MARCO FONTANILI Brings the Pain in MURDERF*CKER
CBY International Interviewer Extraordinaire Andrew Irvin invites Marco Fontanili into the Yeti Cave to dive into the nitty gritty flesh, blood & metal of MurderFucker, currently on ZOOP and more than halfway to its goal. In case you haven't picked up on it from the title, this is for Mature Audiences only, which means CBY HYIC Matt Ligeti can't check it out. Well, sorry, Matt, grown-ups only! Get ready for this one, folks.
COMIC BOOK YETI: Buona giornata, Marco! Thanks for joining us today. How is spring shaping up in Italy?
MARCO FONTANILI: Hello! Thank you for your hospitality, it's a pleasure to be here.
Despite the sunny days, it is still a bit cold here where I live (in northern Italy). But still, a good Spring is on the horizon. I hope, at least.
CBY: Beyond the title of MurderFucker, you set the stage immediately with a “Mature Audiences Only 18+” warning, and a snide “NOT” prefacing the traditional Comics Code Authority approval logo on the cover. With the fandom of “Splatter Movies and Metal” as the explicit audience you’ve mentioned this book being geared towards. Since I doubt this will be getting picked up by many school libraries, what broader audience are you hoping may get a kick out of this cartoonishly gruesome material you’ve brought into being?
MF: To be completely honest, when I work on a comic book I never think about a target audience, industry or anything like that. I simply think about fulfilling a personal need of mine and making a good product. It's a form of sincerity, that's it.
It's also difficult for me to have a specific target audience in mind while I'm making a comic because everything comes up in improvisation, I almost never have a clear idea of how to develop a story, etc. I like to discover it page by page, just as the reader does. I know it can be risky, but so far it has always gone very well.
In this specific case, I remember that when I started working on MurderFucker I was in the process of finishing the miniseries "Pentagram of Horror" which was, yes, violent and extreme, but it was also very serious. Let's just say there was very little to laugh about in those pages (haha)!
I was physically and mentally exhausted, I simply had the desire and need to have fun.
I think any fan of Splatter movies and Metal music will fall in love with this little project.
CBY: Before we dig into the comic influences, you mentioned splatter films as a key influence behind this title. It’s a wide genre within horror, of which I’m a big fan. Can you enlighten our readers as to your favorites within the genre? Also, as an Italian, can you help define the difference between splatter and giallo, given it is a distinctly Italian genre?
MF: Certainly among the biggest sources of inspiration are films such as: Peter Jackson's Braindead, Evil Dead, and Army of Darkness both by Sam Raimi, Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead, and among the most recent, Jason Lei Howden's Deathgasm. But I could go on for hours with the list.
I think that simply Giallo is the perfect meeting point between Horror and Thriller and, in the case of Italian films in particular, even with a dash of eroticism. As an Italian, I am very proud of that period, which succeeded in introducing our cinema to the world.
CBY: All classics! I'll have to check out Deathgasm, now, since it's the only one I haven't seen yet. On the note of classic influences, you set the aesthetic tone immediately with a bunch of metal band posters, and the first thing that came to mind for me were old photocopied black & white show posters and ‘zines. Your style definitely evokes the whole outlaw/outsider art scene of alternative illustrators. Can you cite any album art or band/show posters (and their artists) that have had a distinct impact on how your style has emerged over the years?
MF: I started getting into the world of Thrash/Death Metal when I was about 17 years old. I used to spend my days on YouTube constantly looking for bands to listen to, and the initial input was always from album covers. Some of my favorites include "Agent Orange" (Sodom), "Rust in Peace" and "Peace Sells... but who's Buying?" (Megadeth), "Possessed by Fire" (Exumer), "Survive" (Nuclear Assault), "Speak English or Die" (S.O.D). Again, I could go on for hours.
I want to make special mention to Vince Locke and the work he has done -- and continues to do -- for Cannibal Corpse.
CBY: Beyond influences from the music scene, I saw some panels in there that definitely reminded me of Sam Kieth’s The Maxx, and Greg Capullo’s The Creech, and McFarlane’s Spawn (with a bit of Kirby krackle and some manga speed lines thrown in for good measure). A throughline of sinewy-muscled, entrail-addled derangement comes through loud and clear, and you’ve cultivated a heavy line quality and use of value to define your imagery. To avoid further undue speculation, what other influences from amongst comic artists can you cite?
MF: I try to differentiate my style a lot depending on the project I want to do, so basically my influences really come from all over the world. But for MurderFucker the authors I have most observed are: Robert Crumb, Sam Kieth, Richard Corben, Josh Simmons, Bryan Talbot, Bernie Mireault, Philippe Druillet, Johnny Ryan, Vince Locke, Mat Brinkman, and many, many others.
CBY: Looks like I've got some more artists whose portfolios I need to dig through more thoroughly! On the topic of shading and textures, you employed heavy use of ben-day dots. Can you talk a bit about your illustration techniques, the tools you used, and the processes you employed to achieve this visual look? It’s got a very 1980’s Dark Age, outlaw comic look - can you dig into how you achieved this?
MF: All pages are made on paper, with a couple of pens and white acrylic for corrections. But that "ben-day dots" effect is made with Photoshop. Let's say that even before the actual story, I see clearly in my head what kind of graphic result I want to achieve. It's simply a matter of experimenting with various tools and finding, from time to time, the best combination. In this case, the goal was exactly to recall the Outlaw comics of the 1980s.
CBY: Glad I hit that on the mark! Additionally, some motifs such as the “punch-meter” and other iconography in lieu of text seem to draw heavily from video game imagery (especially 2-D fighting games and side scrolling beat ‘em ups.) What games (if any) were active influences on the visual style?
MF: You are absolutely right. Video games have been a strong source of inspiration, especially in the fighting parts. I would especially like to mention "Splatterhouse" and "Splatter Master," both video games that marked my childhood.
CBY: Previously, you’ve released Kingjira through Scout Comics, and you’ve provided art for the stories in the Pentagram of Horror anthology series through Scout’s Black Caravan imprint. What led to the departure for MurderFucker to launch through Zoop? Can you discuss a bit about the options Zoop has provided for you that may not have been available through Scout for this release and what your decision-making process looked like?
MF: I had shown MurderFucker to various publishers, and they had all given me, shall we say, some limits. There were those who wanted to censor the title, or those who even wanted to change it.
I'm well aware of the extreme nature of the project, and in all honesty, I think that's one of the strongest features. So I wanted to avoid any kind of limitation. I wanted absolute freedom, and the ZOOP team gave it to me. Plus, living in Italy, it would have been extremely problematic (in terms of production and subsequently shipping costs) to handle the whole thing remotely. But again, the ZOOP team came to my rescue and they will take care of all that part of the work. I can stay 100 percent focused on the creative part, and it's a dream come true. So yes, to them goes a huge thank you.
CBY: With your previous outings, and now with MurderFucker, you’ve left the writing to others, or abstained from it entirely. Operating entirely in a visual space while keeping narrative elements non-verbal, does writing come into your plotting process at all, or is all your storyboarding visual, as well? Are there any specific writers you’d like to collaborate with on projects in the future?
MF: I have never actually worked with a writer; all my comics are done entirely by me.
Comics for me is a visual language, and that's why I tend to give more importance to storyboards rather than dialogue or captions. Of wordless storytelling, I love the fact that the reader can make his or her own interpretation of everything. I always spend a lot of time talking to them and listening to their ideas, interpretations, etc. I find it inspiring.
To be completely honest, no, there is no particular writer I would like to work with, for the simple fact that I am more interested in the idea behind the project. I would potentially work with anyone if the project is interesting.
CBY: Now, this may be entirely hypothetical given the focus of your portfolio thus far, but I am particularly curious as to your answer - if you were poised to create a decidedly all-ages title, what sort of story would you want to tell? And beyond this hypothetical, are there other stories you’re currently developing we can look forward to in the near future?
MF: I think my comic book "Kingjira" is suitable for all ages. Children are crazy about it. Let's say it was a special case, though. I'm usually more into making projects for people who are a little bit more adult precisely because I feel free to push the themes; violence, etc. I am currently producing a couple of miniseries that will be released this year from Scout Comics. The first is a Western/Sci-fi/Body Horror story called Space Outlaws. It will consist of three oversized issues and the first one will come out in July. The second is a four-issue anthology series called Tales from the Grave, which is simply my humble homage to EC Comics. And I also anticipate that if the MurderFucker campaign goes well, be sure I will expand that universe with other comics. I have tons of crazy ideas in my head and this is the perfect project to pour them into.
CBY: Lastly, as is customary in these parts, we always like to provide an opportunity for creators to share a few points of inspiration and entertainment beyond your direct inspirations. What comics and other media have you been enjoying lately you think our readers ought to check out?
MF: To be quite honest, I don't read a lot of comics. I buy them every week and I look at the pages, layouts, storytelling, etc. But actually, I don't read them. I work on comics basically every day and during my spare time, I prefer to watch a movie, play video games, listen to music or go out for a walk.
Lately, I'm listening to younger bands like Allegaeon, Rivers of Nihil, Orbit Culture, and stuff like that. I absolutely recommend them.
In terms of films, in these last years, I really enjoyed Overlord (2018), Starry Eyes (2014), The Lighthouse (2019), Barbarian (2022). I could go on forever.
Speaking of video games, right now I'm 100% into Dead Island 2. What's better than slashing a zombie with a machete?
CBY: Marco, thanks for the recommendations, and we appreciate you joining us today. Please let us know any links for folks to purchase MurderFucker and any other social media you’d like us to include below!
MF: Thanks a lot to you, it has been a pleasure!
Here's the link to the MurderFucker campaign: https://zoop.gg/c/marcofontanili
And here's my page on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marcofontanili.art/