Alan Robert is the creator, writer, artist, colorist, and letterer of Wire Hangers and Crawl to Me. The first issue of his next project, Killogy, is set to debut on Halloween from IDW Publishing. Alan was kind enough to sit down with me during New York Comic Con for a quick chat about his new comic.
James Ferguson: Can you give a quick rundown of what Killogy is about?
Alan Robert: Well, it's basically about three murderers trapped in a prison cell together and none of the police have checked on them in some time. They're starting to get hungry and they're starting to get irritable. As the hours tick by they realize that all is not well. Their backstories intertwine. It's all about revealing what each of them have gone through in order to figure out how to survive.
JF: Killogy is unique in that you officially cast your main characters, basing them on real people. I've never seen that before in a comic. How did you get the idea to do this?
AR: I didn't have it at first. When I first got the publishing deal with IDW, I pitched it without the stars attached. They loved the concept, which was great. Then, as I started to really develop the characters -- I had a mobster, I had a streetwise thug, I had a starlet -- my character designs started to look like these actual people. Then being that I'm such a big Twilight Zone fan, I realized that the thing that I really liked about the Twilight Zone besides the fantastic writing was that you always had a new actor or star as the center of the story to guest star. So I looked at this as very much Twilight Zone-esque, being as there were self-contained stories within this overarching story. I was wondering could I actually get the rights to use these people in the book? One by one, I approached them. I sat down and I pitched these people, right across the table. Like you said, it's something that hasn't been done before, so it's not so cookie cutter as far as licensing, as if you were going to license a property and adapt it in a different medium.
JF: Was that difficult?
AR: It was a little hard to pitch, especially with this scenario as there's no script. I don't work with a script. I'm also the artist, so a lot of it…all of it's in my head. I write very bare bones outlines and plot points, but I don't write a dialogue script, so I couldn't physically show them a script. "This is what your character says on page one." So there's a lot of trust involved. Luckily, I was able to convince them that they were in good hands. Also, being a big fan of their work -- being a huge Ramones fan, Frank Vincent's been in every one of my favorite movies, and Brea I know through the publisher and through some other artists as she's a horror writer too -- it just kind of came together. Thankfully they had the faith in me that I was able to deliver it.
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JF: That actually led to my next question. How did you come to these particular actors? Did you just kind of develop those characters and then it just kind of clicked that this person really looks like that actor?
AR: Yeah, it was really natural. The idea just came to me. I don't know how, but Twilight Zone was a huge influence in that decision. Once we got one, it was easier to get the others. You get someone like Frank Vincent on board...
JF: Was he the first one to come on board?
AR: Yeah, once you get someone like that with that kind of reputation in the business to do something very unique, it was easier to get people on board.
JF: The easy next step for Killogy would be to turn it into a movie. You've already casted it and drawn the storyboards. Any plans to bring the comic to the big screen?
AR: You never know. I mean, I would love to see that happen, or even a TV series or a web series even, a live action web series, but I'm really just putting it out in the universe. That's my approach with all my stuff. With Crawl to Me, a lot of people have said that the panels look very cinematic and now we're in development to make that a feature film. But I don't take it for granted. Of course it's in the back of my mind, you know with the popularity of films based on comic books.
JF: Well, you are kind of two for two on them so far with Wire Hangers and then Crawl to Me, so it would make sense.
AR: This has a built in cast, right? I would love to see it come to life but also, we just put together this animated trailer and I worked with an animation studio. I handed off my 2D artwork to really create dimension with the characters and the environment. That was really exciting to me. I could see it animated as well. Maybe with the actors lending their voices to it. That would be really cool.
JF: The artwork in Killogy is completely different than that of your previous work. How did you come to this new style?
AR: It was intentional. It took a lot of work. I probably drew for three months in this new style just to get comfortable with it because it was such a departure for me. But I didn't think my Crawl to Me / Wire Hangers style was going to work for me for this book. It's much more of a pulp type of crime / noir.
JF: I described it as grindhouse originally.
AR: Yeah, I think that's a great description. It looks like one of those old exploitation posters or something like that. That's really the vibe I'm going for for it. Even down to the lettering. There were very strategic choices to try and create that look.
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JF: You mentioned before that you didn't have a script for it going into it. You created it, wrote it, illustrated it, colored it, lettered it. Can you describe the creative process when you go into a book like this where you're handling everything from soup to nuts?
AR: Every page has a different format. It's just how my chaotic brain works. It's also easy for me to change things on the fly and learn from pages that are already finished. That very much influences the following pages. What I want to see as a reader. I think there's a limitation too for writing just in script format without seeing the visuals and seeing how the panels actually flow once they're done. I like to write the dialogue of the characters after the artwork is done because I want it to feel natural. Sometimes if there's a visual cue in a panel you don't need to have the character refer to it through dialogue. I'm sure everyone has their own way to do that, but for me, I'm constantly massaging the dialogue up until I hand it in.
JF: The zombies in Killogy are not your average members of the walking dead. Cutting off the head doesn't seem to do the trick. How did you come up with your spin on the zombie mythos?
AR: Well, without giving too much away, I don't consider them zombies per say. There's something bigger going on that's making them act this way.
JF: The name of this book, as I only recently found out myself, is pronounced Kill-agy, like Trilogy. It's not to be confused with Kill-Ology, as in, the study of Killing. How did the title come about?
AR: Originally it was going to be a three issue series. Each of the issues was going to feature a self-contained story based on one of the murderers. I made it four because I altered the ending once I had the cast. I also wanted enough material to put it out as a graphic novel. I didn't want it to fall short and have to create extra material later on. I thought that the story benefited by having the cast complete the series together after their backstories were told.
JF: The first issue of Killogy is due out on Halloween. Anything you can tease us with looking forward to the series?
AR: I'm almost done with issue two and it's Marky Ramone's story. You know, as it hints on the first cover with him holding the bat, he puts that bat to good use in issue two.
We'd like to thank Alan Robert for taking the time to speak to HorrorTalk about his new project. You can look out for the first issue of Killogy at your local comic shop or favorite digital device this Halloween.
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