Richard: How did you come up with the idea of Doris Danger?
Chris: I met Dick Ayers at San Diego Comic-Con back in 2002, to see if he might do a pin-up of one of my comics characters. I got his contact info, and on the trip home, was trying to brainstorm different things he could draw for me. And it just came to me in a flash, how cool it would be if I drew a Stan Lee/Jack Kirby-style giant monster story, if he would ink it. And he agreed, and I just started doing these stories. Doris Danger is a tabloid journalist trying to prove giant monsters exist.
So the tv show, the X-Files, was a big inspiration too, since it was about an FBI agent who was trying to prove aliens and UFO’s exist. When I first started watching the X-Files, I’d heard it was good and I’d enjoy it, but it had been running a few years, and I had no idea what was going on. I had to see it a few times to figure out who all the characters were and all the various interconnected plotlines.
I wanted Doris Danger to feel like this. A story that had been running for a long time and is confusing to the newcomer. A story with no beginning or ending, that just keeps running every week, getting out of one cliff-hanger and into another, with absurd shocks and plot-twists every panel, and tune in next episode to see what happens next!
Richard: What about giant monsters do you enjoy?
Chris: I don’t know. Those late 1950’s-early 1960’s comics are just some of my favorites. Real kitschy and corny and melodramatic. Visually, I’m somehow more drawn to them than superhero books, with their splash pages of kooky creatures with crazy names, in every imaginable exotic setting.
The stories are by the creators of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men and Avengers and nearly the whole Marvel Universe, right before the superhero craze hit. So there’s that energy and excitement that the early superhero books had, foreshadowing the success of these up-and-coming creative geniuses, right before they peaked, and with giant monsters instead of brightly clad, skintight costume-wearing superheroes. Who doesn’t love giant monsters?
Richard: How do you feel about King Kong, Gozilla and Gamera?
Chris: I think the 1933 King Kong is fantastic. I loved the 1954 Godzilla, with or without Raymond Burr, but preferably without. Do you know this story? The movie Godzilla was released in Japan, and some American producers wanted to bring it to America. So they dubbed a bunch of scenes, and then re-filmed the rest! They hired Raymond Burr to play the lead for the American film, and contracted one day of shooting. Then they slavishly kept Burr filming for twenty-four hours! So the American version is literally a different film from the original.
I never watched Gamera, or much of anything beyond the 1950’s. There was a pretty big giant monster boom in the 1960’s, and I suspect if I began watching those films I’d love them. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
The ones I have a passion for are the earlier, less kitschy giant monster films, like “Them” and “It Came From Beneath the Sea,” and Ray Harryhausen generally.
Richard: Is your art style inspired by Jack Kirby?
Chris: Some would say the art for Doris Danger is a blatant swipe. I prefer to think of it as an homage. A respectful and loving parody.
I’m doing my best to draw in that amazing Kirby style.
Richard: How did you like working with Dick Ayers?
Chris: Dick inked most of the original Kirby giant monster stories. He inked the first five 5-page Doris Danger stories. It was really exciting to receive the artwork from him and see how he chose to handle different images in the stories. He generally added more blacks, and gave the book a more dynamic feel. His choices for line quality were interesting, too, sometimes feathering lines, sometimes bolding them, sometimes altering things slightly. It was a real lesson.
What I enjoyed best was having the opportunity to make ties to that comic history. I felt it helped validate the project. Legitimize it.
Richard: How do you come up with all these imaginative monster names?
Chris: Really, it all stems from reading the original source material.
Chris: Here are some of the monster’s names in the Jack Kirby / Stan Lee comics: Bombu, Dragoom, Giganto, Gomdulla, Googam, Goom, Gor-Kill, Gorgilla, Gorgolla, Grottu, Groot, Gruto, Klagg, Kraggoom, Kurrgo, Manoo, Mongoo, Monstrom, Oog, Orrg, Orrgo, Pildorr, Rommbu, Rorgg, Sserpo, Spragg...
So I came up with names like this for the Doris Danger stories: Spluhh, Scrohtu, Vulvoo, Poogoo, Bungoo, Spanko, Fuggabluh, Plopsplu, Pwapwapwah, Sphinxtor, Krakapoo, Aahblaah, Hachooo, Spoosh, Snehsneh...
When I was first brainstorming the project, it was kind of a party game, getting together with friends and trying to come up with absurd-sounding, preferably slightly dirty-sounding names.
Richard: Will you be writing more all new adventures of Doris Danger?
Chris: Last time I spoke with Dan Vado at SLG, he said, so long as the book doesn’t lose money, we will plan to follow up with a second volume of all-new material. I’ve got hundreds of pages plotted out and waiting to be drawn, so I’m just crossing my fingers I get the opportunity.
Richard: What is "Dr. DeBunko" about?
Chris: Dr. DeBunko is another character I created, who is a debunker of the supernatural. Most debunkers in fiction are like Scooby-Doo and DC Comics’
Dr. 13, whose stories are always about criminals hoaxing people into believing in ghosts or whatever for profit. To scare the relatives into selling the inherited mansion or whatever.
But Dr. DeBunko goes to the towns and villages of misinformed, misguided folks, and attempts to help them use logic and common sense, rather than turning to superstitious, unfounded beliefs in werewolves, succubi and incubi, things like that.
So far, Dr. DeBunko has only appeared in two-four-page short stories. But I’m currently speaking with a publisher about doing a Dr. DeBunko book. I’ve begun a roughly 45-page adventure in preparation.
Richard: How would you best describe "Tabloia Weeky Magazine"?
Chris: Tabloia Weekly Magazine doubled as my first self-pulished comic, and a fictional tabloid magazine IN the comic, that has supposedly been running for decades. “Tabloia” is a combination of “tabloid” and “Paranoia.” Its staff includes Doris Danger and Dr. DeBunko, who contribute articles. Fictitious, disgruntled “fans” write in letters of disappointment and frustration at the shoddy quality of the magazine.
Doris Danger and Dr. DeBunko first appeared in Tabloia Weekly Magazine #572, which was the first comic I self-published. I published issue #572-576 (and no other issues of Tabloia exist) before moving onto other projects, but Tabloia’s fictitious editor, Rob Oder, still makes book introductions and margin footnotes in stories I publish.
Richard: Do you think its possible real monsters exist and how would you react to seeing one if they did?
Chris: I am a card-carrying skeptic, so I don’t believe in real monsters, in the sense you’re talking about. I know that the world is an enormous place, and especially in the ocean, there are many forms of life we haven’t yet discovered. I know new species are found every day. But crypto zoological and mythical creatures, I do not believe in.
So if I saw one, I’d just scoff at it, because I’d know it isn’t real. Or else I’d pee my pants and faint.
Richard: What plans do you have for the future?
Chris: If I can get the go-ahead for a second volume of Doris Danger and the Dr. DeBunko full-length story, that will keep me pretty busy.
But I’m always dabbling and coming up with new story ideas and pitching things. It takes a lot longer to execute the finished comic than coming up with the story, so I’ve got a backlog of potential “next projects”.
Richard: What comics would you recommend besides the ones you worked on?
Chris: These days, I mostly read older stories. I’m a big fan of all the Marvel and DC archived books. Big fan of old EC Comics. It's funny, even though I'm not that interested in making superhero comics, I read a fair amount of the classic ones. Of course I love the old Kirby-Lee-Ayers-Lieber giant monster comics, which Marvel has finally begun reprinting in nice hardcover volumes.
Richard: How can someone contact you?
Chris: My website is * www.tabloia.com *, and there’s a contact page there, for me or Doris or Dr. DeBunko.
Richard: Any final words of wisdom?
Chris: Nope. But here’s some shameless promotion: The book is in September Previews, Diamond Order Number SEP090572. In stores November. Feel free to check out some samples and sneek-peeks, quotes of endorsement from some of the biggest names in the comics industry, photos, and a fan page of giant monster art at http://www.tabloia.com/dorisdanger.shtml . Thanks for reading!