The following is an interview with Phil Mucci regarding the Kickstarter campaign launch for the second installment of the Diabolik Double Feature, including Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks and Gringo Loco. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Mucci about the creative process for bringing both series to life, the incredible backer rewards available through the campaign, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congrats on your new Kickstarter campaign launch! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the two stories contained within the double feature: Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks and Gringo Loco?
Phil Mucci: Professor Dario Bava, Paranormal Playboy©, was a top Vatican exorcist until he turned on, tuned in, and dropped out to fight monsters and stick it to The Man with Future Chick, a time-traveling super hippie from a heavy tomorrow, and her elite team of badass women, the Sisters of Tomorrow, in swinging Rome, 1967.
In Gringo Loco, a mysteriously scarred stranger sentenced to hang survives his attempted execution, only to face a gang of bounty killers intent on claiming his corpse. Turns out Gringo Loco’s violent past still haunts him, and his road to redemption is paved in blood and bullets.
BD: What can you tell us about the creative process behind these two series, and where will readers pick up after the events of the first issues??
PM: The creative process for each story is very different. Professor Dario Bava’s world combines elements from Italian horror and Giallo films, all coexisting in an alternate vision of Rome in the late ’60s. When writing Orgy of the Blood Freaks, I do a lot of rough thumbnail sketches, digital montage, and even some 3D storyboards to communicate ideas, layouts, and locations to artist Mike Dubisch. Mike then reinterprets them in his inimitable style, being careful to maintain important visual details that communicate the themes of Professor Dario Bava. When I’m coloring, I infuse Mike’s pages with vibrant, psychedelic palettes to give them a sense of the art of that period.
Orgy of the Blood Freaks 2 picks up shortly after the events of Book 1, as the Professor and Sadie set out to explore the Abbey ruins and locate the source of a strange radio signal detected from inside. Little do they know they’ve been followed by the lithe motorcycle-riding assassin who dispatched a werewolf in Book 1!
With Gringo Loco, the process began with writing an entire backstory that has only been hinted at in the actual scripts. I imagined a time well after those events took place, and began writing a more existential action story following the trials and travails of the character as they occur, in a particularly gritty and mythic version of the “old west” as popularized in Italian spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Since artist Vicente Alcázar is not only well-versed in those stories and films, but also illustrated a legendary run of Jonah Hex, our work together doesn’t require as much early layout development and thumbnails. Vicente works directly from my written script first, cranking out rough pencil ideas and layout options. Only at that stage do I provide any visual references or sketches of my own to work out any rough spots.
Gringo Loco 2 follows directly from the first book, as Gringo Loco chases bounty killer Cyrus Caldwell into the canyon hideout of notorious horse thief Laredo El Latigo and his gang of cutthroats, who have plans of their own for Gringo Loco.
BD: What makes Diabolik the perfect home for these stories?
PM: Diabolik was first formed as a production company to support my film and writing work, especially for music videos, which we were cranking out at the time. We made them like mini-movies, and in our video “Sorrow” for the band Huntress, Professor Dario Bava was the main character. Spoiler alert — he died at the end of that video, but we loved the character so much, I started writing more stories about him! It’s a tribute to my Diabolik partners that I’ve been able to devote my creative efforts to fleshing out the world of Professor Dario Bava to make it what it has become. It’s been a long road, but they’ve supported and encouraged me the whole way, which is rare.
When I introduced the idea of the double feature with Gringo Loco — a new story I sprung on them — they didn’t hesitate for a second. Luckily, the response to the first Diabolik Double Feature was so overwhelming, they greenlighted the whole trilogy of books, so there honestly wouldn’t be any Professor Dario Bava or Gringo Loco without Diabolik!
BD: In light of the current crowdfunding campaign, are there any specific backer rewards that you would like to highlight for readers?
PM: One of the most exciting rewards for me — and new readers — is that we’re reprinting Book 1 of the double feature trilogy. The first printing sold out in less than a year, and we weren’t sure we were going to do a second run, so I’m super thrilled it’s going to happen. Besides our new two-color silkscreen t-shirt design (which our supporters voted on), we’re also bringing back a sold-out design they’ve been requesting, “The Future Blows, Dude,” re-born as a three-color, double-sided silkscreen t-shirt. I’m also very proud of the ESP Testing Kit, which was an idea producer and editor Dan Simpson had that was a blast to put together and came out pretty hilarious. And the custom “Action Totems” handmade by Ian Mackay are an awesome new collector’s item reward for higher priced pledges.
BD: Are there any other projects that you’re working on that you’re able to share with our readers?
PM: I’m mostly working on coloring and lettering Book 2, while writing Book 3, so not much time for anything else! That said, depending on how well this limited series does, there may be more of both stories down the road, and maybe a graphic novel adaptation of my screenplay, Season of the Bitch, set in the world of Italian Road Warrior knock-offs, which would be lots of satirical sci-fi action fun!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Diabolik Double Feature and its Kickstarter campaign?
PM: The best way is to check it out on Kickstarter here.
There’s a 2-and-a-half-minute campaign video, lots of artwork from inside, and more videos featuring the cover artists at work and some story teasers.
They can also check out ProfessorDarioBava.com, and our Professor Dario Bava & Gringo Loco playlist on YouTube, which collects a bunch of behind the scenes, animation, and promo videos for the project.