Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quoth The Raven

Ratchet Raven Productions was founded by husband and wife team;
SFX Makeup Artist Randi Raven and Indie Director Jason Ghoulscout.
Their roster consists of a webseries called "The Velvet Coffin"
(which is currently in production),
artwork by Alan John Bennett, and home to the SFX creations by Randi Raven.
Helping with the behind the scenes work of the company are
Producer Alan John Bennett, Production Manager Susan Williams,
and Publicist Holly B. Strange.

Along with the current projects,
RRP's Facebook page will promote other Independent artists and filmmakers. 
If you're interested in having us feature your work on our page
and wish to do some cross promotions,
please contact Holly and we will be more than happy to work out the details.

That Holly is me! I'm proud to be a part of this company.
I'm also very excited for you all to see The Velvet Coffin.
Which is like if the Addams Family invited Elvira over to watch 
Mystery Science Theater 3000 during the zombie apocalypse.
So basically awesome!

Speaking of awesome,
The Raven illustrated ebook is available FREE here!

I plan to re-read it in honor of Poe's birthday,
which is Sunday!

This portrait by Rouble Rust hangs above my bed

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vampire's Day is on the way...

Which means it's time for another sanguinary soiree!

Artwork by Meritxell Ribas Puigmal

What is the Vampire's Day Soiree?
A blogger event and an alternative to Valentine's Day.
For those who prefer love at first bite.
All you must do is post about the children of the night.
And include a link back here,
so we can all revel in our commandeer!

Sound like your cup of blood tea?
Then sign up below to join me!
(Please grab the promo pic too.)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Meet The Makers of Halloween Man

Drew Edwards and Sergio Calvet

H: Hey you two, thanks for letting me pick your brains!

S: Hey there. No problem, although I'm afraid there's not much of it left to pick!

D: Personally I never turn down a chance to talk about myself, so pick away!

H: First off, can you each tell us what you do?

D: I am the writer of the book or more to the point the “scripter” as comics start in a script form.
Also, “Halloween Man” is my original concept. So I come up with all of the crazy story ideas and try to form them into some kind of reasonable story structure.

S: I'm in charge of the artistic part of the book. That ranges from doing the art and character designs, to coloring, lettering and in some cases the design of the final books.

H: How did you two meet?

S: Ours is a partnership 2.0. We met on the old Millarworld creative board. That was around 2003 or 2004. In those days, that board was certainly a vortex of creativity. Most of my current creative partners come from those days.

D: I was introduced via Russell Hillman, the editor of Halloween Man. He was the one who really put the two of us together. Sergio and Russ had previously worked together on “It's the Beer Talking”, Russ' humor comic. And as Sergio mentioned, we were all heavily involved with the Millarworld forums. That place was like lightning in a bottle.

H: Drew, can you tell us a bit about Halloween Man?

D: “Halloween Man” is the ongoing adventures of a good-hearted monster named Solomon Hitch and the love of his life, a brilliant woman named Lucy Chaplin.

I always say “Halloween Man” is a 21st Century “Beauty and the Beast” Story about the relationship between Solomon and Lucy. I wanted to create a story where the monster was the “hero” and got the girl. The comic has this kind of Rock 'n' Roll outsider vibe to it. Of course there is a lot more to it, but that is the core concept.

You have Solomon, who really wants to be this decent guy, but is this flesh eating, undead, horror show on two legs. Then you have Lucy, who is basically Doc Savage in Jayne Mansfield's body. Together, this zombie superhero and sexy super-scientist try to save the world and their souls in the process. I'm not saying it's high art, but I've been told there is actually something uplifting about the characters and their relationship. And at the end of the day, I hope that is true.

H: What are your favorite Halloween Man storylines?

S: That's one of those questions in which I'll give a different answer depending on the day, but I have a soft spot for Murder by Death and the Halloween Man and Hack/Slash crossover.

My favorite from the ones I've drawn is Solomon X, because that story is where I began to set my version of the characters. The one that is most closest to me as a reader would be Tomb of Captain Evil. I'm a bit proud of Halloween Man versus the Invisible Man too. For upcoming storylines, I really enjoyed working on The Bombshell Experiment a lot.

D: I'm probably most proud of “Halloween Man vs. the Invisible Man.” Despite making use of a public domain character as the villain, I think it cuts the deepest as to what the comic is about. I think it's some of my best writing and Sergio's art is also top notch on that one.

Like Sergio, I am looking forward to unleashing all of the Lucy centric stuff we've been working on. We've certainly embraced a kind of, I don't know, playful naughtiness for those.

H: Who/What inspires both of you?

S: In general I'm inspired by good comic books. My tastes lend a bit more towards the classical stuff. It doesn't probably show in my art but the foundations of my work are found in the works of Ditko, Kirby, the Buscema brothers, Byrne. Being from Barcelona you have to add to the mix the inevitable Spanish and European influences (mostly from the all-ages and humor books). I draw inspiration too from childhood memories of those memories involving the Harryhausen movies, old John Ford westerns and Saturday morning cartoons.

D: I'm a pop-culture junkie, but my tastes also lean towards the “old school.” I love the “Silver Age Marvel Universe.” I'm also a huge fan of the Universal Monsters and Hammer Horror. It's also not uncommon to see a lot of 80's horror films playing on my TV because that is what I grew up on.

I'm a pretty big music fan as well. My personal favorites being Rockabilly, Classic Country, old Soul music, and Punk Rock. Sharp-eyed readers will probably pick up on a lot of music references in the comic.

H: What are your favorite comics?

S: Again, the answer can change depending on the day but you'll find in my list for sure the Stan Lee era of Fantastic Four and Spider-man (with Kirby, Ditko and Romita) and the Savage Sword of Conan stories drawn by John Buscema. Of the book being currently published, Usagi Yojimbo, Chew and the Sixth Gun.

D: As I said earlier, I'm a huge fan of Marvel's Silver Age. The Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four was a major influence on Halloween Man.

I'm also a pretty big Grant Morrison fan. His Doom Patrol is one of my all-time favorite runs on any comic. His recent run on Action Comics is actually probably the most current thing I've read. Really top-notch Superman stories, those comics.

H: Do either of you have any advice for aspiring comic creators?

S: Relax and draw. All day, if possible. Move forward. And always look at what others are doing, you'll learn a lot from others failures and successes. I know I've left a lot of my failures out there for others to learn from.

D: Once you start, don't ever stop making comics. You probably won't get rich off it, but it's worth it. I firmly believe that this medium feeds the soul. Plus, the only real way to “learn comics” is to make them.

H: Are either of you working on any other projects?

D: I have a short story called “Mange” coming out in an upcoming issue of Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave. It's a werewolf story and a collaboration with another long time creative partner, Terry Parr. I am also a regular cast member on the “Castle of Horror” podcast. So if you're into horror movies and podcasts, please check that out.

S: I recently finished a horror comic book with Russell Hillman (editor of that Halloween Man thing) called The Dark of the Forest (on sale now!)

Currently I'm working on more Magic of Myths stuff with Corey Brotherson, one of my other creative accomplices and I've been developing another fantasy book called Lotus Wolf with Michael Murphy for Chibi Comics.

H: What does the future hold for Halloween Man?

D: As anyone who has recently been to can tell you, the web comic is gone. Due to our recent deal with Monsterverse, we'll now be publishing via Comixology as a digital download. So please check out the Monsterverse section on their site and keep an eye peeled for all-new “Halloween Man” comics in 2014!

If you have not read “Halloween Man” before do not worry. We will be representing some of our best stories as back-ups in each issue. Plus, each issue will have an easy, new-reader friendly synopsis of who the characters are at the start of the issue. So you'll be an expert in all things “Halloween Man” in no-time flat!

As, I mentioned earlier, we're going to be doing a lot with Lucy's character this year. As part of our “Eye of the Beholder” storyline, we're reinventing her as a plus-sized woman. I say “reinventing” but it's really sort of going back to original concept of the character. When I originally envisioned Lucy, I pictured a buxom, plus-sized woman in 1950's pin-up fashion. But at that tender age, I lacked the confidence to follow through on this idea. I'd always try to slip it into my notes to artists, asking them to draw her curvier. But they'd normally just draw her with a bigger bust-line and that was it.

I'm in my 30's now and am much more comfortable with my own personal preferences. I think I'd say now I come with a more worldly viewpoint to the issue of body image. So Lucy is going to get a bit of an extreme makeover. As far as how we'll transition this and why, well, I guess you'll just have to read the story to find out.

I really do hope more comic creators follow my lead and create more characters that don't fit the typical Hollywood mold. DC comics recently slimmed down both Power Girl and Amanda Waller as part of their line-wide reboot, which is sort of disturbing if you think about the thought process behind it. And I am not just talking about female characters. I mean all characters. Most comic characters are very “homogenized” in appearance. Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent could be twins for crying out loud! We need more body types and more diversity in comics, not less. We don't need a legion of clone-looking heroes and heroines cluttering up the fictional landscape. It's very bland and I personally find it very uninteresting.

But enough of me talking from the “pulpit.” I can also promise you dwarves, beast-men, cannibal burlesque dancers, and LOTS of vampires! You can look forward to dinosaurs, the Headless Horseman, and an evil talking apple with god-like powers. Monsters galore and of all different stripes! And if you're reading this interview, I'm assuming you like monsters.

H: Before I let you guys go, can you tell us where we can stalk follow you?

S: You can find out about my past, present and future works at my blog:
and at twitter (@sergiocalvet)

D: The best ways to currently keep up with Halloween Man is through either the Facebook group or my blog. I'm always posting a lot of preview art on there, as well as just random thoughts that go through my head. You should also check out the “Castle of Horror” Facebook page, because we certainly could do with more love in the new year.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 will be a year of firsts for me

These are the things I'm gonna do...

1. Take my first online class (on History of Horror TV) at Dark Side University

2. Participate in the Kryptic Army Monthly Movie Challenge

3. Attend Scares That Care Weekend (My first horror con!)

4. Create a Podcast with The Velvet Coffin crew

5. Create an interactive Holly's Horrorland comic

Any of you artists want to collaborate on that last one?
Please let me know!

Happy New Year!