‘I’m Done With You And Your Illegal Immigrant Bimbo Girlfriend’: 10 Questions With Alex DeCampi.
(Note: Since writing this, Grindhouse: Drive In. Bleed Out has been published and appears to be some kind of sleeper hit, since copies are incredibly difficult to find. Either bother your retailer to order copies back in stock, or get it from the Dark Horse Digital Store here. Also, Gaming types can take refuge in the fact that Alex has written a very rare thing: A GOOD Video game tie-in comic. It’s a freebie also from Dark Horse based on the just released ‘Escape From Dead Island’. Have that one on the house.)
I miss a good letters page, me.
I totally understand why they’re generally unfeasible in today’s world. Pre Internet, they were the hub of….fandom (Sorry, I just get the creeps at describing the collective of people who are into various entertainment as a fandom these days. It’s a bit like calling yourself a ‘Gamer’, really. Creeped out enough, in fact, to invent a new word:
Fandomental: Fan-dom-ental: (noun)
When a person who enjoys entertainment media forgets that is just entertainment and has a quasi religious overreaction to press releases:e.g: ‘Oh no, Nightwing is going to die/Mass Effect 3 will let you Gay in space!’ that borders on zealotry. Something akin to audience reaction to Scorsese’s ‘Last Temptation Of Christ’.
‘Dan shit his pants when he heard Arkham Knight won’t let you play as Ace The Bat Hound. He’s gone Fandomental on DC’s message boards! He’s like Superboy-Prime!’
‘Jeez, did you see that meme someone made about a woman who got her Duela Dent cosplay wrong but it turns out she was right the whole time? Talk about Fandomentally insane.’
‘Wally West can’t be Black! That’s Fandomentally unsound!’
‘Don’t even TALK to me about Black Stormtroopers, man. BLACK.’
Essentially, when you think any kind of entertainment fiction is worth being mean to another human being over, you have passed the line from ‘consumer’ into ‘fandomentailist’. You’ve become a person the rest of us look at awkwardly and pray nobody mistakes us for, and we hope you move on from comics, films or video games and onto……Furrydom or something quite soon. Just so you’re clear on that.)
But, yes, a decent letters page is both a rare and treasured thing in comics. Either it veers towards the anodyne, printing praise and connections to plug upcoming product (‘Glad you thought Fantastic Four 476 was literally the greatest comic ever printed, Little Barry. You’ll be no doubt pleased to know Dazzler will reappear in Marvel Triple Action 87 alongside The Grey Gargoyle and Black Widow in a tale we could only call ‘If THIS Be My Joke here’ or else the tone of the page would be one of sardonic ridicule, usually mocking paying readers for asking Rube questions with a superior tone that, frankly, no one who writes comics for a living can have. (You can talk down to me when you can get your comic to outsell ‘Stately Homes Monthly’, mate.)
Also, there is never an excuse to send your fan-fiction poetry to a comic, and even less reason for any publisher to print it. That, frankly, should have been in the Comics Code. And the Geneva Convention.
So when you finally found a decent one, it was a blessed relief. Maybe some kind of after hours style place where you’d get a few gags and insights into what was coming down the pike like Giffen/DeMatteis’s Justice League or James Robinson’s Starman Or some kind of meta-commentary and further explanation of exactly what was going on ala Grant Morrison’s ‘The Invisibles; (where I was first introduced to one of my dearest friends and general Mother Hen over at the lovely Mookychick, Magda Knight.) or just filth and insane contests. Honestly, I imagine they cost a bomb these days, but both ‘Preacher’ and ‘The Goon’ benefit from reading the original comics rather than the trades. Preacher ran all kinds of insane contests in exchange for scripts, whilst The Goon sent you after Strippers and featured the ongoing war between Eric Powell and Dwight T.Albatross that…
You know what? I’ll let you discover for yourself.
Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve had enough of, it’s metaness. Too much post-modernness, too much dialogue aimed at snarking the reader or pointing out how clever the author is for being aware of this year’s trends and dropping in references that’ll date soon (Go back at read Kick-Ass Vol 1 and feel the awkward as the clunky gags about MySpace and Mafia Wars drop in like your Dad at your birthday party asking the DJ to play some “Dizzy Roswell’. or such. Like we’re meant to thank them for deigning to lower themselves into the realms of (brrrr….) genre fiction, darling.
Alex DeCampi is no such Diva. She just gets on with doing the cool shit she’s into and you’re either into it or you’re nor and either is fine with her. Whether directing Amanda Palmer videos, or writing anything between My Little Pony to Lady Zorro to the upcoming MAYDAY and ARCHIE VS PREDATOR, THO she’s just doing whatever is cool to her, which puts her far and ahead of any number of anodyne Rent A Moody Brit’ writers. I was first drawn into her world of filth and glitchy VHS memories via Coop’s tits.
Or to clarify, someone posted the variant cover to Grindhouse 1, as pencilled by Coop online. I saw the comic and said ‘YES!’ and then a fear struck me. There might be wackiness. knowingness, too cool for thisness. Happily, ‘Bee Vixens From Mars’ was a merry romp through buxotic beauties, small town heroes like John Carpenter used to make. Further issues yielded a love for Straw Dogs and the work of Roger Corman two things sadly under-explored in modern comics. For the eight brief months that Grindhouse: Volume 1 ran, I was happy with at least one comic a month, secure in the knowledge that at least someone out there was into comics and probably as addicted to Mystery Science Theatre 3K as I am Also, the letters page read like a transcript from an underground cinema Q&A that had got a bit ‘informal’. There’s something about that month to month connection that just doesn’t translate to trade paperback collections, so I recommend you pick up the original issues from Alex’s Big Cartel shop here.
In any event, with weeks to go before the 1st issue of Grindhouse 2: Drive In, Bleed Out, Alex trying to get everything together for NYCC and me trying to bounce between that Tank Girl interview, a job at a coffee shop and a billion other things, now is obviously the right time for us to have a chat and this can only end well.
1. So, importantly, ‘Planet Terror or Death Proof?
Planet Terror, all the way. Death Proof is great in that it’s the first Tarantino film in a long time where you cannot see and map the homages almost exactly onto the films they were taken from. But Rodriguez actually gets the spirit of exploitation filmmaking so much better… Planet Terror is just so much crazysauce. Half the point of exploitation for me is just the sheer insanity of it. Death Proof is awesome, but just… kinda plausible. Great, ahem, vehicle for Tarantino’s girlfriend at the time, though.
2. Can you believe that you can get the remake of Miami Vice on Blu-Ray but nothing by Russ Meyer? I mean, what the fuck?
Ehn. I never buy DVDs and don’t have a blu-ray player. If it doesn’t stream, I don’t watch it. Also, a blu-ray of a movie that was probably shot on Super16…. sure, I’d be all for a restoration and a good digital scan but it looks like Grindhouse Releasing has sort of wound down after Sage Stallone’s untimely death… I’m more concerned with why the blazes is there nothing good on Netflix any more.
3. Clearly, Godzilla wins in King Kong Vs Godzilla. Discuss.
Godzilla always wins. Godzilla’s always been a parable for nuclear war, while King Kong is a parable for Savage Africa. I know kids today don’t really give a flip about nukes but I grew up during the cold war, so Godzilla always has a special place in my heart. Unless he’s only in about 10 minutes of his own goddamn film, Legendary Pictures. Seriously that film should have been called “concerned white people (and a glimpse of lizard)”.
4. I can’t decide if The Ramones in ‘Rock N Roll High School’ or Guitar Wolf in ‘Wild Zero’ is the greatest Rock n Roll performance in a movie or if they’re both overshadowed by Little Richard in ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’. Thoughts?
I have a special love for Nick Cave in Wim Wenders’ Wings Of Desire, a film which should get a special award for Worst Knitwear Ever. And also, of course, Buckaroo Banzai blew my young mind. There’s always the band in Driller Killer, too.
5. Someone, Alex, needs to adapt ‘Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls‘ to comic form. Are you that person?
Do you know that Roger Ebert wrote the script for “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”? Like the great editor Walter Murch only directing one film (“Return to Oz”) it’s one of those odd little moments of a great critic/observer getting his hands dirty. I’m not big on adaptations, much as I love both “Valley” and “Beyond”. (I read “Valley” when I was about 12, whoops. You know it was one of the best-selling novels by a woman since, well, since they started keeping numbers?) But it’s certainly likely that I’d do a story that embraces heavy recreational drug use and bad relationship decisions. In fact a lot of my upcoming spy book MAYDAY is about such things. I like to say it’s a book about bad people making terrible decisions (a criticism a reviewer once made of my work, which I’ve sorta embraced.)
6. Keith Giffen tells an amazing story about a man sending in a voodoo doll in protest to Ambush Bug. I get Right Wing Americans assuming I’m gay and sending me 80’s Hip-Hop videos (which I totally discourage, obviously.) What kind of hate mail do you get?
Surprisingly little. Most people think I’m a dude (androgynous name; don’t post selfies; writes exploitation horror). In fact one of my tweets got picked up on by Gamergate trolls after it was referenced on a Breitbart forum and some female (or female sock puppet) said she would never have sex with me. I was like, “darn.” That’s pretty much the worst I’ve gotten so far. Oh, someone wrote into the Grindhouse letter column who was really upset to find out in Issue 2 of Bee Vixens that Garcia was actually the main character (eg after Sheriff Jimmy becomes Sheriff Jiffy-Pop). We published the letter, of course. It was something about “I’m done with you and your illegal immigrant bimbo”. We sent him an I <3 Mexico t-shirt.
7. Did you ever get a chance to read the Roger Corman Cosmic Comics, like Caged Heat 3000 or Little Shop Of Horrors? If not, are there any film to comic adaptations you do like? I haven’t seen anything that tops Rick Veitch’s ‘1941’ for Epic myself?
Again, I don’t see a lot of reason to do an adaptation. The whole fun of Grindhouse is to come up with new stories that feel like they could be sleazy, trashy old stories.
8. At some point Bongo is going to hit you up to do a Treehouse Of Horror, right?
Oh, I’d love that. I’d have to get a lot more famous, first. I think there are comics people who do horror and comedy ahead of me in line for that anyway — Tim Seeley, for sure
8. You’ve got free rein to cast whoever you want in a Grindhouse Netflix original TV show. Who do you cast for what?
Jeez. I’d probably start with FLESH FEAST because, teen slasher. Those would all be fairly unknown teen actors. And gosh, I don’t know who I’d cast as the Devil Doll. Someone hot but SCARY. Then we’d do BEE VIXENS. Nick Cage as Sheriff Jimmy. Michelle Rodriguez as Garcia.
9. You and Kelly Sue DeConnick. Who’s better at Left4Dead?
Gotta be Kelly Sue. I never play video games, because I am a little OCD and they would eat my life. I barely manage being a single mom, hitting my (increasingly many) comics deadlines, working a part-time job, and volunteering for a dog rescue. I need sleep. I love games, though. They fascinate me. I am somewhat over zombies, though.
10. Grindhouse 2: Why should they buy it, Alex?
Because we’re the comic your mother warned you about. We’re filthy, tasteless, gory and utterly gratuitous and we will make you feel diirrrrty but oh so happy. Also, we’re an easy in. There’s a new, complete Grindhouse story every two issues so constant variety, and cheap to sample.
Finally, not sure why this has happened, but you can pick up the 1st Volume of Grindhouse for Kindle for the STUPIDLY cheap price of £1:94. Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight. Ask for it by name