With each new release I always post questions I’ve received from fans or collective media outlets. Here are a few of the ones I’ve received so far for Planet ATE, and I’m sure I’ll post more as they come in.
Enjoy, and feel free to ask your own questions in the comments below.
Q: Planet ATE leaps across genre boundaries for you. Was there any hesitation in doing this?
Rick: It was the logical course of where to go next. Everything in the prior books were horror centric, but since Techno Feast began the sci-fi step for me, and Genetic Morsels further grounded that, it was time to make the full on transition.
Q: Your books are very grounded in reality with that fantastical element added. Do you find that it is difficult to combine the two?
Rick: I find it more difficult to NOT combine realism with fiction. Everything that influences me is in real life, whether it be my own experiences or history itself. I’ve always tried to make explanations for the strange things this world has to offer. Genetic Morsels had a political theme underlying the main plot. With Planet ATE I chose to add government conspiracy to the list.
Q: Government conspiracy and aliens in one story seem to go hand in hand. Did you use the X-Files as inspiration at all, and how do you not step on the toes of other current works?
Rick: You know it’s funny you say that. I loved the X-Files growing up, and always wanted to do an alien related novel. It was after I started writing this book that I found out about the new season coming out, and I went into panic mode. I said to my wife, “Damnit, it’s happening again!” We laugh about it. When I was writing my first three novels the subjects were zombies, vampires and werewolves. Then the Walking Dead, and Twilight series became popular shortly after. The beauty of writing is that you can acknowledge what is there in a way by avoiding certain key elements. I’ve never had any problem staying unique in my approach and keeping it fresh. I think the stories that flop (whether in movies or book form) are because they aren’t unique enough.
Q: What makes Planet ATE so unique to alien fiction?
Rick: Aside from research on fact I spend lots of time watching and reading what is out there to keep something totally separate in mind. Planet ATE is nice because it tackles the ultimate question “Why do we exist?” We can go to science, faith or any other means to find the “truth”, but this incorporates that and goes beyond. It takes a look at fact throughout history and ties it together into many supposed sightings of UFOs etc. This book gives an answer as to the why, but then opens the door to figure out what it all means.
Q: Before each chapter you have a quote by a famous person or a fact. Are these real and what made you do it?
Rick: They are real quotes and references to historical fact. I wanted that realism in there to bring the reader back into the real world and really make them wonder about life in the universe. The amount of quotes to find the right ones was exhausting, but well worth it in the end.
Q: The title of your books blends the topic with food. Why the capital letters in this title?
Rick: This title was difficult to settle upon. The word “ate” is my connection to that food world for consistency, but it goes beyond that. Not only is it a culinary term, but it also is the 8th book (eight), and it is an acronym in the book. ATE stands for Alien Threat Elimination. It is the government agency created to take out the antagonist of this book.
Q: This series can be read as individual books, but how far do you want to take it as a series?
Rick: The next book ends the current run with a follow on trilogy that will acknowledge what has already happened. At the end of all 12 books it will sort of make the reader wonder. While all questions will be answered it will allow me to begin writing other things in the same universe as these books, but not be tied to them in any way.
Q: You release compilations in trilogies. Will you release a complete volume of all twelve?
Rick: I write in trilogy form (Eden’s Order Trilogy dealt with monster like creatures; Pandora’s Chaos dealt with the supernatural). After book 9 the Beyond Human trilogy will be released. Then another after books 10-12 are all done. At some point I would like to release a limited edition hardback of everything (the 12 novels and spinoff stories). It is already in the works for down the road, and will be called the ETERNAL HUNGER SAGA.
Q: What is the status of the spinoffs in graphic novel form? Will you be working on more with your brother?
Rick: Dan is automatically involved in whatever I do because he does the cover art. As far as sCrypt Comics goes the future is uncertain. I’m not saying we won’t do any more. In fact we both want to, but it is very time consuming and difficult to manage. It is hard enough to juggle our own schedules let alone getting nine other artists involved in each release. For now we will be focusing on sCrypt Publishing as a whole. That includes graphic novels, but isn’t the main focus. Those stories are written and being written though for the comic book spinoffs so that they are already done when we are ready to go on it.
Q: Tell us about the cover of Planet ATE?
Rick: The last cover featured a mock chalkboard with calculations pertaining to DNA and genetics. This kept with that theme and is a dry erase board. We figured we would add a few grainy UFO pictures Dan created as Polaroid shots hanging by magnets. Think of it as the research board that the characters may be using in the book.
Q: What will the cover be for book 9? Is it something similar?
Rick: My lips are sealed for now.
Q: Politics have come into play in your books without straying too far in either direction. How do real life scenarios and politics play into your writing?
Rick: As I mentioned previously my experiences in life truly come into play in some form in my writing. It could be a simple situation or something more complex that I may tweak and throw the characters into. Politics in general are entertaining. We in the U.S. have a two party system that is honestly becoming a joke. Both sides have candidates that are in my opinion dangerous leaders. I stay up to date with current world events as much as one can, and it makes for great writing in a sense. Politicians are often like the villains of books with their schemes and agendas. I take that into account and try to find a middle ground in which to present my writing in non-biased ways. As an author I can vent my feelings on paper with both sides being accused without actually spilling my opinions on who is right or wrong. People are always going to disagree, but the world today needs leaders who are just and stand for the people, and at this point it’s difficult to see who that is at times; if at all.
Q: Controversy seems to be everywhere in today’s day and age. Everything has to be “politically correct” or be geared towards a certain audience? How does this affect your writing?
Rick: I definitely keep it in mind, but also don’t let it hold me back from creating realistic characters or situations. You have to be careful which lines you cross, but there are ways of doing it without making it seem like those are things that you believe. A prime example is in my BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING. I wrote a section that dealt with the Chicago mob in the early 20th century. There are things the characters do and say that are flat out unacceptable whether by today’s standards or in general. It was difficult to write because I in no way agree with the things the characters did or said, and I think it was done tastefully to the point where the reader realizes it is just a work of fiction and not my personal thoughts. BLOOD is still considered a fan favorite so I guess I manage my approach fairly well.
Q: How do you juggle your busy schedule? What’s a day in the life of Rick Pipito?
Rick: It’s become such a routine, that I barely notice it anymore. I spend 8 hours every day brainstorming my thoughts. During car rides I record dialogue into my phone (the people driving by must think I’m crazy). Then at night I write after my kids go to bed. Once I sit down at the keyboard the thoughts are ready to be put on paper, so it just flows out of me. I also spend time helping my wife with her business, and the kids with homework and daddy time. It’s a full plate for sure, but I love it. It would be nice to have an extra hour or two in the day (or for sleeping at night for that matter).
Q: What can you tell us about that you are working on?
Rick: Well like I said I’ve officially called the saga the Eternal Hunger Saga. Book 9 is in the works and is called DEVOURED UNIVERSE. That will be released later this year. Dan and I are also putting the final touches on A LITTLE BOY IN THE LAND OF SLEEPLESS KNIGHTS. My prior children’s book was a success and it seemed little girls loved it, so since I wrote that one for my daughter, this one will be geared towards boys and is written for my son. It will be coming out early this summer.
Q: Where can someone get a copy of your books?
Rick: All of my novels are available in paperback at www.lulu.com. They are also available for the Kindle at www.amazon.com. My comics are at www.indypress.com and Audible and itunes also have my first audiobook translation, and hopefully more to come soon.
Bones At Breakfast In Case Of Werewolf – Interview with Rick Pipito and Dan Pipito about their third sCrypt Comics issue
The following questions were submitted to sCrypt Comics in celebration of their new release.
Q1: What is the third sCrypt Comics issue all about?
Rick: It is a spinoff of my third novel, “Bones At Breakfast.” There are ten short stories about werewolves that tie together into one larger plot, and this comic fills in more detail and supplemental material to the existing works.
Q2: One of the things sCrypt Comics does is you guys gather an array of artists. Who do we have working on this issue with sCrypt, and how did you find them?
Dan: Jacob Greenawalt is an artist whom I worked with in college as an animator. He has a very clean style, and is enthusiastic about his work and collaborating with other artists. Jake had done some artwork that actually fit right in with the story he ended up doing. When he heard what we were doing, he wanted to get back into doing some still work, and we immediately signed him on.
Rick: Joe Parisi is back again for a third time. He actually began his own weekly web comic recently, but still wanted to work with us. It’s great because he brings a different style each time to the stories he does. I actually had him and his fiancé over one night for dinner to discuss the comics. Meeting the artists is one of the best parts of these projects, and to finally sit down with one of them on a more personal level, is even better yet.
Kelly Swann is the first artist to really find us. I placed a post on our blog about issue #3, and she had contacted us within a couple of hours of the post. She is sort of a history buff, and does a lot of military and historic type drawings. Most of her stuff is based in reality, so when she ended up choosing a Norse mythology inspired story, I was really interested in seeing where it would go. She’s working on her own books with her artwork, and will be working with us again in our upcoming sCrypt web series of short stories, so stay tuned for that.
Kristie Vanderzee didn’t have even a quarter of the time that everyone else had. One of our artists dropped out at the last minute, and I posted a panic call out on facebook. A mutual friend of ours introduced me to Kristie, and she was more than eager to do the work. With only three weeks, she banged it out, and she’ll be back for issue #4 next year, so that we can see even more of what she can do in a better amount of time. We’re grateful to have all the artists, especially when they are dedicated to her level.
Dan Pipito of course is back, because he’s half of the insanity that is sCrypt. He took a different approach and went with a futuristic story this time around. Plus he did most of the compilation, cover art and interior work.
Sakura Jones is another returning artist. She worked with us on our last one, and so this being her second go at it, she decided to use a little more color, and a new style. I think that she was able to capture the feel of the story really well. The Eden Wave from the novels was recreated in her own eye, but what she had done with it was exactly what I had envisioned from my own perspective, so I’m glad that she was able to interpret it on a similar level.
Dan: Michael Coppolecchia is someone whom I met through a mutual friend. I heard that in his past, he had worked for Marvel Comics as well as doing some video game cover art (Marvel Ultimate Alliance was one of them). Immediately I was like “Holy Crap,” how the hell do you get that kind of job? He had gotten out of the business for a little while, and while we were talking, I threw out the idea to him. Mike was actually interested in getting back into comic book work, and he went with sCrypt, and showed us his portfolio of very professional comic book art. Since uniting with us, I believe he has been making more contacts to get back into the industry himself. He’s always busy and has a passion for comics, so we were honored to have him.
Rick: Ken Hensley was another mutual friend contact, and the first artist on board for this issue. I put a post out there about how we were gearing up, and someone gave me Ken’s contact info. He had a lot going on personally, and hesitated a little on committing, but I could tell that he really wanted to do it. He had a passion for it in his words, so we talked a little, and once I told him the time frame, he came on board. I wrote his story based on an actual event, and he was the one who said to me, “Hey, do you mind if I put inspired by true events at the bottom of the title page?” I thought that was a great idea, and am extremely happy with his work.
Dan: It’s very cool to see the artists as they progress through a story, and Ken hit us up every step of the way. In fact, most of the artists did this time around. They wanted our approval, and we wanted it to be their interpretations. All around, I think we had a very pleasant experience.
Rick: Ivy Duffy is one of the artists who showed us character concepts etc. A friend of mine told me that his wife might be interested in doing comic book work. It turned out that the horror and fantasy realm was a little out of her style, but that she knew someone who would be more than willing. Ivy was this person. She’s young, so this was perfect for her to throw into a college portfolio.
Scott Modrzynski is another unique artist. He has a passion for comic books as well, but his take on art sets him aside. His Foo-Gos art (as he dubs it) consists of making pictures with food. He contacted me through the sCrypt comics blog, and said that he wanted to do it, but might not be able to do a full framed out work. I told him that we could do it in a storybook format, and he chose Annabelle and The Prince (which is my take on the Beauty and The Beast story). He sketched out his ideas, and then contacted me to say that the cost of buying the food to do such an elaborate piece of art would be too difficult. At that point he offered to do it in another medium if I was willing, and I agreed. I wanted his work to be a part of ours as well. So, he used his camera to take some silhouetted pictures. Once he did that, he worked some magic and created a very cool visual for his story.
Q3: That sounds like a really great team. What was the most difficult part of the process? Were there bumps in the road, so to speak?
Dan: For me personally, it was finding the time. I was looking for a job and trying to make ends meet. Comic book wise though, communicating with everyone is sometimes an issue. You might not hear from someone for a month, but have to check to see where they are at without sounding too overbearing. It really wasn’t a big deal this time, but we did have one drop out at last minute that we didn’t want to lose, but there are no hard feelings. There was a good reason behind it, but the last minute decision sent us into a frantic search. Of course, after we found a replacement, the original artist emailed us, saying that they had done some sketches and would have the work completed. The hardest part was telling them, “No.” Like I said, there are no hard feelings, but it wouldn’t have been professional of us to bring someone in and let them go just because someone who backed out had changed their mind. That artist understood the decision though, and everything worked out fine.
Rick: For me it was patience. I’m used to being in charge of things and having control of situations to an extent. Working with so many artists for just the pay of a copy of the final work and advertising their name is nerve wracking. It is at the end when I wait and realize that sometimes some artists procrastinate until the end. Then I worry about the deadline I set, and it not only affects me, but the other artists whom I promised a finished product to. I’ll get one artist who might get their work done in the first month of the project (well ahead of time), but then there will be the right down to the wire or few days late addition that has me chewing my fingertips off.
Q4: How did the cover ideas (back and front) as well as interior credits page come about?
Rick: I had a box of bones from a medical skeleton at my disposal and some synthetic hair. I presented the idea to Dan, and he really did all the work here.
Dan: We wanted to keep with the trilogy theme, so I set it up like a breakfast plate. I like the dark and grittiness to this comic, and the cover reflects that. We kept it simple, but to the point. The back cover remained simple as well as the interior credits. We just wanted enough to show more bones without taking away from the overlying text.
Q5: Where do you guys go from here? What are future plans?
Rick: I’m always writing. There are more novels in the series coming, one of them being a late October 2012 release. It will center around ghosts, so that is where we are going with issue 4 “Souls 4 Supper: Ghostly Hauntings.” We are looking at a 2013 release for that.
Dan: We are also planning a web series for our blog. We haven’t figured out all of the specifics yet, but it will exist in Rick’s “Flesh And Leftovers” and our sCrypt Comics universe. Designed like a one-shot, it will be a short story based on characters from the novels, and serve as their origins before all the “horror” happened. “The M.U.T.S. Files” will involve military and real life type scenarios to captivate a new audience. The idea is that we will get one artist per story to do a few still shots with just us giving them the character descriptions and the story. They will be able to create the images how they’d like. Of course this is a great way all around. For the fans, they get more material. For the artists, they get exposure. For Rick, it brings people in to his books, and for sCrypt it will bring in more fans as well. All around it is a win win idea that we need to find time to work in.
Q6: Where can we get a copy of “Bones At Breakfast: In Case Of werewolf” and the other works?
Rick: www.indyplanet.com is where you can get all of the comic book/graphic novels. This one is listed at $12.99, and we are working on a digital conversion as well. There is also a price break if you order multiple copies. www.lulu.com is where you can find the print versions of the existing novels/books, and www.amazon.com has kindle versions available as well, all at affordable costs.
Q7: What events inspire the writing of your stories?
Rick: Like I said, “War Wolf” was inspired by the Moonlight Battle in the American Revolutionary war. I wanted to show what it would be like to have a werewolf fighting as a soldier. The name of this battle just seemed logical, so I began the research there. It was insignificant enough in history, that I could do this without many people going “Well, that isn’t how it went.” The fact is, that there are so little details about that night, that it is conceivable.
Dan: P.S. That was all pre-Assassins Creed 3 release. <laughs>
Rick: <laughs> yes. Then there is the “Abominable” story. I did a big foot story in the novel, so this was the next logical choice. To make it interesting, I wrote it as a journal entry based on the research of Lt. Colonel Charles Howard Bury. If you look at the art too, we put in his initials at the bottom. This is supposed to be his lost journal. He is the one who invented the term “Abominable Snowman” in 1921, so we wanted to give him a little credit where it was due.
“Annabelle and The Prince” is my twist on the classic “Beauty and the Beast” fairy tale. In the novel I worked with the 3 little pigs, little red riding hood, and Peter and the wolf all in one. Keeping with a fairy tale as a spinoff story needed to go toward my daughter’s favorite Disney movie. I just switched it up quite a bit and made it my own.
With “The Hand Of Eden” the events leading up to that in my novels are based partially on what is in the Bible, so there is a slight religious element to it, that I use to elaborate on legends and what ifs. Everything I write is based on or at least has elements of truth to it.
Q8: The story “Lunar Loon” is quite different than your everyday werewolf story. It actually shows what might happen if a werewolf were not just exposed to a full moon, but actually landed on the moon. Are there any sequel plans to this or closure?
Rick: I do have something planned for that, but I’m not sure it will make it into comic form. It will be an element in a novel further down the line that refers back to what that race of werewolves is doing inside the moon. It won’t be anything people expect, but will be a very interesting reveal.
Q9: There seems to be a bit more concept art in terms of variety this time. Did everyone contribute?
Dan: We decided to keep with just 2 pages, but had 8 of the 10 artists contribute to it. We encouraged the step by step from the beginning so that we could show the audience how the ideas made it from concept stage to final product. You get to see the early ideas of each artist, which is cool. I think it makes people appreciate the hard work that goes into each issue and respect the process more.
Q10: Dan, your art is sometimes known to hide little subtle “Easter eggs” as they call them, or hidden images. Did you do anything in this one like that?
Dan: No, but it is funny you ask because there are a few hidden tributes in this issue.
Rick: In the “Son of A Bitch” story, since it dealt with the Norse god Loki, I asked Kelly to hide Thor in it somewhere. I wanted her to draw him in a way that stayed far enough away from the way Marvel comics designed him, but at the same time be sort of like a crossover nod their way. Also, in Sakura’s story “The Hand of Eden” there is a scene in a rave club where there is a vampire. Well in the crowd, I had her hide a man who if you look for it, you can tell he is a very similar look to Blade from Marvel. None of this was done out of disrespect. In fact, we would love to do more like this in the future, hiding characters or references to Marvel, DC, and many others. I’ve seen it happen in their comics, and as a form of tribute it is fun to do it in ours. <laughs> I’m really surprised Dan didn’t hide a penis or something in his pictures somewhere
Dan: That’s because I designed a she-wolf with 6 boobs. <laughs>
Q11: Does sCrypt have any comics planned outside of the realm of the novels?
Rick: Yes, but we haven’t gotten to talk too much about it. We trademarked the name “Alphabet Ninja”, which will be comic issues rather than graphic novels. The ideas are there, they are just haven’t made it past that stage yet.
Q12: It sounds like that would be geared toward a younger audience.
Rick: Yes, it will be more age appropriate rather than just for adults, but I can’t claim it will be a children’s book. There will be adult things like violence and subtle hints of sexuality that will be more for a twelve to thirteen year old’s interest. Sort of the way the comics were when Dan and I were growing up. It will take comics back to the roots we enjoyed, and yet not be disrespectful to cross the parental guidance line.
Q13: How will you work artists out for that?
Dan: We were thinking it would be more like an artist an issue. I will probably design the characters, but let the artists take it from there. Since it will be a series instead of a standalone graphic novel, this is the best course for us to take. It is something we really want to do, but time is an issue at the moment because we have family obligations and little cash flow. If someone came up to us and offered a financial support, it would make it a lot easier to do. Sometimes we have to work 60 hours a week just to make ends meet and do what we are doing, so, if we could spend those 50 or 60 hours doing the writing and art that we love so much and has become our passion, then imagine where we could be. We just have to get our name out there somehow.
Sorry for the delay folks, but it took a while and I had to convert the file smaller for youtube. Here it is… the epic Q and A session with Stan the man Lee. Wizard World 2012 in Philly brought the legend to the stage in an absolutely entertaining and hilarious interview. Check out the four parts below. I was honored to be right there as close as I could be.
Things to take note of are his occasional jabs at DC comics, his realism and his overall persona. The guy really is a MARVEL. Thanks for the entertainment, Stan.
Part 1 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcMVrdnWAMA&feature=youtu.be
Part 2 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdkZMIlVUHs&feature=youtu.be
Part 3 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8g-IrLt-Lc&feature=youtu.be
Part 4 is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9o7YWGy3sA&feature=youtu.be