Interview: Jenz K. Lund & D.H. Shultis (Blood & Gourd)

Interview

jenz & dh

Blood & Gourd is a must read for those who like their horror injected with a large dosage of fun.  Want to know why?  Check out my review or head over to the opening link. order a copy and see for yourself.  For a comic book, it possesses a rare cinematic quality that feels like a lost classic from the 80’s; the days when horror was at its most vibrant and imaginative, in this reviewers humble opinion.  While retaining the spirit of that era and openly acknowledging its inspirations, Blood & Gourd is a high caliber of original storytelling that works as both a throwback to horrors heyday, and as something fresh for modern times.  Recently I had the opportunity to interview its creators, D.H. and Jenz, to discuss their work, influences and future plans for the series and other projects.  Enjoy.

1) Hello guys, how are you?

Jenz: We’re doing great! We’re a little road weary but energized after a successful weekend at Crypticon: Seattle. The reception’s been awesome.

2) To those who aren’t in the know yet (even though they damn well should be), how would you describe Blood & Gourd in a brief summary?

Jenz: Well, it’s the day before Halloween, and Seminal Chemical’s recently bought up the Henderson family pumpkin farm. There isn’t much time for the locals to grieve, though. Through a bizarre fusion of super science and Satanism, the sinister Mr. Pleasant has unleashed this massive, otherworldly demon; and with it, murderous hordes of gourds and goblins.

DH: We’ve tried to make the comic book fun, twisted, weird, and a fast ride. A glance at the cover and you’ll know that it is bright, horrific, & action-packed with a slice of drama and some nods to the horror legends of the past.

3) Originally, Blood & Gourd was intended to be a movie; which I could see happening because it has a great cinematic quality to it even though it’s a comic.  Do you still have aspirations to bring it to our screens?  

Jenz: Absolutely! Almost everybody who has read the first issue asks us about it. Blood & Gourd needs to be a film. Particularly, one with minimal CGI, Rick Baker style makeup, lots of practical effects and puppets! Everything’s better with a puppet in it!

4) There’s nods to Fred Dekker and Dan O’Bannon in the story, who are 2 of the most underrated talents to ever make movies if you ask me.  The spirit of their work is evident in Blood & Gourd; it’s like a lost horror comedy from the 80’s in the form of a comic book.  Who are your influences and what are some of the movies that inspired you to create Blood & Gourd?

Jenz: I have a million influences, we both do. ReAnimator, The Thing, Halloween 3, Fright Night; but certainly Night of the Creeps and The Return of the Living Dead were, for me anyway, two of the definitive influences behind making the series an amusement park ride. Both films are also very funny. Humor’s important to horror. People do hilarious things when they’re scared!

DH: I like the idea of Blood & Gourd being some time-capsule of lost ideas that have risen to the surface in 2015.  My top film influences for this project are the epic gross weirdness of Troma Films, late night USA network movies and shows of all kinds, John Waters’ movies, and pretty much any movie your mom told you not to watch. Other movies that came up a lot were Hard Boiled, Gremlins, Robocop, and Twin Peaks.

5) Evil corporate cultists.  Evil pumpkins on a bloody rampage.  Killer plant people.  These are just a few of the delights to be found in Blood & Gourd.  Although primarily all about the fun and entertainment, I picked up on some underlying themes in regards to the power of corporations and their destruction of nature.  Was that intentional?  If so, is preserving nature something you feel strongly about?

Jenz: Definitely. I think the best horror and science fiction stories have always done this. In many ways, we’ve all voted unanimously to ignore a myriad of pressing environmental/socio-economic issues that have already ensured a bleaker future for all of us. I think Blood & Gourd playfully nudges the reader to think about a few of these things, while reminding them that idle hands and apathy are just as dangerous as any diabolical demon or heartless corporation. Regardless of whether or not we decide to act, nature is indifferent. it can take us or leave us.

DH: In the words of John Trudell: “if we use our minds in a clear and coherent manner we will not accept the unacceptable.”  Blood & Gourd is my attempt to use my mind in a clear and coherent manner- to create something fun, engaging and it is my way of refusing to accept the unacceptable.

6) Blood & Gourd has drawn comparisons to EC comics; from myself included.  Are there any comics in particular you’re fans of?

Jenz: After watching Creepshow at a very young age, I quickly found myself picking up all the reprinted copies of Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Eerie, Creepy, etc. I could get my hands on. I’d also add Silver Age Marvel titles to the mix. There was such an acceptable goofiness that allowed for the most irreverent stories, heroes, and villains to be formed. I remember a villain that was a toe, for god sake! I miss that insanity. People play it way too cool these days.

DH: The Batman Knightfall series was my first serious foray into reading comic books.  I really dig Promethea by Allan Moore and a lot of Frank Miller’s works. I’d also like to give a nod to the Akira comics and the Lone Wolf and Cub series.

7) One thing I loved about Blood & Gourd was how the characters played it straight.  Despite the hilarious insanity going on around them, they keep the story grounded and give the reader people they can engage with.  Was it difficult to balance the wacky horror with everyday characters the reader can engage with.

Jenz: I think the laughs that came naturally while we were writing the story are the best. The rest of it takes some fine tuning, for sure. We generally go with a less is more attitude, and if it’s too forced we cut it out. I think you can throw any ridiculous thing at your characters, and as long as they’re convinced it can kill them, you’ve got something there. We’re not big fans of the self-aware horror- comedy (we’re all in on the joke) stuff.

8) From a storytelling perspective, Blood & Gourd is stellar.  But I’d also like to point out how it looks; the artists involved did a great job of bringing the story to life.  Was it difficult to acquire such a talented bunch?

Jenz: Yes and no. It took a few years to find the right artist, but once Dave Acosta agreed to draw the book, he opened a lot of doors for us.Through Acosta we met Juan Albarran, and through Juan we met Fran Gamboa, JC Ruiz, Rocio Canteros and Juan Antonio Ramirez. We all had a great experience and most of us will be coming back for issue #2!  I’d also like to add that most people don’t realize how small the comic book industry really is. I strongly encourage anyone planning on becoming a part of it to be friendly and respectful. Word travels fast!

9) What’s next for you guys?  What are your future plans?

Jenz: We’re in the preliminary stages of issue #2, Acosta will begin drawing it up in June. If B&G continues to be successful, we plan to branch out with a horror anthology and a secret sci-fi project we can’t wait to start talking about.

10) Any final words before we wrap up?

DH: Buy Blood & Gourd!

Jenz: What he said. It’s available for order now at bloodandgourd.com and deadpeasant.net

Blood & Gourd - Page 16

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