Can a child save the world
and still get to bed by 7pm? Sure.... if you're Billy and you've got the
Boogey Man, Aliens and a certain infamous radioactive dinosuar on the
We spoke with writer, Ramsey Rusef, about Billy the Monster Hunter.
Brian Gray: Can you give our readers a synopsis of Billy the Monster Hunter?
Rusef: In a sentence, Billy the Monster Hunter is a five
year-old kid who fights monsters with his mutant toys.
Billy grew up having the mess scared out of him every night by the Bogeyman,
and he finally gets the power to fight back. One day Billy learns that he
can change any toy he touches into an weapon of mass destruction, not too
unlike the kid who leaves the Lego pieces lying on the floor for his parents
to find with their bare feet in the morning. One night he waits up for the
Bogeyman to show, and the war between child and monster begins.
Brian Gray: How did you come up with the concept for this book?
We're inundated with horror these days. It seems like one out of every two movies is a horror movie. Girls are reading vampire romance books. I looked at all of this horror and thought that it would be fun to see something that scares the monsters. I loved the idea that what would scare something so ugly as a monster would be something as innocent as a little kid. Of course, the little kid would have to be a force of nature himself, and I had the image of a small child wielding a massive toy hammer against Dracula, Frankenstein, and the masked slashers. At first, I intended it to be written for an older audience, but seeing the direction of comics today, I decided that the book should be accessible to kids. That meant I went from each monster facing a gory end, which is how the story originally played out in my head, to them all ending up like the Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons.
I ran the idea by Glen Tippett, the publisher of Scare Tactix, and he suggested that Billy, who I originally saw as about three or four, be a little older, say five or six, and he also suggested that Billy have more toys to play with. It all clicked from there.
Brian Gray: What powers does Billy have? How does he battle these monsters?
Ramsey Rusef: Billy can give the toys he touches lives of their own, so his toy soldiers can move, and they become smart enough to know who to shoot at. They grow and mutate into weapons that can fight off all the monsters in the world. The only limit he has is his own imagination, which is pretty close to unlimited, considering he's a five year-old. Billy learns that after a while, his favorite action figures get a permanent life of their own, and he talks to them when he's alone at home.
Billy's always outnumbered since he has to fight all the monsters on his own,
but since he has one of the biggest toychests in the world, he doesn't need
much backup. He just needs to know what's the right toy for the right situation,
but it might not always be available to him.
Brian Gray: What types of monsters are in this book?
In this book, we're looking at the entire gamut of monsters. He's facing off against the classics: Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Yeti, giant lizards, aliens, and, of course, the Bogeyman.
Brian Gray: Do the monsters have a leader?
Ramsey Rusef: They're monsters, so they're not going to be taking orders from anyone, especially the classics who appear everywhere. They're all pursuing their own agenda, even though they know each other, hang out, and give each other advice about how to scare off the general populace. That's part of the reason that Billy's so effective. His enemies have no clue how to work together.
The Bogeyman is Billy's greatest enemy because he's the bully who harassed Billy every night for years. He's not going to take being bashed in the head by a giant toy hammer and crushed by a mutated plush toy very lightly. He'll definitely be back, and Billy's not done with him, either.
Brian Gray: Has the book already been released?
It debuted at the New York Comic Convention, and it's available at the
Scare Tactix website, www.scaretactixgraphix.com.
Brian Gray: How much is the book?
Ramsey Rusef: It's $3, in line with the standard price of a 24 page comic. I'm so glad that the line was able to be priced where the average comic is right now. So many independents have to charge so much more than the big companies to make any money. Given the economy of comics, I love that the book is affordable to everyone.
Brian Gray: Is this going to be just a one shot or do you have more planned for Billy?
I have a lot more planned for Billy. More accurately, Billy has a lot more planned for the monsters, and he's going to get it all done by bedtime.
Brian Gray: How did you hook up with artist, Shawn Surface?
Ramsey Rusef: Shawn may not remember this, but during my fanboy days, I commissioned a piece with Zatanna and Black Canary for a friend of mine. Shawn did it with a sense of humor, and the two of them are looking at a "Men of the JLA" spread in a certain women's magazine. I still haven't sent it to my friend. It cracks me up too much. One of these days, my friend's going to remember that I owe him a piece of original comic art.
Mitch Hyman, the Editor in Chief of Scare Tactix Graphix, wanted to find the best artist for the project, and in the end, he came up with his Bubba partner, Shawn. I can't say enough about how good a job Shawn did on this book. It's like he had a direct line into my head, and the pages ended up looking exactly how I saw them when I was writing it. It's almost scary how well Shawn was able to see into my thoughts. It's actually very scary, and I think I'm going to invest into one of those tinfoil helmets.
Brian Gray: Where can our readers find out more about Billy the Monster Hunter?
The best place to go is the Scare Tactix website. They're really good at keeping the readers up to date as to what's going on with all of our books.
Brian Gray: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about Billy the Monster Hunter?
Billy: the Monster Hunter is, as far as I know, the only new character in comics currently being published for all ages. One of my friends told me that his son watches every superhero show on TV with him, and his son wanted to read a comic about his favorite character. My friend went out to get it, and it was the issue where that superhero was brutally killed by a group of villains. He put the book back in the spinner rack.
I'm not saying that these darker stories aren't good reads. So many of them are, but we're neglecting a huge group of potential readers who would love to get into comics. Eight and nine year old kids aren't going to want to read a story where their favorite hero is gunned down or clubbed to death. My friend's story made me think about what I could do to give a hero that kids could read with their parents, and Billy was the answer.
This a book that adults can enjoy on one level, but Billy is a book about a kid, written to be accessible to kids, who can enjoy it on another level. Billy deals with real problems that real kids deal with, but he has all the responsibilities of a superhero. Adults don't listen to him, even though he's the only one who can save them from the monsters that are stalking everyone. How's Billy going to save the world when he's grounded? How does he explain to his dad why his Construction Carl toy is missing an eye when his dad paid good money for it?
Brian Gray: Thank you for your time,
Ramsey! Best of luck with this title.
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