It should be no surprise to you by now that I’m a bit of a horror-phile. That is to say that I’m a huge horror fan, which also makes this my favorite month of the year because of HALLOWEEN! Luckily, I’m not alone in my monster-obsessed state of mind. For instance, this week’s featured guest is a fellow Halloween addict who had taken his love of the genre and injected it into his work… introducing Jeremy R. Scott!
Coming straight from the presses for his latest book, Dracula is Afraid of the Dentist, Jeremy was kind enough to spare a few moments of daylight to answer some of our questions including the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere and taking a quizzical look at George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.
If you would, Jeremy, can you give our readers a general introduction on who you are and how you got started in illustration?
Hello, my name is Jeremy R. Scott, and I like to do drawings and scare my little sister.
Is it true the first comic you ever read was The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man?
Yeah, Kool-Aid Man battling the Thirsties in OUTER SPACE! I can’t remember how many kool-aid points it took to send away for it, but I vividly remember reading it while watching The Wiz on TV. I never really read comics as a kid; in fact, the first one I actually bought was the first issue of Dark Empire from Dark Horse when I was a teenager and that was only because it was Star Wars – you know, when Star Wars was still cool.
Were you influenced by anything (or anyone) in particular growing up?
Cartoons were a huge part of my life. I grew up out in the country with very poor TV reception, but I had endless amounts of cartoons on VHS tape. So, that’s pretty much all I watched: Looney Tunes, classic Disney shorts and films, Transformers, He-Man, entire blocks of Saturday morning cartoons and of course The Muppet Show. If I didn’t have that VCR, I probably would be an accountant today.
I have also been a Halloween junkie as long as I can remember. There is almost a tingle in the air when October rolls around, bringing pumpkins, witches and ghoulies with it. Part of my fascination with the holiday also stems from the fact that because I was a kid living out in the middle of nowhere Ohio, I couldn’t go Trick-or-Treating.
That reminds me, you have a new book that will be coming out shortly called Dracula is Afraid of the Dentist, right? What can you tell us about the story?
Dracula is suppose to be a big scary guy; but as the title describes, he is in fact frightened of a simple dentist – which is especially rough when you rely on your teeth as much as he does.
The book was just a vehicle to mix some Halloween imagery with a story that kids can relate to because heck, no one like to sit in the dentist chair. It was also a chance to write in prose, which I have never done before.
The book will be available directly for digital download in addition to print. What are some of the differences between the two? I understand the digital version is animated?
Well, unfortunately for now, the book will just be available as a printed book and a PDF download. I planned to also release it as an animated iPhone app, but I lost my app developer. I did animate the entire book and am currently trying to figure out the best way to release it. Check out my website to order the book. It should be popping up to buy in the next couple days.
Is this your first children’s book or have you done any other books or comics previously?
I have done a few others for Image Comics. I illustrated a story that my friend Justin Shady wrote called The Lava is a Floor. It’s about a couple of bored monsters who invent a new game to pass the time and spend the book pretending to be something new and exciting – human beings.
I wrote and illustrated a book called PTA Night. During a late night PTA meeting at Austintown Middle School, which just happens to be my old middle school, a lot of strange and spooky stuff goes down. It was a fun book to make because it has 6 independent stories going on at once that all eventually collides at the finale, and it is all told with almost no words. So the whole thing kind of feels like a Where’s Waldo? book, and will have you flipping the pages back and forward to figure out the whole story. So, it was a challenge to make it all come together in the end, but I did get to draw lots of spooky, Halloween type imagery.
I also wrote an Illustrated a three-page story in Image Comics’ collected book Fractured Fairytales called The People VS. Hansel and Gretel. It was a fun little retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, except this time around the poor old lady in the gumdrop house takes the kids to court for destroying her home.
Your style of illustration is very bold, using flat colors to define various shapes and elements. Do you have any special techniques or tools that you use?
I sketch out all of my ideas on paper, but after that I primarily finish all of my work on the old Mac using vector tools in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I also have been doing a lot of animation in Adobe Flash, so that is another reason why I use vector tools to draw my characters.
Illustrator has really heavily influenced my drawing style and character work over the years. It really forces me to look at each character I draw and break it down into its basic shapes to simply convey its attitude.
Coming back to your influences, what is it about horror/monsters that appeals most to you as an artist?
Like I said above, I love Halloween and Monster movies. The first time I saw Night of the Living Dead I couldn’t sleep for a year. Heck, I still have nightmares about zombies. God, I can still hear that sound when the little Cooper girl stabs her mother. Wait a minute… she is a zombie, what the heck is she doing stabbing her mother with a hoe for? Shouldn’t she be trying to eat her? She is a zombie after all, not a murder. Jeez, I never really thought about it before. Maybe it is best not to think about it to hard. Anyway, I have been a horror junkie ever since.
Point taken. So… if your such a big horror fan, what’s your favorite monster cereal?
Always was a FRANKENBERRY man, mostly because I never really liked chocolate much as a kid.
Since you brought it up, though, what the heck happened to Frankenberry? I just had a bowl yesterday, probably my first since I was 12, and I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed. The sugar flavoring wore off after a couple of seconds and the marshmallows turned into a soggy, gooey mess. I might be wearing my rose tinted glasses here, but I remember the cereal tasting better when I was a kid.
Isn’t that the truth? All three of them of become more – dare I say – “nutritious” in recent years. I’d kill for a good box of sugar soaked Boo Berry cereal.
Well… at least the characters are still kick-ass.
True. So, what other projects are you currently working on at the moment?
Just trying to finish up Dracula now. That and try to keep adding fresh artwork to the blog on my site called BLOGENSTEIN.
In one word, what “fuels” your illustration?
Rondal Scott III is an illustrator and graphic designer who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and is a self-professed Twitter addict. He’s illustrated several independent children’s books and in 2009 his obsession with horror movies and pop culture inspired him to establish the Strange Kids Club, a virtual clubhouse for geeky, pop culture nostalgia.