Q: What prompted the creation of SERGEANTSTEIN? When I read the first few pages it reminded me of those old Marvel Monster comics, like "WHERE MONSTERS DWELL"...
Initially I had pitched a project involving a totally different take on Frankenstein and the "classic" monsters. (I think we all more or less took Aurora's cue, which they took from FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine as to who those would be). The publisher passed on the concept but an assistant told me he like the idea of doing something with Frankenstein. So SERGEANTSTEIN just kind of popped into my head and I thought a team of military monsters in the Sgt Fury/ Sgt. Rock mold (with G.I. Joe style toys and all) might appeal to him. I started drawing some concepts and character designs and pages for a story with the idea that a "super team" needs a "supervillain team" to fight. Like the Frightful Four, The Brotherhood and Evil Mutants, the Masters of Evil et al. Hence the SPIDER APE and his crew. That story became kind of an exercise to get the whole concept up and running and put the characters through their paces. But after that more stories starting clamoring to be told. The same publisher again said "no thanks"! but by then I was too far gone to stop so I barreled through seventy-some pages in a couple months. I had fallen in love with the damn thing and couldn't stand to just toss it on a shelf because somebody didn't like it so I self-published. Oh, as you may have gleaned, there are many "early Marvel roots" at work in SERGEANTSTEIN but more from Sergeant Fury and the early superhero books than the older Kirby Monsteramas.
Q: The five monsters who make up the team are your take on Frankenstein, The wolfman, The Gillman, The Mummy and Dracula. For those who haven't read the book tell us a bit on your particular take on them. My personal favorite was the mummy, G.I. Ho-tep!
Those guys are like the inevitable BIG FIVE of monsters but with a military spin- and of course moving them away from their sources enough so as not to get sued! If you did The League of Extraordinary Monsters you would have to have your Frankie, mummy, fishman, vampire and werewolf. Can't be helped. Their designs suggested their powers and personalities.
Q: Each story is very different from the other and you poke fun at everything from old monster mags, to Jurassic Park to Harryhausen movies to Slasher movies to President Bush (Well, that one's kind of a no brainer-no pun intended, of course). The whole thing is very sarcastic and hilarious. How long did it take you to do all of the stories?
As the stories kind of rolled out (in a two or three month period) I found myself wanting to visit different cool realms within the horror genre. The Lovecraft one will keep hardcore HPL fans busy with tons of references (the Poe angle is there because you can never seem to read about Lovecraft without them dragging Poe in to say he was better!) It's all done in a loving spirit, sarcasm and all. The Harryhausen piece ("BETWEEN A ROC AND JIHAD PLACE) is my agonized comment about the conflict in the Middle East which increasingly threatens to engulf us all. I don't take sides- I just lament that we can't think about Sinbad and Bagdad like we used to. Ray is in no way denigrated. (I have ribbed Ray in my CRAZY HIP GROOVY GO GO WAY OUT MONSTERS magazines- because you can't DO a mag like that without dealing with Harryhausen but I hope it's understood he's one of my heroes and I'm just having fun!) Bush on the other hand...
Q: Which story is your favorite, and why?
Corny answer but... Each one has meaning to me and I love them all. For example, having storyboarded movies with Pinhead, Chucky, Freddy, Jason et al, it was fun to revisit them in FORWARD SLASH... I just had to bitch about all the meaningless CG bullshit we are bombarded with (call me an old fart, I can take it!) in VAN HELSING, the BLADE movies, MATRIX, STAR WARS etc etc. It can be done well (LORD OF THE RINGS) but that is rare. If I wanted a f-ing roller coaster I'd go to Magic Mountain. So MEDIA MAUL gives me a chance to express a little of that. I mentioned the Lovecraft piece (AT THE SHADOW OF THE HORROR OUT OF MADNESS) and how fun it was to toss around HPL's characters and concepts. HOME GROAN is a chance to visit good ol' 'merican cannibal zombie farm... Then there are two filler stories which allow me to play with Greek Mythology (and good old Testicles (pronounced Tes-Tee-Cleez)) and a full-on Martian Invasion. I had a LOT of fun doing this book.
Q: How does this compare to your other comic work?
Obviously it's all "artwork" as opposed to the "digimetti" work seen in the MORBID series (which employs digitally photographed players and sets), although characters actually do overlap. I do love to draw and paint and I gotta keep the work I do for myself stimulating by switching media sometimes. I do eschew the line work known as "inking" in Sergeantstein, for a more rendered storybook look which also appeals to me.
Q: Are there going to be more SERGEANTSTEIN adventures in the near future?
I hope so but not unless LOTS of people buy and enjoy this batch- if anybody wants to see more, spread the word please!
Q: How can people get a hold of a copy?
It is being solicited by DIAMOND now- order through your normal comics channels. Later I will offer signed copies on my website. COLD CUT and FM INTERNATIONAL will also have it, as well as Bud Plant. I am online at www.vonshollywood.com for those who want a free Stein preview.