The fifth and final day of Virtual Comic Con is here! We close out the event by talking to Tony Trov and Johnny Zito, creators of comic and movie production studio South Fellini. Tony and Johnny discuss their various comic series, their new movie, and baby mammas.
Brian: You've published five comic series with various publishers such as Red 5 and Image, and also published directly via Comixology. Do you approach publishers differently from one another, and have you learned different things about publishing from dealing with multiple companies?
Tony: Each project is unique so it kind of gets started in its own way. But in the end we look to get the comics into as many platforms as possible. We want to be on-line, in phones, floppy issues and graphic novels.
Johnny: The only thing we know for certain about comic book distribution is that everyone reads comics differently. We want to get our stories into as many people's hands as possible.
Brian: With Moon Girl, you took an obscure public domain character created by Gardner Fox/Sheldon Moldoff and managed to both keep her true to her roots in the 50s, yet also modernized her well for today's audience. What were the challenges in doing that?
Johnny: We wanted to work on something super hero based because of Rahzzah, the illustrator of Moon Girl. His very realistic, painterly style lent itself to making incredible seem credible in a cinematic way. So we started looking for something in the public domain, something that had roots in the shared past of super hero comics.
Tony: Moon Girl took a lot of inspiration from books like Marvels and New Frontier. Super heroes seem to function best when they're recontextualized to that 1950's setting. So when we stumbled onto Moon Girl these ideas all came together at once.
Johnny: The comic is about social unrest in America in a time after a great war. There are some parallels to the world we live in today. Everyone is looking inside themselves, flush with possibility, trying to decide the kind of future they're going to build together.
Tony: All five issues will be collected into a graphic novel this year.
Brian: Carnivale de Robotique is the only all ages comic South Fellini has done. Did the story itself dictate that direction, or did you decide first that you wanted to try an all ages series and go from there?
Tony: We self-published Robotique for Indie Comic Day or Skip Week, some special event where all the big publishers were not going to have any new releases. So a lot of us independent folks put out books on our own. We called comic shops and solicited the comic ourselves. And we got lucky, the stores were very supportive of the event.
Johnny: It's a four-part comic about Wendy the nanny droid, who runs away to join the robot circus. And she kind of finds her way in the world by persuing her dreams. We tried to tell a fairy tale from the future and Mark Fionda brought some gorgeous water colors to the mix. I think the comic is still very adult but the images hide the subtext.
Brian: DOGS of Mars has often been compared to Alien for obvious reasons, but takes a unique approach with its art, in suggesting rather than explicitly showing the creatures and most of the violence they cause, and also in the color scheme (only black, white, and shades of red). Was that your idea or did the artist conceive of that approach?
Johnny: We met Paul Maybury, the artist on DOGS of Mars, at San Diego Comic Con in 2010. All three of us had shuffled through DC Comics digital imprint and come out the other side looking to work together on something genre. We talked a lot about Japanese gore core, war movies and real world robots. Paul came up with the red color scheme based on the submarine lighting and the traditional tones of Mars.
Tony: DOGS isn't really about the monster. It's about the people the monster is trying to kill. There are obvious allusions to Aliens but the Lord of the Flies-style breakdown in society is what's really terrifying. Friends are turning on one another and rivals are the only people you have left. Trapped at the edge, these people have to give up their humanity if they want to survive.
Brian: Your latest project is the live action film Alpha Girls, about a satanic sorority. Judging by the trailer, there is a definite 1970s grindhouse influence. What is it about the horror films of that era that resonate so strongly with audiences today?
Johnny: I think we were really inspired by Suspiria, Heathers, and Evil Dead. These movies served as the visual vocabulary between people creatively involved in the project. These are the films that get you excited to make something of your own. There’s an energy and excitement on screen that translates so well because the people making it love what they do.
Tony: Alpha Girls was going to be a comic book originally. We got really into the sorority/coven idea ourselves and after a few weeks it was like, hey… I think we can make this. There's a universal appeal to the horror genre because it's about revealing a hidden world that we all secretly believe could be true. How did all those people get rich and famous? The devil did it.
Brian: All of your work, up to and including Alpha Girls, features women characters guiding almost all of the story, yet South Fellini consists of two guys from South Philly. Why has featuring women characters in the forefront of your projects been so crucial creatively?
Johnny: They told us to write what we know.
Tony: We love our bad-ass mothers very much.
Brian: If Alpha Girls is a success (and I hope it is for you), will movies be the main creation of South Fellini going forward, or will comics still be a creative outlet in the future?
Johnny: We wanna make all our comics into movies and all of our movies into comics.
Tony: For all of the Baby Mamas, Baby momma momma’s and Baby momma’s mommas of the world.
Thanks Tony and Johnny!
Alpha Girls will be screening at the Trocadero in Philadelphia next Wednesday, October 3rd, and in Washington, DC at the E Street Theater next Saturday, October 6th. For full details, click here.
Here's a glimpse of what you can expect from Alpha Girls (NSFW). And yes, that is who you think it is as the priest!
And with that, we wrap up my first-ever Virtual Comic Con! I want to thank all of my guests who have made this a great event: Jeff Parker, Shawn Aldridge, Joe Rybandt, and Tony Trov and Johnny Zito. I couldn't have done it without you!
Most of all, I want to thank you, the reader, for taking part. I hope you enjoyed my version of a comic con. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments sections or at email@example.com. I definitely want to do this again next year--perhaps more than once.
It's only fitting that I close out the con with news of a horror film, because it makes a perfect segue to my next blog event--the Countdown to Halloween! It's a mere three days away. I have tons of great stuff to share with you, so please stay tuned. It all starts Monday, October 1st. See you there!