Blood & Gourd comes to life.
An interview with co-creators Jenz and DH.
Jenz: David and I met in graduate school. We shared an interest in horror and psychotronic films. Disillusioned with the state of horror at the time, we decided to write a movie. Before the script was even finished, we realized that there was no conceivable way to get it made, so we decided to do a comic instead. Seemed simple at the time. Now, six years later, we’re two issues in.
What’s the story about?
Jenz: Well, it’s the day before Halloween, and the scariest attraction out at Henderson Farms was supposed to be the haunted corn maze. But this year, the real terror’s rooted in the pumpkin patch. The sinister Mr. Pleasant has unleashed a massive, otherworldly demon; and with it, murderous hordes of gourds and goblins. Now, a reluctant group of life-weary losers only have until midnight to stop, or the Pacific Northwest will be plunged into a perpetual Halloween.
DH: More and more we hope people will see this is as much about the chaos and horror as it is about the unlucky folk beset with killer pumpkins. These are folk with lives, pasts, and whole existences. These moments of their lives (on a farm overrun with killer pumpkins) has them all twisted up and shouting.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
Jenz: Growing up reading Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror, not to mention countless horror classics from the ‘70s and ‘80s like The Return of the Living Dead, ReAnimator, Night of the Creeps, etc. As far as horror stories go, pumpkins seemed pretty much neglected. After years of abuse and humiliation, we felt some payback was due. And, like Hitchcock’s The Birds, if they wanted to rise up around Halloween time, we’d be screwed. There’s just too damn many of them.
What is it about the story that inspired you to write the series?
Jenz: I wanted something fun, weird, and spooky to inspire a new generation of horror fans. Knowing some other ten-year- old kid might fall in love with horror and become corrupted by its subversive allure makes my heart happy.
DH: I think both of us wanted to finish something. I know for me, getting the series out there has been a big accomplishment. After the response we’ve been getting with the first two issues, it is lots of fun to tell a story that will surprise and entertain people.
Jenz: We were also just dying for some new monsters. We love zombies, vampires, and werewolves as such as the next person, but it’s painfully apparent by the countless sequels, prequels, and reboots, that few ideas are desperately needed! Hell, even if Blood & Gourd sucked, at least we tried to make something new.
How long did it take to write?
Jenz: We worked on the film script for about three years. Locked it down pretty tight, and then quickly discovered that comic scripts and movie scripts don’t quite function in the same way. Our first artist, Dave Acosta, was patient with us while we made tweaks up until the very end. The same happened on the second issue. We have an endgame, but keeping things a little loose keeps it interesting for us. A good example is the talking unicorn. It didn’t talk in the original script, but I remember watching Moon Boy and thinking: what if Mason communicated with it like an imaginary friend? It turned out to be something the readers really went for.
What makes Blood & Gourd stand out among others?
Jenz: Pure indie spirit and a fully fleshed out world. We may not get rich, but we love what we’re doing and nobody tells us what we can and can’t do. It’s a huge part of what Dead Peasant stands for as a publisher. I recently read how Disney movies aren’t allowed to depict smoking, be-headings, or impaling. Those sort of rules make me want to do all three.
Is there anything you would change about it?
Jenz: We’ve both learned a lot about plotting and pacing, just working through the process. In hindsight, we notice a lot of little things we could have done differently. That being said, people seem to have a lot of fun reading Blood & Gourd, so regrets are minimal. We did what we set out to do.
DH: We endeavor to put that energy into creating the next book. Make the next page better, the last page is done.
What is your favorite horror book?
Jenz: I grew up obsessed with Stephen King and horror comics. I’d say, right now anyway, my favorite horror book is Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Maybe not exactly what you had in mind for a horror story, but damn if it isn’t terrifying.
DH: Stephen King is a shared obsession between Jenz and I. My favorite horror book is probably Pet Cemetery. Ask me when I’ve finished Blood Meridian though- as I trust Jenz’s taste and haven’t read it yet.
Who is your favorite horror writer?
Jenz: A totally unfair question but I’d have to give it to King or Lovecraft. I love them equally.
DH: I’m going to say Edgar Allen Poe. Dude casts spells with his words. Go and be horrified. When we dance with poetry – I have Poe in mind.
Would the book work as a movie?
Jenz: Yes. At its core, Blood & Gourd is meant to be a film. Or…a really epic series on Adult Swim. I dream about that from time to time. I’d love to be in the company of people who make Rick and Morty, Venture Brothers, all that good stuff.
Jenz: If you’re tired of the same old shit, support indie. Some of the biggest talent today are virtually unheard of and struggling to feed themselves. Venture into the unknown a bit. You’ll be rewarded for doing so.