Interview: Comic Book Writer Victor Gischler on CLOWN FATALE and KISS ME SATAN
In our interview with Clown Fatale and Kiss Me Satan comic book writer Victor Gischler, we discuss the need to make well-worn monsters like vampires and werewolves your own, the nature of power, Deadpool over-saturation, grind-house homages, and scaring off readers with too much sexuality.
You read the words “Ninja Corpses” and you get a little twinge of giddy delight. Is it necessary for you, as a way of creative fulfillment, to think outside of the box when you’re working with well-defined monsters like vampires, werewolves, witches, and zombies? Is it more fulfilling for you to modify a little and make them your own?
Victor Gischler: I think most writers would say yes to that question. Zombies and witches and werewolves, etc. are some of the fun toys of horror. They’re here to stay, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to put a new twist on them. For me, the sweet spot is to partly meet an expectation. You expect a werewolf to do certain things, right? But let’s not stop there. Let’s fit all these familiar parts together in a way that gives us something just a little bit beyond the familiar.
What can you tell me about the asset that is Juan Ferreyra’s art? What’s the partnership like, and how vital is he to the action shots in particular, because I feel like there is a cinematic, high octane quality to them that is pretty unique.
Gischler: I think cinematic is a good word. Yeah, I was extremely fortunate to find Juan for this book with the help of editor Dan Chabon, who put us together. Juan has an amazing instinct for what is needed in each panel and on each page. A lot of his action sequences are just made of pure energy.
There is the suggestion that Cassian may kill his son to prevent losing his place atop the were-family because the baby doesn’t have the mark. If you pull back from the werewolves and the mafia angle, it’s a hell of an allusion to gender choosing, infanticide, and selective abortions that horrifically happen in some cultures. Was that the intended interpretation or am I over-thinking it?
Gischler: And also just the notion of what power does to people. I mean, what’s more important? Family? Happiness? Or hanging on to power? Too many people are willing to do some crap things in this world just to protect their little bit of power they might have. Didn’t specifically think of “gender choosing” but that can fit too and is maybe a very interesting example of an abuse of power.
Kiss Me Satan has a few sexy ladies, and of course, Clown Fatale is going to be chalk full with what looks like (from the images that I’ve seen in the promo trailer) a grindhouse-y vibe, but I wonder if it ever feels like overkill when you’re pulling these book together? I haven’t seen Clown Fatale yet, but in Kiss Me Satan — the fabric deficient vamp maid assassin costume, the mini-skirt and thigh high legging attired witches, the butt shot in the hotel room. Obviously, these things appeal to a large swath of the reader base, but do you worry that that imagery is going to cause eye rolls from other readers and that you might be robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Gischler: A writer can’t think like that or he’ll psyche himself out. I mean, once you decide what kind of book you’re writing, then you’ve got to go for it full throttle. Tame and tentative almost never produces anything fun. Once you understand that no matter what you do, you will NOT please every single reader every single time. If I pull back on something to prevent eye-rolls from one kind of reader, then another kind of reader will roll eyes because I “wussed out” or something. I think of Kiss Me, Satan and Clown Fatale as Rated R type books. Once that decision is made, there’s no point in looking back, and if anyone’s bothered by a glimpse of a butt then they’re going to be really shocked with what’s coming.
Staying on Clown Fatale for a moment, there is a panel in the trailer — blonde girl, bare feet on the table — Tarantino homage? And can we expect a few “shots” that make us think of the films of the homage king, aka Tarantino, and originals like Russ Meyer, Corman, even Zarchi and Deodato?
Gischler: Let’s go ahead and say that it IS an homage just because it seems like it would be a good one. The fact is, I think the script said something simple like “she has her feet up” and Maurizio (the artist) drew what he drew. I will say that in a very general sense Tarantino is an influence, so maybe I was unconsciously sending that vibe and Maurizio picked up on it. Oh, and speaking of Tarantino, it’s hard for me to imagine he’s the sort of fellow who worries about eye rolls. Or somebody like Russ Meyer either. Hell, I SHOULD have put in more intentional homages.
I really like what Duggan and Posehn are doing with Deadpool, but I also miss Merc with a Mouth. Obviously, you were able to go a bit wild with that book, and the covers were outstanding. At the time, though, was there concern that there was too much Deadpool on the market? I suppose, the short version is, when you’re writing a popular character in one of their many books, do you worry about oversaturation and fatigue, and if you do, how do you combat those concerns?
I was always relieved that concerns like that were above my pay grade. In other words, it wasn’t my worry. If there had been two Deadpool books or three hundred, I still would have had as much fun as possible with MY book and just not worried about anything else. So I guess I combat those concerns by just having as much fun as possible and cashing my paycheck.
What can you tell us about Ink Mage?
Ink Mage is an epic fantasy novel in serial form currently available for your Kindle. The first think I ever really wanted to write as a kid was fantasy, and it’s cool that I now have my chance. The protagonist of Ink Mage is a young duchess in exile who seeks out wizards to give her magical tattoos. Each new tattoo gives her a new amazing power. It’s funny to talk about Ink Mage in the context of Kiss, Me Satan and Clown Fatale because fantasy is really the only genre [wherein] my tastes lean much more toward the mainstream.
Clown Fatale #1 and Kiss Me Satan #2 are on sale where comic books are sold and on Dark Horse Digital. You can get Ink Mage on Amazon.