Decapitated Dan: Hey Mark and Andrew, thanks for taking time to talk with me about Wilder. We will start simple, how did you find yourself getting into working in comics?
Mark: I’ve been a comics reader and collector since I was four, always sketching away and dabbling in copying stuff I saw in books like Conan, Creepy and Sergeant Rock. I went to college and got a degree in graphic design and illustration and worked in advertising for several years, finally getting bored of that and moving into the sign business. All that time, I knew I wanted to do some comics work, so once I settled down and got married, my wife finally convinced me to give it a shot. About ten years or so ago, I headed up to Chicago for the Wizard World show, taking along a portfolio. I showed my stuff around for two days and came home with an inking gig (over Tim Vigil’s pencils) and a penciling gig that turned into a writing gig. The rest just kinda happened as a result of those first couple of jobs.
Andrew: My comic venture started in 2001, as an inker for Digital Webbing Presents, I did a few independent books that never saw the light of day as in inker, it was all good practice and honing my skills plus I made a little money. In 2006, I started illustrating and inking for Zenescope Entertainment. I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid and even published my own comic book in the 8th grade through Kinkos.
DD: So what can you tell me about Wilder. What’s it all about?
Mark: WILDER is a werewolf story, a story that begins in 1944 in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. It focuses on a US Army private named Roy Wilder who, along with two of his buddies, is stationed in a snowy pit, spotting and taking out German Panzers with a bazooka. Once Wilder and the boys accomplish their mission, they’re on the run from justifiably pissed off SS storm troopers and Wilder gets wounded. As the Nazis close in, someone (or some-thing) saves him and as a result…Roy Wilder will never be the same.
Andrew: Mark pretty much covered it….to sum up my half, WILDER’s a bad ass that doesn’t take shit and does what he feels is right. He loves his country!
DD: Who are the main characters?
Mark: First and foremost, you have Wilder himself. He’s the center of the story and if all goes as planned, will remain the main focus for some time to come. Then you have the Nazi commandant, Kriel…he’s Wilder’s nemesis and he’s (as most Nazis are) a bit of a bad egg. Then there are Greta and Veda…can’t tellya much about the girls…but they’re Polish, refugees from the Warsaw Jewish ghettos…gorgeous and lethal.
DD: Where did this idea come from?
Mark: Who the hell knows? (laughs) Seriously…Andrew had been adamant for a while about working with me on a project and when I finally got the time to pursue something outside of ’68, I agreed, telling him that whatever we did, it would be a werewolf story. He was cool with that and one day, I just sat down at the computer and typed the word WILDER. That’s how I usually start, with a title. I started typing, focusing on WWII because I know a lot about it and utilizing the Ardennes because it was snowbound and creepy. From there, the story just told itself to me and I wrote it down. I sent the finished script to Andrew a couple days later.
Andrew: Like Mark said, I had always wanted to work with Mark on something. In 2009, I was diagnosed with cancer (now in remission going on 5 years) and as soon as I found out about my diagnosis I drew this bad ass wolfman in a leather jacket holding a severed head to vent my frustration and Mark dug the image, later on Mark and I discussed even more working together and he definitely wanted to do a werewolf story. I asked him if it was cool to go with this image and he dug the leather jacket look. After discussing our ideas about WILDER, Mark produced a brilliant script and WILDER was born! I loved the name and everything that came together for the project. Flash forward a few years, due to work load mostly on my part, WILDER had to wait…finally, my schedule opened up and I was able to dedicate all of my love and aggression into illustrating the pages. When Roy Young came into the picture to take on the coloring chores earlier this year, the artistic circle along with Jonathan Swinney and my wife, Danita became complete.
DD: Werewolves huh? Why Werewolves out of ALL the monsters out there?
Mark: ‘Cause mummy stories are ridiculous! I dunno, I’m fascinated by shape-shifters. Always have been. Since I was a kid, other than the Creature From the Black Lagoon, werewolves have always been my favorite. I don’t go in for the “suffering curse victim” type of sympathetic werewolf. Don’t wanna weep over my monsters. I like the feral, hard-core, “I’m finally getting the hang of this transforming into a bulldozer with teeth thing, so you better watch your ass!” kinda werewolf. There’s a lot of dramatic potential to the lycanthrope and with his long life span, there are tons of stories to tell.
Andrew: As much as I love drawing zombies, they’ve kind of flooded the market place, vampires are over-done and all the rest I feel don’t hold up….I would love to do a Frankenstein story one day though but overall, just because werewolves are way better!
DD: How did you team up with Monsterverse to publish this book?
Mark: Andrew has a strong connection with Kerry and handled most of the pitch work. He can fill you in more accurately on that. I’m just glad to be under their banner. Love their “old-school” horror vibe, especially the whole Hammer feel of the “Flesh and Blood” series. I’m a Hammer horror junkie.
Andrew: Like Mark said, that was handled mostly on mine and my wife’s end. Kerry Gammill and I are both local to Texas and I’ve been a fan of Kerry’s for a long time. I really respect the fact that in today’s market place MONSTERVERSE is willing to step up and make a difference in the horror community, old school and new! Kerry and I discussed WILDER becoming part of the MONSTERVERSE Universe and my wife put together the pitch pdf to send, and the rest will soon be monster history.
DD: Prior to teaming up with Monsterverse, were you shopping it around or were you thinking of going the Self publishing route?
Mark: Yeah, we sent it out to a few places. Most of them already had something in the chute with a werewolf bent (seems we’re onto something here) or had tight publishing schedules filled for the foreseeable future. Andrew and I had discussed self-pubbing WILDER, but both of us wanted more exposure for the book and a chance to get it to comic stores everywhere. Self-publishing is a nightmare, creating so much “business” work that the creative stuff almost gets back-burnered. With Monsterverse, we have a chance to let their experience and professionalism handle all the publishing chores while we focus on making a great comic book.
Andrew: Like Mark said, we sent the pitch off to a few and they either had something in the horror-werewolf genre planned for the year and didn’t want the titles conflicting or the schedules were already booked up, no regret though, WILDER’s going to kick a lot of ass and it’s an honor to kick that ass with MV!
DD: In terms of horror what can readers expect?
Mark: Lots of action, violence and gore! (This is a Kidwell script, y’know?) Besides that, we really tried to get a good deal of personality into Wilder and the limited cast of characters. Hopefully, readers will feel a strong sense of loyalty, compassion and heart by the time the story ends. I like solid storytelling…and I like to cover it with oozing mounds of the aforementioned gore.
Andrew: There is a lot of action and gore, there is a spinal cord or two 😉 but this is definitely high energy and the first issue leaves you hanging in a good way.
DD: What are you hoping readers can take away from this story?
Mark: Firstly, a strong sense of satisfaction that the story has been told up to a point. This first book has a definite beginning, middle and end. The ending though, is wide open…it doesn’t leave you hanging in any way, but hopefully it will instill a burning desire in readers to delve deeper into Wilder’s life. He’s been around for a long time, fought in every conflict since WWII and has finally established himself as a hi…oh, waitaminnit…too much info for now. You’ll have to wait and see.
Andrew: The hunger for more…I want fans of the horror-genre and werewolf fanatics alike that when they think of their top five werewolf stories of all time, if WILDER is not #1 on their list, he better be two or three 🙂 I really do feel that what Mark and I have created will breath new life into the Wolfman.
DD: I know that this first issue is just a one-shot to get people interested, so how much more is planned for the story?
Mark: Andrew, Kerry and I have already discussed the potential for a multi-part mini-series after the origin book has its run. I think that’s the best way to continue, keeping story arcs bound to three or four issues. That way, everyone can keep giving their best to the series. Going monthly or bi-monthly with an ongoing independent book is tough, especially when most of the creators are working and producing tons of other stuff. As far as “how much” story there is to the Wilder legend…well, let’s just say that there’s more than Andrew and I can ever hope to tell.
Andrew: Mark and I have a four issue mini-series planned that will if the opportunity comes and I feel it will, the story will get you close to that peaking point 🙂 I mean the good peaking point, lol 😉 The story is that damn good, you might need a cigarette after it 😉
DD: We have to throw some love at the amazing Video Trailer you have on your website. Who was involved in creating that?
Mark: That was all done by our colorist, Roy Young and his amazing filmmaking pal Tony Noyes. Andrew had called me to tell me that these guys wanted to put together a short film based on Wilder and I gave it my blessing, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting much. When I finally saw the film, like a month later…I was BLOWN AWAY! What these guys produced on a nothing budget in a couple of weeks, was way outside my realm of expectation. I’ve watched that thing a dozen times now and it makes me chuckle every time. I love a good heart-ripping scene and the long shot of the Nazi spinning ass over teakettle off into the distance? Priceless.
Andrew: Yeah, when Roy Young came to me and asked for permission from Mark and I for he and Tony Noyes to produce this short film about WILDER and they described what they wanted to do, I was blown away by hearing their plans. When we got to see the film completed let me just say I was close to that peaking point, lol but seriously, Mark and I absolutely love what they did and Danita even got a kick out of the fact that in the opening scene when the credits are rolling, Roy is reading a portion of a poem that Danita wrote for WILDER.
Mark: Biggest highs have been the people I’ve gotten to work with. I’ve made lifelong friends by creating comics, friends with more talent than I ever knew existed. I’ve gotten to play with Frank Frazetta’s painted creations, create horrid monsters with body parts locked inside them for my childhood favorite horror mag, bring zombies into the Vietnam War and now I get to turn a bloodthirsty werewolf loose on the thugs of the third Reich. Pretty heady stuff. The lows are mostly people-based too. I’ve dealt with some less-than-savory ones, like everybody has, but all in all it’s been amazing. I even got to have breakfast with Leatherface (Gunner Hanson) in Cleveland once…that was different.
Andrew: Biggest high, there’s quite a few, my first would that I am very proud to have worked on one of the Frank Frazetta titles as well, inking over a long time buddy of mine, the-late Josh Medors (miss you, bro)…also, my work at DC Comics and now WILDER just to name a few. As far as the lows, the comic industry like life can sometimes be full of a lot of shit, you just have to count your blessings and not step in any of it and stay away from drama and politics, I am very grateful that God’s given me all of the experiences though, they have helped shape me into the artist I am now.
DD: Since this is a horror interview I have to ask, what is the most horrific that happened to you while working on this book?
Mark: I ran outta smokes! (Shudder)
Andrew: The most horrific thing for me was at the very beginning was the 5 months of chemotherapy that kicked my ass and I am grateful to be here….thank you, God!
DD: Were you into any horror titles growing up that lead you to want to work on this title?
Mark: I was a huge fan of “Werewolf By Night” from Marvel, especially anything that Mike Ploog drew. Also, (and I know everybody lists these books as influences, but how can you not?) all the old EC titles like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror…those stories just stick with you. They’re like horror flu germs. Ya can’t shake ‘em.
Andrew: I absolutely loved the old Eerie and Creepy stories and you can’t go wrong with the old Tales from the Crypt comics and the EC books kicked ass!
DD: So where can readers find out more about this book, and about yourself?
Every 100 likes on Facebook we give away goodies…everything from signed comics from Mark, Roy or I and original sketches.
Mark: As for me, friend me on Facebook. I don’t maintain a website ‘cause I’m a bit lazy and despise computers as anything but time-wasters and word processors.
DD: So in summary give me a quick recap on Wilder and why fans should give it a try.
Mark: There aren’t a lot of werewolf comics out there right now and WILDER is simply one of the best stories of that type I’ve seen in a long time. The tale is rich with actual history and characters, the action is plentiful and red and Andrew and Roy are killing themselves to ensure that it’s a fantastic visual experience. It’s unapologetically a horror comic, for horror people, but super-hero and comix fans should enjoy it as well. It’s just a good, fun read…and isn’t that what you buy a comic book for?
DD: Thanks so much for your time guys, I can not wait to check it out!