November's MySpace Dark Horse Presents is an ode to classic horror comics, with new stories by talents like Mike Mignola ("Hellboy") and Becky Cloonan ("American Virgin," "Demo"), and fans of the old Warren comics will be especially pleased to see Uncle Creepy rear his decrepit head in a new tale of terror by newcomers Andrew Mayer and Lukas Ketner. The MDHP strip, titled "Om Nom Nom," serves as a preview of a re-launched "Creepy" series that Dark Horse will debut next July at Comic-Con International in San Diego. CBR News caught up with Ketner to discuss the "Creepy" web comic and his evolving artistic style.
Despite being a fan of the horror genre, Lukas Ketner had some catching up to do in regards to "Creepy." "I wasn't nearly as familiar with 'Creepy' or the Warren mags as I was with the EC classics or the DC 'House of Mystery' and 'House of Secrets' books," he told CBR News. "Discovering all of that material has been a huge bonus for me. I've even taken to garage sale-ing to try and find a box full of Warren mags. You can find them at comic book stores, but a decent issue will run you at least $20!"
The illustrations and comics seen on Ketner's website look quite different from what is seen in "Om Nom Nom," which fits very well in what may be seen as a "Creepy" house style. "I knew that I wanted to expand on the pen and ink stuff that I'd been doing for 'Witch Doctor,'" he said. "You know, I've been trying to get that 'professionally inked page' look for years, complete with the attractive blue pencil lines and the expertly placed spot blacks and hatching, completely black and white. I learned everything I could along the way, but when I finally got there, I really wanted a more painterly look. Some of my favorite horror shorts had those really amazing grey tones behind the line work. That's what I wanted for this one. It was Shawna's idea, but I agreed immediately."
When the print edition of "Creepy" returns next July, it will be published in black-and-white, but "Om Nom Nom" is published in color to fit in with the other MySpace Dark Horse Presents strips. Ketner's color effects add an interesting dimension to the comic, relying heavily on reds and blues. "If there's one word I kept in mind during the coloring phase, it was 'intestinal,'" the artist said. "I really wanted to use grayish sickly pinks, reds, and blues to suggest stomach lining and varicose veins. I've never been as confident in my coloring skills as with my drawing skills, but referencing the color schemes of Dave Stewart and Richard Corben tends to keep me on track."
Like emerging talents Sarah Oleksyk and Liz Greenfield, whose webcomics appeared on MySpace Dark Horse Presents in August and September, respectively, Lukas Ketner was discovered by the publisher at Portland's Stumptown Comics Festival.
"Brandon Seifert and myself released our first issue of our horror medical drama, 'Witch Doctor' in time for the festival in April," Ketner explained. "The idea was to have a pitch that was already a finished product and, failing that, a portfolio piece that we were both happy with. We showed it to [editor] Scott Allie, who was hosting a MySpace DHP contest to find a few unknowns to reward with a slot in one of the upcoming online issues of DHP. We got very excited and immediately started brainstorming a story at out convention table, only to be told a little later that we weren't eligible for the slot because we had both done professional work in the past. We have both been working for newspapers and other publications for years, Brandon writing articles and me doing spot illos. We decided to look at it as a good thing that we were 'too professional' to qualify, and Scott continued to give us advice, feedback, and support.
"Fast forward a few months, I read that Dark Horse is going to re-launch 'Creepy' magazine and I'm very happy about it. Horror anthology comics are my favorite! Literally that evening I get an email from editor Shawna Gore wanting to know if I'd be interested in doing a story. Yes. Yes, I would.
"Incidentally, I interned for Dark Horse years ago while still in school, and Shawna was the editor I worked with most often. I discovered a lot of the titles I read and love today on her watch."
Still occupying that space between enthusiastic fan and seasoned professional, Ketner reflected on his experiences in comics to date. "I've met so many wonderful people in the industry, creators, and editors alike that I really look up to. Everyone knows that comics are a difficult medium to break into professionally, but what most don't know about is the support and attention you can get from just doing a book on your own," the artist said. "It shows what you can write, draw, and most importantly, what you can see through to completion."
As for other projects coming up, Ketner advises fans to keep an eye out for more "Witch Doctor." "Brandon and I are working on both a short story and a complete second issue, both on an ASAP basis," he said. "Brandon seems to have and endless supply of good ideas for future 'Creepy' stories, so I'm sure you'll see us working together on that as well at some point.
"You can also see some one-pagers of mine in the Steal Back Your Vote guide written by the manic yet heroic Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr,
"Aside from that, I'm always looking for new projects . . . anyone?"