Actor Dan Fogler is one funny motherf*cker. His films Balls of Fury and Fanboys have provided countless hours of laughs for geeks across the globe. Fogler is an avid comic book reader and long-time horror fan with a deep appreciation for classic TV shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales from the Crypt, and The Twilight Zone.
After a few bong hits, and quite possibly a couple acid trips, Fogler developed his own demented version of a graphic novel horror anthology in 2010 in ‘Moon Lake”. “Moon Lake” is a mysterious portal into the weird and deranged world of Zombiedinosaurs, mass-murdering high school cheerleaders, aliens, and inter-dimensional Sasquatch. The characters all exist in the twisted small town of Moon Lake, which provides the playground for some truly bizarre stories to take place.
Building upon the success of ‘Moon Lake: Volume 1’, Fogler is about to return to his dark and demented universe this Halloween with the release of Moon Lake Vol. 2. This collection is created, edited and written by Dan Fogler and features some fantastic collaborations with Darick Robertson, Alex Sheikman, Jeff Stokely, and New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson.
Fogler sat down with Bloody-Disgusting to chat about his love for classic horror, get nostalgic about Heavy metal Magazine and Garbage Pail Kids, and how his upcoming Netflix movie ‘Hysterical Psycho’ evolved into the Moon Lake graphic Novel series.
Bloody-Disgusting: Tell us a bit how the idea for ‘Moon Lake’ evolved out of the ‘Hysterical Psycho’ movie you directed….
Dan Fogler: Well I have this movie ‘Hysterical Psycho’ that I made and it will be available on Netflix around Halloween, which is the same time ‘Moon Lake: Volume 2’ hits stores. The movie was this small film that I made, which was my version of Alfred Hitchcock on acid. (Chuckles) The movie was very funny, it was very scary and I thought that if I could do that then why not do an Alfred Hitchcock Presents on acid sort of thing, where I could expand the universe. I wanted to make more movies, make television shows and that’s where ‘Moon Lake’ was born. The movie was about how these friends go up to Moon Lake, which is this place that is inherently haunted. While they are there, one of them goes crazy and decides to kill everybody, so I thought to myself that I could have a million different stories that take place at Moon Lake going back to prehistoric time all the way through now. I thought it would be great to cultivate a bunch of anti-heroes, weirdos and awesome characters that could exist in this sort of Tales From The Crypt or Twlight Zone type universe.
BD: That sort of anthology style of shows like Tales From The Crypt were extremely popular, but in recent years the horror world has kind of moved away from that. Why do you think that is?
DF: I think people have tried to make it work in the past, but they never really figured out how to do it properly. I love all that stuff like Tales From The Crypt, Twlight Zone, and Amazing Stories. I must have seen the Twlight Zone movie like a thousand times. I still have trouble watching the scene with Dan Aykroyd bit where he says, “Hey you wanna see something really scary?” and he starts devouring the guy’s face. That stuff gave me nightmares as a kid and left a huge impression on me.
BD: Reading Moon Lake reminded me of older anthologies like the old EC Comics titles like Vault of Horror or even Heavy Metal Magazine.
DF: When I was a kid I saw Heavy Metal the movie and my mind was blown. I loved the idea that you could have all these different stories in different styles that are linked together. I thought that I wanted to do something like that with Moon Lake, and Volume 2 is a lot more like that, where you have all of these different stories that are like puzzle pieces that come together to form one larger picture. Moon Lake is just sort of like this rabbit hole, not unlike a show like Lost, where you have this great ensemble of characters that you want to learn more about. Once you get to Moon Lake it becomes very hard to leave, sort of like Lost in that way.
BD: The narrator of this series, Man in the Moon, remind me a lot of the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt.
DF: Well he is definitely an homage to the Crypt Keeper and an homage to Hitchcock himself. Imagine if Hitchcock was animated and took too much acid and now he’s stuck telling these tales from Moon Lake; that is the narrator. In the second book we find out that the Man on the Moon, could be the host of a reality show, and aliens on the moon are actually watching their favorite show. That was another layer that we peeled back and readers find out that the universe of Moon Lake is more and more complex. By the time the third and fourth books roll around we will be introducing readers to string theory and fucking with everyone’s minds! (laughs)
BD: Let’s talk about some of the talent you have lined-up for Moon Lake: Volume 2, you have Kevin Colden (Immortals: Gods and Heroes), Alex Sheikman (Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths), and Jeff Stokely (The Reason for Dragons).
DF: Well I had this vision for this universe so I sat down and wrote out like a 100-page guideline for the first book. I then took that and handed it over to Archaia who read it and said, “This is cool but we’d love to get more people involved.” The first book was sort of like my ideas filtered through other people. I would tell people that I wanted a story about a Cave Girl and a zombie dinosaur, so here is my elaborate outline for what I’m looking for. They would take that and come up with their story, which was cool to work like that but as a creator you want to make sure that your vision comes through. This time around I kept things a little bit more close to the vest and with the second book I wrote a lot more of it myself. When I was finally happy with sort of the head and torso of the book itself, with all the origins of the characters fleshed out, that’s when I went out and shopped for creators that could help me. There were a lot of great creators that wanted to come on board like Kevin Anderson, where I was a fan of his writing. I just told him that I wanted to do this sort of anti-Superman story, where I gave him my idea for the anti-Superman living in a parallel universe. He lands in Moon Lake, but he’s a monster and he’s just killing everyone, so the army has to come take him away. He took that and just ran with it, so there are a lot of my ideas, but he put his own stamp on it.
BD: I really like the diversity that this book offers. First you have this funny spoof of Superman, which is followed by an MMA story that is offers some pretty gruesome battle scenes.
DF: That is the beauty of it. I wanted it to sort of be like Heavy Metal Magazine where you open the pages and its sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Moon Lake is a place where anything goes. It’s a portal and sort of like anyone that went through the Bermuda Triangle ended up at Moon Lake. You have zombies, sasquatch and dinosaurs there, and that is when it starts t become funny. You could have Dracula and the Sasquatch are teaming against Godzilla and moon monsters. Everything comes back to Moon Lake, where it’s sort of behind every X-File. It’s the mother of all conspiracies, this hodge-podge of everything science fiction and everything horror, which is what I love about it.
BD: Cave Girl is essentially what I would imagine Frank Frazetta would be doing if he were alive…
DF: I would love that so much to have him work on a cover or something for this book; I wish he was still alive today. We have this guy Alex Horley who did a cove in this style that is a real homage to Frazetta, which just looks beautiful. Alex Sheikman came on to do the 40-page story inside the book of Cave Girl, which is my favorite character. The art he did on the story looks beautiful and I’m so excited about it. I definitely have a lot of plans for that character.
BD: The Darick Robertson pin-up of Desensitized Deirdre is simply awesome. How did you manage to get him on the project.
DF: He came in because I had reached out to a lot of people because I was a fan of their work. I love his work on The Boys so much, so I reached out. When I saw the image he did, I knew that I had to do something more with him, and he did another two page story within the book. Desensitized Deirdre is one of my favorite characters and it came out awesome. Sprinkled all throughout the book are just these great creators that I had a love and admiration for their work. I just wanted to make something that I would really enjoy. I think people are really going to love this book. I am fucking psyched about this book. The first book was fucking great, but this is the book that I really always wanted to make.
BD: I personally love the phony ads that you have inside the book that pay tribute to the old style of Tony Atlas ads you would see in the backs of comic books.
DF: Well that’s an homage to the world of comic books itself. I loved reading comic books as a kid, so that is just an homage to those old-school funny ads they used to have. I was a fan of stuff like Garbage Pail Kids where it was making fun of products and all that stuff. All that shit is just an homage to my childhood. Hopefully once the universe gets bigger we can have weird toys that you send away for, sort of like this cut out coupon section of the book.
BD: I read somewhere that Fanboys was responsible for re-igniting your passion for comics. Is that true?
DF: Absolutely. When I graduated from college I got to a point where I had to sell some of my comics and action figures to pay for rent. I sold my entire Star Wars collection, which was an incredibly sad day for me. I sold some of my X-Men, which I was also sad to part with. After that it was sort of cut and dry for me where I thought to myself, “No more comics.” After I shot Fanboys and I got a little money in my pocket I was like, “Fuck it. I really love comic books!” I can’t go to the airport without buying some kind of graphic novel to read on the plane. It’s a full blown addiction now and I buy them a lot.
BD: Fanboys wasn’t a massive box office blockbuster, but that movie has a massive cult following of fans that love it. Are you surprised by how big Fanboys became after its release?
TF: No that’s what I expected, because everyone loves Star Wars. I thought that has kind of been a big theme with my movies. The line-up on Comedy Central the other day was “Mars Needs Moms”, which didn’t do incredibly well at the box office. The next day it was ‘Fanboys’, then “Take Me Home Tonight”, and then they played “Balls of Fury”. I was watching the line-up and thinking that Comedy Central loves my movies! None of those films were big blockbusters, but people fucking love those movies. I’m sure some of your favorite movies didn’t do all that great at the box office, but they still became your go-to movie when you’re flicking through the channels. I’m happy that people love it, because that’s what it’s about. Sometimes it takes time to become part of the collective unconscious, just like ‘Fanboys’ did. Going into that movie, I said to myself that if you were a Star Wars fan you were going to love that movie. It’s an homage to everything science-fiction, but especially Star Wars. You know how many Star Wars fans there are? I hope we do a sequel, because I would love to. There has to be like an Empire Fanboys version or something.
BD: So to wrap things up give us your elevator pitch for why horror fans should give ‘Moon Lake: Volume 2’ a chance.
DF: This is Heavy Metal meets Tales From the Crypt, meets Hitchock Presents on acid! That is my short pitch. I can’t pitch this graphic novel without mentioning acid! [Laughs]