Supporting locally made comics is a passion for some, and to have a ringleader in charge helps wrangle everyone together. Nevin Arnold’s love for anthology works and comics started at a very young age. His career in illustration led him to create for Americanime Productions with “Honor of the Damned.” To have works published in Joe Shuster Gene Day’s award winning work Epic Canadiana #2 with “Ghost-Woman” speaks for itself. This eventually led him to develop his own brand of comics.
Readers of Calavera the Undead will be thrilled to see him as the ringleader behind Monsterella under the Hangman Comics banner. Chatting with him was an absolute pleasure, and I had to ask:
So what led you to the realm of all things dark, morbid and disturbing with the horror genre?
I remember spending my allowance renting old beta/vhs horror and science fiction movies, werewolves, vampires, aliens, and lots and lots of Godzilla. I’d buy from everywhere! Monsters were not only fun to draw, they made every story better. I guess Elvira (she was my first love) introduced me to a world beyond Saturday morning cartoons and I just never came back!
How did the idea of Monsterella come about?
The idea for Monsterella came from me reading a lot of Vampirella magazines at the time–the ones from the 70s, using the anthology style format instead (an approach rarely used these days). She’s a cross between Vampirella and Elvira.
How did you assemble the team?
I go to all the comic book shows up and down the island and see many amazing regular artists and writers; I thought one day that wouldn’t it be fun [for all of us locals] to do a project together. When we have regular full time jobs, have lives and families and everything else, it takes us a long time to finish a book. We’re all chasing the dream of self publishing and the payoff–I hope–is that they can get a job with a major comic publisher.
With the huge gambit of sexy TV hosts, who would you love to see your hostess cross over with in the comic book world?
To have Lady Death would be really cool. Our incredibly talented cover artist, Sun Khamunaki drawn the centerfold in our Summer Special and has done covers for Brian Pulido’s Lady Death comics. She created a cover for the third issue that’s coming out in December.
Despite having an irregular release schedule, what can you say about stories which stand out and issue #3?
Everyone that has ever given me feedback on the first issue praises Josh Kully‘s “The Stork,” an incredible piece of work. Dan MacKinnon‘s two stories have created a following for his character Graelin whos is from his epic “From The Ashes” comic book. Lawrence Denvir illustrated Matt Smith’s amazing tale of “The Last Woman On Earth” which takes place in a post-apocalyptic Victoria, BC.
So many stories stand out: Julien Pilon introduced a new character, “Emma” in his werewolf tale in #2 that people are hoping to see more of. Plus the covers, by Khamunaki and John Gallagher (production artist for The CW’s many DC superhero shows), have really helped the book pop on the shelves. Victoria’s Gareth Gaudin brought some star power to the back cover of #1, everyone knows and loves both Gareth and his Perogy Cat.
For the new issue, Lawrence has a great new story entitled “Wheel Of Misfortune,” and Matt is offering three new short stories. Andrew Fryer, another local artist from Duncan illustrated a story for me called “The Space Siren of Sector 13” and it looks amazing. Also this upcoming issue features Hans Chow, Jhones-Bas Craneo, Garth Matthams, Logan Reilly and Justin Shauf.
Also, I have an epic 13-page conclusion to the Monsterella tale that began in #1.
How difficult is your role as editor?
One challenge with so many people involved is scheduling. Luckily our readers understand when we do the crowdfunding thing. I don’t start soliciting until the book is nearly done. The money goes to paying for the printing than us profiting.
I knew from the start that if I chose the right talents, each issue would just magically come together and for the most part, it has. The end result is always fantastic. I basically just decide how many pages are available to each creative team and ask that they do what they want to do. That’s when creative types shine brightest, off-leash, with very few restrictions or guidelines.
When considering there’s a lot of incredible talent living here on Vancouver Island, including an individual who left to found an “Image” Empire, who would you love to see contribute?
I’d love to have a pin-up or cover from Ken Steacy. We all enjoy seeing him at all the shows. I have all of his War Bears issues (which he did with Margaret Atwood for Dark Horse Comics) signed, and I got a big 16×20 original piece from Ken of the heroine Oursonette over top of my drawing board for inspiration.
In Chemainus, where I live, Todd McFarlane recently was at Wiffle Games. He wrote a little message on one of my books and left it for the shop owner to pass on. It reads “To Nev – Keep up the great work.” I have that hanging over my drawing board as well. He was a huge inspiration and I consider him one of my top five influences. To take the time to encourage a small-town dreamer like me is amazing. Obviously, I’d love to see his spin on drawing Monsterella, but like I said, I’m a dreamer!
Are there any conventions you’ll be at so people can talk to you or ask about how to contribute?
I’ll be at Cowichan Comic Book Expo Oct 6th and Curious Comicon Halloween Howler Oct 26th. Also, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re always looking for cool and spooky new stuff.
What are your present and long term goals for the series?
I could never guarantee releasing a bi-monthly book; that was the original goal but that’d be really hard to pull together. I think after issue three, Monsterella will turn into a regular Halloween release special.
Monsterella. If the name alone doesn’t sell you right away; seeing this series of anthologies that are being Kickstarted by Hangman Comics ought to do the trick. Produced in the vein of black and white anthologies of the 1970’s; this series is a throwback to the early days of Vampirella and Warren Comics, yet also a trendy rendition of more modern anthologies like Dark Horse Presents.
Anthologies can be tricky. In essence, it’s a collection of short stories; leaving varied room for quality in story and art. When an anthology is done wrong is a jumbled nightmare, but when it’s done right you end up with multiple takes on a given character or subject. Thankfully Monsterella falls on the side of the angels with these two offerings.
Issue one introduces our hostess and titular character Monsterella, real name Montrossa Rella; a warden to the prison planet, Doomru. The main story in the first issue centers around a prison break, the arrival of human astronauts, and Monsterella’s fight with some badass alien creatures. It’s as wild and crazy as it sounds. This isn’t a serious comic, it’s meant to be babes, monsters, aliens, action, and horror…Think back to the glory days of Heavy Metal and you’ve got the flavor of this title.
The stand out segment from the other ancillary tales is by far “The Stork” by creator Josh Kully. This short story is the stuff of nightmares and one of the most haunting bits of pop culture I have read in a long time. The visuals are creepy, the mood is dark, the words poetic and the entire tale sits with you long after you have finished reading. If there was ever a tale that I would mark as the successor to Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, this would be it. Chilling stuff!
Issue two is a continuation in the same vein of storytelling with more monsters, more horror, more awesomeness. Reading these issues back to back helps you understand just how committed Hangman is to delivering on the reader a good time and a fun comic. There is more than enough here to see this series continue on as a regular series.
While the art and writing harken back to the 60s and 70s, there are minor hiccups here and there. This is an Indy title so I give a little room when it comes to art that is a little stiff, figures that are not proportioned correctly, and writing that comes off as clunky. This is part of the charm. The comic has just as many rough edges as the main character. This is made in the spirit of grungy rock-n-roll, midnight matinees, and scary B-movies. It’s not meant to look polished and professional. That’s not the point. It’s all about the creators scraping and clawing their way to readers to bring them a gem.
This is where crowdfunding comes in. This is a collection of young talents that are just starting their journey into the industry; while some have experience others are brand new to the game. This is really Indy comics at its finest and one of the shining examples of how fans have helped creators not only fulfill a vision but brought something back into the medium that has been lacking…fun.