INTERVIEW: Patrick Hoover creator of The Outdoorsman

Haunt of Horror Comics: First off tell us a little bit about yourself: Where you from? What other projects have you worked on? All that cool stuff that you would put in the “About” section of your website to prove that you are who you say you are.

PH: First off, thanks for having me! Well, I’m a Colorado native, born in Boulder and grew up in Longmont. Went to school at Colorado State University in Ft Collins, majoring in Fine Art, concentration in drawing (not the most financially lucrative move). I moved to Texas once for about six months, but after I saw the size of the roaches, I came right back! I’m currently living in Northglenn with my wife and son. I’ve got a day job…gotta pay the bills…so I pretty much have to draw in my spare time, which is after my son goes to bed, late into the night!

Over the years, I wasn’t always about drawing comic books, though, and used to do commissioned fine art pieces for awhile. One day, back in 2005, I made a decision to draw a comic book with a good friend of mine (he wrote the story), and that just sparked it in me. Since then, I’m mostly worked on The Outdoorman, first as a webcomic and now in it’s digital comic form. Recently, I just launched another title on my website blazeorangestudio.comentitled Son of Ymir; it’s a viking/fantasy book. In addition to my own comic work, I’m part of a draw blog of local comic artists; it’s called the Timberline Draw Blog, and we pick a weekly topic for everyone the blog to draw. It’s a lot of fun!

HHC: What are some of the influences on your art?

PH: My influences are pretty diverse. From back in my college and fine art days, I was always attracted to artists with loose lines with lots of kinetic energy; artists like Toulouse-Lautrec, Goya, and Klimt played a big part in my style and works. I was always more into drawing (chalk, charcoal, pen/ink, pastel) then I was into painting. Definitely drawn to the black & white. Interestingly enough, when it came to my illustration and comic book influences, it was completely the opposite. My biggest comic influence would have to be Mike Mignola; his use of line and large black shapes to create depth…amazing. I even aped his style initially; glad I stopped doing that! Other influences would be Sergio Aragones and Stan Sakai…Groo was the first comic I had as a kid, and once I found Usagi Yojimbo, I was sold. Amazing cartoonists. And all three of these guys are huge with black & white. There is one influence who I think ties both my illustration and fine art tendencies together, and I would say he’s probably more of an influence for me currently then anyone else, and that would be Guy Davis. I first saw his stuff on BPRD, and then later on his own original series The Marquis. An amazing illustrator…his fast and kinetic style seem to bring what I love in fine art together with what I love in comics!

HHC: What about writing style?

PH: Writing style? Heh, I don’t know that I have one. Writing is sort of second fiddle to me in my process, honestly. I’m jealous for those guys who can whip up a description of a scene and wonderful dialogue…I really don’t think that’s me. I most think of my stories in the visual; like scenes from a movie. I do write a script, but it’s more to remind me of the visual that I thought up. But I will say that I’m working on it. I want to be a better writer. I’ve got plans for a pretty large, ambitious Outdoorsman story, as well as one for my other comic series, Son of Ymir. I’m taking my time, working on outlines and research, trying to remember all those lessons from English class back in high school and college! Time will tell if I can pull it off.

HHC: Ok so “The Outdoorsman: Bon Appetit: was one of the best dollars I ever spent. What was the inspiration behind the Outdoorsman?

PH: Thanks for that! Well, The Outdoorsman ultimately started as a desire to draw a monster comic. I wanted to draw monsters, and was loving Hellboy at the time (still do), but I definitely wanted to take my creation in a different direction. Didn’t want it to look like a Hellboy ripoff. So I thought about the different angles, and a thought popped into my head…what if instead of super powers, or big muscles, it was a regular guy fighting monsters. Hunting them. And then I thought of my dad.

My dad is a big hunter and fisherman; an outdoorsman. I grew up hunting with him, and have always looked up to him…and it just made sense. A completely different angle! The Outdoorsman is basically my dad hunting monsters, just like he would a deer or antelope. I bring some of his personality to the character, and some of my own. The character also looks like my dad. The fact that he’s an older guy also brings a little something extra…not necessarily the normal hero archetype.

HHC: Does he have a name? Back story?

PH: He does share my dad’s name…at least first name. That’s revealed in the next story I’m working on, entitled “Boxenwolves”. I’m slowly revealing things about the character, but only as they’re needed for the story. I’m not a big fan of just coming out with an “origin story”; I prefer to get to know characters through their adventures, and get more information as I go. Just like meeting someone in real life. Part of the enjoyment for me is the exploration…if you know everything about the guy right up front, how fun is it to follow him along? So basically, I’m slowly revealing pieces of this character. One day, maybe I’ll get to an origin story…but maybe not.

HHC: What is with the spike jacket? Why does it kill the vampire who clearly just wanted to give the Ourdoorsman a hug?

PH: One of the things I wanted to bring to my monster hunting story is fun ways to dispose of the beasties. Not only does it let me introduce fun pieces of mythology, like the vampires counting rice, but it gives this hunter the edge in his fight. He doesn’t have super powers, he’s not the youngest guy around, so it’s his smarts and experience that give him the edge. Gadgets!

With the jacket, I was just thinking practically about the scene…what if a vampire snuck up behind him? Thought of it like diver’s swimming with sharks wearing chain mail. Vampire wants to snuggle? Impaled on spikes! Gotta make this more than just high-powered firearms blowing up monsters, right?

HHC: In your bio it talks about Angry Commuter Comics and how they have the adventures of The Outdoorsman in there, where would I go to find those? Because I couldn’t and I really want to read them!

PH: So Angry Commuter Comics was the label I started the Outdoorsman on…ultimately it was the name a few small print runs of the Bon Appetit story, as well as a trade paperback of the collected stories at the time. It was also the website where I featured the Outdoorsman stories in webcomic form. Up until late 2011, early 2012, you could read all the stories I had draw up to that point…5 of them…on the web. However, it was at that time I was taking a serious look at my art, and doing webcomics in general. The weekly page posting was becoming a grind, and I found myself rushing through pages just to get them up. Add to that fact that I was ultimately seeing zero revenue from the whole thing, I really felt a change was needed. I’d really like to draw comics full time, for a living, and what I was doing wasn’t getting me anywhere in that direction. Plus I felt burnout, and my art wasn’t really up to snuff…or at least to my own standards.

So I decided to go ahead change my model. Get away from weekly webcomic postings, and give myself some time to really draw things out, and rework stories. To start my new direction, I felt that digital comics was a good start, with small print runs to follow. I also really wanted to go back and fix all the things I didn’t like about the early stories; I was just learning how to draw comics…how to write a story even. With The Outdoorsman: Bon Appetit, I went back, and redrew the story, and fixed a few points, made it flow better. Now I’m on to the second story, entitled Boxenwolves, doing the same thing. My goal is to redraw each of the first five Outdoorsman stories, publish as digital first, and then print. Then I’ll move onto the next group of brand new stories…already have two written! Of course all this is happening under my new brand, Blaze Orange Studio (blazeorangestudio.com).

Long story short, all of those stories originally on the web under Angry Commuter Comics are now locked away…but being redrawn and rewritten, much better than before!

HHC: If he is a monster hunter what monster are you the most looking forward to having him hunt?

PH: I wish I had an answer to this question…so far, in the webcomic stories, he’s hunted vampires, werewolves, chupacabras, a kappa, and Krampus (the anti-Santa Claus…google it!). I’ve got a few other beasties that I have planned out (don’t want to mention just yet). So I honestly don’t know. All of them? Is that a good answer?

Really, I don’t know that there’s one I look forward to most, I just look forward to the creation of the story…so the hunt is more important then the prey I guess!

HHC: I love black and white horror comics. Was there a specific reason that you went with B&W for The Outdoorsman?

PH: I’m with you there! Love those old Eerie and Creepy comics. My reasons were two-fold: skill, and aesthetic. By skill, I mean I’m really better at B&W then color. I’m always working on my coloring, but at the end of the day, I feel my black and white is just superior. And since I’m doing this all myself, I want to bring the best visual I can. By aesthetics I basically mean the underground feel of black & white, and touching back to those old horror comics. Black and white almost feels like it’s something that isn’t main stream, something you shouldn’t be reading. That’s how I feel about it, at least.

HHC: Have you thought of The Outdoorsman in color ever? Or would you prefer to keep it B&W?

PH: I’ve definitely thought about it being in color! If the right colorist came along, (and I had the money to pay him/her) or if my skills were up to the task, I could see it happening. Maybe in a big fancy collected edition. But I still like it in B&W…kinda feels right.

HHC: A fat vampire? Where did that idea come from? Is he fat because the people he eats are fat? Is it a vague commentary on the American obesity problem?

PH: I wish it was as deep as a social commentary statement! Really, the idea came from one of the actual scientific reasons that is currently believed to be the origin of the vampire myth. During decomposition, back before the practice of embalming, the corpse would swell and the skin would turn a ruddy color, looking almost flush. People believed that this was due to the fact that the deceased had risen during the night and fed on the blood of the living…now of course we know better. So Bon Appetit’s size was mainly do to that bit of fact behind the myth. I also liked the idea of him being like a tick…drinking, consuming, until he bursts!

And of course, I wanted a vampire to look and act as much to the opposite of those emo teenage sparkly “vampires”! Vampires aren’t supposed to be romantic…they’re undead. So maybe it was a social commentary of sorts after all? 😉

HHC: What is next on The Outdoorsman’s radar? I have seen some sketches of what look like werewolves.

PH:  You’re right, werewolves it is! I’ve already started working on the redrawing of the second Outdoorsman adventure: Boxenwolves! All I can say at this point is that it’s a werewolf hunting trip in the Black Forest of Germany; those that have followed the Outdoorsman as a webstrip know this adventure already, but i’m taking it from the original 18 pages to a full 24. I’m also doing this book completely digital; using Manga Studio and Photoshop exclusively. Something I haven’t done before, and the results are looking pretty good!

HHC: I read that The Outdoorsman is based on your father, and that you will be making your mom the “head of operations” for what I assume is his job. Is it fun to use them as characters, and do they kind of get a kick out of it too?

PH: It is fun! Honestly, it’s kind of appropriate as well. I inherited my drawing ability from my dad, and our time hunting as I grew up obviously was a huge part of the character I created. My mom on the other hand, introduced me to pretty much everything I love. She bought me my first comic (Groo I believe), we watched Dr. Who and Star Trek together, and she got me reading classic literature by the likes of Homer, Bram Stoker, and Alexander Dumas. So alot of what I do creatively comes from them.

I do have plans to introduce a character based on my mom later on, when it’s appropriate. She’s a college professor, so I thought the character could be the researcher, the monster expert, feeding info to The Outdoorsman in the field. But that’s a ways off for now.

HHC: When can we expect a new issue? Because I want to read that real bad.

PH: That’s great to hear! I’m hoping to have it done by the fall, and released in digital format on blazeorangestudio.com just like Bon Appetit is now. I’ll keep everyone interested up on my blog, or the Outdoorsman facebook page.

HHC: Though not a horror comic, tell us a little more about Son of Yamir:

PH: Son of Ymir is something that started as my attempt at 24 Hour Comic Day; that’s the day when artists all over try and draw a full 24 page comic book in 24 hours. Let me tell you, it was pretty brutal! I didn’t quite make it….had 24 pages written and pencilled, and 13 (i think) inked by about 4 in the morning when I called it quits. But I liked the story so much, I went ahead and finished the inks, did some monochrome color, and made it a digital comic!

When I came up with the idea, it was as simple as ‘I want to draw a viking comic!’ I just tapped into all the Norse mythology I read growing up, and made 24 pages of hammer-wielding action!

People have really enjoyed it, so I’ve already started writing a much larger epic for the character, playing around with everything I love in Norse myth. If you like vikings or a good action romp, I’d recommend checking it out.

HHC: Anything else in the works that will amaze us?

PH: Right now, I’m just focusing on reworking the original Outdoorsman stories, and writing my Son of Ymir epic. And since I have a full time job in addition to trying and draw all these comics, that’s plenty. 🙂 I do, however, participate in a draw blog called the Timberline Draw Blog (timberlinedraw.blogspot.com), where each week a group of us local Colorado artist pick a new topic and do sketches. It’s pretty fun, and totally free to check out!

HHC: Any last words?

PH: to say thanks for taking the time to talk to me, and I’m glad you liked The Outdoorsman: Bon Appetit! And if anyone wants to stop by and see me for a sketch or hard copy of my books, I’ll be at ComicFest (part of StarFest) in Denver April 19 – 20, and Denver Comic Con May 31 – June 2.

INTERVIEW: Will and Kevin of Creephouse Comics

So Denver Comic Con is coming up in just about two months and I for one am pretty excited about the people that are going to be there.  I wanted to make a connection with some of the people that will be there that make the kind of comics that I love.  So I reached out to the makers of horror comic books that will be at Denver Comic Con, got a few to reply and so there should be a few more of these coming.  The best part though has been discovering all sorts of new comics and creators that I would have never heard of if it weren’t for the con.  So I caught up with Will and Kevin over e-mail to ask them a few questions about their Creephouse Comics, and just horror and comics in general.  They are great guys and have some awesome stuff to say about horror comics and the industry!

Haunt of Horror Comics:  First off, to anyone that isn’t familiar with what you guys do, tell us a little bit about Creephouse Comics:

William Tooker: Creephouse was formed because Kevin and I both have a love of classic horror and have weird senses of humor.  We love the characters over the gore and the creepy aftertaste of a good monster movie. Working together for someone else Kevin read my story “Never Send a Monster” and the seeds were planted there. After we left a dark place we started to collaborate seriously.
Kevin Gentilcore: Will pretty much summed it up there.  We are trying to make fun, classic horror comics while embracing new outlets for comics.
Im Hotep Mug Shot Print 8x12HHC:  What was the genesis of Teenage Love Zombies?                      
Will: TLZ is all Kevin’s baby.
Kevin:  it actually started when I was in college for animation.  It was originally intended to be 3 animated musical movies if you can believe that.  Some progress was made on that front.  Years later when I discovered webcomics it seemed like a perfect vehicle for TLZ so I reformatted it to fit that medium.
HHC:  What are some of the things that you like about publishing one page of the comic every week?
Kevin:  Actually I wish I could publish more a week but given my time restraints one is the most I can do for now.  I really like the webcomic format, it is reminiscent of daily comic strips and old pulp stories.  I like that I can put my story out there instantaneously without much cost and that fans know that every Tuesday night a new page will be waiting.  I have never missed an update day which is something I am very proud of.
 
HHC:  When plotting out the story how far ahead do you write the pages? Or do you just wing them week to week?
Kevin:  TLZ has been written through its completion.  When I changed it to a webcomic I had to rewrite a lot of the story and break it down to comic format.  Although while I do have a script I take liberties with it every week.  If I feel that a certain page might work better differently I will change it.
HHC:  Nerd technicality question, how does Fausto’s body work if the head is detached?
The same way the Headless Horseman stays atop that horse.  (HHC NOTE:  I feel like this means magic or something, and that gives me a chuckle.)
HHC:  Do you guys like working in black and white or full color better? Is there any advantage visually for either way specifically in relation with horror comics?
Will:Some things lend themselves more to black and white, for sure. Grandfather Bones and Spirits in the well would not have gained anything from color IMO. But The Never Send a Monster trilogy is a much more emotionally connected story and I think Kevin’s colors really bring that out.
Kevin:  I like working in both although I do love working in color.  Like Will said it depends on the story and I think horror can lend itself easy to both formats.
HHC:  The standard for comics is changing with the continued rise in digital comics. A lot of people really love to have the physical thing to flip through and read, but the I assume the ease of publishing digitally has its advantages. Which do you prefer at this point?
Will: I love the hard copy comic book but I download as well. For really examining detail the digital is amazing. I have my flatscreen TV networked with my laptop and I can look at a panel 2 feet high. But I love to get a stack of new comics and just work my way through the pile. I think digital is better for travel because it doesn’t result in crimped corners or warped pages.
Kevin:  As far as being a creator goes, digital is amazing.  It is still in its infancy and I have been fascinated with how it is progress and can’t wait to see the innovations people make with it.  I think now it is almost necessary to have your work available digitally in some capacity because people view media in so many different ways on so many different devices.  I love services like Comixology and rarely if ever step foot in brick and mortar comic stores anymore.  I still collect trades and collections but for single issues, Comixology for the win.
 
HHC:  You guys have a kind of campy horror thing going, have you ever though of doing a very serious story?
Will: I have 2 books I’m working on available in sections on Kindle right now; Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The Invisible Society. They will both be available hard copy later this year. But for Creephouse I am working on a story that has a strong dramatic thread that we have in the queue I want to do as a full sized Graphic Novel.
Kevin:  I could definitely see us doing something more adult oriented.  Will has tons of projects ready to go.  The thing about Creephouse is since we are fans of classic horror, the blood and guts are kept to a minimum and we rely on the readers to make some of their own horror so I think it keeps the work very all ages friendly.  The Never Send a Monster series is very fun and campy but also touches on some very mature themes like love, loss, obligation etc.
HHC:  What are some of the influences on your style of art?
Kevin:  This answer changes all the time:  Constants are Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Eric Powell, Guy Davis, Jeff Smith and The Venture Bros.  Recently I have really been into Dave Stewart, Sean Murphy and James Stokoe.
 
HHC:  What really got you into comics, and was it always horror, or was there a point in time when you just couldn’t wait to get your hands on the next issue of Amazing Spiderman?

Will: I loved mythology as a kid and what are comics but our own contemporary myths? I have always been attracted to the theme of the person who puts themselves between danger and people incapable of defending themselves. Just like the theme of the guy who takes his beating but won’t stay down. Adam Warlock was coming out when I was just starting to read comics and Jim Starlin uses such great themes and symbols in his work that it was that level of meaningful storytelling that won me over. I always wanted to find the next secret bit of brilliance in comics so I have read fairly widely.
Kevin:  Oh for sure superheroes got me into comics.  I still love superheroes and the superhero story style.  When i was a kid it was all Marvel and DC.  I don’t read much of those companies anymore but I love the characters.
HHC:  So what is next for the Creephouse?
Will: After we wrap up Never Send a Monster as the mainstream project and Krush McNulty and maybe another web comic with Kevin’s requested Vikings the more dramatic “The October Watch” will be coming down the pike. It will be about the town of Silver Cross where every October the veil between life and death part completely so the dead walk the earth. Most of the dead are peaceful but the ones who are not deal with Brick Hellsmith and his October Watch.
Kevin:  I am working on the second part of Never Send a Monster called Never Make a Monster.  We have a pulpy space adventure in the hopper we want to try and do as a digital format and the third part of Never Send a Monster, Monsters Never Prosper.  I am also working on my next comic series which I plan to release near the end of Teenage Love Zombies run next July called The Haunter.  I am not sure yet if it will be a webcomic but it is a mashup of all the things I love, horror, pulp, superheroes, monsters and humor.  For all ages.
 
HHC:  Any final words?
Will: Check out Kevin’s webcomics every week on the CreephouseComics.com website and join us on facebook as well. To find my horror work on Amazon just look for Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The Invisible Society or the William Tooker Amazon page.
Kevin: Con season is about to get underway and we will be popping up here and there so if we happen to be at a show you are at stop by and say hello.  Other than that, comics are awesome.
HHC:  Thanks again for your time guys, and thanks for being the first interview on Haunt of Horror Comics.  I can’t wait for then next panel of TLZ and all of your new projects.  Great work!