Q: You've been in the comic book field a long time... how did you first get into it and what is the appeal?
BOB: Jeez. Yeah, I started professionally in 1984. I got into it via connections made while attending New York's School of Visual Arts. I was in Harvey Kurtzman's class, as well as Will Eisner's. Harvey liked what I did and ended up giving me my first professional gig, doing some strips for a kids' humor anthology called Nuts! I also met a guy named Pete Friedrich, who was a former student of Eisner's, who was looking for material for his comics magazine, Pure Entertainment. Those were my first two forays. Soon after I sold a parody I did of the then-popular Heavy Metal comic "RanXerox" to a European publisher, who then commissioned more, as a series. I dropped out of SVA and got my career going.
As for the appeal, that's more complicated. I love combining words and pictures, but honestly, lately I like separating them, hence my writing novels. I did comics on and off-but mostly on-for twenty-odd years. Time to do something else, at least for now.
Q: With your two most recent books you've tackled two "Classic" types of creatures-zombies and vampires. Some would say there's a glut of those monsters lately so why did you decide to write about them? How are the books different than other vampire/zombie stuff out there?
BOB: I don't worry about things like "gluts," especially because I do different things with the monsters than other folks have. Zombies have long been a fixation of mine. I love them, so I've wanted to play with them for ages. I actually pitched zombie graphic novels back in 1992 and '93, but they weren't en vogue at the stage. When Dark Horse launched ZombieWorld in 1996 (I think) I re-pitched my zombie stories and the editor, Scott Allie, said he'd buy one of them. Still, it never ran. I did a prequel to it but the actual story I was hell-bent on doing never got done because the series was cancelled. It, too, was ahead of its time. Zombies still weren't popular. That being said, Recess Pieces wasn't in my head in those days. That idea just came unbidden during a quick phone conversation with a buddy. I made that pitch to another DH editor (Dave Land) and he bought it.
What's different about Recess Pieces? Easiest way to answer would be my short pitch to Dave: "Little Rascals meets Dawn of the Dead." Little kids versus zombies. That's a new twist. Then, add a lot of humor. Apparently, for some horror "purists" there was too much humor, but that's what I wanted to do. It's plenty gory and funny. Deal with it.
As for Bottomfeeder, I've long held contempt for the whole Gothy creature of the night phenomenon. Same goes for the inherent "coolness" of vampires. I began to think what it would be like if I was turned into a vampire and how, honestly, shitty it would be. My dad, after reading it, said to me, "I never saw the downside of vampirism until I read your book." So, that's what makes Bottomfeeder different. It's not romantic. It's not gothic. It's not glamorous. It is sympathetic, though. I feel great empathy for my vampire protagonist, Phil. It's as realistic as I could make something that's inherently unrealistic. Plus, it's got plenty of gallows humor.
Q: Do you prefer to write & illustrate, as with the RECESS PIECES graphic novel or the novelization (BOTTOMFEEDER).
BOB: Depends. Lately I prefer writing. I still love to draw, but not comics. I'm kind of through with comics for the time being.
Q: Is there going to be a sequel to RECESS PIECES?
BOB: Unfortunately, no. I have one in mind that I'd love to do, but sales were less than spectacular, so I can't justify the time it would take to do another. Too bad, too. It was going to be pretty ambitious.
Q: What I liked best about BOTTOMFEEDER is that you really managed to capture that "New York Feel", a sort of grittiness that seems specific to New York City (I lived there for 13 years). Do you have the same love/hate relationship that most New Yorkers have with the Big Apple? As with your character, Phil Merman?
BOB: Quick answer: yes.
Q: What are your future projects? Anything more with Dark Horse?
BOB: Not at the moment. I'm working on a new novel.
Q: What is your dream project?
BOB: I have several. In publishing it would be an epic, full-color graphic novel set in Hell, no holds barred. But I really want some of my work to end up on the big and small screens. That's within the realm of possibility. We'll see.
Q: How can people order the books (& your website).
BOB: Amazon, of course, as well as other online merchants. DeepDiscount has my stuff, too. All at a discount. Hint, hint. In case that's too subtle: buy my books, folks. Thanks.