Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 10/29/2003
Zombies Ripped My Flesh!
Wesley Craig Green on Before Dawn
In honor of the season, today's interview is with the Wesley Craig Green, creator and writer of a horrific little volume called Before Dawn. An earthy mix of very black magic, the undead, and a small group of friends staying at a remote house, it draws upon the same zeitgeist as any number of classic genre films, yet manages to stake out it's own turf. Below, Green talks about those dark inspirations, what unearthly influence drove him to commit this particular project to paper, what he gets from imagining such terrible things, and much, much more.
Bill Baker: How would you describe Before Dawn to those who haven't heard of it yet?
Wesley Craig Green: Before Dawn is mine and Jason's valentine to both zombie movies and 80s horror flicks. Just about everyone who has already read the book comments on the influence of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead on it which is what we were aiming for. So if you've seen either Evil Dead or Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, then you know what to expect. For those who haven't, Before Dawn is an over-the-top horror/black comedy tale revolving around a small group of teenagers trapped inside an old mansion where a gateway to Hell has been opened. If that wasn't bad enough, the living dead have risen from the nearby family cemetery and are slowly making their way to the mansion.
BB: What lead to the creation of the project, how'd you develop it, and who was involved in that process?
WCG: The genesis of the story started about four to five years ago actually. I wanted to do a zombie story in an isolated area but I wanted it to be something original or at least different. So the story gestated in my head while I worked on a couple of different projects.
It wasn't till I posted an Artist Wanted ad on Digital Webbing [www.digitalwebbing.com] which Jason replied to that Before Dawn became a reality. The ad I posted was for a different project I wanted to shop around to different publishers. To make a long story short, Jason wanted to work on something with monsters. So he asked if I had anything in mind which lead to me telling him about this zombie idea I had.
So I started writing the script, sending him chunks of it at a time. From beginning to end, Before Dawn took around a year to a year-and-a-half to complete. Working with Jason was super easy. Both of us are very easy-going guys so there was no ego bruising. There were a couple of times were one of us would point out something in either the script or art which might need tweaking. But it was usually something minor.
BB: Was this a case where you wrote the script and then he drew it as written, or was there some give and take or back and forth involved while creating the book?
WCG: Well, when we started work on the book, I was living in Pittsburgh at the time. Then about halfway through the book, I got married and moved up here to Canada. So everything was done via email. So it was a case of me sending him parts of the script, then him emailing me back pages of art. We both bounced ideas off of one another which, I think, made the story even better since he's also a huge fan of the horror genre.
BB: Aside from the obvious sense of foreboding, and outright horror, you worked to instill into the project, there's also a very dark sense of humor. How difficult was it to mine that particular vein for laughs for you? Did it just seem to come naturally, or arise from the work itself easily, or was it a bit more work than that?
WCG: That's a good question, Bill. I think pulling off a comedic moment during a horror movie or story is very tricky. You either nail it or you just come off looking like a doofus. Then again, it has to come down to whoever is reading the story. If they have the same type of humour as you have, then your chances of pulling it off are in your favor.
As far as Before Dawn is concerned, one of the things I wanted to incorporate into the story was some dark humor to offset the constant onslaught of horror and dread. So whenever the opportunity presented itself, I went for it. Luckily, a lot of people who have read the story found it funny in all the right spots.
BB: Before Dawn really does read like a "love letter" of a very twisted sort to the great Zombie and horror films of the past. Which leads me to ask if a familiarity with, or even thorough knowledge of, that genre necessary to enjoy the book, or is that just something that just adds to the fun?
WCG: As I wrote the story, I wanted to pay tribute to some of my favorite horror movies. While the most obvious would be Evil Dead, there's also some other horror movies which have some sort of influence on the story. But I don't want to say what they are so readers can pick them out.
I hope reading the book will get people to check out not only Evil Dead but also some other great independent horror movies. After seeing Kill Bill, I definitely plan on checking out some Shaw Brothers flicks. I hope Before Dawn has the same affect.
BB: Is this your final word on the subject, or might there be a sequel if the public -- or some dark force -- demands it?
WCG: I hope no dark force pays me a visit demanding a sequel! Jason and I have already started tossing ideas around for a sequel. If we do one, we want to make it even scarier and over-the-top. It's just a matter of finding the time to do it.
BB: What else might you have in the works, and what can you tell us about those projects at this point?
WCG: The next project will be another self-published graphic novel dealing with monsters, conspiracies, and the end of the world. I'm on a Takashi Miike and Dario Argento kick right now. If you're familiar with those two directors, then you have a good idea of what to expect. I have the story planned out as a series of graphic novels. Right now, I've been working on the outline for the first graphic novel and the series as a whole. I'm also writing a horror screenplay which I plan on wrapping up around the beginning of the new year. In between these two projects, I've been thinking about the sequel to Before Dawn.
BB: What do you get from creating comics?
WCG: Having only done self-published work, I would have to say total freedom. There's no editors or bosses to answer to- well, there is the wifey but that's a different story. The two things which comics have over any other creative medium is how you can control the pace of the story and the ability to let your imagination run wild.
BB: What do you hope your readers get from Before Dawn, or your other work?
WCG: Besides feeling like they got their money's worth, I want readers to have the same roller coaster feelings I had the first time I saw Evil Dead or Dead Alive. I want them to be either scared or repulsed one minute then laughing the next. Judging from the feedback I've received so far, Jason and I accomplished what we set out to do.
BB: Any final words?
WCG: We received word last week Before Dawn will be solicited in the December Previews catalog. So the book will be creeping into comic shops this coming March.
But signed copies of Before Dawn are for sale and are already selling like hot cakes off of my site, www.greenflyproductions.com. If people are interested in checking out some previews of the book, they can go to www.greenflyproductions.com/previews_bd_home.html. There, they can check out some pages from the book, some behind-the-scenes stuff, and some great blurbs for the book from the likes of Dan Brereton (The Nocturnals) and Rick Spears (Teenagers From Mars) just to name a few.
Other than that, I would like to thank the people who gave our book a chance when it debuted at this year's SPX con, and to James Sime (owner of San Francisco's coolest comic shop, The Isotope) for also taking a chance on the book, and lastly to the various people who have already ordered the book from the website.
<< 10/22/2003 | 10/29/2003 | 11/05/2003 >>
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