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DF Interview: She Wolf from Rich Tommaso roars into trade
By Byron Brewer
From fan-favorite writer and artist Rich Tommaso (Dark Corridor) comes She Wolf, Vol. 1, which collects the first four issues of the Image Comics surrealist horror series.
She Wolf follows a teenage girl who believes she’s been bitten by a savage werewolf. Soon after, she begins to experience feverish nightmares that seamlessly bleed into her waking life. Friends and family help her unlock the keys to her strange transformations through their own personal experiences with lycanthropy—and by the use of witchcraft.
DF wanted to explore more about this collection, so we caught up with its writer and artist, Rich Tommaso.
Dynamic Forces: Rich, I think our readers might be more familiar with your work on crime books (Dark Corridor, Dry County) rather than the horror genre. Tell us how you and She Wolf came together.
Rich Tommaso: It started out with wanting to do a demonic possession story—something I’ve been interested in doing ever since I first saw Rosemary’s Baby about 25 years ago. But then I remembered how I also have always wanted to work with a werewolf theme—I love werewolves, yet they rarely get the spotlight in the monster world of fiction. So, I just took my Satanic story and mixed it with a werewolf story. I like horror, but unless I can come up with something that sets my take on horror themes apart from the usual fare, I avoid working in that genre.
DF: Speaking of which, this is quite a different tale … especially from teenager Gabby’s perspective. We really do not know if she has been bitten by a werewolf or not out of the gate. Tell us about this unconventional approach to a story from its start that is as much about what’s real and what’s not as it is about lycanthropy.
Rich Tommaso: I had written a very straight-forward, by-the-numbers type of story and then I thought about how it would be interesting to fragment all of the story elements I had planned out to make it a more surreal experience. If we were confused along with Gabby, perhaps the reader would feel even more connected to her dilemma in a much more vivid sense. Hopefully this was the case in the final piece.
DF: From your writer’s mind, who is Gabby as a character? It is certainly jarring to the reader, in these adventures, because as our POV character (kind of) we do not know anymore than Gabby does.
Rich Tommaso: [She is] a confused teenager whose irreverent “dark art” curiosities pale in contrast to the real terrors that await her on her way to adulthood—mainly, her memory of transforming into a werewolf and the possibility that she will slaughter people every time the moon is full.
DF: What can you tell us about some of the other characters readers will discover in the collecting of issues #1-4 in She Wolf’s first TPB, hitting stores in November?
Rich Tommaso: One of the most important characters, who not only befriends Gabby but also guides and informs her about the nature of her transformations and nightmares, is the new girl in town, a vampire named Nikki. She becomes a very important part of the story involving the first four issues. Her parents are touched upon, but will be fleshed out a lot more in the coming installments of Seasons Two and Three (if there is a Season Three!).
DF: There is an uneasiness to She Wolf that works well with your story and your particular art style. (I would love to see your renditions of the surrealism of the Alice adventures!) Tell us about the advantages and perhaps disadvantages of being both writer and artist on this series.
Rich Tommaso: The advantages come with the ever-changing writing—because I want to make sure that my best vision of these chapters are what ends up on the page, it’s easy for me to make changes and take the story down whatever avenue I choose—WHENEVER I choose, by also being the artist. I don’t have to phone someone up and tell them to toss away whatever art they’d already completed because I had “ a better idea”. I can catch myself before I have completed any artwork at any time in the process. The disadvantage is that it’s a VERY difficult, taxing job to be artist, colorist, designer and writer on a monthly basis. I could use more of a break between seasons—but normally can’t ever afford to, for financial reasons. It’s a lot for one person to juggle, in every aspect of this occupation.
DF: Without giving spoilers to uninitiated readers, what are some of the things (clues? hints?) we should be aware of in the collected stories that might give us some glimpse into Gabby’s world? Are there wolfmen stalking the streets of her hometown?!
Rich Tommaso: There are monsters here and there, but they’re mostly hidden from the mortal world. The monsters that live in the town of Sparta, New Jersey, try for the most part to live very normal, dull lives like the rest of the people in town. The few monsters that exist can usually sniff out the others, but to the laymen, they roam invisible.
DF: There are some really great looking characters (for a horror tale) in your stories. Which presented the most challenge as far as design (which I assume you did yourself)?
Rich Tommaso: The big challenge was a change in my approach to drawing people. I looked through some old sketchbooks from years ago and noticed these elongated, stretched out anatomies that kept popping up. I thought about how that strange elongation would be perfect for a werewolf story, where humans would be “stretching out” when transforming into their wolf bodies. I looked a lot at the figure drawings of Gustav Klimt to give me a good reference point in how to draw these characters at different angles. After about a month of doing these sketches, I was confident enough to jump into drawing a whole series this way.
DF: Rich, are there other projects present or near-future you may be working on that you can tell us about?
Rich Tommaso: At the moment, I’m concentrating solely on the adventures of She Wolf.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Rich Tommaso for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. The She Wolf TPB from Image Comics hits stores Nov. 16th!
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