By Superherologist - February 5, 2010
Check out out this pic from the Monsterplex team – as of this writing, it’s exclusive to our site. If you’ve read Monsterplex in the January Zuda Comics competition, spot the character that has not yet appeared in the comic.
Llama: In Monsterplex, you’ve given us a complete 8-page story and a clear set-up for the future. Not everybody manages that feat with their Zuda submissions. When you were getting ready for this contest, how intensively did you study the past Zuda winners and losers?
Brock: What does and does not make a successful Zuda submission was very much on my mind as I wrote the script for Monsterplex. I didn’t compare winners vs. losers so much as read several entries and ask myself how I felt about them and why. What I found out was that it’s really easy to get angry at a Zuda entry. Whenever I would reach the end of the 8 pages and had no more idea what the comic was about then when I started (happens more often than you think), I would get mad. I also found that the impatience inherent in reading on the web was a huge factor. A lack of momentum in a lot of entries had me tuning out after two or three pages.
For Monsterplex, I made it my mission to craft 8 pages that, by the end of them, you’d feel no need to read the synopsis. In fact, when it came time to write the synopsis right before submitting to Zuda, I kind of resented the exercise. Everything was in the submission. The second goal I had was to keep things moving by putting a cliffhanger or twist at the end of every page.
Llama: The one at the end of page 6 really grabbed me.
Brock: I wanted readers to feel compelled to go to the next page so that before they knew it they were at the end where I could unveil the biggest twist. I figured if I could do all of that and write some good characters and get some beautiful art, I’d have ‘em hooked.
Llama: What kind of stories do you plan to tell? Your comic reminds me of a well-planned sitcom pilot. Do you plan for the next 52 pages to be a series of stand-alone episodes or a continuous, year-long novel?
Brock: I’m gonna take the “well-planned sitcom pilot” description as a huge compliment since that was exactly what I was going for. From the ground up, Monsterplex was conceived for Zuda and I literally put everything I had into those 8 pages–I had no further ideas where to take the story! I knew I had a good cliffhanger and premise for potential stories, but I had no idea where to take it.
So, for a little while there, I took it on faith that my abilities as a storyteller would overcome. I’m happy report that after letting the ideas behind Monsterplex percolate in my brain a bit, a truly terrific story took shape–one that grows directly out of what’s in those first 8 pages. The first season is all plotted out and it will be one continuous story spanning an eventual 60 pages–which of course ends in a huge reveal and cliffhanger. We’re choosing to be optimistic about our chances at a second season. (Which of course presupposes that we’ll win in the first place, but, like I said–optimistic.)
Llama: You’re no newcomer to webcomics. Do you plan to stay in webcomics or are they steps toward what you really want to do?
Brock: I’ve been writing and drawing my first webcomic, The SuperFogeys (http://www.superfogeys.com/) for about 3 years now and I’ve really loved the immediacy of the web and the community that can build up around something as silly as comic about old superheroes in a nursing home. It’s hard to imagine I would ever leave that behind. Still, I’d be lying if I said that’s all I want to do. Ideally, I’d love to take a crack at writing print comics. I know I’ve got a good Superman story inside of me.
Llama: How did your team come together?
Brock: After I first came up with the idea of taking Monsterplex to Zuda, I knew I needed an artist to do it properly. I’m an artist myself, but I consider my talents somewhat limited. Monsterplex artist David Schlotterback and I work in the same office together–both of us as artists. I’ve always liked the graphic nature and cartoonish edge of his drawings and realized very quickly he’d be a perfect fit despite having almost no prior experience drawing comics. He said yes, much to my relief. Since then, he’s grown by leaps and bounds. We’re about 8 pages ahead on Monsterplex right now and his stuff keeps getting better and better as he learns more and more.
Colorist Michael DeVito is actually the Publisher of Th3rd World Studios–the independent comic company that hosts and publishes my webcomic The SuperFogeys. After David and I had been working on Monsterplex for some time on our own, we finally admitted to ourselves that we weren’t going to be able to color it. I’m color-blind and David’s experience in coloring his own work was almost nil. I knew Michael was an amazing colorist and a busy guy, but I count him as a friend and figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Amazingly, he said yes. This of course puts me in the odd position of hassling him about Monsterplex, even while he has to sometimes hassle me about SuperFogeys. It’s strange, but it works.
Llama: I love the name Corman Cinemas. Do you have a favorite Roger Corman movie, or at least one that really sticks out in your memory?
Brock: To be honest, I’ve never seen a Roger Corman movie! I’m actually not a huge horror buff. My dad was, so my familiarity with the monsters and the tropes and the cliches is pretty high. I kind of view monster movies from a distance, I suppose. Some might think that disqualifies from even writing a comic called Monsterplex, but I think it provides me with a unique perspective that allows me to repurpose the familiar into something new.
Llama: Why monsters?
Brock: Why not? While it would certainly be frightening, I don’t think a theater featuring Chick Flicks with Katherine Heigl and Kate Hudson doppelgangers running around would hold much appeal.
Llama: A version of the lame “Where do you get your ideas?” question: How did this premise come to you?
Brock: The truth is that Monsterplex started out as a pitch to Mike Raicht (writer on Stuff of Legend, Army of Darkness, and a number of DC and Marvel Comics) as a story for the collected edition of his horror anthology, Creature Features (also published by Th3rd World). I started with that title–Creature Features–and tried to think of a story that would fit it. What I came up with was a short tale of two old women who mistakenly walk into the wrong theater–Corman Cinemas–and get attacked by one creature after another. It skewed funny, which is why I think Mike ultimately, rightly rejected it.
Still, I thought it was a pretty cool idea and the more I thought about it the more I realized there was a good story there. All I needed to do was tweak it a little to make it a story that could keep going. And give it a new name, of course.
Llama: SPEED ROUND: Freddy vs. Jason – who should have won?
Brock: No idea! Don’t like slasher movies and have never seen any of their movies! (Don’t tell Aunt Ant.)
Llama: Zombies vs. vampires?
Brock: Vampires. Hands down. They’re crafty.
Llama: Godzilla in a rubber suit vs. Godzilla CGI?
Brock: Rubber suit. Part of the charm is the willful suspension of disbelief. CGI just invites me to find the flaws.
Llama: Munsters vs. Addams Family?
Brock: Addams Family. Wednesday could pretty much take out all the Munsters by herself. Even Marilyn (who we all know was the toughest of them all).
Llama: Buffy vs. Edward (Twilight)?
Brock: Buffy wouldn’t even bother with Edward. She’d let Xander handle him. Eyepatch Xander. With one hand tied behind his back.
Llama: Kevin Spacey in Se7en vs. The Smurfs?
Brock: The Smurfs. Every time, the Smurfs.
Read Monsterplex at http://zudacomics.com/node/1759. If you like what you see, register and vote!