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Joe Mulvey Interview

Interview conducted by James Ferguson

Joe Mulvey is a comic writer / artist hard at work on Mummy's Always Right, a new children's book about a lovable, mischievous mummy named Gaws.  The publication of the book is currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign.  I had the chance to speak to Joe about his jump into kids’ literature, monsters, and more.

James Ferguson: What's the elevator pitch for Mummy’s Always Right?

Joe Mulvey: A mummy has to help her rambunctious little child not be as much of a monster as he wants to be.  I'm not doing it justice by the slow pitch.  It's about a mom teaching her kid how to survive.  

JF: Being that Mummy's Always Right is a kids’ book with a horror element to it, what other children's books or horror stories influenced the story?

JM: I don't know if it was as much books as it was Tim Burton's animation movies like Nightmare Before Christmas.  I always remembered watching it as a kid and having apprehension with it, but at the same time curiosity and getting engrossed with it.  Instead of just going with the big eyes and goofy voiced stuff that Disney would normally pitch, which I still like -

JF: The Johnny Depp look.

JM: Yeah! There was something about it that just drew me in.  This isn't the normal stuff I'm used to, but man, it's really cool.  I'm trying to do my own version of that and hook kids at an early age.

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JF: Why a Mummy out of all the old monsters out there?

JM: Honestly, number one, when my kids were coming into my studio, I couldn't show them the stuff I was working on with Counter Terror and Oxymoron, so I just started drawing this circle.  Then the circle got two big eyes and then at some point I just had a black circle with two big white eyes and I could go crazy with the teeth.  The visual contrast of it was really cool.  At some point, I wrapped my daughter in toilet paper one day and this light bulb went off.

JF: Just an average Thursday?

JM: Yeah, your average Thursday at 11 AM, right before brunch.  I wrapped her up like a mummy and then I think I translated it into doing the character.  I had the name Gaws, so it just kind of all clicked at one point.  That's how it kind of got to a mummy and it's just fun to play with.  It really just came from the want to wrap my daughter in toilet paper.  I can try to make it sound artistic, but it's not.  

JF: I feel like this is a stupid question, but since you made the book for your daughters, why did you make Gaws a boy instead of a girl?

JM: You know what, I played with it.  Originally, Gaws was a girl and then it was about the daddy that was trying to take care of her.  Then I thought that in my own life I rely on my wife for almost everything and she's a great mom.  The mummy in Mummy's Always Right is based on my wife.  My wife, Joy, has hair just like hers and she puts it in a bandana and it flows backwards.  The whole loving, nurturing mom taking care of a rambunctious boy just sat with me for some reason.  But!  My daughters are in the book as other characters.  Zoe the Zombie is my daughter Zoe and Willow the Witch is my other daughter Willow.  

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JF: You've created a number of other kid-friendly monsters for Mummy's Always Right.  What are some of your favorites so far?  I'm assuming the two based on your daughters are probably up there, but what are some of the others?

JM: Frankenmine is kind of the villain of the book.  He's a Frankenstein monster that doesn't like to share.  He's definitely one of them.  My overall favorite is probably this little skeleton character who's really tiny.  His name is Incus.  Hopefully if and when this book gets funded, we can start to make more books within the Creature Cove brand.  Incus is a lot of fun to write and draw.  He's this jittery, scared little skeleton.  

JF: What's something that scared you as a kid?

JM: I live across the street from a cemetery and down the block from a crematorium, so I wasn't really scared by the traditional stuff.  I guess my parents, right?  I can go on a litany of the things I did growing up, but really my parents were the main thing that would scare me.  I was definitely Gaws-like.  I had some...decision-making issues as I grew up.  

JF: What about as an adult?  

JM: I don't have many basic fears.  This isn't really a fear, but I hate bees.  I'm like 220 pounds and five foot nine.  I'm trying to build myself out by working out until I'm more of a Rubiks Cube of a human being, but if I see a bee or it buzzes past my ear and I turn into a three-year-old kid.  Or if I'm in the ocean and I feel something touch my foot?  Forget about it.  It's over.  

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JF: I think that's a common fear.  You're not alone in that.  

JM: What scares you shifts now when you get to be a parent you're scared about your kids.  Everything becomes about them.  I don't care if I get shot or stabbed.  I just want to protect my kids.  It's amazing how all of a sudden you don't think about yourself as much as you used to.

JF: What's your current favorite horror comic...that's NOT Nailbiter?  I know from listening to the Final Issue Podcast that you're a big fan of that book already.

JM: If not Nailbiter, which we both know I have a huge love for, I'm going to say Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics.

JF: Good choice!

JM: I'm a real big fan of that.  How it looks, the storytelling, Cullen Bunn's writing.  All of it.  It's a great book.  If you're not checking it out, you should.  

JF: I second that recommendation.  To promote Mummy's Always Right, you drew a number of pop culture inspired images.  Are there any other movies or comics you'd like to insert Gaws into?  

JM: Absolutely.  I had a fun idea of making the Mummy's Always Right universe in Creature Cove something that's very influenced by pop culture.  I remember growing up where you'd see stuff like Mickey Mouse dressed up like Michael Jackson or the Muppets dressed up like Batman.  There was always something about the crossover between the two that as a kid kind of got me excited.  

When I'm thinking about marketing this book, Gaws sells to kids.  He's a visual thing that kids will be drawn to, but I can get the parents in by showing them a Back to the Future or Silence of the Lambs print.  I have a few more planned:  Indiana Jones, The Usual SuspectsGhostbusters.  There are more coming.  

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JF: How has the transition been from some of your other, more mature comics to a children's book?

JM: I don't know why, but it's way less stressful.  I love making comics and it's the best.  In my own head, especially with Counter Terror, I just have to throw stuff to the writer, Tyler James.  We can go back and forth on it from there.  When I'm drawing that, I want every page to be awesome and to look great.  I put this responsibility on myself to earn every cent that someone gives you.  I want people to not just breeze past the story.  I want them to really take their time and check it out.  I'd love for Art Adams or Frank Quitely to look at my stuff and go, “Hey, he's not half bad.”  

With a kid’s book, I'm more concentrated on just that one image to tell a story.  In that sense, maybe I'm just more focused on storytelling than anything else.  It's been fun as Hell, man.  Plus, the shapes are way broader and I don't have to get into the minutiae of detail and shading and drawing an entire cobblestone street.  I just get to draw and play in the bigger world of Creature Cove.  

JF: Speaking of Counter Terror, what's the latest on that?  I read and loved the first issue, which was a soft release as a convention exclusive.  When can fans get a load of that?

JM: We're hoping for later this year.  The one thing we've learned with ComixTribe as we've gone through the growing pains of any new publisher is we have to have everything done so we can roll it out on time on a schedule.  Readers, retailers, and everyone knows that we're going to have it all available for them.  We're getting to that point now, so it's really about when we can market it best.  

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JF: What the plans for further adventures from Gaws after Mummy's Always Right is released?

JM: We're going to have a twofold effect.  We'll continue to push the board books because there's a large fanbase for those and it's a great way to initially get into kids' heads.  You're showing them these characters for the first time and they're growing up with them.  We're also going to try to get it into the comic book market at the same time.  We're going to have a Mummy's Always Right book coming out for Halloween Horrorfest later this year, which is sponsored by Diamond.  It will play with a lot of tropes of the pop culture side of things like seeing Gaws dressed up like Marty McFly or Jason Voorhees or Spider-Man or Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead.  That'll be a story you'll be able to pick up at your local comic shop.  

Hopefully by year's end we'll have another book.  That's tentative, so I don't want to definitely say which one now, but it will be one of the characters from Mummy's Always Right.

JF: Speaking from a pure comic book mindset, when can we expect a crossover with C is for Cthulhu?

JM: I will say this, we have a character in the book called Cthu-Lou, so he's in the book.  There's a slight, tangential crossover already happening.  

HorrorTalk would like to thank Joe Mulvey for taking the time to chat with us.  His book, Mummy's Always Right, is currently on Kickstarter.  Rewards include the board book itself, prints, and original artwork.

 

 

 

Want to comment on this interview? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.

 

 

About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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