New Comic Book Yeti contributor Andrew Irvin joins the team and invites Allen Dunford into the Yeti Cave to talk about Pocus Hocus, with the 4th issue currently funding on Kickstarter.
COMIC BOOK YET: Thanks for making the time today, Allen. How's everything going back in West Virginia? So, from what I gather, both you and Will [Radford] are from the same neck of the woods, but tell us a bit about how you formed your creative team with Brian Balondo, Jasen Smith, and Dave Lentz?
ALLEN DUNFORD: First thing is first, thank you so much for taking the opportunity to interview us, CBY! The check is in the mail. Yes, Will and I are both from Beckley, WV. We met in high school and have been close friends ever since. As far as getting the creative team together, after browsing Match.com for 5 minutes we realized we were in the wrong place so we asked for help from a good friend of ours, Mike Tener. Mike has been successful with his independent titles and because of that he has worked with a wide variety of illustrators, colorists, and letterers. Mike gave us a list of people who he thought would best fit the project and we went from there. We reached out to each of the amazing dudes who we thought fit the best, they read the script, and for some unknown reason agreed to be a part of Pocus Hocus!
CBY: And apart from your creative team, obviously your PR and Marketing team member Joey Galvez is a large part of how we ended up in touch. Can you speak a bit about the role he's played, how he came into the picture, and what he does in the field to provide space in which the rest of you are free to create?
AD: Our letterer, Dave Lentz, actually put us in touch. I felt like we needed help with getting interviews, growing our reach, and ultimately staying organized, and here we have Joey. Joey has been nothing short of amazing! He gives us the ability to be able to worry about one less thing and all of his behind the scenes work and promotional posts have been incredibly helpful. He’s an all around great guy and we are lucky to have him! And off the record here.. he's charging me $500 a day…I think it's a bit much but he says it’s industry standard. Can you please let me know?
CBY: Now, after three successfully crowdfunded issues of Pocus Hocus, a fourth campaign is underway, and already exceeding its goal for financing. What have you learned from each experience - what has worked over each campaign, and what have you started or stopped doing with noticeable impact and response?
"We never wanted to take ourselves too seriously. How can you with a comic called Pocus Hocus? At its core we wanted Pocus to be a dark comedy. As we progress more with the story we have maintained that but have also been able to build on darker themes with the incorporation of more horror and fantasy elements."
AD: Yeah, it's kind of unreal for us. We have three successful campaigns under our belt and the fourth campaign is pacing to be no different. Each campaign has done better than the last so we are hoping we can maintain that. From where each campaign keeps growing, the big thing that I’ve learned from each experience is that we are on the right path. The support and praises from all of our backers has been overwhelmingly positive and it’s more than we could ask for. The thing that has worked for each campaign has been open and honest communication with the backers about production, ordering, and shipping statuses. The backers are the reason we are still here and it is the least we could do for them. We also strive to get the product out as soon as possible! We always wait to begin a campaign until we know we will be able to ship close to after the campaign has ended. The one thing that I will say is, the biggest lie I tell myself each campaign is that I wont refresh the Kickstarter page 7,854,739,895 times a day…I have yet to break the cycle.
CBY: I live on an island without any dedicated comic shops, so a quick digital download is generally my medium of convenience - to that end, apart from the active Kickstarter campaign, through which avenues can prospective readers access issues #1-3 in both digital and print format?
AD: As of right now, Kickstarter aside, you can simply reach out to anyone on the team and we will be more than happy to get you whatever we can! From where we just got picked up by Source Point Press our reach and resources will grow with distribution, so please stay tuned for more information on that.
CBY: On another geographical note, with you and Will writing, both rooted in a shared frame of reference - Appalachia, as a long-storied seat of American Gothicism and Scots-Irish fatalism - can you speak to your horror references both in media (reference points in comics, film, horror literature, etc.) and beyond? Any good local ghost stories that have fed into the mythos and worldbuilding you've undertaken for this ongoing tale?
AD: Will and I both share a huge love for horror and fantasy. Its funny because we will share ideas with each other and one or the other will say “oh that's like the scene in ‘insert a movie we have watched too many times.’” It has been so much fun to also go back and look at subtle references we didn't catch when initially writing the script. As far as local mythos that have influenced us, I want to say no, but I’m sure subconsciously it has. The Mothman is a big local legend around here so we are sure his presence is in the dialogue or the world somewhere.
CBY: Regarding visual style, but without having read the full issues yet, I notice the pages slide in and out of color - is this prompted by an in-world factor, or is it a choice entirely relegated to the viewer and not acknowledged within the interaction of Pocus Hocus characters? (Hopefully this can be answered without any monumental spoilers!)
AD: This was an idea since day one. Without giving too much away, the world itself is black and white, but whenever magic or supernatural forces are on the pages then we have our splashes of color. This is just another plot device for us to help the world building and to drive the story. As you will notice in later issues (let’s say issue 3 for example), we go to a uhhh…certain place….that has a uhhh….different uhh..OH SCREW IT! We go to Hell and you get to see a lot of fun cool color choices and how we intertwine the black and white aspects and its soooooooo much fun!
CBY: As an entirely visual medium in its current form - how would you soundtrack Pocus Hocus if given the chance? What have you been listening to as you write each issue, if anything? (For example, I'm listening to Pittsburgh's Black Moth Super Rainbow as I type this.)
AD: From where Will and I write together we don’t listen to music but I have been listening to a lot of Darko US and The Devil Wears Prada lately. I think if Pocus Hocus had a score/soundtrack I would LOVE to have Danny Elfman do it. I think his style would fit in perfect with our world.
CBY: The Faustian bargain is the model through which you initially framed Pocus Hocus, which you've clearly played with and turned upon its head, simultaneously referring to it as whimsical. To that end, how do you view this character and the universe in which he exists? Is it ultimately a comedy, or are comic antics rife within an ultimately tragic world? Do you have a finite arc, or is Pocus Hocus on an open-ended journey?
"Our next Kickstarter after Pocus #4 will be Grandma Chainsaw #1! It is a comedy/slasher/horror about a chainsaw wielding grandma that is guaranteed to be a wild time!"
AD: We never wanted to take ourselves too seriously. How can you with a comic called Pocus Hocus? At its core we wanted Pocus to be a dark comedy. As we progress more with the story we have maintained that but have also been able to build on darker themes with the incorporation of more horror and fantasy elements. We feel like we have struck a good balance with all of these genres and themes. Issue 4 will wrap up our first arc and we will be moving into the next arc immediately after. We have 3 total arcs planned for Pocus but we have so much room to expand. As long as people keep reading and enjoying it, we will keep writing!
CBY: If you're able to share with Comic Book Yeti all the relevant links for Pocus Hocus, they will be provided at the end of this interview. Before we come to a close, why don't you share with us any other media inspiring you right now? What else would you like readers to check out, beyond Pocus Hocus?
AD: Absolutely! Here is the Kickstarter link https://bit.ly/pocushocus4
We are always trying to find inspiration where we can and Will and I have both wanted to make a horror comic. As far as comics that I would recommend from where Pocus touches on several genres I would have to say I Hate Fairyland and Mercy. I Hate Fairyland is so fun, funny, and is so whimsical and Mercy is dark and gritty with some great monsters and fantasy elements. I feel like Pocus has those elements on each page. We got together with the team of Pocus Hocus and pitched an idea for one. Our next Kickstarter after Pocus #4 will be Grandma Chainsaw #1! It is a comedy/slasher/horror about a chainsaw wielding grandma that is guaranteed to be a wild time! We are offering an ashcan add-on of it as a preview on the Pocus Hocus #4 campaign.
CBY: Thank you for your time, and congratulations on the successive successful crowdfunding campaigns. Good luck with the publication, and we look forward to seeing what you and the rest of your creative team come up with next!
AD: And thank you! We cannot wait to chat again!