Alan Robert may still be best known for his work with his band, Life of Agony; but that’s rapidly changing, as the writer/artist has been making a name for himself in the comic book world. The latest title from the multi-talented creator? Killogy, a book from IDW that casts some famous faces, and takes them to some very, very dark places.
You can check out a little preview of the book here, but in anticipation of the October, 2012 release, we chatted with Robert about the idea behind the book, a little more on the “casting,” and why this isn’t your regular, run of the mill crime comic:
MTV Geek: So Alan, I think I read a little about this already, but how’d this project come together in the first place?
Alan Robert: First off, I’d like to thank you guys for all the support with this. My band, Life of Agony, appeared on MTV dozens of times over the years with Headbangers Ball and all that, we were even nominated for an MTV2 video award, but I’ve never been on here for my comics work, so this is definitely very cool and I appreciate it!
Killogy happened pretty organically, actually. At the end of last year, I was wrapping up my second graphic novel for IDW Publishing. It was a book called “Crawl to Me” which I wrote and illustrated. We had some fantastic cover artists on it too, especially my bud Menton3 (Monocyte). Crawl had been getting a lot of attention in the media and was in the beginning stages of getting produced into a feature film. With Crawl coming to an end… I just didn’t wanna stop. I felt like I was in a real groove creating horror comics. Especially since I was drawing so much everyday. IDW put out my “Wire Hangers” series the year before, so I was definitely itching to keep the momentum going.
I was practically raised on The Twilight Zone, so naturally, I always wanted to do a series where the stories were told in that self-contained format. The original Killogy outline I pitched to IDW didn't include the celebrities... that came later on. The outline told the tale of these three unique characters with intertwining pasts, getting stuck in a police holding cell together. As the hours tick by, they start to let their guards down and begin to share the stories of how they were arrested... and just how dangerous they are. They realize one by one, that each character has some sort of connection to their troubled pasts. These stories build up to an unexpected finale, which I won’t spoil for you.
So, Chris Ryall (Chief Creative Officer at IDW) really dug the premise and we put a contract in place. A few months later, when I got into designing the characters, I kept modeling them after these known celebrities because that's how I kept envisioning them in my head. I had no idea if I could even get a hold of these stars, let alone get them involved in my crazy idea. So, I put some feelers out there to see if they would be interested...
I found out that Brea Grant was already a big horror comics nut and had written We Will Bury You for IDW, so she was a good fit right away. Marky Ramone and I have a mutual friend, so when I met with him in person about the concept, he really loved the idea. He digs comics a lot and he especially liked the idea of his character using a baseball bat as a weapon. Frank Vincent is an old friend of my film production partner, Jeff Mazzola, so he connected us. Frank had never been involved with comics before but he has done voiceovers for animated films and video games recently, so this wasn’t too much of a departure for him. He is very excited about it, especially the artwork. For me, working with these guys on an original concept like this is really amazing.
Geek: Why these actors? What made them the ones to use?
AR: Well, take Frank Vincent’s character, Sally Sno-Cones, for example. Sno-Cones is a former mob hitman who ends up confronting the spirits of his victims in the cellar of his wife’s ices shop. He‘s been hiding body parts in frozen ice tubs for years until he begins to get haunted by them, or is it his own conscience? When I think of this character, I automatically think of the famous mob actors in Goodfellas and The Sopranos performing him. There is a certain sarcastic and deadly charm that goes into playing a role like that and I find them completely hysterical and absolutely terrifying at the same time. Frank Vincent’s on screen persona embodies this Killogy character to a tee. It matches the character I see in my head. He’s a perfect fit.
Same goes for Marky Ramone’s character, Cole, and Brea Grant’s character, Summer. It just makes a lot of sense to me. The way I look at it is this, if a reader goes into the series already knowing what these people look and sound like, I think the characters will come across that much more believable and lifelike. Plus, you’ll be able to connect with these characters on a whole different level because you feel like you already know them. I realize that this is a very unique approach for a brand new, creator-owned title. But, I enjoy taking risks. I like pushing myself. I never want to churn out series after series with the same look and feel.
Geek: What’s the set-up for the series? How’d they all come together in the first place?
AR: Part of the story arc is that each of these characters finds out how they’re connected to each other. Certain key story elements are revealed throughout, which enable the readers and the characters to see how it all fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. In the very opening scene, its clear that these three individuals have been waiting in this dark cell for quite some time. There’s literally nothing for them to do but to converse with each other. As they begin to tell their stories, each character narrates the events that brought them to justice through flashbacks. This one was a lot of fun to write. I have to say.
Geek: Let’s run ‘em down... Who is Frank Vincent in the book?
AR: Frank Vincent is Salvatore Mundo, aka Sally “Sno-Cones”. One of the only members of the mob who has never been pinched. Until now, that is…
Geek: How about Marky Ramone?
AR: Marky’s character Cole is a recovering gambler living in a halfway house. When someone approaches him to steal a hidden floor-safe that is suspected to hold valuable diamonds, the two thieves break in. To their surprise, they are caught red handed, which leads to blood shed, murder and just plain no good.
Geek: And Brea Grant?
AR: Brea plays a troubled girl named Summer Rhoades. She returns back from a trip to New Orleans to her art school in New York feeling unsettled. She believes that she's been possessed by a voodoo witch doctor but cannot remember enough to make sense of it. Her friends get concerned for her safety as her hallucinations begin to manifest into reality. I don’t want to give too much away on this one, but let’s just say it gets pretty bloody. You don’t wanna mess with Brea!
Geek: What about the look of the book? Is it going to be similar to Crawl to Me, or is there an evolution of the style in some way?
AR: Killogy will be a very different looking book than Crawl to Me. In Crawl and Wire Hangers, for that matter, I used mixed media to create the artwork. I hand drew everything on paper, scanned it in to the computer and enhanced the visuals digitally with photography, textures and digital lighting effects. I felt that those books called for a very atmospheric style and treatment. With Killogy, I made the conscious decision to make a departure from that art style because of the content. Killogy is very dark, but in a more graphical sense.
I would compare it more to the look and feel of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy, or Frank Miller’s Sin City. Think simplistic color palette, the use of rich blacks for distinct shadow work, and very detailed line work at times. I’ve been drawing in this style for the last few months preparing myself for the series. I even changed my process, having recently picked up a digital Wacom drawing board to draw everything digitally instead of with traditional pen and ink. Like I said earlier, I always like to challenge myself.
Geek: Let’s talk about the title... Is this a pun on trilogy, or anthology? This is a very important question.
AR: Trilogy... for sure. Killogy focuses on the intertwining tale of these three murderers.
Geek: We’re promised an innovative mix of horror, crime, and dark comedy... What makes this innovative, in particular?
AR: I enjoy films like Pulp Fiction or Fargo, where there are gruesome scenes and sadistic events that occur but told using a dark comedic tone. That is the vibe I'm looking to establish here with Killogy. That's why it blurs the lines between horror, crime and dark comedy. It's a little bit of all of them. I haven't seen that done a whole lot in comics lately. I'm hoping to change that.
Geek: What can we look forward to with the series? What can you tease?
AR: Well, one thing you can absolutely expect to see is Frank Vincent as fans of Goodfellas and The Sopranos would want to see him. He's got that same wise guy attitude and that same deadly temper. One of my favorite lines from Goodfellas came out of his mouth... "Now go get your fuckin' shinebox!" I'm definitely looking to give him some classic, memorable lines like that in Killogy. I'll be posting new artwork on the site in the near future so folks should check out http://www.killogycomic.com for more updates. There's also a short video teaser on YouTube:
Killogy #1 hits from IDW in October, 2012!