With Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks #1/Gringo Loco: Dead Late And A Dollar Short releasing on May 11th. We are delighted to be joined by the multi-talented Phil Mucci.
Hi Phil, it’s so wonderful to have you here with us.
As some of our readers may not be familiar with your work, could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Phil Mucci: filmmaker, graphic novelist, and creative gypsy. I’ve been making art and writing since I was a kid. I had the dubious honor of being the only artist in my high school to have their art stolen from local shows—three times! I studied writing and photo illustration in college, then hustled as a photo-assistant in NYC before striking out on my own. It was the early days of Photoshop, so a lot of my work was special effects heavy, comic book, sci-fi and animation inspired stuff. I did lots of advertising and music photography for magazines and record labels —Ludacris Chicken and Beer is probably my most famous album cover.
From photography I moved into writing and directing short films and music videos for bands like Metallica, Monster Magnet, Disturbed, Opeth, High on Fire, etc. A lot of heavy metal since my sensibilities are steeped in horror and sci-fi stuff. The character, Professor Dario Bava, originally appeared in a music video for the band Huntress called “Sorrow”. We loved Ian Mackay’s performance so much, we knew we had to do more with that character, which is how the animated teaser and the first graphic novel, Murder Vibes From The Monster Dimension came about.
Can you tell us about the origins of Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks #1/Gringo Loco: Dead Late And A Dollar Short?
Although Professor Dario Bava (PDB) made his first appearance in Huntress “Sorrow and the ideas for Orgy Of The Blood Freaks had been kicking around for years. The same for Gringo Loco, which started out as a western, then became a sci-fi story, then back to a western! I tend to let ideas ferment for a while in the back of my mind. They usually take off when a missing piece of the puzzle falls into place, or I start writing them to see what I can find.
Orgy Of The Blood Freaks originally came from my love for the sexy European horror flicks of the ’70s, and their comic book equivalents in the Warren comics of the same period—Eerie, Creepy, Vampirella, etc. Gringo Loco came from my love for the dark and violent Italian spaghetti westerns of the ’60s and ’70s, and the desire to take those types of stories into new horror realms. I’ve always wanted to create my own monster along the lines of Frankenstein’s or more modern equivalents like RoboCop or Tetsuo, so Gringo Loco became that for me.
Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks #1/Gringo Loco: Dead Late And A Dollar Short is going to be published by Diabolik; what can you tell us about Diabolik?
Diabolik is a company we originally started to handle our film and video productions, and we just started branching out from there. Now we’re doing graphic novels, coloring books, apparel, collectibles, all kinds of sick stuff! It’s basically just 3 of us, me, Ian Mackay (PDB in “Sorrow”), and Dan Simpson, plus a team of incredible artists we work with to help make everything happen. We all share a love for crazy genre storytelling, so it’s been exciting to work together and see what we can come up with. Being a part of Diabolik gives me a huge variety of creative outlets—writing and coloring graphic novels one day, shooting a video the next, designing apparel, then switching back to a screenplay—it’s an incredible luxury for someone as restless as myself, so I feel really fortunate that Diabolik has my back!
How would you describe Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks #1/Gringo Loco: Dead Late And A Dollar Short?
For me, this book is like a drive-in double feature. Not many drive-ins left, I know, but when I was a kid we used to sneak through the graveyard, down the train tracks, and through a broken chain link fence into the old drive-in that played horror movies from dusk till dawn. This Diabolik Double Feature represents exactly the kind of flicks we’d risk zombie mutilation and locomotive obliteration to see.
We’d already released a Professor Dario Bava graphic novel, Murder Vibes From The Monster Dimension, so the thought was we’d introduce Gringo Loco in the same volume—like the second feature on a double bill. It made sense too, since a movie poster for Gringo Loco actually appeared in Murder Vibes—like I said, these ideas have been fermenting for years!
Who is Professor Dario Bava?
Professor Dario Bava is an ex-Vatican exorcist, who tuned in, turned on, and dropped out to fight monsters with Future Chick, time-traveling super hippie from a heavy tomorrow, and Major Bitch, far out freedom fighter and yeti-slayer, in swinging Rome, 1967. Cocky but lovable, he now refers to himself as a “paranormal playboy”, devoted as much to free love as he is to fighting the evils of The Man.
How important is word of mouth for any indie project?
Extremely. You need to constantly promote to new people, but word of mouth—especially from trusted sources—is what gets people to take a chance on something new.
What can you tell us about Gringo Loco?
Gringo Loco is darker in tone; at its core is the mystery of who or what he is. We meet him after he’s been sentenced to “hang until dead”, which as the sheriff informs a gang of bounty hunters, “is taking a speck longer than usual.” He appears to be stitched together from the pieces of many men, but he is not a man. He’s a hideous freak, a monster, an outcast forever hunted by the ghosts of his past crimes—and he’s our hero!
Can’t say too much more without ruining it, but it’s a gritty and violent western that should appeal to horror fans as much as spaghetti western fans; and as a writer, it’s probably one of the most interesting and personal stories I’ve done.
You are not only the writer but the colourist and the letterer; how long have you been working on this comic?
All together it took about 15 months (on and off) to finish 62 pages of the story and the rest of the 80 page double issue. Orgy of the Blood Freaks was finished first, so our backers got the digital version back in October 2021, right in time for Halloween. Gringo Loco was finished at the end of February this year.
Did you always want to do a double feature flip for this comic?
Well I always love books that encourage you to engage with them in a physical way—Murder Vibes featured a foldout back cover and book flaps, and the PDB Occult Activity Book (and Spirit Board!) had all kinds of interactive pages and instructions on how to destroy the book to use the Spirit Board. We all read so much digitally now that we’ve forgotten a lot of the simple joys of physical media, so as much as possible, we try to bring that back. In this case, the flip book just seemed the perfect way to give readers two different stories, with two different covers, in one convenient volume loaded with extras. It’s also just way more fun that way!
Artists Mike Dubisch and Vicente Alcázar are part of the team; what made them the right artists for this comic?
Mike and I have worked together on the two previous Professor Dario Bava books, so he’s as much a part of that world as I am as the writer and colorist. It’s a challenging project for an artist: massive scope, a bunch of recurring characters, and just about every type of monster you can imagine—that’s why Mike’s style is so perfect for it. He works traditionally, with pencils and inks (no digital) which gives that tactile, retro aesthetic for PDB, while also making it seem like all these wildly different elements actually BELONG together in this world. We work back and forth on very detailed layouts, thumbnails, and references before he starts, but it never ceases to amaze me how seamlessly it all comes together in the end. It’s impossible for me to imagine PDB without seeing Mike’s art in my mind.
Vicente Alcázar was a huge coup for us! We knew his work from all those ’70s and ’80s Warren comics, plus Jonah Hex, Conan, Heavy Metal—too many titles to mention. Old pros like that are hard to come by these days, so when Dan discovered he was still working and interested, we leapt at the chance. Once he read the script and the backstory, he was very excited and complimentary (swoon), and started work instantly—before I could even get him any thumbnails or layouts! Once we locked in the “look” of Gringo Loco, Nightshade Mary, and a few other characters, he just took off at full speed. It was incredible to watch the pages come in, following the script but bringing his seasoned artistic instincts to every aspect of the story. We were all blown away. Professor Dario Bava is a more complex world to envision, but with Gringo Loco, Vicente seemed to know what was around every corner like he’d been there before. It’s an honor to be working with him.
We have to talk about the covers by Emanuele Taglietti and Dave Kendall; can you tell us all about them?
Emanuele Taglietti is another legend Dan contacted for us back before we even started on Murder Vibes From The Monster Dimension. Fans of the sexy Italian horror comics (“fumettis”) know his famous covers — and new fans are piling on every day thanks to the release of Sex and Horror: The Art Of Emanuele Taglietti, a gorgeous collection of his work, which sold out immediately and is now in its second printing. Based on the story, origins, and setting of PDB, there’s no better artist to bring it to life. He’s been doing it for decades! And as a former set designer for Fellini, he has a real appreciation for the cinema craft that informs a lot of the Professor’s world. On top of all that – he’s a tremendously kind and generous guy – and his partner Katia shoots excellent behind the scenes videos of his process for us as well!
Dave Kendall was someone Dan had his eye on for a while, though he wasn’t sure if he’d be right for Gringo Loco. We discussed other artists who worked more in the western genre, but I was convinced Dave could really bring out the “horror” aspect of the story. He has a really unique, nightmarish vision that almost evokes a physical reaction of creepiness and disgust — which I loved for this cover!
How can our readers get a copy of Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks #1/Gringo Loco: Dead Late And A Dollar Short?
It’ll be in a few select shops around the US on May 11th, but you can order it directly from us at www.ProfessorDarioBava.com to get the full Diabolik packaging effect!
Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?
Thanks to all of you who’ve supported us in the past—we can’t do any of this without you! And if you’re new to our Diabolik deeds, do not be afraid: we’re weird monster-loving freaks just like you!
We would like to say thank you to Phil for chatting with us. We wish him and his team all the best for his new comic.