A fan of both comic books and anthologies, actor Dan Fogler merged the those two passions to create “Moon Lake,” a horror/sci-fi anthology graphic novel for Archia back in 2010. Dedicated to growing the world of “Moon Lake,” Fogler handpicked a team of creators, again working with the likes of Tim Seeley (who contributes pin-up art this time around) and writer R.H. Stavis, while bringing in Darick Robertson and Kevin J. Anderson to help create “Moon Lake Volume 2.”â€¨â€¨In an exclusive interview with CBR News, Fogler talks about the world of “Moon Lake,” building a talent roster, the roots of his anthology love, and his efforts to launch a “Moon Lake” TV show.
The “Fanboys” star also tells us about the role that he wants to play in “Star Wars,” how his new film “Scenic Route” felt like doing “a play in the desert,” and the story of how he almost played Sam Kinison.
CBR News: For those who are uninitiated, what is “Moon Lake?”
Dan Fogler: Essentially, “Moon Lake” is my homage to everything I loved; like “Heavy Metal” magazine — or “Heavy Metal” the movie, really. When I watched “Heavy Metal” the movie when I was a kid, I loved it. It was like an anthology with these different stories, but it also has this one throughline, which is the Locknar, which is that evil orb that narrates and goes through the whole thing. And I thought, “Man, I want to go and do something like that.” And so, “Moon Lake” is like Hitchcock on acid meets “Tales from the Crypt” meets “Amazing Stories,” you know?
It’s an homage to everything I loved as a kid, really. It’s this place that is up by Saskatchewan which is on the border of America and Canada and it’s like the island in “Lost” in the sense that it’s displaced in time. It’s like limbo, you get stuck there and you never get out, you spend a lot of time trying to get out, and it keeps pulling you back in.
But it’s got so many different crossovers that its hysterical. You have — like Amelia Earhart went through the Bermuda Triangle and ended up at Moon Lake. The magic bullet that was used to get JFK was created at Moon Lake. Sasquatch is there fighting Godzilla, fucking Dracula, Michael Jackson, Zombie Elvis, they’re all at Moon Lake and the place has been there since the beginning of time. You can imagine how many stories you can tell: from prehistoric zombie dinosaur stories to aliens to futuristic crazy wild robotic tales. And it’s all narrated by this guy who is The Man in the Moon. Imagine Hitchcock on acid stuck inside the moon, forced to tell these tales that have happened at Moon Lake. Everything is connected, all conspiracies run through there. Um, that’s the idea.
How far do you want to take this as a series? You’ve said “multiple” graphic novels, and I know you said something before about an animated late-night TV show in the Adult Swim style. Is that still on the front burner? How many more volumes of “Moon Lake” are you planning?
Yeah, I’m already thinking about volume three. I was very hands on with this last one, I wanted to see what it was really like to put one of these together and to approach Archaia and say, “Look, let’s finish this off.” So the process was… I was like a kid in a candy store, I basically made [Laughs] probably another graphic novel and a half worth of stuff that didn’t make it into volume two, because I was like, “Yes. Oh my god, let’s do this. That’s awesome!” So there’s plenty of stories coming, definitely, down the road.
I want this to be big. I want this to be crazy. When I was a kid, I used to wait up to watch “Liquid Television” and “Saturday Night Live.” I want people to wait up to see my show, late night on HBO or Adult Swim or Comedy Central, or something where they’ll let us be a little crazy.
The universe of “Moon Lake” came out of the first movie that I directed called “Hysterical Psycho”, about a bunch of kids that go to Moon Lake and one of them goes nuts and starts killing everyone. He makes an appearance in “Moon Lake Volume Two.” So I’m already thinking on a large scale. I want to make multiple — I want this to be a franchise.
Where are you in the development process for the show?
Right now, I’m finding the perfect person to write the script with. There’s a pilot that’s almost there, there’s some great artwork. I think that, for something like this, you’ve gotta actually make it first. You’ve got to show the people, I’ve got to make the pilot first on my own and just show somebody like Adult Swim and have them just go “Yes, I will have many of those!” and you know, that’s what we’ve got to do.
Is there a common thread in the work, or even in the personalities of the people that you brought aboard, apart from the obvious? A certain something that both, say, Darick Robertson and colorist Andre May have in common?
Darick Robertson and Andre May, yeah man. I didn’t know Andre May. He came highly recommended by Jeff Stokely, who I had worked with on the first book, and Jeff said, “If you can get this guy Andre, this shit will look great” and I said, “Okay.” So it was just friends reaching out to friends and Andre said yeah, and his story is “The Ringer” and it looks fucking amazing, it was like one of my favorite stories. I just want people to get a good piece of material and say “Man, this is different. I could have a lot of fun with this” and you get a lot of gold out of everybody.
“Desensitized Deirdre” is one of my favorite stories and I created that with R.H. Stavis. I have a lot of ideas about where I want to take that character, and I was stuck on Jeffrey Zarnow drawing it. “He’s the only guy that could draw this,” but he got super busy and I was like “Oh my God, what the fuck am I going to do?”, so I searched for Dan Dougherty. I don’t know how I got to him, maybe Jeffrey referred me to Dan, and I’m so happy with what Dan did, it’s like a whole different take, but I think it looks delicious.
It’s just a great community out there of all these people who want to work together, and are inspired by each other’s work. The beauty of the book is you have the opportunity — I love the art in comic books so much. When I was a kid, I started getting into comics by copying all the drawings then making my own characters in the Marvel game, the role playing game. I would make my own characters, draw them, and create my own little universes. So I wasn’t really looking at it from a writer’s standpoint until I got older and so now, I got excited to put more of my stamp on this second book. You know, we’ll see, there’s a lot of me in this book, so we’ll see. We’ll see what the critics think.
Are you a digital comics guy?
You know what, I have to because I really like the Earth and everything and I really want to stay green. But I’m going to, because obviously, we made a lot more stories than made it into the second book, so Archaia has a whole digital comics thing that they’re going to do with all the stories that didn’t make it into the book and eventually those will go on to be their own comics.
But I have a real tangible kinda thing with comic books. Like, if you feel the graphic novel, “Moon Lake” [the print edition], it feels like something you pulled off the shelf in ninth grade, eighth grade, that your older brother was reading and it’s like “Heavy Metal,” but the cover feels like something from the ’70s. I have a real kind of tactile thing with the book.
I have to ask, and you’re kind of required to answer these questions because of your “Fanboys” connection, how do you feel about “Star Wars?” Are you excited to see more of it, are you happy to see J.J. Abrams in the driver seat?
Yeah, I love J.J. Abrams’ stuff. I think he took “Star Trek” in a good direction. And, I think — oh fuck, I’m trying to campaign to get into one of those. I wanna be Dan Solo, I wanna be Han Solo’s second cousin, you know? [Laughs] I fly around in the “Platinum Hawk” and it’s real maxed out ’80s-style. [Laughs]
That’s a good idea, I think you have to take that to the people, make that happen.
Well, that’s what I’m doing right now!
Let’s make that happen. Shifting gears, what can you tell me about the rehearsal process on “Scenic Route?” Was it in intense?
We rehearsed like crazy. Josh [Duhamel] is a great guy and, you know, when you act, you try to find somebody in your life that — at least I do — you try to find someone in your life [where] the person you’re acting with kind of reminds you of, or they’re an amalgamation of a couple of different people. So, he reminded me of a bunch of dudes that I used to hang out with in college. And I think [it was] the same thing there with me for him, and we just got along like gangbusters. Which was a good thing because we were out there in some really harsh conditions and he was producing as well, so it was good that he was a “jolly old fellow.”
But yeah, we needed that rehearsal. There was so much dialogue that it was like doing a play, we were basically doing a play out in the middle of the desert. So we had about a week of rehearsal — which is, I think, kinda growing on me because I usually like to learn my lines at the very last minute ’cause I like to be more spontaneous. But there’s something to be said for knowing your lines so well that you can just be free with them, like a play. Thank God for that rehearsal process.
News broke a couple weeks ago about Josh Gad playing Sam Kinison — you had been previously attached to an HBO movie about the late stand-up comedian. Is that done now, and if so how does that feel? When I first heard about Josh Gad — nothing against him — but I had not yet heard about “Brother Sam” and I immediately thought, “That is a role for Dan Fogler.” How much research did you do to prepare for that in the hopes that that was going to happen?
Did you watch the screen test that I did for that?
Yeah, I saw it a couple of days ago.
What did you think of that?
Honestly, I thought it was fantastic. I’m a big Sam Kinison fan. I was like nine watching Sam Kinison specials on TV — my parents were horrible — but I snuck down to watch stuff like that all the time. I had ninja skills at a very young age to get downstairs to the TV. But I really think you would have been awesome.
I’m on the same page. I’m on the same page, absolutely. Eating cookies and staying up late and watching shit you shouldn’t. I’m on the same page. [Laughs]
How much did you prepare for that? Is there any chance that you’re still going play him, or is that out the window?
When I learned that I was going to play that part — I’ll take you through the whole process.
When I learned I was going to play that part, this guy Michael Dowse, who’s a great director who directed “Take Me Home Tonight,” he directed a movie, “It’s All Gone Pete Tong,” and I thought, “that’s a great freaking movie” and so — I think [Tom] Shadyac’s people wanted to put the movie together and they wanted to kind of test both of us. So that screen test tested Mike’s skills and my skills, and so it was awesome, we actually did it on stage at Dangerfields.
So basically, I think I had a week. And I was a fan of Sam’s, but I was like, “if I had to choose” — and people have come up to me and said I look like Sam, but they’ve also said that about me with Belushi — so I’ve always said that if I had to choose, I’d want to be Belushi in a movie. Anyways, if that happens, that happens.
But anyway, I was like if I ever did Sam, I was going to blow out my voice, I would just destroy my throat. But the script was amazing, by the guys that did “American Splendor” — that’s the version I saw, then there was — there were several versions and it’s gone through several people’s hands.â€¨â€¨They gave me a stack of VHS tapes and I just watched them — this is back when people had VHS tapes [Laughs]. This all started back in 2006 or 2007, this buzz for me to do it, and then we went very far. I was sitting with Tom in the offices at HBO, with the head people there looking at my screen test going (adopts British accent), “My God it’s brilliant. It’s going to be magnificent. I’ve never seen such a depiction, I’ve shit my slacks.” And I was like, “Really? Wow, all right.” and Tom was looking at me like “All right, this is on.” And so we’ll see, I love Josh. If Gad can get the condor off the ground then awesome, and I’ll applaud him, while I’m winning an Oscar for Belushi or something.
“Moon Lake Volume 2” goes on sale November 27. “Scenic Route” is available on VOD.