Mike Oliveri works in front of a computer all day, then goes home and writes on a computer all night
(and his optometrist loves him for it). He lives in rural Illinois with his wife, 2.5 kids, and dog.
You can learn more about Mike and his various projects at www.mikeoliveri.com.
Joe lives in Cleveland, OH doing freelance illustration from his studio along with fellow illustrator and wife Donna.
Lori G: Hi guys! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk about your new book:"Werewolves: Call of
So, let’s start with you Mike. Can you tell our readers a bit about the book? What can readers expect when the pick up #1 in April?
Mike: Thanks for hosting this interview, Lori, I appreciate it! As for the book, in simplest terms it's best described as a crime/revenge thriller featuring werewolves.
In the opening pages of issue 1, Will Tyler and his fiancée are murdered by the sheriff of a small town in the Nevada desert. A week later, Will's brother Cole comes looking for him, and it becomes his job to find out what happened and why. His investigation and his efforts to make things right cover these three issues, and we're hoping fan reaction will be strong enough to warrant doing more books. I've certainly got plenty of stories to tell about Cole and his family.
Lori G: Mike, what is it about werewolves that appeals to you? How is Call of the Wild both similar to what readers may or may not know about traditional werewolf stories, and what makes it unique?
Mike: I've always been a fan of werewolves; they're just a cool monster. Whether you're talking about lycanthropy as a curse or as breeding, you have this duality of man vs. beast. Sometimes we see werewolf characters who despise that part of themselves, and others we see werewolf characters (usually the bad guys) who revel in it, and in either case it's frequently a metaphor for the animal in all of us. The short answer – it's a great playground to explore as a writer, and if given the chance, I'll show you how the different werewolf characters in these books cope with being wolves.
My werewolves themselves won't be anything earth-shattering; I don't see any point in trying to reinvent the wheel. I don't want to spoil too much for the readers, but I'll say that I take a more realistic (as realistic as a fantastic beast can get, anyway) approach to the werewolves and I do address some of the traditional elements like silver bullets and phases of the moon, albeit subtly. It bothers me when a know-it-all character suddenly appears and explains “the rule".
Lori G: Mike, what is your writing background?
Is this your first comic book work? Is there something particular about
comics/graphic storytelling that has “called” to you?|
Mike: This is indeed my first comic work. Moonstone was also the first place I pitched it to, and I was thrilled when you all liked it enough to bring it into your lineup. The Moonstone line is very horror-friendly, so I thought it would be a perfect starting point.
I've been appearing off and on in the horror small press with short stories and novellas for about seven years now, and my novel, Deadliest of the Species, won the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel for works published in 2001. I've been reading comics for going on 30 years now, and my prose style is typically very visual, so this was both a natural progression and a dream come true. While I won't be giving up on prose fiction any time soon, I do hope to keep working in comics.
Lori G: Joe, you are penciling, inking AND coloring the book. That has to be a lot of work! Do you find it easier to be the man behind ALL of the art, rather than just the colorist or the penciler? Do you approach the work differently because you are the only artist involved?
Joe: Hey Lori. Yeah it’s quite a bit of work. But it is worth it. Being able to handle the art alone does guarantee your creative vision, because as you begin to draw out the page you start to see it in your head where you want it to go. I do enjoy the collaborative process, and would love to see how someone else would handle inking or coloring my pencils. I do think I approach the art differently. I like to keep my pencils tight and put quite a bit of the detail in at that point. If someone else was inking my work, I’d like to be a bit looser and let him/her put in their influence.
Lori G: Joe, I know you were the colorist on a few issues of the Phantom here at Moonstone, what else have you worked in the comics industry?
Joe:Well my first work was adapting and illustrating a T.V. pilot into a graphic novel to sell it to Networks. It was called ZERO.POINT. I illustrated a graphic novel called EVERYMAN: BE THE PEOPLE, written by Dan and Steve Goldman. Recently I did an 8-page story in the anthology SATANS THREE RING CIRCUS. And of course I now have the first issue of CotW under my belt.
Lori G: Joe, did you base your character designs on any “real” people? Friends, Hollywood actors, yourself? Where do you find your greatest inspiration?
Joe: Well in the past from each writer I have gotten direction on what they want, and it has been influenced by actors who the writer thinks looks like the character. I also use some photo reference, so occasionally the characters might have some influence from the models. As for influences, of course I love comics and its niche, but I also look at trends in editorial illustration, graphic design, and other forms of art.
Lori G: Mike, how about you?
What are your influences, both comic book influences and prose
Mike: My tastes run all over the board, as I read everything from fantasy and science fiction to horror to crime/suspense and military thrillers, and I often gravitate toward the same kinds of things in any medium, so I tend to pick and choose different elements of different creators' works or styles. I like the way Clive Barker ties horror and fantasy together, and I'm a big fan of Richard Laymon's relentless, frenetic pacing. I like great dialog, and I wish I had half the ear for it guys like Brian Azzarello and Quentin Tarantino do. I dig Warren Ellis for his sheer imagination. I recently read an early Alan Moore run on Swamp Thing and re-read V for Vendetta, and I just love the way his scripts and plots unfold.
Lori G: Mike, what readers are you trying to appeal to, with this new series: Call of the Wild? Vertigo fans, horror fans, LOL I won’t try to guess, you tell me who the target audience is!
Mike: I think the Vertigo fans is an easy answer, but if you'll permit a broader answer, I'd say anyone who likes crime or horror. We've got werewolves and enough bloodshed to whet the horror fans' appetite, yet the meat of the story is a people-driven crime thriller. So I say step right up, one and all, because you're gonna dig it.
Lori G: Joe, the covers for Call of the Wild are very
nice! A rather minimalist approach, as
far as comic covers go. It reminds me of
the whole “less is more” theory! I also
like the color selection, is there a reason you chose to draw the cover to #1,
as you did? LOL, I might be
over-analyzing it here, and I apologize if I have.
Just give me some insight into your creative
Joe:Oh, no problem. I just took an approach a trying something a bit different, at least different than the dark covers you might see on most horror books. Something that would stand out. I did have some influence from an artist whose work I enjoy, Dave Johnson. The covers simple, yet has some layers that tell a little of a story.
Lori G: Back to you Mike. I find it intriguing that your story is both a murder-mystery AND a
werewolf story.Was this a conscience
effort on your part, trying to incorporate elements of two different genres
into one story?|
Mike: Yes it was. My biggest problem with genre fiction is works tend to stay within their own boundaries. As such, when I was developing the story and saw the opportunity to mix the two, I went for it. Sure, it helps that it gives me two core audiences to hunt down rather than just one, but I think the combination makes the story more interesting. I think shoe-horning a story into a specific genre only does it a disservice.
Lori G: And now, I’m going to shoot this back to you Joe! (Just when you thought it was safe to go back to drawing!) Are you drawing this book in the traditional way, pencils first, then inks? Or are you skipping around a bit since you don’t have to hand it off to a different inker?
Joe: Yeah, it’s definitely done traditionally. Layouts, pencils, inks, color, lettering. Even though I’m doing all the aspects of the art, it’s definitely a building of layers.
Lori G: Joe, are you also lettering Call of the Wild, or is
there someone else handling the lettering chores? (I thought you might be doing the letters
too, since you seem to be multi-talented).
Joe: Well first, thanks for the "multi-talented" compliment. Yes, I am lettering the book. I try hard to put effort into everything I do. It helps to have experience doing more than one thing, so when someone comes to you and asks "can you do this" you don't have to worry about saying yes and then trying to figure it out.
Lori G: this question is for both of you!
I just have to ask, if you could have ONE
super power, what would it be and why?|
Mike: I'd say flight but I'm terrified of heights. Instead I'll go with telekinesis, because I'm relatively short and I'm a little lazy. With telekinesis, I can get things off the top shelf without having to leave the computer.
Joe:Oh my, that question. That’s always a tough one. I always get greedy and try to figure out a way to get a two-for-one deal. At first I thought super speed, then flight, and of course super strength. But I think it would be telekinesis. With that I guess I could simulate all those powers.
Lori G: I’ve got another question for both of you! What is your current favorite comic title and, more importantly, why do you love it so?
Mike: 100 Bullets. As I said above, I just love Azzarello's ear for dialog. I also like his plotting and his characters, and I think Eduardo Risso's dark artwork is a perfect complement. I started collecting this book late, and I still kick myself over it.
Joe:Hmmmmm….Well there a lots of good ones out there, but I am going to give an edge to Astonishing X-MEN. It seems to bring me back to when I first started collecting comics when John Romita Jr./Paul Smith were drawing them in the early 80’s.
Lori G: One more question for both of you. Do you have any other projects in the works that you want to let our readers know about? (Or have you been just too gosh-darn busy with this mini-series to have time to even conceive of any other project?)
Mike: I've teamed up with two other horror writers to launch a site called Muy Mal (www.muymal.com), where we are posting serialized fiction for free. We each have 2 or 3 concurrent serials and all three of us are writing within the same horror/dark fantasy universe. Both of my current serials, “Bastard Precinct” and Down Vendetta Road, have a crime element. Beyond that I have two short stories and a novella coming up in a couple of Cemetery Dance anthologies, I'm working on a novella to wrap a trilogy, and I'm always hammering away at that next novel.
Joe:Actually Yes. There’s one project that I just completed that I’d didn’t mention earlier. I illustrated a 19-page story in an anthology called TALES OF THE STAR-LIGHT DRIVE-IN, written by Mike SanGiacomo. It’s an amazing collection of stories. Originally it was supposed to come out through Speakeasy but since they’re done for, Mike’s searching for a new publisher. So cross your fingers.
Lori G: Well guys, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me! I hope everyone reading this runs right out and picks up a copy of Call of the Wild #1 when it hits shelves in April! If you can’t find it at your LCS, they can order it from your LCS using this code: Feb063172, OR you can order it right here on the Moonstone website! That’s it for now, children, and as always thanks for your support.
Make Mine Moonstone! (No, I DID NOT steal this tag line from another company, they stole it from me!)
Moonstone Gal out…
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Saturday, January 24, 2015