Q: What prompted you to do THE ABANDONED? It's clearly a homage to the classic Romero & Fulci films (love those flavors of ice cream at that "I SCREAM" shop!), yet also has this twist to it in that just all of the adults are becoming zombies...
Ross: I always wanted to do a zombie comic, and when Tokyopop offered me the chance to do a three book series, I figured that would be the time to do it. I hadn't really been thinking about the particulars of a zombie book beforehand, so I came up with The Abandoned pretty quickly, and once I thought of the initial idea, everything else came together really well. I of course wanted to do shambling, decaying Romero/Fulci-style zombies, but also have some of the humor that Romero injects into his zombies, rather than the ultra-serious Fulci ones, as well as put my own personal spin on them by having them all being gross rednecks and stuff. The whole book is definitely an homage/love letter to Romero.
Q: Rylie is an odd character....and one of the characters who survive until the end. Will there be THE ABANDONED 2?
ROSS: Yep, The Abandoned 2 is in the works! I'm not sure how much I should/can say about it, but Rylie returns, this time as sort of a Mad Max type character. The second book takes place a couple years after the first, and Rylie's been pretty much alone and driving around aimlessly that whole time, exploring the zombie wasteland the country has become. She runs into some new kids living in an apocalyptic tribal sort of group in high rise apartment buildings in a flooded city (like New Orleans after Katrina). They battle underwater zombies and a tribe of evil kids led by a crazy girl who eats zombie meat. There is also a "zombie hero" character similar Romero's Bub or Big Daddy: a girl who's kept as an undead sex slave, but eventually develops a semblance of consciousness.
Q: Also, I think it's a bit more intense/bloody than the usual stuff put you by Tokyopop...
ROSS: Yeah, I'm surprised I got away with all the stuff I did. There were no artwork edits done at all, which I'm really happy about. If there had been, I wouldn't be doing The Abandoned 2. Heh Heh.
Q: What influenced you to become an artist?
ROSS: My mom says I'd been drawing from when I was really little, but I'm not sure what exactly the pivotal influence was. I just always did it, it seemed like the thing to do and I loved doing it. My path into comics, though, I credit to Bill WattersMn (Calvin & Hobbes) and Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird (the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics).
Q: Talk about your earlier work for White Wolf Publishing and TOO MUCH HOPELESS SAVAGES and SPOOKED.
ROSS: White Wolf gave me my first published gig way back in 2001, doing stuff for their Exalted books, which had just come out at the time. it was a blast, and I've been doing freelance stuff for them ever since. Hopeless Savages was my first comics job; I'd shown my work to Oni Press at a convention about a year before, and they finally contacted me after all that time and offered me the flashback sequences in Hopeless Savages volume 3. I also drew the full 4th issue, because regular artist Christine Norrie had a baby or something. It was kinda fun, but I really just wanted to draw my own stuff. Spooked was the first big book I did, and it was rough. I'd never done anything close to that magnitude, and 150+ pages (all rendered in ink wash & markers, too, and I also did the lettering) was pretty nuts, and I wanted to blow my brains out toward the end. it was the spring board I needed for Oni to publish my own work, though, and then after Spooked I got Wet Moon picked up, and that was that.
Q: Do you prefer both writing and illustrating , as with WET MOON, rather than illustrating someone else's story?
ROSS: I definitely like writing my own stuff, absolutely. No contest. I'd work with a writer if something came by that I was really into, but it's tough for me to get really into something I didn't create myself. of course, I would not be adverse to drawing some X-Men or something. Heh Heh.
Q: You're a giant monster fan....in a fight between Godzilla and Gamera who would win and why?
ROSS: Gamera is my favorite giant monster, but it's a tough call on who would win between him and Godzilla. Godzilla's pretty tough, and Gamera always gets the crap kicked out of him in his movies. but Gamera always pulls himself together at the end to beat the evil monster, so I think that might be how it would go: Godzilla would kick Gamera's ass at first and all would seem lost, but then Gamera would rise above it and bust out with some gymnastic moves or his Mana Beam or Banishing Fist or something and win the day.
Q: What are your upcoming projects? On your website you mention that you're thinking of doing an alien type story...
ROSS: I just finished Wet Moon volume 2 last week, and now I'm about to get started on writing the actual script for The Abandoned 2, and also writing Wet Moon 3 and a secret book that just got picked up, but I can't say anything about that until the publisher says so. I'm also working on a mini-comic for the San Diego con, and brainstorming for that alien story you mentioned. not sure what it's going to be about yet, but it will have drippy aliens and the main character will be a hot mom.
Q: How can people contact you/see more of your work?