Dave Schiedt and Jess Smart Smiley INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by James Ferguson
It's safe to say that most comics today are pretty dark. There's a "grim and gritty" feel to them. Fun books are few and far between. Dave Scheidt and Jess Smart Smiley are aiming to change that with the upcoming release of Spooky Sleepover, an all-ages horror comics currently being crowdfunded through Kickstarter. Schiedt has been covering comics for some time and has written a few of his own including Monster Dudes and Minimum Wage Mummy. Smiley is the creator of Upside Down: A Vampire Tale and Rumpus on the Run: A Monster Look-n-Find Book. They were kind enough to sit down with us to chat about Spooky Sleepover.
James Ferguson: Can you tell me a bit about Spooky Sleepover?
Dave Scheidt: Spooky Sleepover is about a group of young kids sleeping over at their friends house and trying to creep each other with scary stories. It has a story within the three stories, and it opens and closes with that story. It's scary, funny and weird. Really weird, one story turned out very sweet and somber.. It's got rad stuff like a scary haunted toilet, ghosts, and a werewolf that's really into eating people's garbage.
Jess Smart Smiley: A haunted toilet! Vengeful ghosts! A hungry werewolf! If we’ve done our job, then Spooky Sleepover is a hilarious collection of horror comics written by Dave Scheidt and illustrated by me. It’s basically amazing.
JF: How did the two of you get together to work on the book?
DS: I picked up Jess's book Upside Down: A Vampire Tale a while back. I really, really liked it because it was the same funny, spooky vibe that I have always liked. Long story short, I contacted him and we became friends and made plans to make comics together! We first worked together on a story that's in Aw Yeah Comics #8. Comics are crazy! I'm super lucky to work with someone awesome like Jess. He's really bringing these stories to life in a way I couldn't even imagine.
JSS: Dave is lying. He locked me in a dungeon and said he wouldn’t let me out until I drew all these pictures for his “brilliant” comics. He was laughing and sweating and kept calling himself a “genius” and a “mastermind”. (Can someone get me some water down here?)
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JF: Which came first? The idea for the collection? Or the three stories within it?
DS: As a writer I am essentially thinking of a crazy amount of stories ideas, dialogue, scenes whichever in my head constantly. All of which is usually garbage, but key elements of these stories I think I had locked away in my big head for a while. So it's a little bit of both. The idea itself came pretty naturally when I talked to Jess about how awesome it would be for us to do a comic together for Halloween. We kind of went back and forth until we were pretty happy with the setup. It went over very, very well making Spooky Sleepover.
JSS: Dave had all these great ideas for funny horror comics. He unleashed a bunch of ideas on me and it quickly became obvious that there was no way we could make just one comic, so we decided on making a whole book of ‘em!
JF: Did you have a favorite spooky story that you heard during a sleepover as a kid?
DS: Oh man! That's a hard one! Especially for dudes like Jess and I. I was pretty obsessed with those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. The illustrations by Stephen Gammell used to scare the crap out of me, but I couldn't look away. These still freak me out! I'm 27!
JSS: It’s funny that Dave mentions the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. I vividly remember sitting in Mrs. Beaven’s second-grade class. One of my buddies had checked out the book from the school library and he flashed me that drawing of the skeleton woman—her hair all stringy and her skull cracked and threatening. I’ve had that image burned in my mind ever since!
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JF: Art Baltazar (Aw Yeah Comics, Itty Bitty Hellboy) will be writing the introduction to Spooky Sleepover. How did he get involved in the project?
DS: I've been a fan of Art and Franco's stuff for so long and have been following their stuff since Patrick the Wolf Boy. Basically, I got more involved in comics with conventions and the local comics scene here in Chicago and I got to know Art, and today I am super lucky to have call him a friend. Jess and I did some stuff in Aw Yeah Comics. That in itself is still insanely humbling to me because no one is doing all-ages comics better than Art and Franco and the whole Aw Yeah Comics bullpen. I think I asked him to write the intro at a party recently and I was kind of nervous and in classic Art Baltazar style, he was just like, "Aw Yeah Man."
JSS: I am SUCH a sucker for everything Art does! It must have been around 2008 or so when I found out about his Tiny Titans and I’ve been following him and Franco since.
Sidenote: Art’s actually down here in the dungeon with me. “Genius” Dave Scheidt won’t let Art out until he has written an intro to the book, showering Dave with praise. (Seriously, though—can I please get some water? And some for Art?)
JF: One of the rewards for the Kickstarter campaign have you performing a variety of dares including eating as much candy as you can in five minutes and doing the Monster Mash. Where did these come from?
DS: We are super weird and I want to watch Jess embarrass himself. I embarrass myself on a daily basis, so I may as well earn something for it for once, right?
JSS: Hahaha I’m so excited to watch Dave make a fool of himself! Super nervous about the candy one, though. Five minutes is a loooong time to be stuffing myself with sweets. Basically, Dave and I want to have some fun with you. The book is a lot of fun and we’ve had a blast making it, so we want to turn the Kickstarter project into a kind of party. We really want to celebrate the book with our backers and we thought this might be a fun way to get people involved.
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JF: The higher tier rewards include some custom comics created by the two of you. What does this mean?
JSS: Dave and I are offering to make 2- and 4-page custom comics for backers at the $250 and $500 levels. This means backers can finally make that comic idea they've had for so long, or they can turn a wedding proposal or announcement into something worth remembering. I think they're awesome.
JF: Assuming this campaign is a success, do you have plans for further volumes of Spooky Sleepover?
DS: We would LOVE to do more. We're just waiting to see if people are into it! It's up to the readers! We definitely have some really, really, really awesome plans if this takes off.
JSS: YES! (As long as it gets me out of this dungeon.) Dave and I have talked about other stories that wouldn’t fit into this collection, and it would be nice to give them a haunted home.
JF: Is Spooky Sleepover more or less scary than R.L. Stine's Goosebumps?
DS: Do you remember RL Stine's intros for the Goosebumps TV Show? He was the most unexcited, deadpan dude on Earth. Hilariously so. They would write these monologues for him that he would just read like he's reading out loud to himself. I think we win just based off that! Plus we dress better and we have a lot more pizza in our book.
JSS: I can’t take it anymore! I need water! I need… [R.I.P. Jess Smart Smiley –Ed.]
HorrorTalk would like to thank Dave Scheidt and Jess Smart Smiley for speaking with James about their upcoming comic Spooky Sleepover. You can help get the book made and even get them to eat a bunch of crackers and try to whistle through their Kickstarter campaign.
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