CY: As the cast and crew are all representatives of different countries, have their been any
language barriers or obstacles on set?
JD: Good question! There have been many quite amusing situations. A big part of our crew
is Russian speaking since we are filming in Ukraine, but many of our actors do not speak
Russian. Sometimes they cannot understand each other, but eventually, somehow they are
able to cooperate and listen to each other. By the way, I can open a big secret! One of our
leading actors, Konstantin Gerasimuk who plays the Servant, is Ukrainian. He does not know
English at all, but in the second season, you will see many scenes where he does speak English.
It is not a voice-over! Our crew is amazed! We translate his lines into Russian. He understands
their meaning, memorizes English lines and without knowing the language speaks them. He
looks like a person who knows English! It is magic!
CY: How did you come up with Christopher Gabriel’s character? Do you relate to him in
many ways? How would you overcome the fear he faces?
JD: I look at Christopher as a part of the story. He is deeply connected with everything in the
world of Overturn. As the show goes forward, the audience will realize how logical his life is
in the context of the story. I can understand his feelings of being not apt to this society. He is
deeply honest and vulnerable, but in this society people like him suffer because of the lie and
cold they see everywhere. Ordinary people use those things to protect themselves, but he is
far from being ordinary, so he cannot do the same thing. He is a mystery to others because
his inner world is very rich. On the other hand, he really has his inner fears which have deep
roots. I would say you cannot overcome your fears, but you can use them. By that, I mean you
have to face your fears. There is no other way.
CY: The caption for the show is, “His dreams are the key to the answer.” Do answers usually
come to you in dreams? How much trust and dependence can we really have with our
JD: Sometimes answers or at least clues come to me in dreams. It does not happen very often, but
when it does, I am glad. As for trust and dependence, I think everyone has to decide on their
CY: Are there any other side projects that you are participating in? If not, do you plan on
creating another web series?
JD: Currently, Overturn is my only project, but I have done other things in the past as well. Those
have been parts on film, TV, and stage. I am not planning on creating another web series right
now, but I am always open to well-developed, high quality projects.
CY: What has been the best experience so far in filming Overturn?
JD: I think the best experience happened last Tuesday when we were shooting in Feofania Park.
It is one of the many beautiful places in Kiev, the city where we are filming Overturn. The
atmosphere of the place was so calm and different from that of the city. There was no wind
and everything was foggy, so the whole crew felt like they were in another world. It was a
magical place and magical moment, and we filmed two charming scenes. Those kinds of
moments make you want to keep going no matter what!
I first discovered Johnny Zito and Tony Trov when I reviewed Moon Girl issue 1 about 6 months ago. Fantastic comic book, stunning art. As is custom for nerds, I googled these guys, tracked them down on Twitter and kept an eye on them for new comic announcements. I was super excited to see tweets popping up in the following weeks from them announcing they were producing an independent horror movie in their home base of Philadelphia. Johnny and Tony are the founders of South Fellini, an “intellectual property studio“. I asked the guys to give Nerds in Babeland readers a little inside info on Alpha Girls and what it was like producing a horror film.
Alpha Girls is about a sorority house with demon issues. Can you elaborate a bit on what we can expect?
JZ – There’s a coven of witches and they make a pact with a devil-ish monster that feeds on death. Every sacrifice grants them untold power and wealth. After a hundred years the craft has gotten watered down and all that remains is a crumbling sorority built on the old traditions.
TT – The story really focuses on the new pledges, four girls who discover there’s some truth to the old ways. They set out to make their wildest dreams come true and it costs them dearly.
JZ – We shot the whole thing in Philly at an actual frat house that’s over 120 years old. So there were all these creepy rooms to explore.
TT – It was supposed to be like Susperia but I think it turned out more like Beetlejuice. Can’t wait for the edit.
Besides you guys, are there any other comic book community names involved in this project and what do they do in comics?
TT – Christine Larsen (Kung Fu Panda, LaMorte Sisters), Paul Maybury (Strange Tales, DOGS of Mars), Mark Fionda (Carnivale De Robotique) all contributed demon art to The Charter; a supremely holy book of voodoo and black magic. This was the book all the witches kept their spells in. They passed it down between graduating classes. A lot of the art contributions will be on screen.
JZ – And the Alpha Girls Movie Poster was done by Rahzzah (Moon Girl) in the style of a classic, 80’s horror films. Alpha Girls is at least a lil inspired by that B Movie era of horror films. It’s what we grew up on. So, we plan to release a REALLY limited edition run of VHS copies. Rhazzah’s art will grace the cover.
Alpha Girls was partially funded by Kickstarter. What was that experience like and did you find it as supportive as you’d expected?
TT – It’s been fantastic. The idea that we can pre-sell movie tickets for $20 is very appealing. It could change the way movies get made for the better. No one has to ask “how did this get made?” because you’ll know. You green lit it.
JZ – The Kickstarter is still going; 27 (editor’s note: at publishing, 15) more days left to pledge in exchange for really cool rewards. The aforementioned Poster, VHS Copy, Props from the film and copies of the soundtrack are all up for grabs.
TT – The movie is already shot; every frame is backed up on 4 hard drives and magnetic tape. Each copy is kept in a super secret location below the Mason-Dixon Line for safety. All we have to do now is put it together.
JZ – The proceeds from our Kickstarter will go to post production costs; hard drives, dedicated computers, mastering the sound track, ADR, sound design and digital effects.
You’ve also been blogging the entire process. Was that more for your own documentation and enjoyment or something you wanted to do for your followers?
TT – There was so much amazing stuff going on all the time, it was really more for us. If we weren’t taking a million photos and vids, we might forget how much fun we had making it.
JZ – Almost everyone on the crew blogged or tweeted, it was a group effort. Follow the hash tag #alphagirlson to see what everyone is talking about. And behind-the-scenes content is part of the film making process. You can rent a movie on Netflix but you buy the DVD for the extras.
Was there any specific inspiration for this film for either of you? Anything in particular that made you feel like THIS movie had to be made?
JZ – This is a very personal story for us. It’s about college and all the mistakes people make trying to fit in. We like to play with stories about the cost of friendship.
TT – Writing Alpha Girls felt different from any other project we’ve worked on. It started out as an idea for a comic but during the process we fell in love with the characters.
6. Are both of you lifelong horror fans, or was the interest born of some other venue/experience?
TT – We are pop culture obsessed. We grew up consuming cable television; Saturday morning cartoons, music videos and movies of the week. Really we’re lifelong fans of the weird.
JZ – In the last few years our interests have gotten further off the beaten path. Once a month we get together with friends for Shit Movie Fest and gorge ourselves on bad horror and cheesy sci-fi.
What were some of the biggest challenges in getting this film produced?
JZ – Feeding people is a huge undertaking; an army runs on its stomach. We were working 15 hours a day and keeping people healthy is top priority. I learned so much about nutrition and body chemistry. You can literally reanimate a person with a spoonful of peanut butter and a shot of vitamin water.
TT – The heat was the worst part. We’re under a dozen lights trapped in a giant mansion with no air conditioning. And as it turned it out this was the hottest July of all time in the history of the world. A new record high temperature was shattered every day. At a certain point we even had a kiddie pool on set just so people could dunk their heads and eat popsicles.
JZ – Everyday was awesome for completely different reasons but the first time we got to see all four actresses in their pledge uniforms stands out to me. It was 5 days into production so we’d done scenes with one or two actresses in costume but not all four. The pledges all wear matching uniforms and pink, argyle sweaters. It was surreal seeing this image we had in our heads for months suddenly brought to life. Trov and I slip behind the monitor and you can’t see the dance of lights, camera and boom pole going on around the actors. It’s a movie all of a sudden. Very exciting.
TT – Shooting around Philadelphia was amazing. There are so many locations to explore past The Museum of Art. Everyone around the city was very supportive and encouraging. It really feels that people are excited to have films shot in their neighborhood.
Is Alpha Girls your first feature film project? Has the experience motivated you to try another one in the future?
TT – We’re addicted. Plotting lots of projects now.
JZ – Chew coffee. Make movies.
I know Alpha Girls filming just wrapped up. When can we expect to see it and how can we find it?
JZ – The Kickstarter wraps up on September 6th and we hope to have a lil teaser trailer before then. Maybe some clips by NYCC and a finished product by SxSW.
TT – After that we’d like to find a home on Netflix/Hulu/On Demand. We love the internet distribution model; it’s done right by us in the comic book market. We’ll do collector’s edition DVDs and VHS for… collectors.
Would you like to tell us what’s next for South Fellini?
TT – Mystery!
JZ – Adventure!
TT – La Romantica!
JZ – DANGER!!!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite local musicians, Alyson Greenfield. The interview took place the same day as her performance at the Hillstock Festival in Brooklyn, NY. The following video is audio from our interview with photos I took during her performance at the festival. Editing of all materials was done with the help of Steven Wagenheim.
And here is a bonus question we did at the end.
If you live in/near the area, please come to her EP Release on July 18th at Mercury Lounge. A free copy of the EP is included with purchase of admission if you tell the door person you are there to see Alyson Greenfield. As a preview, here is a video I took of Uncharted Places, which is the song mentioned during our interview.
Thank you to Alyson for agreeing to the interview, and thanks to Steven for his editing skills.
Liz Manashil is the director of the music video for Beth Thornley’s song “You’re So Pony”. We asked her a few questions about what it was like being a female director and what she likes to nerd out about.
1) What inspired you to do this video? Especially, what gave you the idea to have adults play the kids and kids play the adults?
To be honest, I was really really bored. When I was in film school, I always had projects to look forward to and wrap my mind around. After graduating, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was at my day job and put on Jersey Shore to distract me. I heard the song and something took over. Even though I had never directed a music video and had only heard the song once, I just found Beth’s website and emailed her and asked if she wanted a music video for “You’re So Pony.” I got really lucky as Beth is pretty much the coolest woman in the world. Regarding the concept- When I heard the lyrics “you’re so pony” I kept thinking about that cliche the little girls all want to own ponies. I interpreted her song as her liking her mate as much as a little girl would love a pony– I felt the song was an expression of childlike enthusiasm. Thats what prompted the concept of an inversion of ages. Beth is an adult but she’s singing about tapping into energy that only a child can access. To make it more fun, we brought the ages up a little bit because who doesn’t love an awkward spin the bottle party?!
2) What is the process like working on a music video like this?
The process of making the music video was much like every other project I did at USC film school. Compiling a crew, setting the dates, asking questions- Constantly being in communication. Beth and I had phone calls and emails all the time. They were great because she really was respectful to the process but also helped morph the concept into what it is now- a project that I am so proud of and love! This project came together inch by inch and email by email. We were so fortunate that a lot of people were willing to take pay cuts because it was an opportunity to work on something that will actually get seen by an audience. Beth has a loyal and active following. Most of all, I felt a lot of freedom in working on a music video because I had always been so tied to documentary and dialogue based films. This process was an opportunity to let go and trust the camera and editing and the concept (along with the amazing song Beth wrote) to tell the story.
3) What was the experience for you as a female director? Are there any special challenges with that?
I haven’t really faced the problems of being a woman director yet. I have been warned by a lot of men in the industry that I’ve been lucky and that kind of discrimination is still out there. My cast and crew were there and listened to my vision and were right there to suggest alternatives if things weren’t working or to trust me when I knew they would. I really grew up on “You’re So Pony.” My AD Michael Callahan saw me struggling on set one day and pulled me aside and told me to trust my instincts. That’s something you really need to do. So I struggled more as a shy nervous director than as a woman.
4) What other projects have you done recently? Can you tell us about any differences working on those projects?
I just finished my second feature script and am sending it out- its a darker romantic comedy about the lack of importance of mental stability in order for a romance to survive, it’s called “Bread and Butter.” I’d love to do another music video and I’m currently looking for bands and looking to collaborate. I also am a director and on-air reviewer for www.justseenit.com- a great movie review webisode and I work for fabulous TV director Michael A Simon!
5) Last question is a bit off topic, but… Here at Nerds in Babeland, we like to nerd out about things. What is something you nerd out about?
In addition to my obsession with the movies, I’m a big oldies nerd. I love the Beatles (of course) and I’m a big big Buddy Holly fan. I’m just a huge huge dork about oldies. My boss, during downtimes, will play “Name that Tune” with me and he’ll play the opening seconds of a 60s or 50s song and I usually identify right off the bat. But 90s? Not so good.
That concludes Part 1 of our interview. Part 2 will be with the artist, Beth Thornley. You can find the video for “You’re So Pony” here.
First off, I must apologize to the wonderful Andrew Rostan and Dave Valeza for the delay in posting this interview. This interview was conducted months ago and I am extremely sorry for the delay in publishing it. Life gets in the way far too often of those things we enjoy doing the most. Regardless, the book is available for purchase and this will just serve as a reminder that if you haven’t picked up An Elegy for Amelia Johnson yet, there is never a better time than the present!
You can read some excellent reviews of this book on Geek Girls Network, Guerrilla Geek, and even here on Nerds in Babeland. I was fortunate enough to get a chance to speak with the author, Andrew Rostan, and one of the two illustrators, Dave Valeza, many moons ago about this fabulous book from Archaia Entertainment.
Stephanie Wooten: This book is amazing because you start reading it and you have a certain thing in mind about what it’s going to be. It’s a story about cancer, you expect to be bawling by the end of it, but it’s actually really, in the end it’s pretty uplifting.
Andrew Rostan: That was exactly our intentions…We want to tell something really positive about humanity.
SW: Funny little side note, my roommate and I just saw King’s Speech last night and we were saying that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of stuff out right now that seems to be positive about humanity.
Dave Valeza: I think you see it more in indy books, because I think a lot of mainstream books and things like that, they’re, I guess for lack of a better phrase, they’re trying to sell something else like action or a franchise or something like that. It’s definitely harder to find stories that are just…slice of life, something that is a little more raw, and something, I don’t want to say basic but something that is more fundamental in what it’s trying to express.
AR: I can agree with Dave, there….It’s kind of funny that Dave brought up the whole point about superhero books. When Stephen Christy (Archaia’s Editor-in-Chief), when he and I started working together, one of the rules he kind of laid out for me in the beginning was don’t write a superhero book. Not that superhero books are bad, I get a kick out of them, but I was constantly trying to write something opposite, and I know that Dave’s artwork is as far away from the DC/Marvel/Jack Kirby kind of thing as you can get. We’re very happy with how it turned out.
SW: I know that in the press release it says that this is not auto-biographical at all, correct?
AR: Not at all
SW: Where did the story come from?
AR: This is something I’ve told so many people and will probably tell so many more people about before the year is over, but the truth is Stephen & I got to know each other in college and after graduation we both moved to Los Angeles. He went into comics right away and I started writing. One day I called him up and chatted and he said, “Andrew I want you to write a book.” He always thought I was a good writer. Don’t ask me why. It was kind of tough at the beginning because I kept coming up with notions of what I thought the comic book or graphic novel should be and Stephen had to keep very gently telling me that my original ideas were pretty bad. And then, one day, we’re wrapping up a meeting at this Panera in Santa Monica and I asked him, “Stephen, what kinds of stories do you want to tell?” And he told me that he wanted to tell a story about love and time and as I was walking back to my car, thinking about love and time, death just popped into my head…It’s very hard for me to tell a story that doesn’t have a happy ending…So I find out if I could get a happy ending out of death, it would work. And I thought, what if death could lead to life in the sense…that somebodies’ death kind of helps two people fall in love?
After that, a whole story just kind of started to fall into place. Though, very little of my original draft is similar to the final product and part of that is due to the joy of getting to work with people like Stephen & Dave. Also because things just kept growing the more I realized the potential of what I had to tell, the more the story just opened up, and it was about three months after that when I finished a draft outline that Dave joined.
DV: I was actually called in because Stephen & Andrew had seen my work at a SCAD art anthology (Savannah College of Art & Design). They saw my work in the 2007 (or 2006 whichever) anthology and they were able to contact me through that. And they sent me the outline and it sounded great so I signed on.
SW: So you always wanted to do comic art, then? Or this sort of comic art?
DV: I actually went to SCAD and graduated with a bachelor’s in illustration and I had a minor in sequential art, and I have a lot of friends who were in the comic department and I really enjoyed the classes there. I also really enjoyed the Illustration Department there, they’re both really great departments, but I found when I graduated that I really just wanted to do comics more. It’s a lot of fun, I get to work with ideas a lot more, it just felt more in-depth. I could really, I guess to use a metaphor, I could sink my fingers into the clay deeper and mold things better. It is just really thrilling to work with a story. When they first approached me, I was turning around and was going to go get my Masters in sequential art, but it was definitely a lot all at once. But it is still really cool, I’m really grateful that they asked me to be a part of this. It’s been a heck of a ride I guess.
SW: You guys have been working on this since 2006, correct?
DV: Longer for Andrew. I’ve only been on it since 2007, but yea that sounds about right.
AR: I’ve been through actually a really remarkable process….I spent the last 5 months of 2007 working on a really good outline…Then, in ’08 I sat down and started writing a script, page by page, and probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten was from Stephen after I turned in my first draft. I’d never written a graphic novel or a comic book before in my life. I’d just looked at a few simple pages of scripts from people like Mark Millar and Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, and I was like, ok, this is how you do it, and went from there. And Stephen told me, after he’d gotten my first draft, that if he hadn’t known these were first times, that he’d think I had been doing this for years.
I wrote the book, Dave started illustrating it…and I was just ecstatic that somebody this good was drawing to go with my text. Then it was at the tail end of 2008, and it was almost ready to go and Dave took it in to one of his workshops at SCAD, right Dave?
DV: I took it into one of our studio classes at SCAD. In grad school everyone is working on their comic projects and I just have opportunities, you know, I have all my peers here, let’s get some feedback on it. And, they really liked it but they did point out that there were some story speed bumps and things like that so I went back to Stephen & Andrew with their critique and we decided that we had to actually go back a little and do some re-writes just so that everything would flow a lot better. So, it was definitely a little unorthodox.
AR: This was in February of ’09 and my computer had just crashed and I had a friend and roommate, Mike, who let me use his iMac and I spent two weeks, almost, just writing, hours a day, every day I wasn’t at my job, and in that time, I think I completely revised 68-70% of the book and what came out was better than ever. I know I’ve not written anything that well before…I was completely re-writing dialogue, re-ordering scenes, rearranging panels, and it kind of beat me up a little bit. We, all of us knew, that whatever we were doing, it was only going to make the book the best book it could be. So at the end of this, I was slightly creatively drained but getting the first feedback from Stephen made it all worth it.
DV: That final re-write, that’s the book that you read last night and it’s really great. And over the process, I actually had to step back just because it took a little longer and I had to take care of some personal things and that’s when we brought in Kate and Kate was actually in that class that critiqued the rough draft.
AR: I never knew that until now!
DV: You didn’t? Yea, she was right there in the front row, and I dunno if she remembers, it was awhile ago, but I’ve seen her work in person. I’ve been in classes with her, she’s really talented, she’s really amazing and it shows in the work. She’s got a really great style. It’s very fluid, I want to say kinetic but, it’s just really flows really well. It was a really good fit that I think when I had to step back (we were talking about this in another interview) they had asked me how’d you feel about that, because when you’re an artist everything is your baby, but, I took confidence in the fact that I knew who I was handing it off to so I didn’t have to worry about that. For me, I think the biggest thing was just having to step back because you’re on a project for 1-2 years and you really want to see it through but it definitely was on it’s way, and she helped bring it to finish and, we all did, it is just a really great work.
AR: I’ve been Dave’s biggest fan, I have nothing but immense admiration for him, and I was really a little devastated when we had to pick things up here again, but Kate is a genius and a powerhouse. When I started getting her pages in, I had exactly the same reaction I had with Dave. I’m like, this is incredibly beautiful and I’m just so grateful at the way things worked out. I can’t say enough good things about Kate.
SW: It does, it flows nicely. It seems like the ultimate collaboration, everything just works so well together. All of the art, the story. You guys are carrying on an amazing tradition that I feel Archaia is already setting up. This is another really strong, awesome graphic novel coming out from this company. You’ve already seen the review from Newsarama, but I agree that this is definitely one of the books people will be talking about this year.
AR: Thank you!
DV: Thank you, that’s a great compliment. It’s so funny, I told Andrew and Stephen this before, it is so unreal to be giving interviews. I look at these websites, I’ve read them ever since I was a sophomore in college and reading about comics and then there’s your name and it’s just so unreal. It won’t be real until I hold the hardcopy in my hands and, like, oh this is really happening. You’re just working on it for so long and it’s something else. And then, you’re just excited but you’re not, I guess, aware of how things are outside of it, so that’s a really great compliment. Thank you.
AR: I just want to add, I also feel, we both feel very fortunate that Archaia’s publishing it…I think about what Archaia’s responsible for, things like The Killer, Mouse Guard, and Return of the Dapper Men. To be mentioned in the same breath of books like those and the rest of Archaia’s output is just startling.
SW: To the story a little bit, how much of yourselves are put into the characters in both the illustrations and the story? Andrew, you are also a screenwriter, how much of yourself are in these characters?
AR: I just want to clarify one thing, I use to be a screenwriter, not anymore. That was an immense help, but from now on I really want to stick with more graphic novels. But, in terms of how much this book is me personally, the emotional content of the book are things I’ve thought about and dealt with for a long time, but the plot has almost nothing to do with my life and the characters are definitely not. In fact, one of the reasons the book reads so well, is that Stephen made me do one revision where all I did was work on characters and dialogue and make sure that none of them sounded like the other.
SW: That’s not easy to do.
AR: I’ll be honest, some characters were based on people I have known in my life and known very well. I’m not mentioning any names right off the bat. Henry and Julien are based on people I know. Amelia is a combination of several remarkable women I’ve known throughout my life. I took qualities they have and mixed and matched them into one person. And most of the other characters didn’t have specific analogues but once I fully formed Henry and Julian and Amelia’s persona, I just started matching what kind of people they would interact with and bounce off of and this whole world just opened up. In terms of what’s autobiographical for me, it’s mostly the philosophy of the book. It’s the most autobiographical part of it. Questions about love and life and death.
DV: Andrew wrote a really great story and these are really great characters because I definitely, when I was just reading the outline, when I was just starting out, I definitely could identify with what the main characters go through, or like when you look at the characters, especially Henry and Julien, they’re both really accomplished people but they’re still, they’re very insecure, they’re very unsure…I think it’s just something I encountered in school a lot, especially grad school too, you find a lot of people who, they’ve been a lot of places, they’ve done a lot of things, but it’s sort of this question you have in your youth, am I doing enough, or more importantly, am I doing the right things. You wonder and you smack everything against yourself as a person that you can’t even move forward. So, that’s something I can relate to a lot, because I feel like you’re always trying to find out where your place is…That’s definitely a theme of his that I really related with. The other theme that really resonated with me that Andrew has going is that all the people that we meet are so different, they’re so, they’re all coming from different places and they have all these great qualities about them and they’re really endearing people and it really reminds me a lot of my friends and, like with Amelia, all these people, they’re close to her in her heart but they’re not physically close to her. They’re all over the country and that’s sort of like me and my friends. We all graduated and we’re all scattered to the wind and they’re not here but I think about them a lot and I think about what they’ve taught me. And that applies to college when I would think about my family. And that definitely resonates with me, how people affect you and what they leave you with when they’re not there anymore.
SW: You guys hit the nail on the head with regards to these types of characters, especially characters in the art world in general, writers, artists, photography, that whole world.
DV: Andrew planned a lot of good moments, and they’re sprinkled throughout. We’ve all felt alone in a room where you had to leave and go somewhere so that you can get emotion out. We’ve all burned bridges and had regret. Andrew’s got all those moments throughout the book.
AR: During the period when the story came together, both periods actually, I was living in Los Angeles, and all of my closest friends were people who were trying to do things in film or television or theater or internet entertainment and we were all just a whole bunch of young people in our early twenties, really on our own mostly from the other side of the country, and in times like that you’re alone a lot because a lot of creativity is very solitary, but you also know you have each other because you all can relate to what you’re going through. My friends always meant the world to me, but they really meant a lot back then when I was out so far from home for the first time. I was still single, still unsure of what I was going to end up doing and, for a little while, where my next paycheck would be coming from and when. And in situations like that, watching certain people go through your struggles, and also watching them fall in love and break up with people and go through all these trials and losses, there’s no way you can keep that out of your life and I just combined so much, not specific examples of people lives, but things I felt watching life. Things I felt about myself and my relationship to the world. That, if anything made the book as realistic as you say it is, that was it.
SW: So what’s next for both of you?
DV: Right now I’m trying to work on smaller work, like short form comics like a web comic. I don’t have anything concrete. I just want to let my brain breathe for a little while. I feel really grateful and I’m definitely excited to see what’s next. I’m thinking of coming back and finishing school. I guess I’m going to play it by ear.
AR: In the last twelve months, I got my Masters degree, I got to finish working with Dave & Kate and see Amelia finally hit the presses and I’m in a relationship with an extraordinarily talented woman. And all of this has kind of re-‘fired’ my creative energy more than ever. I’m working on a few different projects right now. Stephen and I have been planning a second book from me for Archaia for quite awhile. We’re now in early development on a potential project, which I don’t want to talk about them too much…But also I’m doing a project on my own, I wrote one novel when I was in Los Angeles. It was very bad but I learned enough and I’m giving it another try. I’m working on a book and, basically, it took me about a year and a half to write what I have right now, but this could match Amelia as the best thing I’ve ever written. I don’t know what’s really next. I’m going to San Diego in a few months for Comic Con and I don’t know what’s going to happen there but I feel it is safe to say that you have not heard the last of me.
Thank you again to Andrew and Dave for taking the time out of their busy schedules for the interview and for their patience in waiting for this interview to go up. Go pick up An Elegy for Amelia Johnson. It is another excellent graphic novel from Archaia and worth all of the praise it has received!
If you could give anything to have your favorite sports team win their respective championship, what would you be willing to give up? Coffee? Smartphone? Laptop or tablet? What about your soul? Or perhaps the soul of your loved ones? There are people out there, people such as JR
JR is an
avid dedicated intense obsessed hockey fan and his beloved Chicago Blackhawks haven’t won the cup in 50 years. JR would do anything, and he means ANYTHING to have The Hawks win that cup, and as the series starts we see just how much is at stake.
The first episode opens up with JR in a dark room, the light of the TV flickering on is face. It’s game 6 of the Stanley Cup and his Blackhawks are down 2-1 against the Flyers. The Blackhawks are up by one game and everyone knows that you want to win it by six, that seventh game is a doozy. Perched on the edge of your seat, fists clenched waiting to see who takes it. It’s make or break time and JR has decided it’s time for him to seek help from a higher power. First stop is God, praying to the heavens for help. Asking the lord and savior if his divine intervention will bring success to his beloved team.
Some of you may already see where this is going…
There was no help from God so JR had to look for help in a different place. A place of fire and brimstone, of pain and terror… that’s right, he asked the devil. Clutching his hands before his face, praying that the Dark Lord will hear his pleas and grant him the one wish he’s had for the last 28 years of his life. And then… the buzzers sound – The Blackhawks HAVE WON THE CUP!
JR is ecstatic, every moment of his life was leading up to this moment. His beloved team has finally won. Life is complete.
Four months later and it’s life is normal. Noelle, JR’s girlfriend, still fights for his attention against the Hawks and still loses. There’s a moment where it seems like he’s ready to take their relationship to the next level, but he’s only getting excited over some blanket. And here’s where, as the title suggests, All Hell Breaks Loose.
With flashes of light and some gnarly wind Noelle vanishes. JR is at the mailbox outside, eagerly opening his prized blanket, noticing nothing else that is happening around him. Which is unfortunate as there are zombies, a mummy and a demon hanging around the neighborhood.
This demon is someone that JR will be relying on, but he doesn’t know that quite yet.
Which brings us to episode two. Instead of spoiling it for everyone, I’ll now share what I think of the series thus far.
I love it. I really do, and it’s not only because I watch hockey, enjoy supernatural themes or think that JR is adorable. There is some great writing and concepts, and hey these guys are looking to launch a whole new film genre! The lead character is completely believable as a hockey obsessed blogger who dedicates his life to his team. The fact that he has a loving girlfriend may seem surprising to some, which may mean you don’t know people like that in your own life. I do, and the girlfriends/wives are some of the most patient people I have ever met. Mind you I don’t think many of them have been damned to hell due to their boyfriend making a deal with Satan…
But seriously this series deserves a shot to be continued. I don’t know very many series that combine hockey, Satan, demons, witches – Roller Derby witches at that – skateboarding mummies, zombies, vampires and whatever else is to come with hilarious writing and great characters.
I was given the opportunity to talk to Jeff Hersh (JR) and Mark Kosin who created the series and I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard during an IM conversation.
*Please note that I am not an interviewer and I had a list of questions, plus the idea to try and let it flow like a conversation. That means I interjected with things that aren’t funny – basically let them run with it.
Jeff Hersh and Mark Kosin have joined the conversation:
Me: Bear with me, haven’t really done one of these before
JH: Neither have I but it’s the future and this is how things are done in the future
Me: This is true! OK – so I shall get on to some questions I guess. Aside from the hilarious bios where did Hockey + The Devil idea come from?
JH: It was a combination of ideas. I’m a huge hockey fan and Buffy The Vampire Slayer/horror fan, and it just seemed like there was not enough hockey meets horror stuff out there. Plus it took almost 50 years for the ‘Hawks to win the cup, so there had to be some black magic or devil work in there right?
MK: That was my summation
JH: So now you need to make a deal. But when making a deal with the devil to get your hockey team to win, you gotta wonder who the Devil roots for. It’s too obvious for him to be a New Jersey (Devils) fan… so clearly it’s the (Philadelphia) Flyers.
MK: Way too obvious. It makes a lot of sense when you put it all together. Especially if you’ve ever met a Flyers fan.
JH: Not that we want to alienate the good viewers from the city of brotherly love… much
Me: Did you two play hockey?
MK: I played street hockey when it got popular in the late ’90’s – the “we just saw Mighty Ducks 2 lets all get rollerblades” era.
JH: As did I! But I kept with it, roller hockey every day after school in the neighborhood and then I started playing some ice hockey.
MK: Yes, the Blackhawks did a really good job forcing kids on to other sports by never airing hockey games on TV.
MK: Sadly… don’t worry he’s dead now.
JH: I’m an Islanders fan, so it was always within the realm of possibility that I could play for them… they’ve been pretty terrible most of my life. Plus they make their backup goalie their GM… so anything can happen.
MK: I wouldn’t be surprised if you could win a spot on the roster by entering a fan contest with the Islanders.
JH: Because we have no fans? They are just laying dormant, they actually have the core of some great young players, they might just be like the ‘Hawks in a few years. And of course I’ll make a deal with the devil if I must.
Me: Ah yes thank you, back to this deal.
MK: Jeff’s Hockey tangents are the things of legend.
Me: Would you classify this as a black comedy?
MK: I‘d say its a “black arts” comedy, more than a comedy. We don’t kill anybody without a joke and always leave open the possibility that they can come back. In a funny way, not in a Jay Leno way… like a zombie.
JH: But JR is kind of a goof thrown into this where things have horror elements, and sillinesm but the characters are still pretty serious about what they want. Whether to eat brains, save his girlfriend or overthrow Stan.
MK: JR approaches every situation with a hint of absolute terror and child-like ADD.
JH: Well said.
MK: Its funny because when Jeff pitched the idea he immediately installed himself in the lead – which is a testament to his tremendous ego and that he was really the only guy to play JR. Your classic post-modern man child.
JH: I thought he was more of a beefy sexual dynamo leading man type.
MK: Right… we keep forgetting to shoot that “JR sweeps a bus of vampire cheerleaders off their feet” scene
Me: Maybe coming up?
MK: Hopefully – though I think it’d be funnier if they took advantage of him, making him even more of a hollow shell. It just fits the actor better that way… RIGHT JEFF?
JH: I’m sorry. I missed the last few IMs, I was doing push-ups.
Me: Or was the game on?
JH: It is, Bruins vs Rangers
Me: You have three episodes planned – will there be more?
JH: Well, the people will hopefully demand more. We made three as kind of a pilot for an ongoing series.
MK: We really want to see how these play – plus we have lots of fun “extra” footage of all our characters. I love episode 2
JH: It’s the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Sin Bin Saga.
MK: Yeah it’s much more emblematic of the tone we want to set for the show… it’s dark… and ridiculous.
JH: And there are Roller Derby Witches
Me: Anything you want to say for #3?
JH: It has it all… Epic chase, epic battles, epic love scenes…
MK: epic… epicness. Wait did someone use that tagline already? Episode 3 is when it all comes together in one big awesome episode.
JH: It’s the “Return of the King” of the Sin Bin Legend. JR is on skates during it, so it was dangerous to shoot!
ML: The night we shot the final scene everyone was on skates…
JH: Look ma! No helmet!
JH: No… sadly LA weather put the kaboosh on our ice.
MK: Plus it would have thrown the Roller Derby Witches for a loop, and those are girls you don’t want to get angry.
Me: So basically action packed
JH: With heart
MK: And a few scares
JH: And a laugh
MK: And a musical number
Me: All very good things… wait what?
JH: Umm… We didn’t shoot that Mark. Oh wait, THAT musical number.
MK: Well PART of a musical number.
Me: Well don’t want to give away too many spoilers. Is there anything else you would like to add?
MK: If anything we hope to be surprising… just like the Hawks! We just really want to make our mark on the “Hockey Horror Comedy” genre… by inventing it.
JH: We hope people enjoy the show. We’ve had a ton of fun making it and we want other people to have just as much with this new “Hockey Horror Comedy” genre.
MK: If people have half as much watching it as we had writing it, I’ll be happy.
Me: Well I definitely enjoyed what I have seen so far and this chat has been hilarious.
JH: Well thank you for chatting with us! We appreciate it and Go Canucks!
MK: Whoa whoa… Hawks may face them in the first round.
Thus ends an hilarious chat, and for the record at the time of writing this the quarter-finals are Canuck 2 vs Blackhawks 0 Big thanks to Jeff & Mark for their patience waiting for me to get the interview scheduled and for being so funny!
Watch JR battles the forces of hell: http://www.thefacepuck.com
Make sure you follow JR on Twitter to get the latest updates of his adventures (especially with The Hawks in the playoffs against my Canucks!) @JRTheFacePuck27. Also don’t forget to watch the video blogs the characters have posted. Even though I still haven’t figured out how Noelle is blogging from hell…
(Cross-posted with Geek Girls Network)
Stephanie: I was fortunate enough to head into my local comic book store in Los Angeles on the same day that they had the pre-release party for Return of the Dapper Men. I’d heard some good buzz about the book so I decided that I would treat myself. I was going to get to read it a full week before it was released and the concept seemed like a great idea. That was all the justification I needed. You can read my full review on Geeky Pleasures, but to put it simply the book blew me away. The story is amazing and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Dapper Men world in later books, but it was the art that truly blew me away. As soon as I finished the book I googled Janet K Lee and came across her Etsy page. I wanted to absorb any and everything she’d ever done and found myself wanting everything in her shop. As Katie so accurately puts it below, her art is so beautifully layered that everytime you look at a page you find something new. The very concept of decoupage seems so natural and perfect for a steampunk narrative that I couldn’t possibly imagine this story being told without it (and vice versa). Therefore, when I had the chance to interview Ms. Lee I jumped at the opportunity. What made the interview even better (if that was possible) was getting to geek out about this awesome female artist with a fellow badass female comic book nerd, Katie Doyle from Geek Girls Network. Comic books, geeky girls, and amazing art. Can’t get much better than that.
Katie: Until I read Return of the Dapper Men, Janet K. Lee wasn’t really on my radar. I heard of her, and I think I had seen a few odds and ends, but nothing big. When I saw the cover for Dapper Men, I was impressed. It was simple and clean, but very rich at the same time. Then, the book was released and after a couple of long weeks of trying to avoid hearing people talk about it/trying to find it in the first place, it was finally in my possession and holy cow. Before I even read the book, I just flipped through the pages. They were beautiful, deep, and layered in a way that kept me looking at the pages over and over again to try and see something new. Janet’s style is truly unique and is so obviously created with care and joy for the medium, that one can’t help but feel joyful looking at it. So when my friend Stephanie over at Nerds in Babeland gave me an opportunity to join in an interview with this amazing artist, I was thrilled to be able to contribute some of my serious and silly questions.
SW: What is your art background? How did you first get involved in illustration, etc?
JL: I’’d like to be able to list amazing schools where I studied to become an illustrator, but the truth is that I’m almost completely self-taught. My middle-school art teacher preferred a landscape drawing by my arch-nemesis Alanna Thornthwaite over mine, and I decided I was going to be a writer. So, I got a degree in English, went on to work in book publishing and sort of stopped drawing until after my son was born. Then I started exhibiting my work and eventually illustration found me. I was lucky enough to have two publishers suggest I submit work to their art departments and I had three amazing authors write stories inspired by my art.
SW: Your style is self-described as being based on decoupage. What made you go that route? In other words, inspiration?
JL: I come from a very, VERY crafty family. My mom used to make these pictures by cutting out the same image from multiple copies of the same card or print and layering them to get this 3-D effect. She also always expected us to make Christmas or birthday gifts for our friends or for each other. I think I was decoupaging things by the time I was six– coffee cans, wooden boards, just anything. When I began making art for galleries, I originally worked in oils. Then my son was born and having toxic paint around a very active baby seemed like a bad, bad idea. So I went back to drawing– which I loved the most anyway– and on a whim, started layering paper illustrations onto board and canvas.
KD: What are some contemporary artist in comics or otherwise who inspire you, or, whose work you just enjoy?
JL: There are too many! I’m constantly inspired! Let’s think of this as just a random sampling… I adore the work of Jon Muth, David Wiesner, Shepard Fairy, Chris Van Allsburg, Adam Rex, Garth Williams, Lisbeth Zwerger, Skottie Young, Craig Thompson, Doug TenNapel, Juanjo Guarnido, Shaun Tan, Colleen Coover, Adrian Alphona, Katie Cooke, David Peterson, Linda Medley. I just recently discovered Emma Van Leest, Yulia Brodskaya (because- QUILLING!), and Duy Huynh. I also LOVE classic illustrators like Magritte, Mucha, John Tenniel, Winsor McKay, and W. W. Denslow…
I’m only scratching the surface. There are so many people doing amazing work.
KD: What do you do while you work? Do you like to hum, whistle, listen to music, watch TV/movies, listen to books on CD, or do you work completely silently?
JL: In a perfect world, when I’m working I like to either play the iPod loudly and sing along or to tune the TV to really bad reality shows and half-listen while I work. Watched an entire season of Real Housewives that way…
KD: What supplies do you NEED to make art? What kind of paper, pencils, glue, lucky charm, etc..?
JL: Depends on what I’m making, of course– because give me a pencil and a blank corner of paper and I’m usually drawing something. For a decoupage piece, I need paper (Strathmore Bristol Vellum is my preference), a pencil (don’t care about the brand, but I like a light line, so the graphite should be hard), a good eraser, two black pens (a Faber & Cassell brush pen and a Micron .005), Prismacolor markers or watercolor pencils in all the colors of the rainbow, a pair of scissors or two, Mod Podge, a “glue” brush (meaning I don’t care if it does a horrible death), acrylic paint (usually housepaint over-runs), a board or canvas, and varnish.
Oh, and apples and coffee.
SW: How did you meet Jim McCann? Did you guys always know you wanted to work together?
JL: If I remember correctly, a bunch of us were invited out to eat sushi, and Jim was one of the other guests. At the time, Jim was working mainly in theater locally. We got to be really good friends years before I started showing artwork, so initially there was no plan to work on a graphic novel together. We did, however, make plans to be on that show Trading Spaces with each other since our houses were a mile apart!
JL: Jim always comes to Nashville to visit family during the holidays, and we always try to get together for at least a few hours while he’s here. When he visited in 2008, I had done a bunch of shows that year and there was art all over the house. One was this giant 6′ x 3′ piece called “Raining Men”. It was a sort of homage to Magritte with red-headed men in green bowler hats and mod striped suits raining from the sky over the roofs of Paris. Another was a drawing of a little robot girl. I has also made ornaments that year, and one was an image of a little steampunk boy with goggles and crazy, curly hair. Jim took the ornament and the robot girl with him and put “Raining Men” on reserve. Then, maybe two months later, I got an email from Jim with what ultimately turned out to be the opening sequence in Return of the Dapper Men, and explaining that the story was based around my art. What he had written was lyrical and beautiful– I think I emailed back saying it sounded like Neil Gaiman meets J.M. Barrie– and agreed to the project on the spot!
SW: Can you tease us at all about the next two Dapper Men books?
JL: I think it was last year that Jim was visiting for Christmas again, and I had drawn a little design element that I thought would be great as a background image. I was very fond of it– thought it was very cool– and I showed it to Jim. He immediately said “That’s our next two books!” That’s about all I can say at this point. Book two will be Time of the Dapper Men, and it’s scheduled to come out in the Fall of 2011.
KD: Do you have a favorite traditional fairy tale? What is it?
JL: Probably East of the Sun; West of the Moon. It’s creepy wonderful. In order to save her family from poverty, a girl becomes the companion of a great bear and goes to live with him in his magical palace where there are no servants but at the ringing of a silver bell, all her wishes are granted. Eventually she uses the bell to determine that the bear is actually an enchanted and handsome prince, but that by discovering his secret, she has doomed him to a terrible marriage. The girl then embarks on a hopeless journey to save her prince. How can you not love Cupid & Psyche/ Beauty & the Beast and a reverse Cinderella all rolled into one?
JL: Difficult question! I’d love to illustrate Wendy Darling from Peter Pan or the peasant girl from East of the Sun, West of the Moon. I’d love to draw Jane Eyre or Ann Elliot.
SW: Do you want to primarily stick with fairy tale/literature graphic novels or are you interested in going more down a superhero route later on?
JL: I really don’t want to limit myself in any way, and I’m more interested in the quality of the story than the genre. I wouldn’t turn down the right superhero project, but I wouldn’t want to only do superheroes either. I read very broadly– everything from graphic non-fiction and memoirs to fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales– so I’ think I’d get bored with just one thing. Or maybe it’s just that I have a really short attention span…
KD: You are an artist, but have you considered writing and drawing a book of your own along with collaborations? If so, what would you like to write about?
JL: I have actually have ideas for stories; my degree is in English rather than art, after all. I’d like to spend more time developing my storytelling and phrasing before I try a sequential book. But I started a children’s picture book a couple of years ago that I’ll finish some time. It’s about a boy named Hans and his goat Lucille.
KD: What is your favorite Crayola crayon color?
JL: Periwinkle. I love the color and the name.
SW: If you could go back and be responsible for a famous work of art, what would you want to call your own? In other words, if you could go back and be the one responsible for the Mona Lisa or a Michelangelo sculpture, etc etc.
JL: I’d love to have been responsible for Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images”– so clever. Perhaps “Lucia” or “Breakfast under the Birches” by Carl Larssen. Or maybe “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Vermeer.
SW: You have to pull an all-nighter. What do you do to keep yourself awake?
JL: I’m honestly not a great night owl– I seem to have a physical imperative to be asleep between the hours of 1 and 3 AM, so I’ll spend a week sleeping 3-4 hours a night if I have to in order to avoid the dreaded all-nighter. But sometimes it does happen, and when it does, I make sure I consume a couple of bottles of 5-hour energy and brew a pot of good coffee. I’l turn on the ipod– I like to make playlists for the project I’m working on and I have one playlist specifically for powering through the last couple of days when I’m dragging. When the ipod doesn’t work anymore, I’ll grab my drawing board and move to the den where I can watch bad TV. I’m partial to super-trashy TV at times like these, so I’m probably watching The Real Housewives of [insert city here] or America’s Top Model because I don’t REALLY want to pay attention to it, just have the noise for company. Works like magic!
SW: Do you watch a lot of TV and/or movies? If so, what is your favorite program and/or movie that came out last year?
JL: Oh, TV! Oh, movies! I miss you!! I got to watch almost nothing during 2010, I’m afraid. I missed Inception completely and 2/3rds of the animated films. How to Train Your Dragon was probably my favorite movie. As for TV, I love True Blood, Mad Men, and Walking Dead was awesome. Unfortunately, I missed big chunks of all of them because I was working while I watched, so I had to see each episode about 3 times to catch al of it. In 2011, I’m looking forward to Game of Thrones.
Thank you Janet!
We’ve all been there. It’s zero dark thirty in the morning, the faint glow of the moon coming through the window is blurry and unusually bright. You can sit, you can crawl, but the ability to walk from one place to another has become too much to handle. Oh yes, you’re shit faced, and while you may feel like death in the morning or whatever time you finally wake up, right now the only pain you’re feeling is hunger pain. Being drunk is pretty much the only time that you are given carte blanche to eat whatever the hell strikes your inebriated fancy. But what to cook? Here to help us in our time of need is the Drunken Chef. Not only are his recipes easy to follow for those with diminished motor skills, but they are tasty as well.
I was introduced to il maestro through a friend and immediately recognized his genius. His name is Jose, pronounced Hose (get it right people!) and he is revolutionizing the drunken cookery industry through a series of webisodes. So far there are only nine episodes, but I have personally tested out 3 recipes while drunk as fuck, and let me tell you this man has mad skillz in the kitchen. That’s right, skillz with a “z”. Jose isn’t limited to one style of cooking. The man doesn’t box himself in like that. One week it’s Mexican, the next Indian, and I love variety particularly when I’m 2/3 of my way into a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to sit down and have a chat with the legend himself. After the second bottle of tequila the interview was fairly unintelligible, but this is what I was able to make out.
F: How did the web series come about?
DC: I used to make frozen pizzas after bar time, then pass out while they were cooking. When I was able to stay awake, you know, if I didn’t have money, I’d have to make whatever was in the fridge. And I’m not into filling my stomach with any crap just to get full — I’m not Vegan, for Goddsakes — so had to experiment and make due. So, after I lost my job at the Sizzler and my girlfriend kicked me out of the house, I thought I’d make the show. It’s my passion, and it’s what I want to pass on to the common folk.
F: How much of the series is scripted and how much is improved? How much of your performance is acting and how much is actual drunkenness?
DC: That’s a secret. I’ll tell you this…there is alcohol on these shoots. There’s gotta be! We’re all about keeping it real. I eat what I make. Every recipe is tested and proven by myself.
F: What is your favorite episode and why?
DC: The Freedom Pizza episode, because that’s where it all started.
F: How many people are involved in the production and how much does it cost to produce each episode?
DC: I have a buddy who does camera, when I can get him away from his wife, which isn’t too hard because he’s bored in that relationship anyway, and a sound person, usually my “producer” who lives next to my old place (where my bitch ex-girlfriend lives with my cat — MY cat, Mr. Mistoffolees — and who I sleep with once in a while to piss off my ex). Either her or this burly African American friend when his car isn’t in the shop, which it always seems to be. And my 8 year old niece does the website.
F: Where did you receive your culinary training?
DC: Chuck’s in Fontana, Wisconsin, and L.A. Community College.
F: What is next for the drunken chef? Ultimately, what would you like to see happen with the series?
DC: I want to have it out with Anthony Bourdain and I want to make food for Rachel Ray.
F: Will there ever be an episode where the drunken chef goes to a sit down pizza hut?
DC: Why, you wanna go? Sounds like you’re asking me on a date. I’m down. I’ll scrounge up some quarters for the tabletop pac-man game.
F: What is the most difficult part of the entire production process and how long does it take to make one episode from coming up with a story to completion?
DC: The most difficult part? Dealing with all these normal-lites who are asleep at 3am when I come back and cook. We usually decide on what I’m gonna cook, then go from there. Or we visit fans or whatnot and see what they got in their kitchen. We shoot an episode in a few hours, then my “producer” cuts it in a couple of days.
F: What’s your favorite drink?
DC: Templeton Rye w/2 cubes of ice. And beer. And other whiskeys. Whatever’s free, basically.
F: You’ve already tackled Italian, Indian and Mexican food in the series? What genre of food do you want to try next?
DC: I want to serve up some of the fine cultural cuisine of Chicago.