"Urban Monsters" Hit the Road

Is there anything more fun than the classic road trip story? Perhaps a road trip with… monsters? In "Urban Monsters" from Shadowline, that's exactly what readers will get from veteran comics artist Tone Rodriguez ("Violent Messiahs," "Snake Plisken") writer Will Wilson and newcomer Joanne Moore. With "Urban Monsters" #1 set to hit stores next week, all three creators spoke with CBR news about the characters, the story and how it all came together.

"On the surface, 'Urban Monsters' is a comedy about four monster buddies getting in lots of trouble as they try to get from New York City to Hollywood to audition for a monster movie," co-writer Joanne Moore told CBR News. "It's a fresh take on chasing the American dream. In the United States, everyone and anyone can and wants to be a star.  Just look at the proliferation of reality stars, celebutants and the popularity of getting famous off of your 'stolen' porn video.  Our guys want it too. Unfortunately, they have a hell of a time getting to their big break."

"Along the way, they find more than the road to the West Coast," added co-writer Will Wilson, "they find themselves, as well."


Moore describes the cast of "Urban Monsters" thusly: "Randy the Fishman wants to star in monster movies because he thinks that's the way to get power, respect and, of course, girls.  Bert the Beastman who already pulls plenty of women, doesn't really care about the why of the trip, he's just along for the fun."

"Bert wants to have a good time," added Wilson. "Arnaud [the satyr] is along for the ride."

"Eddie the Zombie who needs to get out of NYC quickly because of something bad he's done that the others find out about later," said Moore.

Moore promises something more than just laughs from "Urban Monsters," and talked about the theme underlying the story. "Warhol's quote 'In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes' has mutated into everyone in America seeking their 15 minutes-everything from 'American Idol' to 'Who Wants To Be A Superhero?' encourages everyday folks to become stars. Our monster buddies are no different. They want their 15 minutes and more of fame and fortune-the American Dream-- and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.  In the course of the 3-issue-series, that turns out to be a high price.  Their dreams get screwed with regularly throughout the road trip and then they find out that the dream might not be what they thought it was."

While not a movie, "Urban Monsters" has its origins in the Los Angeles film industry. "I was contacted by my dear friend, Jeff Foster at Vin Di Bona Productions because they had been pitched an idea for a graphic novel," Wilson explained. "He and I wanted to find a project to work on together for several years, Tone and I have been looking for a project to work on with Jim [Valentino] and Kris [Simon] at Shadowline for some time. Joanne became involved because the project was developed through Vin Di Bona's film division."

"I actually work for Vin Di Bona Productions developing film projects," said Moore. "A young screenwriter, Andrew Stroscher, pitched us the idea of 'Urban Monsters' as a graphic novel.  Vin was looking for innovative ways to break new talent, and liked the idea of getting into the comics medium. I ended up co-writing with Will accidentally.  It was a natural progression as I started to coordinate what Andrew had pitched with how Will wanted to write the story.  I just started contributing as a writer.  I'm a lucky girl that Will and Tone took me under their wings.

"My background is in film and television production. This is my first experience with comics and I am having the best time. The creativity of the people involved has blown me away. To have my first time be with someone as amazing as Jim Valentino, and then to work with the genius that is Tone Rodriguez has been amazing. I'm so grateful that Will was generous enough to let me join him in the writing process.  He is incredibly supportive and has taught me so much.  I also want to say that Kris Simon at Shadowline was incredibly patient with all of my dumb questions and really held my hand through this."

"I have been writing both films and comics for a while now, said Wilson. "My breakout project was working with John Carpenter on the animated sequel to the Snake Plisskin films.  This is where I first met Tone Rodriguez. After that, Tone and I decided to form a company together, to make comic books and to work with fresh new talent.  From that, Arch Enemy Entertainment was born, where we garner new talent, new ideas, and exciting stories.  I just think it's cool that Tone and I get a great opportunity to work with a company like Shadowline so we can do what we're passionate about and that's making comics."

An established artist in the realm of comics and storyboards, Tone Rodriguez created artwork for the television series "Dexter." Said the artist, "I became involved because my friend and business partner Will made promises of big money and working with a smoking hot woman, Joanne Moore.

"The biggest challenges are trying to find all the elements to make a quality book," the artist continued, "from letters to colors, and coordinating between those people.  A perfect example would be that our colorist is based in Los Angeles, but our letterer is in Canada.  There are some days that I am amazed at the Houdini-like skill it takes to coordinate between everyone."

The creators believe "Urban Monsters" is readily accessible to a wide audience. Said Wilson, "It appeals to people who enjoy adult-oriented tales involving monsters. The book appeals to the average person, who enjoys monsters, mayhem, and good old-fashioned fun. The use of monsters could simply be representations of different characteristics in all of us, and their story is one that many can relate to."

"I would say this book is for anyone with $3.50 to spend and is tired of the death of a superhero, a hero's world being re-imagined," said Rodriguez. "If they fit that, then they should be interested in picking up the book"

If "Urban Monsters" can find that wide audience, the creators are ready to feed their hunger for more material. Said Moore, "We would love to do more if there's a demand for them.  'Urban Monsters Hit Europe.'  'Urban Monsters Lost in Space.'  The possibilities are endless.

"Urban Monsters" #1 is scheduled to hit the streets on February 27.

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