Writer Victor Gischler has been on a creative roll, turning out some fantastic horror books as of late. With the launch fantastic new werewolf series “Kiss Me, Satan” last week (review here), Gischler announced his next project “Clown Fatale” which is an homage to classic exploitation films. Overflowing with a sensory overload of sex and violence, “Clown Fatale” plays out like the twisted love child of Quentin Tarantino and Russ Meyer in sequential form.
The series begins on the lowest rung on the circus ladder with a group of female clowns, just trying to get through the day. Down on their luck and numbing their pain with drugs and alcohol, the Femme Clowns are mistaken for contract killers and quickly abandon their life in the circus and become professional hitmen.
The Bloody-Disgusting staff caught up with Gischler to get the inside scoop on all the sex, violence, and bloodshed that is contained in the pages of “Clown Fatale” and discuss the classic grindhouse films that inspired the book.
Bloody-Disgusting: Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind ‘Clown Fatale’…
Victor Gischler: That’s hard to pin down … I’ll just type words and hopefully I’ll stumble upon an answer. I will say that like many writers, I try to write the sort of thing that I’d want to read. I’m fairly eclectic in my reading, but I tend toward material that makes me say, “Whoa! That’s messed up!” Part of the greasy charm of “Clown Fatale’ is that it’s messed up. So basically I wanted to do something outlandish, garish, a little bit wrong and a lot fun. I think the target audience is maybe other twisted freaks like me.
BD: ‘Clown Fatale’ draws a inspiration the classic grindhouse films. What is it about that style that inspired you to want to tell a story in that vein?
VG: Yes, grindhouse, exploitation, B-movies. There is something pure in the sordid cheapness of these films. No pretension at all. These are not filmmakers who were trying to make ‘The Bicycle’ or ‘Citizen Kane’ and fell short and accidentally made terrible films. These are film makers who embraced the crazy crap they were doing. I want to achieve the same thing with ‘Clown Fatale’ — crazy and over the top and no second-guessing or worries about high art.
BD: The story takes place in a circus with the main characters performing as clowns. What is it about the circus that made it the perfect platform to tell a story like this?
VG: I knew I wanted the ladies to be clowns. So many people find clowns creepy. It was irresistible to make the clowns attractive women. I mean do they creep us out or are they hot? On Top of that, a circus offers so many opportunities for cool scenes; jugglers, performing animals, and knife throwers!
BD: At the center of this book is Chloe Tucker, a former theater arts student, who had to take a job as a clown just to pay the bills. At the start of the book she is depressed and numbing herself with drugs and alcohol, but by the end of the first issue she’s really made the transition into the bad-ass leader of the group. I love the fact that she went from being the voice of reason in the group to the one leading the charge. How key to the overall story is her transformation?
VG: I think it’s the fact that Chloe is the least damaged — quite damaged, yes, but not like the others — that allows this to happen. She is still fighting “the battle” whatever the heck that might be. For dignity? For some kind of life beyond clowning? She isn’t perfect. She doesn’t have all the answers. But there is some slight shred of hope left in her that makes her want to at least try to climb out of the sewage of her life.
BD: What can you tell us about the other three members of the group (Tina, Candy and Aya) and the role they play in the book?
VG: I’d rather let them explain themselves as the story-arc unfolds. But they are hugely important supporting characters.
BD: This book is highly sexual and the women are extremely attractive. Were ever you worried that the sexual nature of the book might potentially scare readers away, thinking that it lacked substance or did you just embrace it with open arms?
VG: Not worried, but certainly aware that situation posed a risk. But really, with this kind of book what’s the point without that risk? I didn’t want to play it safe. I wanted to walk on the edge. I’m looking for that reader that gets it and I have to say I’m pretty proud of how it’s come out so far.
BD: The book is drawn by Italian artist Maurizio Rosenzweig, where did you find him and why was his style perfect to bring the story of ‘Clown Fatale’ to life?
VG: Maurizio is awesome! He was introduced to me by Marco Schiavone at Edizioni BD in Italy. Marco and I were talking about projects, something he could publish in Italy after it came out in America, and I told him about ‘Clown Fatale’ and that I needed somebody who could draw sexy women but also with some style. It wasn’t enough just to draw T&A. The art needed to have the vibe of the grindhouse world I was trying to create. Marco suggested Maurizio, so I took a look at some of his work and knew instantly that he was the right choice.
BD: Tim Seeley is doing covers for Clown Fatale and his style is perfect. How did he get involved and what kind of parameters did you give him to create covers the book?
VG: Tim was one of the names I brought to the conversation about cover artists when discussing the subject with Dan Chabon. My guess was that Tim would totally get the grindhouse vibe and my guess proved to be right. I feel like each of the four covers got better and better. #4 is like a very cool grindhouse movie poster, that just looks awesome.
BD: You cited Russ Meyer’s ‘Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!’ as a source for inspiration for Clown Fatale as well. What is it about that movie?
VG: I think Russ Meyer is the poster child for some of the things I said above . He’s a guy who was not afraid to embrace a sort of lowest common denominator strategy to filmmaking. Pussycat is probably his best known work. It is a gloriously ridiculous masterpiece.
BD: After reading the first issue, it reminded me a lot of a classic ‘Tales from the Crypt’ episode where it was frightening, disturbing, sexy and funny, all at the same time. Was the intent to make a story that was all those things rolled into one?
VG: See, that should go on the cover: FRIGHTENING, DISTURBING, SEXY and FUNNY! Yes … very much my intention to throw all those things into the pot. Every day I told myself, “It’s okay. Your mother isn’t going to read this, so just cut loose.” And issue #1 is only the tip of the iceberg.
BD: Dark Horse recently debuted a ‘Clown Fatale’ video trailer online. I thought it was a cool viral piece of content that I don’t see enough from the comics world…
VG: I actually tossed that trailer together myself. Trust me, it would have been a lot better if the cool design people at Dark Horse had done it, but it’s grindhouse, so it’s supposed to be a little crappy. I hope it gets out there and makes its way around the old web-net.
BD: In addition to ‘Clown Fatale’, you launched a werewolf title ‘Kiss Me Satan’ what can fans expect if they give that book a chance?
VG: Big loud pulpy crime action mixed with supernatural flavoring and the amazing art of Juan Ferreyra. Set in New Orleans. Witches, werewolves, and a demon with a pair of automatic pistols!
BD: Tell us a bit about your other creator owned book ‘Sally of the Wasteland’ and the other projects you are currently working on…
VG: ‘Sally of the Wasteland’ is A post-apocalyptic B-movie from our UK pals at Titan Comics. Sally is a sweet girl with a screw loose who likes to solve problems with her shotgun. Atomic monsters and good times in the bayou with art by the super-fly Tazio Bettin.
Interview By – BigJ