This June sees the release of fan-favorite cartoonist Rich Tommaso's ( DARK CORRIDOR) latest series SHE WOLF. Image Comics will be the vessel responsible for the release of what they describe as a 'surreal exploration in horror'. I like the sounds of that. We know I'm a horror junkie, well for the supernatural horror genre anyway. The story follows a teenage girl who believes she's been bitten by a werewolf. I was super lucky to be able to bring you this exclusive interview with Rich on his new comic.
TFQ: My first question is, what inspired this story? I know werewolves have become increasingly more popular in horror stories and television over the last fifteen years. What made you specifically want to write a story centered on them?
Rich: I've always loved werewolves and I'm always disappointed when they're given such small parts in fantasy/monster movies (Harry Potter is the best example of that). It was just a matter of coming up with something interesting to do with them. Once I thought about my High School years and trying to hide your bad habits (drinking, smoking, etc.) from your parents I felt like I had a good place to work from. At first, it was going to be about two sisters, one who was 14 years old and the other, who was turning 18. The idea was going to be a demonic possession comic story where the older sister, who was very nice at first, turns into a horribly mean sister, soon after her 18th birthday party. But, I felt like the demonic possession of a young girl was too close to The Exorcist, so I scrapped that version.
TFQ: From the excerpt that I've seen, the main character's appearance is very typically gothic. She's got a pentagram around her neck and wears upside down crosses. Is there any comment within the story on goth culture ?
Rich: Sure. I mean, she listens to Madonna, Blondie, but probably also likes The Cure. The type of high school girl who's into everything--doesn't really follow one specific musical fad. At one point, I'd like to have her around a bunch of metalheads listening to early heavy metal rock. Wearing her normal gear, to show how you don't have to dress, head to toe, like the people you rock out to. A kid in my High School who dressed like an extreme hippy once saw me painting a psychedelic picture that had... dare I say this?... Grateful Dead imagery in it. And he said, "Cool, but you don't listen to the Dead, do you?" To which, I replied, "Sometimes, yeah, I just don't walk around here, dressed like it's Halloween, 1969 everyday." He just stared at me a minute and then walked away.
TFQ: Could you tell me a little bit about the setting of She Wolf? Where does it take place, what era and why?
Rich: I've always avoided writing about New Jersey, which is where I grew up--I lived there from kindergarten to college years. But, I almost never write comics about Jersey for the fact that I don't really like nor ever liked my hometown. And I hated the idea of DRAWING it, even more. But with this project I thought, "okay It's time to write about my hometown--I HAVE to". I spent too many years--my formative years--in Sparta, New Jersey to not ever mine territory for stories. The eighties were the years I was in grade school and high school--and seeing how so many famous movies about werewolves sprung from that era, it was conveniently just right for the time period of the comic book.
TFQ: Dark Corridor received a lot of favorable reviews. How do you think people will react to She Wolf and how does this story compare to your previous work?
Rich: I think (and hope) people will like this one even more. It's the sort of book I've been wanting to write for many years--a surreal narrative. It's very different from Dark Corridor in that one specific way. The story makes sense--well, at least to me it does--but it moves in very strange ways from one sequence to the next, that you have to sort of dig for puzzle pieces. Gabrielle, my main character, has to struggle through her days as her nightmares bleed into her everyday reality. So scenes will shift from reality--to waking nightmare--to sleeping nightmare--almost without pause.
TFQ: And just for fun, who are your current favorite artists and writers out in the comic industry today? What books and comics are you currently reading and would you recommend them to my readers?
Rich: I just read Patience by Daniel Clowes, which I really enjoyed--he always comes up with the creepiest side effects to wish fulfillment, fantasy dreams. I also loved Mariko and Jillian Tamaki's This One Summer--a beautifully drawn book and one where children are portrayed realistically--complex and flawed, as opposed to the innocent, cookie-cutter, cartoon characters you usually get when reading YA comics material. Always following the Hernandez Brothers' Love And Rockets series and I'm excited about them going back to their original stapled, magazine format. Eleanor Davis' BDSM story in Frontier Magazine was another big stand-out comic for me. Island magazine is another favorite--anthologies are hard to pull off, but one where you get work by people like Brandon Graham, Emma Rios, Malachi Ward, Farel Dalrymple...? Every month, I am there.
Order your copy of SHE WOLF #1 NOW with Diamond Code APR160661.