Hot on the heels of my previous interview, comes Book Goodies, who graciously asked me a few questions and share a little preview of CONSUMED BY WAR. Check out the article here:
I’ve received some interesting questions over the past few days about my new short story release THE LOST DAY. These are those compiled together. Feel free to ask your own questions in the comments section, and I’ll be sure to answer and share.
Q: What is your new short story about?
Rick: A man who wakes up in a reality that isn’t his own. He’s a character from my books that changed history, and upon returning to his own time realizes that nothing is as it was. Everyone around him knows who he is, but he knows nothing about this new reality. It becomes even more of a nightmare for him when he is captured to be studied, and he realizes that his very existence puts the future of mankind at risk.
Q: Should I read the novels before reading this story?
Rick: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I wrote THE LOST DAY to be a stand alone short. Yes, it’s a spinoff, but only to fill in the gaps for any readers of the novels that have a question about what happened to him. For newcomers, there is a total disconnect with the novels in this short, so it was intended for all audiences.
Q: There’s an interesting take on the antagonist in the story. What gave you the idea for such a character?
Rick: I don’t really see the story as having a true antagonist. I mean obviously there is that character, but it isn’t “bad.” It’s doing the thing that it thinks is right. If anything the main character is sort of the antagonist. The idea for the creature that you are referring to though came from current events. If you look back to what life was a few hundred years ago versus today, there is a difference. For the most part all races are reproducing together, and human sexuality goes beyond just straight and gay. So for a point in the human evolutionary scale, in the far future, there very well could be a grey skinned and asexually reproducing person.
Q: Do you think this approach to a character will cause controversy?
Rick: Not really. It’s done in a manner that is respectful to all people of orientation and race. I also think that it is something that could be plausible in a few million years. If it does stir controversy I’m all for it. Any type of chatter will bring others to read it. Just look at what Dan Brown did, and he’s become an outstanding well known author.
Q: Where do you stand with your beliefs on the topic of interracial breeding and sexual orientation?
Rick: That’s a touchy subject that I try to avoid, but I can say that I believe it isn’t our place to judge others. People have their own right to love who they want, but it’s when they force their beliefs on others that it becomes a problem. The same goes for the reverse point of view. If something bigger and better is out there, whether it God or aliens or both, then we would be a disgrace to a superior being with all of the turmoil we create amongst our own human species. Let the higher powers judge our own actions. My thoughts are don’t judge and don’t push agendas no matter where you stand.
Q: Do all of your books have a message like this?
Rick: Real life inspires a lot of my writing, but I want my stories to be enjoyable to a wider audience. I might have underlying themes throughout them, but there is never a message that I’m trying to push at all. I just want everyone to be able to relate and understand each other to some degree. We don’t all have to agree on everything, but understanding each other is a step toward a greater future.
Q: It seems like you think a lot about the future.
Rick: Having children does that to you. I used to be very carefree in all that I did. I took life for granted for a time. Now I realize how precious it is, and when I’m gone I want my kids, their kids, and their kids kids, and beyond to be able to be role models and be part of a greater future.
Q: How does this short-story relate or differ to your other shorts?
Rick: Other than it following the groundwork laid out in THE LOST HOUR…. THE LOST DAY is entirely self sustaining.
Q: There is a little bit of a cliffhanger at the end. Will we see Don Blake again?
Rick: I plan on it. I think there is a responsibility as an author to wrap up all loose ends. Even if it is a simple one liner in a future book that says “Don Blake’s remains were found,” or have him cameo in a minor role, or be a major character. Don Blake will return. I promise closure on that.
Q: Tell us about the cover idea. Who did the art and design?
Rick: I did the design and layout. Originally I wanted to have a sundial, but the pocket watch was my wife’s idea. It was also an element that I threw into the story at literally the last minute before sending to the editors.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE LOST DAY?
Rick: It’s available at Lulu.com in print and will eventually be on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as part of my next trilogy release.
With every new release I get a handful of questions from readers and during promotions. Here’s some of the ones I’ve gathered so far for “THE THIRST OF CAIN”. Feel free to ask any that you have in the comments below or send me a message.
Q: Tell me about your new novel.
Rick: Francis Murphy wakes from a night’s sleep to discover a horror. His blood-stained hands reveal his darkest fears. With each passing minute the submerged half of his personality comes one step closer to total control. Realizing he has only days to find a cure, he must search throughout history to discover the origins of his curse. From the beginning of humanity to modern times, the mark of Cain has influenced many. What is that mark? How far will one man go in order to piece together clues to the puzzle? At what lengths will he go to save himself, and at what cost?
Q: Cain was a primary character in your earlier novels. What made you bring him back?
Rick: Reader feedback was my ultimate driving force. So many people loved the character and he slowly faded into the background as my novels progressed. I felt it was time to bring him back to the heart of the story, and see the side of him that the novels prior to this didn’t fully address.
Q: Does this go against your “I’m not going to write the same type of novel twice,” or do you feel it is a different approach?
Rick: This is a much different approach. It’s true I didn’t want to do another book involving vampires, or time travel. Both of those things sort of take a back seat in this even though they are there. It’s less a book about either of those, and more a book about discovering history in reverse. Cain is in his prime in this novel, so he’s more villain than before… he just happens to be a vampire. Murphy’s journey through time is more about solving the mystery of where his curse came from than the sci-fi element. He just uses time travel to trace the lineage back. So, this is a much different novel than BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING or A COURSE FOR HUMANITY.
Q: There are a lot of historical refences and tie ins in this book. How much research did you have to do?
Rick: When it came to overall research it wasn’t too extensive, but I wanted each time period in the story to have actual historical significance. I didn’t really know when specifically each chapter would take place until I found some dates with events that would fit the narrative. Finding those pieces of information did consume a few weeks of my time in order to get the story right. The research actually had me rewrite my outline four or five times to better fit where I wanted the book to go.
Q: You and your family were recently featured as a cover story in your local newspaper. How does that feel and factor into what you do?
Rick: It was really a moment that made me so proud. To be called, “the Dynamic Duo” was a surprise. People have said that we are a power couple and inspiration for those who want to prove that hard work will help you reach your dreams. I’ve always been flattered by that. The interview was a lot of fun, but I didn’t expect us to be the cover story. Needless to say we framed the article and have it hanging in my office. Things like that just make me want to go above and beyond my goals even more, and it helps me to push myself harder to attain those goals.
Q: How long did it take you to write THE THIRST OF CAIN?
Rick: The concept has been in my mind for about eight years. Every few months I’d come up with ideas of where to take it, but it was shelved for my other works. Once I finally started to sit down and write it, it took about eight months from outline to draft, then to edits and final copy.
Q: Do you have a team of early reviewers? If so how did they respond to the new book?
Rick: I had 20 beta readers for this book. Of those, a dozen gave their feedback which I value immensely. The response was all very positive with one reader claiming that they wanted another few pages in the epilogue to explain what happens next. To those readers I just have to say, it will be worth the wait to find out, but the hints are there.
Q: You do a decent job of writing each novel as a standalone, but also tying into the whole series. How hard is it to do this and keep the continuity?
Rick: It becomes tedious at times. I have to explain some things in back story, which makes me go back and reread previous plot points over and over to preserve continuity. I really like the idea of having a series that gets better with each installment since the beginning, but can also be a starting point for any new reader to my works. The balance is sometimes tricky, but not an overall difficult task.
Q: I’ve read the book, and have one question… That ending was totally unexpected. What? How? Where is this going?
Rick: You’ll find out in the next novel CONSUMED BY WAR. The reset button has technically been hit, so where THE THIRST OF CAIN finds the character going backwards in time to different periods, the next installment will be the opposite, except without the time travel element. There won’t be any more vampires, just two immortal beings “The Destroyer” and “The Redeemer.” There will also be a short story spinoff that will reference the events in THIRST called THE LOST DAY, which will also come out later this year.
Q: Tell us about the cover idea. Who did the art and design?
Rick: My brother Dan, did the art and design for it. My concept was to have Stonehenge as the center of the cover. It plays a significant role in the plot as far as what its true purpose was. Having a river of blood coming from it was an idea I pitched to my brother, and he immediately went to work with a few pictures in photo editing software. When I received his final copy for approval I was blown away. I think it’s my favorite cover to date.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE THIRST OF CAIN?
Rick: It’s available at Lulu.com in print for $7.99 and on Amazon.com in digital format for $3.99.
sCrypt Publishing and readers have asked a few questions about my new short story THE LOST HOUR. Here’s a compilation of those questions in an interview like form. Enjoy and feel free to ask your own in the comments section. I’ll answer as quickly as possible.
Q: This is your first short story that doesn’t involve multiple different plots. What made you take this approach?
Rick: I’ve done nine shorts before this. They all had multiple stories because they were intended (and some were) for graphic novel form. The novel that this was based on, A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, was less about separate stories intertwining, and more about one narrative. I figured I could focus on one plot and make it more powerful by doing the same to the short.
Q: You mention the novel from which this was set. Where exactly does THE LOST HOUR take place in the series?
Rick: Chronologically it exists between DEVOURED UNIVERSE and A COURSE FOR HUMANITY. It fills in something referenced in the latter novel. It is meant to be read alone though, so it works if you are completely unfamiliar with the series.
Q: Why continue to do short story spinoffs between novel releases? Are there plans to bring back more graphic novel forms?
Rick: I never say never, but right now there are no plans for more comics. The reason I continue with the short stories is because they are cheaper for readers. It seems to be that once a newcomer reads the short story, they are usually interested in the novel it’s associated with. I’ve gained quite a few readers that way.
Q: Samantha Clayton is your main character in THE LOST HOUR. What made you choose her?
Rick: We’ve sort of seen her grow throughout the novels. She was a young girl, then an adult, and then an old woman. We know there’s a lot of secrecy to her that remains to be uncovered. There is only reference to her in the novel and how she laid the ground work for the Continuum organization. She made rules for them to follow with time travel, so I wanted to get into why she made those rules. Something had to have gone wrong for her to do so.
Q: What is it like writing about time travel?
Rick: It’s different than all my other books. I love and hate it. This trilogy gives me a headache, even though that’s not the focus. I have to make it believable and understandable to the reader at the same time. Sometimes I’ll write a scene and then have to edit the hell out of it because it gets so wordy that it bores me. After numerous edits it comes out being an easy and comprehendible read, but getting to that point is the challenge.
Q: What is your next release and when?
Rick: THE THIRST OF CAIN will be my next novel in early 2018. It’s not only a direct follow up to A COURSE FOR HUMANITY, but will serve as the same to BLOOD, THE SECOND HELPING.
Q: So vampires and time travel then?
Rick: Yes. I had such good feedback on BLOOD, that I felt like revisiting some of that. Plus I had this thing going on with the character of Francis Murphy in COURSE that the plot sort of set itself.
Q: Are you saying Francis will meet Cain?
Rick: Cain is such a loved character by fans. He’s the penultimate villain. He’s wicked, but also has a reason for the path he’s chosen. Time travel enables me to really go back to his early years and have Francis confront him then. He wants to be cured of his own curse, so finding Cain is his main priority.
Q: I’m confused. Won’t that technically interfere with the plots of the remaining books because time travel is involved?
Rick: Oh yes. I can’t say much, but THE THIRST OF CAIN will alter everything. We will sort of see a different history as an outcome. It’s something touched upon in THE LOST HOUR about how time travel can create alternate worlds.
Q: Where can one purchase a copy of THE LOST HOUR?
Rick: It is available on www.lulu.com in print. It will be available as part of the next trilogy release for Amazon and Barnes and Noble when that is completed. And if you buy the print from lulu you also get a digital copy to download.
My wife was interviewed on a radio station here in Philly. During the segment they chat briefly about my books. Give it a listen at the link below. Skip ahead to the 16:30 mark to hear her spot. Follow her on social media @homemadedelish, on facebook @RobertaPipito, and on her site at http://www.homemadedelish.com
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
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.
I already posted the questions about the three novels, (Flesh and Leftovers, Blood The Second Helping, and Bones At Breakfast) and there arose a few more when the trilogy was published as a whole. Here are those questions and the answers… Be warned there may be some spoiler material…
Q1: Where did he cover idea come from? It is different from the style of the three included books.
Dan was wrapped up with getting the second graphic novel put together, and I knew I needed something quickly. He had done the covers for all three novels and those concepts were all his ideas. For Eden’s Order, I wanted to have a tree to symbolize the Garden of Eden, but I also wanted to include all three themes. If you look, the bark of the tree is flesh like in texture, the branches are shaped like bones, and the ends are colored red to symbolize blood. I presented that idea to Dan, and he came back to me with the cover a few hours later…
Q2: Is there anything different about the trilogy as a whole than as was previously published separately?
The three novels are the story, but this is like a greatest hits package. I expanded the timeline to cover all three novels and graphic novels. There are also 3 new short stories just to make it something extra. The stories from the graphic novels were also included in a novelized form for those people who aren’t too keen on buying a comic book, but are curious as to those extras. Overall there are 63 short stories plus the main plot. I also went in and edited a few things that weren’t caught in the first book gramatically.
Q3: Why don’t you have your picture on the back like in the original publications?
I was rifling through some pictures that my wife had taken and found that one of the tree. After passing it through an eerie horror looking filter I decided it would be a better addition than seeing my mug again.
Q4: So this is the Eden’s Order Trilogy. Do you have names for the further books and plans to publishe them as trilogies?
As I’ve stated before, there are a total of 9 books and 1 prequel/sequel book. There will also be graphic novels for each of these. All of the novels do have names, but I’m only at liberty to tell you this… Book 4 is called “Souls 4 Supper” and is the first part of the “Pandora’s Chaos” Trilogy.
Q5: Tell me about the new zombie story you added.
When people began giving me feedback from the first novel, they asked if I was going to do more zombie stories. I initially said no, but then decided to do the spinoff comics to appease those who wanted it. Then I got more feedback from multiple sources saying “Rick, you covered everything zombie wise, but didn’t mention Frankenstein.” For the trilogy I wanted that little extra, so I decided to read Mary Shelley’s novel and did research on the actual science of what electricity does to muscles. They actually performed these type of experiments in the early 1800s, so I figured on using that as a way to tell the story my way. It remains distant enough from the Frankenstein that we all know and love to be an entirely unique story that “inspired Mary Shelley’s story.”
Q6: What about the new vampire story?
I had covered every vampire legend out there, but since I was writing the new zombie short I wanted vampires and werewolves to get the same treatment. This story is after the events in the trilogy and through a near death experience contracts a rare condition. He ages rapidly and is able to gain his youth back through draining other’s youth.
Q7: Same question about the new werewolf story.
There was really nothing for me to do new with werewolves, so I thought about another classic. For zombies I had Frankenstein. For vampires I had Dracula. So for werewolves I brought in inspiration from a combination of story and truth. The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde is blended with my own originality and Jack The Ripper’s story. The funny thing about this is I’m not really sure if the main character is really a werewolf or just has animalistic urges. You read it and tell me what you think.
Q8: Are the graphic novel stories true to the visual version?
I did everything I could to make the reader visualize what the artists did so well. The challenge was the words. I had no problem turning novel stories into comic spin offs, but to make those spinoffs translate to novel form was a challenge that in the end was a great success.
Q9: Why publish the trilogy as a whole when all three books are so easy to get?
I honestly did it for selfish reasons. It was easier to carry around 1 book instead of 3 books and 3 comics. It was also for marketing purposes. Some people had felt far behind because I had published 3 novels and they hadn’t read the first one yet. With this available on www.lulu.com they can now get it all in one package that is well worth the price. The extra stories can also be found with the three books for the Kindle at www.amazon.com