I had the amazing fortune of being introduced to the comic book Blood and Gourd, from Jenz Lund and D.H. Shultis. These two macabre masterminds have created a new face of horror with their vicious vegetables. Think Attack of the Killer Tomatoes meets The Thing; and I think that’s a pretty good idea of what you’re getting with Blood and Gourd. I chatted with the creators about their comic, their love of horror, and the power of pumpkins!
Casey: I’m a huge fan of The Thing and classic 80s horror like Attack on the Killer Tomatoes. What influenced you the most when created Blood and Gourd?
Blood & Gourd: As a child of the 80s, late night cable opened the doors to a slew of brilliant and subversive films for me. The Return of the Living Dead, Reanimator, Night of the Creeps, Fright Night, The Thing, Creepshow; it was an incredible time for horror, and you’ll find a lot of those influences in the book. When DH and I started writing Blood & Gourd, I was on a John Waters kick and listening to a lot of Cramps and rockabilly music. This was before we even knew we were making a comic book. It was originally intended to be a short film. We just knew we were bored to death’s door with contemporary pop culture, so we adopted the mantra: Wilder Wilder, Faster Faster!
Casey: I think that’s a mantra to live by! All of the films you mentioned are also favorites of mine as well, check out our podcast for Gourmet Scum Radio to hear our Fright Night episode some time. What was it about Halloween and a Pumpkin that made ‘the gourds’ your main antagonist?
Blood & Gourd: For me, Halloween was always that one time of year when it was okay to be into gory, weird shit. I think pumpkins activate that Halloween happy-spot in our brains. You associate them with your childhood and the holiday, itself. Plus there’s always been a bizarre ‘sacrificial lamb’ sort of vibe with the carving. If pumpkins wanted retribution, they’d certainly be entitled to it. And since it’s the day before Halloween, pumpkins would be freaking everywhere!
Casey: I think Halloween is always the perfect time for horror, as our brains our wired for spookiness. Killer Pumpkins just makes sense. I wanted to talk about the art of this book. I read that you really wanted the colors to ‘pop’ like a Tales from the Crypt comic from the days of old and it really fits the aesthetic of the book, especially the gore. how did you decide to ‘go there’ with the level of violence?
Blood & Gourd: Blood & Gourd was almost released as a black and white comic. Our budget was already spent at that point, and it still looked pretty good. I picked up a copy of Four Color Fear: Horror Comics of the 1950s at the local library over the summer. It reminded me why it had to be in color. It just wasn’t an option. Our project associate, Eugene Bistrika, sold one of his guitars and came to our rescue. Our inker, Juan Albarran, got us in touch with Fran Gamboa’s team and they killed it. We couldn’t be happier with their Fall/EC Comics/antique Halloween decoration color scheme. The level of violence was an oversight to be honest. The script called for it, but it wasn’t until Dave Acosta showed us the first impaling by pitchfork, that we realized how gory the comic would be. It gels well with the title, and I’ve always appreciated the levels of violence produced by directors like Paul Verhoeven and Dario Argento. Violence is brutal, painful, and messy. Sugar-coating that is almost sicker than graphically depicting it.
Casey: I could only imagine Verhoeven taking your comic and adding his spin on it. He’s a mad genius. What are the challenges of working in the horror realm, but also comic book realm and creating a new type of horror icon(s).
Blood & Gourd: We started with a decent script, but everything was a steep learning curve from there. We needed money, and our first crowd-funding attempt was a failure. We tried again, asked for less money, and succeeded the second time. We owe a lot to our penciler, Dave Acosta, for his patience, and for giving us a crash-course in comic book production. We were green, but he loves horror and saw a lot of potential in the script. As far as horror icons go, I’ve always loved a great villain. We put a lot of time and energy into making something our eight-year-old selves would love, but be terrified of at bedtime.
Casey: I think that ‘The Gourdfather’ would make a great scary story for kids around Halloween-time. It’s great that you decided not to give up after the first crowdfunding attempting. I know that we’ve only seen the first issue out, but what are the chances of the comic become an animated Halloween tale or a full-length film? Any discussions on those matters?
Blood & Gourd: Blood & Gourd was always meant to be a film. We’d love to see it happen with minimal CGI, practical effects, and the right people. A cartoon series on Adult Swim would be fantastic. I’m a huge fan of Venture Brothers, especially. Animation, like comic book art, would be a great medium for a tale as weird and wild as Blood & Gourd. The new universe we’ve created, and the beings that live in it, present ample opportunities for new and exciting tales.
Casey: Practical effects all the way with this one! You’ve also mentioned being fans of Troma films and I could totally see Toxie fitting in this world as a way to ‘crusade’ against plant manipulation. Any plans to merge your characters with any other classic horror characters?
Blood & Gourd: Blood & Gourd is a pretty self-contained story. However, when you’re dealing with concepts like perpetual Halloween, sinister magic and the occult…you just never know.
Casey: I’ll get Lloyd Kaufman on the phone for a mashup of your two universes. I’ve been a fan of Dave Acosta’s work on DeviantArt. Can you tell me how you got involved with him and what that collaboration has been like?
Blood & Gourd: We were also fans of Dave Acosta’s work on Deviantart, prior to working with him on Blood & Gourd. We wanted that classic comic book feel, and his style does that and a lot more. He’s brilliant. He treats the characters like flesh and blood, and their actions and emotions express that. Dave’s a really busy guy, but he still believes in hitting all the right notes on a page before moving on to the next one. It’s a full collaboration. We hope to be working with him for a very long time.
Casey: Well, you guys are off to a fantastic start with this first issue. Can’t wait to see what comes next, speaking of which; when’s the second issue coming out!?
Blood & Gourd: We’re aiming for an October 2015 release.
Casey: Can’t wait to see what happens!
Thanks a ton to DH and Lenz for chatting with us about Blood & Gourd. If you’d like to pick up a copy of the first comic, head over to their website. You can also keep posted with the most up to date information by LIKING their Facebook page. Make sure to support TRULY independent art like Blood & Gourd!