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An Interview with Kevin Gentilcore, Creator, Writer and Artist of Teenage Love Zombies

by Mike Haberfelner

September 2011

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You are presently in the process of releasing a web-comicseries called Teenage Love Zombies. In a few words, what is it about?

 

I like to tell people it is a romantic rock n' roll horror comic.

 

Now how did you come up with the wonderful title Teenage Love Zombies?

 

I really wanted a title that was kind of a throw back to the old 50's and 60's era sci-fi and horror titles. Something that wasn't ambiguous as to what the story was about. I threw some ideas around and just decided to see what the story had in it: teenagers, some romance and zombies - Teenage Love Zombies.

 

What were your main inspirations for Teenage Love Zombies?

 

Like with the title I love the old sci-fi and horror movies. I wanted to have that sensibility to the story. Not a lot of complicated story twists or high concept characters. Just a fun zombie story with a little bit of a different approach. I love the visuals of Frankenstein and Dracula and even the Hammer Horror films. Cobwebs, mad scientists with outrageous laboratories, dark castles and the living dead but with a sense of humor about it like the old EC Comics, Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror etc. The other main influence was music. I am a huge music lover especially of Horror Rock like The Misfits and Blitzkid and Psychobilly music. Psychobilly has this cool greaser meets horror vibe to it and I love that look.

 

How would you describe the overall style of the comic?

 

I went to college for animation so my style is kind of animated. I love using bright bold colors which is tricky with a horror story. I try to play with the color of things a bit, make it a bit unrealistic at times.

 

Your comic's website, and what made you choose the net as a publishing platform?

 

I was going to do it traditionally and do one large printed book. As I was getting ready to start it I was retooling the story and realized I have a larger story to tell and it might take a while to get it done. I just started reading some web comics and was really inspired by some of the creators and the stories they were telling. With the web the gates are wide open. You can do anything you want with a comic on the web and that idea freed me where I was stuck and gave me so many other ideas for things I can do with the story.

 

Is it true that Teenage Love Zombies was originally planned to be an animated musical? Would you like to elaborate on that, and what happened to these plans?

 

It was originally a musical. I had written music with friends and everything. I had some animation done for it as well. It seemed at the time like such an ambitious project that I axed the musical part of it and was just going to do an animated feature. Being a one man team it just seemed like I would never finish it in an animated form. I really love the story and I wanted to get the story out before I died so I thought about doing it as a comic. I am not sure why I didn't plan it as a comic in the first place because the more I thought about it and reworked it the more it made sense to pursue that path.

 

Why did you set your story in the 1950's?

 

I love the style of that period. I have always been a little stuck in the past with things I enjoy. I think that era is instantly recognizable and that it is a perfect match for a horror themed story. It was also heavily inspired by Pscychobilly which plays with that imagery a lot.

 

How would you describe your approach to zombies (e.g. slow vs fast ones, traditional voodoo-style zombies vs the flesh-eating variety, ...)?

 

I am a zombie fan in all their forms. While my personal taste is for a slower Romero style zombie, I think the newer fast zombies have their place too. Way further down the line in TLZ some traditional voodoo style zombies play a big part in the story as well. My approach to zombies in the story is a bit different than they have been shown recently. I am not saying I have invented some new kind of zombie more like I am mixing a lot of different zombie elements together.

 

The series is still in mid-story. Any hints regarding what's happening next?

 

Things have been building for a while now and it is about to get a little crazy.

 

Besides Teenage Love Zombies, you are also one of the driving forces behind Creephouse Comics. How did that company come into being, and a few words about the company's co-owner William Tooker?

 

William and I go back a few years now. We met at a now defunct local artist group and stayed friends after it dissolved. We both have similar interests and had been trying to work on a couple things together. Creephouse Comics sprang from us needing a place to call home for our collaborations. I love William's writing and his take on horror and I wanted to be the guy who put it to pictures.

 

What can you tell us about the comics you have done for Creephouse Comics?

 

So far we have done two books that are available, Spirits in the Well and Grandfather Bones. So far all the Creephouse Books are poems Will has written put into comic book format all dealing with horror and the supernatural. Both are kind of like a Tales From the Crypt story where there is a lesson to be learned, in a morbid sort of way. They are definitely a throwback to more of a classical approach to horror. We are also working on a new series called Never Send a Monster, which will be an anthology style comic, again in the poetry style, dealing with 3 different kind of monsters all with a lesson to be taught. I am about half way through with the first story of that book.

 

You have also done quite a bit of work for Marvel Comics of late. Would you like to elaborate on that?

 

I have been doing a ton of sketch cards for Marvel properties trading card sets. Upper Deck has the license for the Marvel movie trading card tie ins and they hire a bunch of artist to do a series of one of a kind sketch cards. I draw right on the cards that have the official Marvel branding on them then send them back the originals. They randomly put them in packs of cards and use them as an incentive for collectors to buy the set. They are a ton of fun and I love drawing these characters I grew up with and still love. Recently I did sets for Thor, Captain America and a Marvel Universe set.

 

You have also been responsible for the artwork of the comicbook series Ray Harryhausen Presents: Back to Mysterious Island. What can you tell us about that project, and how do you bring Ray Harryhausen's creations to the comicbook-panel?

 

That was my first published work. It was kind of a nerdy dream come true, being an animation student and being a huge Harryhausen fan. The story was written by Max Landis, son of director John Landis. I was given complete creative control on the look of the book. The story was kind of like Jurassic Park meets the Harryhausen cast of Monsters. Mystery Island is where Captain Nemo kept all the fantastical creatures he came across in his adventures. Years later the island is abandoned and the monsters are loose so I got to draw a lot of the more famous creatures like his cyclops and ymir. Some of them I changed a bit but most of them I wanted to keep close to the original because those designs are classic.

 

Any other of your comics you'd like to talk about?

 

I am always working on something new. I have a couple ideas I am tossing around now but nothing close to done yet.

 

How did you get into comicbook drawing in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I have been reading comics since I think 3rd grade. We had a friend who was into them and drawing his own characters so we all started to do that as well and it has just stuck. I was interested in art and comics all throughout my primary years, always drawing in class and never really getting interested except for in art class so when it came time to go to college, art school seemed like the obvious choice. I went to the Art Institute of Colorado for animation where we had a heavy focus on traditional art (drawing, 2D animation), and when everybody moved on to 3D, I kind of stayed with 2D.

 

Somehow, your comics never seem to stray too far from horror. Is that a genre you are particularly fond of, and your genre favourites (in comics, literature, film, whatever else)?

 

Horror is my favorite genre. I am a huge horror fan and everything it has creeped into, literature, films, comics, music, video games and anything else. I am just drawn to that. I do prefer genre stories to, say, regular drama but I love anything that is a good story. My other favorites are comedy, animation and noir.

 

Apart from doing comicbooks, you have also had your hands in film production, at least occasionally. Would you like to elaborate on that?

 

I have an interest in film but I have been more devoted to comics as of late and I like where I am. I have a lot of close creative friends so I am always willing to help out. Kristian Day [Kristian Day interview - click here] made a movie a couple summers ago out in Des Moines during the 500 year flood. Both of our interest in film drew us together and he asked me to produce and help out on shooting. He raised the money, wrote the script and directed, and I helped pick the cast and get everybody there and to the shoots on time and everything else that needed to be done. Kristian is an amazing guy and a talented filmmaker and that was the best summer of my life. Back here in Denver one of my good buddies Dan Crosier has been working on developing a couple film projects. He asked me to be the producer on his short Sons of Soil he shot last October to help raise money for a feature length version. We shot the whole thing on his family's farm and had a blast. One day I would like to get back to film but like I said, comics are my true love and I am happy doing this now.

 

Comicbook artists who inspire you, and your favourite comicbooks?

 

I love so many artists and I am sure my answers change every time I am asked this but Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, Darwyn Cook, Jeff Smith, Al Williamson, Greg Capullo, Eric Powell, Doug Tennaple and Skottie Young.

Some of my favorite comics are Swamp Thing, The Goon, The Walking Dead, Hellboy, BPRD, Invincible, Fables, House of Mystery, Chew, Bone, Fear Agent, The Dark Knight Returns and Ghost Rider.

 

And since this is primarily a movie-site, your favourite films?

 

First and foremost, the original Star Wars-Trilogy especially The Empire Strikes Back. Others are Blade Runner, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Thing, The Fog, Pan's Labyrinth, District 9, Monster Squad, Spirited Away, Suspiria, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Alien, Godzilla, Young Frankenstein and Bubba Ho-Tep.

 

... and of course, movies you really deplore?

 

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Oh man lol. I hate movies like cookie monster loves cookies. Anything that takes itself too serious or movies that talk down to you and assume you are an idiot. I really dislike these self important actors and directors who think they are doing you a favor by showing this particular person's struggle or other such character pieces. Usually most things that get nominated for Oscars. They just seem soulless. Don't get me wrong I love a good popcorn flick and to just shut my brain off sometimes, but I think that while that is good fun there doesn't seem to be much recently that asks the opposite.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

TLZ can be found at www.teenagelovezombies.com.

Creephouse is at www.creephousecomics.com.

My personal site is www.kevingentilcore.com.

You can also find my art on DeviantArt at funkyeti.deviantart.com.

Facebook is facebook.com/kgentilcore and Twitter is @KevinGentilcore and @Creephousecomic.

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Thanks for the interview! If you are in Denver or nearby I will be at the Mile High Horror Film Fest on Oct 7-9 selling some horror art and scaring children and in November all the awesome local comic talent will be at Cow Town Comic Fest on November 12th!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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