Hey Chris welcome to Comic Monsters. It was good to finally meet you
at Wizard World Boston earlier this year. Hows my Dracula sketch coming along?
I can't wait to hang it up at Monsters Central!
Chris Moreno: Glad to be here, Rob. I took my shoes
off at the door-- didn't want to dirty up your
floors-- but it looks like you've got this whole
dungeon thing going on, so now I actually think I want
to go get my shoes back on...
The Drac sketch is going swimmingly! I'll make
sure it gets to you really soon. You'll love it. It
totally sucks... get it?
TheBigBadWolf: What made you
want to become an artist and which artists influenced you?
Chris Moreno: As a kid, I was a big
fan of Looney Tunes, and comics artists like John Romita Sr. and John Buscema.
As I got older, I got hipped to guys like Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta,
and Al Hirschfeld. Now, I draw influences from everyone from the EC Comics
stable of artists to old Mexican movie posters. Just the other day I read
some airplane safety instructions that blew my mind!
TheBigBadWolf: Dracula vs King Arthur
is easily one of my favorite books of 2005. I can't say enough about
the artwork and the entire layout of the book itself. Have you always been
a fan of the
Chris Moreno: I've always been a fan of monsters in
general. When I was young my mom didn't want me or my
brother watching anything gross or scary because it'd
give us nightmares-- which was true, that stuff would
freak me the hell out. But I'd always come back for
more. My dad was the one who would sneak us over to
the theaters to see the latest horror flick. He
turned us on to Godzilla, Creature from the Black
Lagoon, and a bunch of other creatures of the night.
Since I technically wasn't allowed to see the really
scary stuff, I'd end up reading about it. I'd leaf
through Fangoria magazines, books on folkloric
characters, like vampires, and it was there that I
learned about Dracula, and the real-life inspiration
Vlad Tepes III.
I liked the idea that vampires could pretend to be
regular folks in a way that Frankenstein or the Wolf
Man couldn't-- so anyone could be a vampire. But
Dracula was the baddest of them all because he could
change forms, turn to mist, use that hypno-eye thing--
I loved that stuff.
TheBigBadWolf: Before starting your
artwork on this series, did you draw any inspiration from other artists
that have doodled Dracula, such as Gene Colan?
Chris Moreno: I think the influence
of guys like Dick Giordano and Gene Colan on the Dracula character have been
so engrained in comics readers minds that I didn't even have to look to them,
they were already in my head. But primarily I used a lot of the look of the
real Vlad Tepes, as in his style of dress, along with the description of
the character in the Bram Stoker novel (not so much the long white-haired
older Drac, but the one that we see residing in Carfax Abbey). I also threw
in bits of the Bela Lugosi version, particularly in the hands. It's hard
when you deal with putting your mark on such a beloved character because
you always want to honor what came before, but at the same time, you don't
want to make your version so far out there that you're just being different
for the sake of being different.
As far as my personal take on the character, I decided to play up more of
the warrior aspect of Dracula,
especially since he's traveling back to medieval times. Much of the portrayals
of Dracula have focused
on the seductive aspects of the character, or made him more monstrous, but
I thought it would be nice to show some of the savagery behind the man who
fought of hordes of Turks time and time again, impaling his enemies and throwing
dinner parties around them. That's just plain ol' human cruelty, and something
that I wanted to give due in this story. So we see the sexy, the scary, but
there's also this savage side that bursts out at times.
TheBigBadWolf: Are you going to be
the artist on Dracula vs Al Capone?
Chris Moreno: Oh yes! I'm incredibly excited to work
with Jim Krueger on this project. I'm also psyched to
continue the story of the Dracula I created, which I
think gives it this great sense of continuity. I've
spoken with Jim about the things he wants to do with
this story and I can't wait to help bring them to
TheBigBadWolf: Lets talk some Monkey in a Wagon vs.
Lemur on a Big Wheel!!! What was it like to just let loose and draw the slugfest between those two?
Chris Moreno: Well, I think it's important
to show people the truth behind one of the greatest rivalries
the animal kingdom has ever known. PETA, Animal Planet, Mutual of Omaha's Wild
Kingdom-- they don't want you to know the danger that lurks behind the bars
of every zoo, and in every jungle all over the world. So I'm trememdously proud
that writer Ken Lillie-Paetz and I can educate folks in a way that's also entertaining.
And I like funny animal comics. So there you go.
TheBigBadWolf: Will we see more Monkey
in a Wagon vs. Lemur on a Big Wheel in your future?
Chris Moreno: Absolutely! The next
edition of Monkey Vs. Lemur will drop in April with more stories, more guest
creators, and more critters-on-kiddie-wheels action than you could ever want!
We're definitely testing the limits of the public's fascination with monkeys
and monkey-related business.
Can you give us any info on your creator owned title, The Rot Pack?
Chris Moreno: The Rot Pack is basically
my story of classic monsters told with the flavor of the 60's Rat Pack. It
follows the rise and fall of some of the greatest monster entertainers in
the city of
TransylVegas. I'm putting it together in-between the projects I'm working on,
and I hope to have a
scrapbook-- filled with photos and newpaper clippings about the gang and their
celebrity creature friends-- out by next year.
TheBigBadWolf: I wanted to ask you
about your improv group, The Ninjas. What made you decide to try improv?
Chris Moreno: One of the first comics
I worked on was a book called The Travelers with writer/creator Tony DiGerolamo.
Tony belonged to an improv troupe called The Cabal that performed in Philly
and I would go see him perform. I'd always wanted to get into comedy, and
it didn't look like anything different than what I'd do when I was hanging
out with my friends, so when Tony started offering classes I signed up. And
I loved it. It was a lot harder than it had looked, but it was great having
something new to challenge me in addition to working in illustration.
What ended up happening, and I mentioned this to Tony after I started taking
classes, was that I found
myself having to act like more of a person on stage than I did in real life,
meaning that good improv is
all about having reactions to what your scene partner is doing and saying,
but all our lives we're told to
calm down, or chill out-- basically not to react to things. I also find myself
listening more in my daily
life, which is key to making improv work.
TheBigBadWolf: Which improv comedian
do you most admire?
Chris Moreno: I'm a big fan of the
Brigade. I love Christopher Guest and his stable of
comedians. Since I'm still relatively new to improv,
I'm learning about new folks every day, but I'm also
learning about how many established comedians got
their start in improv.
TheBigBadWolf: Which is more fulfilling
to you, doing
improv or being an artist?
Chris Moreno: Well, see, to me there's
distinction because it's the same set of skills-- the
only difference is the medium. When I'm drawing
comics it's all about timing, acting through
characters, and communicating in the most concise way
possible-- same as with improv.
What's your favorite horror movie?
Chris Moreno: I love the original
The Fly. It's a
thriller that catches you right from the first scene.
So few movies today have that concise kind of
storytelling. The reveal of the
half-scientist/half-fly creature is always exciting.
Plus the guy has to suck sugared milk to eat. Yuck!
TheBigBadWolf: Tell us something not
many people know
about Chris Moreno.
Chris Moreno: I
have a pair of boxer shorts with little pictures of hot peppers on them.
TheBigBadWolf: Are there any other
projects or appearances that you
would like to plug?
Chris Moreno: Well, there's the weekly webcomic I
draw for silentdevil.com called Super Frat, written
and created by Simpsons Comics writer and fellow
Ninja, Tony DiGerolamo. I also provided artwork for
his Complete Mafia for d20 roleplaying game which is
out now. I've also got a message board on
buzzscope.com where I can update folks with news about
me as it happens.
TheBigBadWolf: Thanks for stopping
by Chris. I look forward to your upcoming projects. You are an incredible