Earlier this month I review Viper’s iconic update Nosferatu (HERE) – I was so impressed with what I read that I sought an interview with the creative team behind this modern retelling, and the folks at Viper were nice enough to talk with me – here ya go!
Q&A with Chris Wolf, Justin Wayne, and Sal Nieto
Eric: I really enjoyed Nosferatu. Previous to this, I hadn’t read any of your books – can you tell us about your background?
Chris: Well, most of my background is in personal projects here and there. I’ve worked on a few independent online games, done as much as I can in terms of creative endeavors. I guess I sort of started “publishing” comics back in 1999 when I started putting my own photocopied books in the local comic shop. From there it’s been a long, slow, but very educational climb to this point.
Justin: My background consists of supplying some gray tones to a few of Voltaire’s Deady books and illustrating a children’s book entitled The Littlest Zombie, which has nothing to do with the Antarctic Press book of the same name. I’ve done a few short stories here and there for indie companies like Super Real Graphics, and lately I’ve been doing a lot of sketch cards for the nice guys at 5finity.
Sal: My background is mostly in Illustration & concept art – but I also get into & work on all sorts of multimedia projects, from video or animation, to stage, even music and sound design. I’ve worked on quite a few independent projects, both personal and as freelance, but during the day I sling creative for whatever needs doing within my role in the advertising industry. And I love drawing creepy things and monsters, of course!
much more of the interview below!
Eric: Have you always been a comic fan? What do you read monthly?
Chris: I’ve been a comic fan since the days when “that’s a cool costume!” was my sole reason for picking up a book… and yes, that was many, many years ago. I’ve reached the point now that I hoped I never would – where I haven’t found time to follow my favorite titles… Before that happened, however, my favorites were anything from Mike Mignola or Michael Allred… and the dusty, weird books I exhumed from dollar boxes.
Justin: I’ve been a comic fan since the day in 8th grade a classmate brought a Wizard magazine to art class and I saw one of Michael Turner’s renditions of Sara Pezzini. I go to the local comic shop on a weekly basis, but these days I rarely have the time to read any of the books I buy. Mostly it’s become a reason to absorb various art styles and an appreciation of visual storytelling. Books I pick up monthly are Haunt, American Vampire, and Joe the Barbarian. There’s a bunch more, but my mind is going blank.
Sal: I remember the first comic I ever got my hands on, it was a Spiderman & Wolverine team up of some kind, and I remember the Lizard showing up at some point, thinking to myself ‘wow, this is awesome!’. Of course, I also used to watch the Incredible Hulk (the Bill Bixby one) & all the other superhero TV shows when I was really little. I was always a sucker for obscure titles like “Samurai Penguin” or “Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos” etc, and of course, Batman! But, similar to Chris, I don’t find much time these days to follow specific titles, but I do love locking down with graphic novels as often as I can.
Eric: Have you always been a horror fan?
Chris: That depends on the definition of “fan”. Way back when it started out as morbid curiosity, but has officially bloomed into fandom.
Justin: Well… to be completely honest, no. I never minded horror movies, but it wasn’t something I had an active interest in until the end of high school when I was all about the doom and gloom. But as Chris said, it has officially bloomed into fandom. All I needed was a little heart break to push me into that realm of escapism that is horror. I’ve felt very comfortable there ever since.
Sal: Yeah, I think so. I can never forget the morbid fascination and ‘cool!’ factor when perusing the local video store (VHS?!?!) with my dad. I guess it helps that my dad also really liked Horror & Action movies, so I grew up with lots of that stuff. I suppose you could say they made a big impression as well as inspired me to create the things I do in many big ways.
Eric: So, out of quite a few classic horror movies, why Nosferatu?
Chris: I’ve always liked underrated and obscure characters. Plenty of people know Count Orlok, of course, but needless to say he’s no Dracula in terms of popularity. I’ve seen projects dealing with the Nosferatu story before, but nothing updating the original film with a modern setting and cast. It seemed like a nice challenge, and a way to perhaps bring the good Count a little closer to the spotlight… which would fry him, I suppose.
Eric: In your update, I think the creative team did an incredible job of creating modern parallels with the original details – not only with the story but also with the art. Can you tell us about the art team behind Nosferatu?
Chris: Time for me to step out of the way!
Justin: Chris is a very easy guy to work with, particularly when it comes to character design. He gives me a few ideas about a character’s design or personality and lets me do almost whatever I want as long as I keep those details in mind. We’ve done a few projects together and have plans on doing more in the future, and character design is always, ALWAYS the best part about the project. Not that I don’t like doing the panel to panel work. It’s just that first time exploring a character and really feeling like your creating something from scratch is really rewarding. Plus, Chris knows I absolutely love drawing alt girls. Drawing Tommy and Elle was always a pleasure.
Sal: No pressure or anything! Well, I did the color and paintwork on the book – as well as the occasional background when needed – with my main goal being to make Justin’s work shine as much as possible, whilst still adding my own flair to each page. As mentioned above, I grew up with Horror movies, and I also wanted to bring a little bit of that into the colors. From the classic black & white films, to the colorful aesthetic of the Hammer horror films, and even a dash of schlocky 80′s horror, but without compromising the original F.W. Murnau Nosferatu film too much. And I have to say, it was fantastic to be able to bring that to the panels where Justin did his take on some of the more memorable shots from the classic 1922 film.
Eric: From first thought to finalized publications, how long did this project take?
Chris: The first thought occurred some time in early 2008. From there it was a matter of gathering the dream team, etc. There was tragedy, triumph, and everything in between. So all told I guess it took about two years from idea to finished product.
Eric: Any other horror icons you would like to update into the 21st century?
Chris: I think we all have a lot of our own ideas we’d like to get out there… but that said, I’ve been toying with updating Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”… and then there’s a little something special tentatively titled “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Zombies”.
Justin: What Chris has been plotting for “Masque” is really interesting and I’d love to be a part of that if time was more on my side. Other than that, I wouldn’t be too opposed to defiling The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Sal: That’s a tough one! It’s tough to think of some that aren’t or haven’t been swept up in the slew of remakes lately! Well, I’m a sucker for creature features, so something like “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” or “Creature from the Black Lagoon” would be right up my alley. Heck, if handled right, even something like ‘The Killer Shrews’ could be interesting. Although, Chris mentioned ‘Masque of the Red Death’, and I think that would really be something, too, though! Course, that also makes me think of Vincent Price, to which I say, bring on Dr. Phibes!!!
Eric: Viper Comics is not just known for horror comics, they have a pretty well-rounded catalog. Chris, you are both a writer and the marketing director at Viper Comics, can you tell us about them?
Chris: Well, Viper has been around since 2001, and has published everything from Dead@17 to Villains to the upcoming Hero Petz. I think that no matter what your personal taste in comics – or your age – you can find something over at Viper that will satisfy your comic bug. They’ve even launched a line of all-ages titles under the “Blinko Books” banner. The official site is http://ViperComics.com in case you were wondering. Muahaha!
Eric: What New projects are coming down the pike from Viper?
Chris: Well, some really great stuff just came out, actually. Again, there’s quite a wide variety… All-Ages stuff like “Odd Rods” and “Stu Bear in the 25th Century”… all the way to darker books like the biblically horrific “Hell House” and the drunken super-human tale, “Blue Agave & Worm”. In December Viper rounds out 2010 with “Orpheus”, the story of an escape artist which has to be seen to be believed.
Eric: Any of yours specifically?
Chris: Not yet! Heh.
Eric: Shameless plug time – anything I forgot?
Chris: Well, more information on Nosferatu can be found at http://BookOfVampires.com where people can follow us on Facebook, purchase the book, and probably do other things with the word ‘book’.
Justin: You can catch more of my scribblings at http://mydyingrose.deviantart.com and also pick up your copy of the Littlest Zombie at http://www.spookyco.com/books.htm because once those copies are sold, there will be no more made. It’s a perfect Halloween/Christmas present for all ages.
Sal: Well, Chris has the Nosferatu info covered, so other than that, folks can find my work at www.thedarkcloak.com . Thanks for having us!
Thanks for talking with me, I can’t wait to check out some of your upcoming books!