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Chris Moreno Interview

Dracula vs. King Arthur artist talks to Comic Monsters

Chris_MorenoTheBigBadWolf: 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 DVKAenough about the artwork and the entire layout of the book itself. Have you always been a fan of the
Dracula character?

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.

DraculaTheBigBadWolf: 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 life!

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.

TheBigBadWolf: 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.

NinjasTheBigBadWolf: 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 Upright Citizen's 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 really no 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.

The_FlyTheBigBadWolf: 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 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 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 talent.

Copyright © by Horror Comic Book News - Comic Monsters All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-11-29 (5850 reads)

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