Advance Review of Creature Feature #1, and an Exclusive Interview With its Creators


Creature Feature, or more formally, Mike Raicht’s Creature Feature, is the latest release from Th3rd World Studios, the publishing studio who brought us last years’ wonderful Space Doubles anthology. Creature Feature is a two part, double sized anthology comic book, and in Mike Raicht’s own words:

Each issue is 48 pages with three and a half scintillating tales of monstrous horror done right by top industry veterans, including CB Cebulski, Chris Yost, Andy Schmidt, Stuart Moore, Leah Moore, John Reppion and Brian Smith. — over the top and gratuitous with a super-cool soundtrack. (Readers are responsible for providing their own tunes, so break out the 8-Track or dust off your 45′s!)

Hypergeek was lucky enough to get an interview with Mike Raicht, the driving force behind the project, and some of the talented individuals involved with title, including CB Cebulski, John Reppion, and Leah Moore. Also, Mike Devito over at Thr3d World kindly sent me a pre-release copy of issue #1 of the series, so why don’t we have a quick look at that before we get into the interviews.

Issue #1 Review

As previously mentioned, Creature Feature #1 is a 48-page anthology featuring three and a half stories. I say three and half stories because the final story featured is set to be concluded in #2 of the series.

As a bookend to each story we are given an intro/outro by editor Mike Raicht. These one page strips act as though the stories presented in the book are actually movies that are being shown at a drive-in theater, and Mike Raicht is cast as the slightly demented host of the event. As the host, Mike reminisces about the drive-in horror movies of the late 70s and early 80s, you know, the sort of horror that didn’t mess around with things like plot, but made up for it with scantily-clad girls, and buckets of gore! This comic is set as a very tongue-in-cheek tribute to these movies and their campy horror stylings.

The first story in the book, which is also the cover featured tale, is the story Hooters by C.B. Cebulski, with art by Shaun Turnbull. This story features a group of rather buxom and scantily-clad girls, out camping in the woods. But there is more to the story than just the Hooters featured on the girls’ chests, as the girls get set upon at night by a group of vicious, murderous, owls. I can’t tell you more than that without spoiling the story’s ending, but Cebulski turns in a great little story that has all the hallmarks of corny 70s horror movies. Shaun Turnbull’s art style complements the story perfectly, and the scenes with the killer owls are deliciously gory!

The second story is Night of the Abductors by Chris Yost, with art from Jon Reed. This story features a bunch of kids who come across an Alien in the desert, decide to hold it hostage, and demand ransom money from its fellow aliens. Sounds ridiculous right? It is also hilarious! Predictably, things don’t end up well for the stoner kids featured in the story, and Yost gives it a brilliant little ending, that will have you laughing your ass off.

The third story is Why Did it Have to be Spiders, by Andy Schmidt, and Joe Lalich. [SPOILER ALERT: This story features spiders ] The story revolves around a group of families who have moved out of the inner-city to a purpose-built community in the countryside. It is an idylic little town, and is a fresh start for the featured characters. But, if you know your horror movies you’ll be asking whether it is built on an old Indian graveyard, or some ritual killing site. Well, close… the forest that had to be leveled to build the town was infested with spiders, and they are back for revenge, big time… literally, as grotesque spiders the size of houses eat everyone in site. Nice! The artwork on the spiders actually made me feel a little nauseous, Joe Lalich can really draw some scary spiders!

The last tale we are given is the first half of Rockenstein by Brian Smith. Rockenstein is a hilarious story that features a metal obsessed high school drop out who is expelled from school after demonstrating his theory that you can reanimate flesh by playing all the tracks of the metal band Thunderbeast’s debut album at once . Our protagonist doesn’t care much about his expulsion though, because Thunderbeast have just released a new album and are playing a rare gig in his home town. Disaster strikes though, and as the band gets to town, their bus explodes, and the band is killed. You can see where this is going right? Yep, he collects all the band members corpses and reanimates them as the heavy metal zombie, “Rockenstein”, which carries us into the next issue.

Throughout the book Mike Raicht’s hilarious commentaries provide a great backbone, as the host keeps having to fight off all manner of creatures that have escaped from the stories to attack him.

The book is great campy fun, and is highly recommended for all fans of horror or humorous stories. It costs $4.50, and should be released on Wednesday October 1st, so make sure to reserve one with your retailer.

The Interviews

Mike Raicht

This project is called Mike Raicht’s Creature Feature. As you are the project’s figeurehead, what inspired you to come up with the concept?

Following Th3rd World Studios launch of Space Doubles, they approached me about putting together a book for them. They told me to brainstorm some ideas and pass them by them. There is nothing more fun to me than the questionably awesome horror movies of the late 70′s and early 80′s. Most people probably cringe at the thought of watching some of them but my friends and I ate them up as kids… and later as adults. We rented every single horror movie from my town’s small video store at least twice. Movies like Piranha, Bug, Night of the Lepus, Food of the Gods, and Humanoids from the Deep have become favorites.

Back in the day, these movies were staples of the late night drive In and midnight matinee set as well. So I took my love for movies with strong “environmental messages” (nuclear waste bad/trees and critters good) pitched that to Th3rd World as a kind of Drive In movie experience complete with a Drive In host and fun, over the top, sort of environment based gore fests. For some reason they thought that would be a good idea so we went with it.

The drive-in Creature Features of the 70s and 80s were an obvious influence, what exactly attracted you to this theme?

Everything. The scantily clad chicks, the gore, the over the top creatures. A lot of these memories are being filtered through the eyes of a 12 year old. To say they shaped me would be an understatement. Probably not a good thing, right?
I think some of the film makers of the time were being really earnest in there attempts to say something. Sometimes that can make you cringe, but mostly it made my friends and I laugh and sometimes cringe at the same time. That is what we’re going for here and I think we have hit that.

Many of these stories are done with a tongue-in-cheek edge to them, if not just pure parody. The drive-in movies that served as inspiration for these tales were not intentionally humorous, but due to their low budgets and wooden acting, often came off like that. There was a lot of parodying of this style of horror in the 80′s and 90s, with Tales from the Crypt, and low budget shockers like Braindead/Dead Alive. Last year saw the release of Grindhouse by Tarrantino and Rodriguez, do you think we will see a resurgence of this sort of over the top horror homage/parody? Is there a market for it?

I really asked all of the writers to try create a movie from that time and I think they pulled it off while still having a lot of fun. It’s tough to do. Because if you are making fun of it completely, especially with horror, the audience can get annoyed. You have to love it a bit at the same time. You have to use the things that people love about it and turn that on its head. Everyone here presented a story with that “twist” on the genre. Whether it was taking undressing the on an girl a bit and making that the turning point of her survival to the kids finding an alien and not doing what you’d expect with him, it was an attempt to have fun with the conventions of those movies. We love them to death, but we also know how to play with your expectations and make them a bit fun at the same time.

I think there is always a market for good stories. I’m not sure if there will be a resurgence though. Right now we’re one of the only ones in the market telling these types of stories so hopefully people who love fun horror romps will give the book a chance. Then those people will tell their friends about it or let them borrow the book to check it out. We think they’ll like what they see.

What influenced the choices of writers and artists on this project? What would you say that each team brought to the table?

Honestly, I know a lot of them and have always wanted to work with them on a project.

CB Cebulski has been doing great stories for Marvel and Image. If you’ve read Wonderlust you know he gets high school angst and chicks and boobs so I figured he would have something to say about a genre filled with those things. And lucky for me he threw in a creature or ten.

Chris Yost is the writer of everything right now at Marvel. He’s doing X-Force and a bunch of other things. Mike Devito (one of Th3rd World’s publishers along with Jon Conkling) actually suggested we approach him. But a year or two ago he and his writing partner were extremely busy killing high school kids in a very cool run on New X-Men… another prerequisite of 80′s horror. He is amazingly talented and I have to say his story of aliens frolicking with teens is one of my favorites of them bunch.

Stuart Moore is one of the greatest writer/editors around. He edited books for both Vertigo and Marvel Knights and recently has been great writing books like Wolverine, Punisher, Firestorm, and Iron Man. He also clearly lived the 70′s. His cop buddy story has plenty of disco and afros. Fun stuff.

Andy Schmidt is now an editor over at IDW but had just finished a successful stint editing the Annihilation books as well as a bunch of others. I knew he wanted to take a crack at some writing and I asked him to come on board. He said yes. He took his love of the Annihilation wave bugs and turned it into a more down to earth creepy, crawly story.

Brian Smith who appears in both books since his is a two part story, is extremely talented and demented. He has drawn for MAD magazine, is currently working on a series of graphic novels for Penguin starring Loud Boy, has a strip called Pickles from Pluto which is hilarious, and never ceases to amaze me with his whacked out ideas. Read Rockenstein and you’ll see what I mean.

John Reppion and Leah Moore are my writing soul mates and my writing good luck charms. We tend to appear in books with multiple stories together like in Space Doubles and Savage Tales at Dynamite. So once I knew this book was a go I had to make sure our winning streak continued. They also seem to get horror. Check out Raise the Dead and you’ll see they get it. There mixture of science gone wrong and kids running from trouble is exactly what the genre was about.

And since it was my project, I allowed myself to put something together. Kids, sleds, gooey snowballs. All of my favorite things.

We got really lucky with all of the artists. A lot of the writers had people they were itching to work with and all of them really killed on their stories.

CB, Andy, and Leah and John brought their artists (Shaun Turnbull, Joe Lalich and PJ Holden) on board. The amazingly talented Brian Smith asked himself to draw his story and he said yes so that was easy. Alberto Ponticelli, who is about to be huge after Unknown Soldier hits, is someone both Stuart Moore and I worked with at Marvel. We knew he could draw the hell out of the 70′s and he did. Jon Reed won Comic Book Idol and you can see why on Chris Yost’s story. And, finally, I got lucky twice. First when I found out that Jacob Chabot, whose Mighty Skullboy Army book is hilarious, had a break in his schedule and could fit in my story, and second when my childhood friend Tim (TL) Collins, and fellow horror movie watcher, sent in a strip featuring me. It was funny enough that we thought using me as the host might not be such a bad idea.

I really loved the intro/outro links you did between stories, they reminded me of the Tales from the Crypt TV series from a few years back. Were you a big fan of that show?

I’m glad you enjoyed the introductions. Tim, unfortunately, captured my likeness on the page. I might be the scariest part of the book. We really wanted this to feel like something you were experiencing at a crazy Drive In and we thought the interludes would do a nice job of connecting the stories to one another. I actually didn’t see Tales from the Crypt that often. The few I saw I enjoyed.

Do you have any further plans for this theme if the two-part series is successful?

We would love to do a follow up. I was thinking we could possibly do an annual type thing where we do a few sequels to the stories in Creature Feature 1 and 2. I think that would be a lot of fun.

C.B. Cebulski

Much of your recent work has been with Marvel Comics. In fact, I believe this is your first non-Marvel work since you published Wonderlost, through Image comics last year. How did you get involved with this project?

If we wanna be picky, I actually had a story in Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo this summer as well. (ED NOTE: Fire my researcher, oh crap, that’s me!)

But yeah, most of my comic work has been for Marvel this past year, but I never like limiting myself. I come from a more “indy” background and always like to keep my options open to dabble with smaller publishers. I met the guys from Th3rd World a few years back and found we all have a lot of the same comic and story sensibilities. Mike Raicht and I have been friends for years and when he was organizing this project, I really wanted to be involved. When the call came in asking me to participate, I was thrilled.

Your story is called “Hooters” (nice pun by the way), where did you come up with the idea for the story?

When Mike sent me over the original guidelines for Creature Feature, I went back to a lot of the old horror movies I watched growing up. There were a lot of similar themes that ran through them all, something Mike pointed out and encouraged us to play upon. While I knew mutated animals would be a part of the story, I also decided I wanted to include your typical damsel-in-distress co-eds. Once I hit on owls as my predators of choice, the buxom babes fit in even more naturally than expected.

The story is a lot more gory than the other stories in the anthology, which took a more tongue-in-cheek approach. I don’t believe that you have dabbled in horror stories much in the past, but is this something that interests you? Could you see yourself writing more horror in the future?

I’m more of a sc-fi and teen drama guy when it comes to movies and books and TV shows I enjoy. Horror was a bit of a stretch for me. But once I got into it, I really enjoyed myself. and could definitely see myself doing more in the future. Actually, I also recently did a Dracula story with David Finch in Marvel latest Legion of Monsters incarnation, now that I think about it.

The killer owls of the story seem to give a bit of a nod to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, albeit with a much more contemporary flavor. Was Hitchcock much of an inspiration?

Actually, I can honestly say The Birds never came to mind. Didn’t even think of it till you just mentioned it. Weird. Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp played were more of an inspiration.

I don’t want to reveal your ending, but the twist at the end implies that there is much more than meets the eye here. The story is left with a bit of an open ending. Do you have plans to do a sequel story, or to use this as the springboard for a mini-series?

Yeah, once I hit on the concept, the story here grew into something much bigger than anticipated. I am totally open to the idea of doing more with these deadly owls and the back story I’ve concocted for them. While Hooters is a short self-contained story, there’s a much bigger tale I have to tell. I’m always open to do more if readers, and Th3rd World, are open to it!

Leah Moore & John Reppion

This is not your first work with Th3rd World Studios, having contributed the story “Project: Obeah” to Space Doubles #1. How did you guys get involved with this project? Do you see yourself doing more work with the publisher in the future?

Leah: We got involved with Space Doubles through Mike Devito asking us to contribute, and because we thought Th3rd World’s stuff looked really cool and fun, and well produced we jumped at the chance!

When Mike Raicht later suggested doing a story for Creature Feature we were delighted to do it. Mike Raicht’s a great writer and a great guy, so we were happy to do a story, and happy to work with Th3rd World again. We’d be up for doing more with them in the future, to be honest the only thing that would stop us is being swamped with other work, so hopefully they wont be seeing the last of us!

Your story is appearing in issue #2 of Creature Feature, why don’t you give us a little taster of what you have in store for readers. Something to make sure people come back for more.

John: Well, without giving too much away, the story is called Imago which (according to that font of all disinformation Wikipedia) is a term defined thusly:

In biology, the imago is the last stage of development of an insect, after the last ecdysis of an incomplete metamorphosis, or after emergence from the pupa where the metamorphosis is complete.

Basically, its sort of like The Goonies ran into The Thing… sort of…

I sense a hint of 80s influence in the story, were you guys big fans of those 80s horrors that were “so bad it’s good” I.E. Toxic Avenger etc.

John: I’ve always had a bit of a problem with Troma’s output since they try to do “so bad it’s good” deliberately which never quite works for me. Films like Critters, Piranha, Alligator, Q - The Winged Serpent… all that good stuff on the other hand; they were just great despite the limitations! [ED NOTE: All great films, some of the Critters sequels though... not so much!]

You guys have written quite a few horror stories before. Is this a genre that you enjoy writing?

Leah: We seem to don’t we? I think its mainly John’s fault as he sees everything in horror vision, so if I draw a panel, he’ll say “yes like that shot in Brain-dead!” or something. I hadn’t watched many horror films until I married him, so I blame him mostly. I suppose on balance that I did read a fair few horror comics throughout my life too, so it must just have filtered in that way too.

How did you first get into the genre, and do you have more horror stuff in the works?

We got to the end of either Wild Girl or Albion and someone asked us in an interview what we wanted to do next. We jokingly said “Horror! Loads of zombies” or something like that, and someone must have been listening. We did a giant octopus story for Accent UK’s ‘Monsters’ anthology, then we did Project Obeah for the Th3rd World guys, (we might have actually written that one first…) then a zombie story for Accent UK’s next anthology ‘Zombies’ and since then its been zombies and tales of the macabre ever since. Be careful what you wish for!

PJ Holden is mostly known for his work on 2000 A.D. How did PJ get involved with this project, and what was it like working with him?

John: We’d met PJ a couple of times when we were over in Dublin for the Phoenix Convention and in Belfast for MeCon. Basically, we just kept bumping into each other at al these different events and we got on well so he went to the top of our “artists to work with” list. The project came along soon after that and so it was straightforward logic that we ask him if he fancied doing it and it turned out that he did. Simple really.

The two person writing dynamic is something that has always interested me. How does the process work with the two of you? Is one of you the ideas person, and one the dialogue person, or is it not quite so strictly defined?

Leah: Its almost like that, but we do a lot of talking about all of it as we go so the edges get blurred a bit. John’s very good at writing pitches and proposals, so he usually take s the first crack at them, but normally we already know what’s going into it before he starts, so all he does is go though it in logical fashion making it all fit. We talk through the story and how it fits into the issues/pages we have and we break it down into chunks. We make sure we know what’s gong on each page of the issue in terms of plot, and then we start drawing out the pages. I do the drawing because John’s drawings make no sense to me at all, and we go through the pages putting in each panel at a time until we’ve covered the plot for that page, and left it at the right point for the next page. We sometimes have several pages to work with in a scene, so we have to figure out how to pace the action and stuff, but the process is the same. Go through panel at a time and draw them in until you’re done. Sometimes we start at the end of the scene and work backwards from it, sometimes we just plough through really fast from the start. We have to know what the characters are saying at least roughly, at this point, so we make notes to remind us later. Once we have the pages all drawn up in my scribbled biro, then we grab a few pages each and sit down and type up the script. John then has the job of typing in all the dialogue roughly, and I go through at the end and reword it and tweak it a bit to make it perfect. He can get the words down fast without worrying about it, but I fiddle about with it for ages afterwards. It really works well.

We both say we couldn’t write comics without the other person, and its true, but maybe what we mean is we would write crappier comics without each other!

Obviously, arguments over storylines have the potential to get a lot more personal, as the two of you are married. I think that if my wife and I were to work together, one of us would be dead within the week Do you find that writing ever generates friction between the two of you? How does one work through that?

John: It’s fairly rare that things like plotlines or character arcs generate any friction between us (although it does happen sometimes). Mainly, the hardest part is getting us both motivated at the same time, especially when we’re just starting a new issue of something; you need to take a bit of a run up at these things and sometimes it’s harder to give yourself that push when there’s another person involved. One of the most positive things in terms of quality control that comes out of writing as a duo is the fact that it’s a lot harder to accidentally waste your time writing a load of crap that will have to be deleted. I can imagine that people writing solo sometimes “push through” a block and just write and writ only to discover that they’ve really written a load of rubbish. We always have the other person to say “Stop!” then we waste out time in other ways instead.

What future comic work do the two of you have on the horizon?

Leah: Good lord we have a metric tonne of work coming up, but nothing we can talk about at the moment. We can’t announce anything we are working on now, so we can only say we have three big new projects coming up with Dynamite and one smaller but very tasty project coming up with another publisher.

Well, thanks for your time everybody! Everyone reading should definitely head down to the store this week and pick it up. It’s a great read!

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