Interview with sCrypt Comics about BTSH: Legends Of Vampire
Blood, The Second Helping: Legends of Vampire – Interview with Rick and Dan Pipito
The following are questions submitted by fans to Rick Pipito and Dan Pipito, co-founders of sCrypt Comics
Rick: Yeah. We spent a great deal of our childhood reading comic books, watching the cartoons and playing with action figures based on those characters. I always loved to tell stories and come up with how we would play out a scenario. Dan was the art guy. He has drawn for as long as I can remember, and always had a knack for making obstacles and backgrounds for the little figures. I think it was just something that we always thought about, but never thought would happen or take seriously until recently.
Q2: How does sCrypt Comics differ from other comic book companies?
Rick: We (at the moment) can’t compete with the major companies like Marvel, DC, Image, Darkhorse etc., but I think what draws audiences to us is that we are more adult oriented. Horror is our major outing right now and always will be, but we have other stuff (non-horror) in the works as well.
Dan: Independent talent is our workforce. Our focus to start was to get talent out there. We wanted all those who had an interest in art to have an artery for exposure. I think in the independent world at least, we have learned a lot and continue to grow. Each comic becomes a bigger outing with more experienced talent as well.
Rick: Another thing is that we are working with stories that are already in an established universe. Each graphic novel includes spinoff stories from the novels I have written. There are nine novels planned out in the series, and though we are behind them in publishing, we plan to have a graphic version of stories to expand each of those books’ plots. Like I said too, there are other ideas in the works as well.
Q3: What are your goals?
Rick: We’d love to get major sponsorship and exposure so that we can not only pay out artists on a more professional level, but spread their talent (and ours) also.
Dan: We also reached out to Marvel and DC as well as a few others, to create some competition. We want to know what they would say about our stuff. On our blog, we review comics too, so even if they wanted us to see what we think about certain stories, we’d be more than willing to scratch their backs, so to speak. Most of those comic companies started as small or smaller than we are, so I think we have the advantage there, it is just a matter of getting some recognition. The definition these days of Independent is sort of loose, but all in all it means someone who is self sufficient. And that is what we’d like to become. We’d love to be able to sew the holes in our pockets. The cost of each comic we do comes straight from our wallets, and that is why it takes us months to do one issue. We’d love to change that.
Rick: In the long run too, I think Dan wants to be able to draw, paint and express himself through his art for the world to see. I want the same with my writing. My novels are selling, and getting great reviews, but without a big time publisher or agent, everything is a lot of work. We don’t need to be rich off of it, but if we could bring a couple people with us along the way and all be able to support our families, that would be the icing on the cake.
Q4: Who are your artists this time around?
Dan: Well, if you consider it art, we changed printing companies. We won’t say names, but our previous printer gave us and a lot of our fans the shaft if you know what I mean. We were tired of bending over and taking it.
Rick: The new printer has been awesome. They have great personalities, and are fun to work with. Not to mention they put out a great final product and work with you to achieve the best. As far as artists though, we brought back Joe Parisi from the first comic. He emailed me and said he would be interested in another outing with us, and we were more than happy to oblige. He got more time to do it this time, and he wanted to do a different style, which was a completely different look from the first. I couldn’t believe it, but he literally nailed the story to a point where I swear those images jumped right from my head to the paper through his art. Everything I envisioned in that story he got down to a T.
Dan: Asher Humm was another artist who came back. He presented it to us at first as a finished product in black and white, but there was just so much visual that with text he thought it would be too hard on the eyes. He didn’t have much time in his schedule to do more than the massive amount he already had. We didn’t feel comfortable getting another artist to fill in color on his work, so… We told him to add some shading, and the next thing you know, he emails Rick and says, “Happy Birthday, man. This is for you.” I think Rick crapped himself when he saw the thing in full color. It was epic.
Rick: Dan did two stories again in this issue that were as impressive as the first, and he helped me with the covers and layout. Phillip Allie returned too using pencil type work instead of the full on color digital from last time. I guess it is a good thing when all these artists want to come back, because Leanne Wiedmeyer did as well. She was able to really take her time this round and do a full color spread. After coming in at last minute for Flesh, she really earned a spot without even asking for this one.
Dan: Sakura Jones is a new addition that we found through craigslist. Her portfolio was amazing right off the bat. She just graduated college and I can tell she is going somewhere with her art. She captured ancient Egypt nicely.
Rick: Another craigslist addition is Angela McQuillan. She is very involved in the independent comic scene, and helps run Philly Indy Comiccon. We were invited last year where we met her and were eager to show her what the first issue looked like. Her style is unique to these comics in that it is full of vibrant colors. In horror you don’t usually see that, but it works well in the way she portrays it.
Dan: Her product was very finished and professional looking. The depth was great in the final print. A friend of mine, J.C. Spence, also got involved this time. We had an emergency switch of personnel and called him up to give us a hand filling in. It was last minute, but he had the experience and knew what he was doing. He’s been around the major comic book scene for a year or two and knew just how to work the look into the frames. I actually worked with him in college. He was a few years ahead of me and graduating, but he asked me to do some background animation work with him on a project, so it isn’t the first time we’ve teamed up on a project.
Rick: With this graphic novel, we had more bumps in the road than the last one. When we got to a point where we were well beyond our original goal date, we had to fire another artist. There wasn’t enough time to have a replacement, and the book would have been incomplete without this story. Dan and I worked with our original storyboards and he arranged it with the script so that we could show the fans what the artists work with. On the title page for this one we wrote a little note to the fans about the storyboarding. My wife knew I was really let down by the artist and when I came home from work, she had drawn out a crayon drawing of a scene from that story. She did it as a joke to cheer me up. Instead, I laughed, immediately called Dan on the phone and said, “I have our cover for that story.” The look on her face was priceless, but she let us use it to complete the abomination of my horrible stick figures. <laughs out loud>.
Q5: Did you come into any obstacles with this outing?
Rick: Early on, we had someone say that they wouldn’t be able to do it after committing. We got someone to replace him fairly quickly. Two weeks later, the artist who backed out swore that he had time, and me being naïve and trusting, gave him another story from another artist who we had to fire for lack of communications. Of course, then that same first artist who backed out and came back, was then unable again, so we canned him for good. It sucked. I hate firing people. Now we were down two artists, but Dan filled in for the Samson and Delilah story, and JC Spence took the other story as our saving grace. When we were just about ready to go to publishing, like we said, we had another unexpected and unprofessional artist screw us. That is when we had to use the storyboard story. It’s frustrating when people do this on two levels. 1) they don’t care about other people they are affecting. And 2) It’s my name that has to let the other artists down that they aren’t getting the comic right away because of a delay. I understand that there are things that come up, and that would be acceptable, but to just ignore a contact attempt or numerous ones, tells me that that person really doesn’t give a shit.
Dan: Yeah, it seems that with this outing we sort of pissed off one of the artists who submitted their material early on. He never said so, but we got that feel from talking with him. It’s very hard to run a venture like this with a time schedule and little funding. We learn each time though and hope to correct our mistakes as well as have forgiveness for our learning. It’s very difficult to maintain professional attitude when these things happen, but we have to keep our heads about us and move on. We are positive about our work, and negativity isn’t the way we handle it, so it can be extremely frustrating.
Q6: Tell me about the cover. Where did you get the idea?
Rick: We wanted to keep with a real photograph like in the first one, and I thought that since vampires are sexy creatures, we had to have a woman’s neck bitten. Since our theme with titles involves food, ala “The second Helping”, we decided to add the wine glass as if it were filled with blood. Wine helps us quite a bit in writing and analyzing our ideas, so paying tribute was the least we could do. The back cover was a little more simple as we just placed some fake blood on a couple glasses and jugs of wine. It didn’t need to be something that eye catching for the back because there would be text over it. The inside credits page was also a photo concept by Dan. We took a glass of water and dropped some fake blood into it. As it dispersed we had to snap the perfect photo. It took probably thirty times to nail the shot we wanted, but we got it. The front again has an old gothic oil painting look to it. We wanted that filter on there to make it seem a little more horror related.
Dan: Photographing the cover for the first set our precedents. We needed the theme to stay the same or not stray too far. Consistency matters. There was a brief concept of having each artist draw a part of the one character, Cain’s face and making it look like a shattered mirror. It would have been too difficult to control and we don’t know if that would have been as real looking.
Q7: Where are these comics available, and the books from which they originated?
Rick: www.indyplanet.com and www.comicsmonkey.com have print and digital versions of the graphic novels. For the novels, www.lulu.com has print versions, and www.amazon.com has digitals. The itunes store also has a digital of the first novel as does Barnes and Nobles website. We are working on getting digital versions of the comics up on amazon as well, so that they are available for Kindle.
Q8: Dan, what is it like working with your brother?
Dan: Well, on this comic in particular I was able to co-write a few stories. Rick gave me the plots and I was familiar with the books, so as he directed I took many liberties in storyboarding and telling the art direction of a few. For as much as it can be frustrating it was a lot of fun. The opportunities were… <pauses>
Rick: Are you going to cry? <laughs>
Dan: <chuckles> No. It is just amazing to do such a unique thing. Funding to get a few more people on board for post production would be ideal, but I think we’ve got a great thing going.
Q9: Rick, same question to you about working with Dan?
Rick: You know, Dan’s an amazing artist and a lot of the inspiration for my stories. I always wanted to work alongside Dan, because we seemingly ruled the world when we were younger (at least in our minds). I did have the opportunity to work with him other than through this venture, and though we’ve had our differences at times, I think our heads have always been clear in our business. Our minds think a lot alike, so the stories may be my creations, but I think he can relate to them a lot as if they were from his personality as well, and that is why I really wanted him to co-write and write a few. I trust him to do so. When we have our butting of heads it is rare, but it’s okay because I’m the older brother and can still beat him up. <laughs> All in all the co-writing experience was great too. We sat down frame by frame and talked about what was going to happen. I even did that for one story with my wife, and it’s neat to see how others that you trust would interpret what you see. I just feel bad sometimes asking him to do so much in the post production process. I never know how he is going to take it, even if he immediately agrees. Sometimes I wonder if he gets pissed off at me for being so “in charge”.
Dan: It’s all part of the production and I realize that. Having two brothers work on something such as this is great. Our creations are collaborative and it’s interesting to see where it goes from start to finish. One of us may come up with an idea and the other will say, “No way. I don’t like it.” Basically we knock each other down for ideas where we don’t agree, but then we work to try to make that idea work for both of us. I think it makes for better arrangements of the stories.
Rick: In that line of thinking, Dan is never afraid to call me out where I may be wrong. Even with the novels, he approves of the stories before anyone else sees them. He’s told me where he thought some things might need to be changed and I value that input.
Q10: How was the concept art page done?
Dan: We kind of threw together some scrap ideas we had, but we want it to get to the point where every artist contributes some of their early stage ideas to the page. Most graphic novels have a concept art section that is extensive. It would be nice to have a little more than what we have now and for the next issue we are definitely headed in that direction. In the art world process is huge, and this is a work of art that should display that. The stick family that we put in there is kind of a joke. Everyone has these stick figure families on the back of their cars, and the trend began to annoy me. I created that zombie stick figure family for my car as a counter joke. Then Rick made it a standard. It’s kind of fun creating such a simple thing out of complex characters. I love the challenge and want people to see it and go “damn, that’s cool. I want one on my car.”
Rick: Yes, it is a must. I love them. Dan took something that we both found stupid and made it an enjoyable joke for us both. So we have zombie and vampire stick families, but there will be a stick family with each issue hopefully. Stay tuned for his werewolf one in volume three.