LIVING DEAD MAGAZINE INTERVIEW:
LIVING DEAD MAGAZINE HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING JOHN FRANKLIN AND HIS WRITING PARTNER TIM SULKA AT TEXAS FRIGHTMARE WEEKEND, WHERE WE WERE ABLE TO CATCH UP WITH THEM AND HEAR ALL THE JUICY TIDBITS ABOUT PRIME CUTS.
Living Dead Magazine had the pleasure of meeting John Franklin and his writing partner Tim Sulka at Texas Frightmare Weekend, where we were able to catch up with them and hear all the juicy tidbits about Prime Cuts.
LDM: John, your background is in screenwriting and Shakespeare, so why do a comic book? Are you both big comic fans, and how has this experience been different than the writing you both have done in the past?
Tim: To give you some backstory, John and I are not only writing partners, but we’re also first cousins. We’ve been writing together since high school where we wrote plays and a murder mystery musical that we produced and starred in. Once we reconnected after college in Los Angeles, we started writing screenplays together. After our first produced screenplay, Children of the Corn, 666, we wanted to find another classic story that we could bring into the modern age. We are both fans of the Sweeney Todd legend and thought it was a good fit.
John: I think we have both read comics from childhood and I was always fascinated by the simple way a story could be told through pictures. With updating the Sweeney Todd legend, we thought that developing it as a graphic novel would be a good way to not only share it with a new and different audience, but it would be a great way to bring a visual aspect to the piece; in writing screenplays, you can only suggest that in the writing.
LDM: Well, your interpretation of Sweeney Todd set in a post-apocalyptic world where sex is traded for meat is truly an interesting and quite imaginative take on a classic, dark story. Why Sweeney Todd? What attracted you guys to this storyline?
Tim: Since it first appeared in the Penny Dreadfuls of the 19th Century, the Sweeney Todd legend has been a very strong force in the horror genre. It was even used as the basis for a Broadway musical! I think, though, the audacity of the story – killing people and baking them into pies - has always had a delicious wickedness about it and one that had a sly sense of humor about itself.
John: We’re naturally comedy writers and with our love of horror and comedy, we thought it would be a lot of fun to tackle this story in a whole different arena. No one has ever presented this story in another time and place other than London’s Fleet Street. And since we both have a twisted sense of humor, we had a good time figuring out how this idea would be treated today. The result is Prime Cuts!
Tim: I also think the character of the piemaker, Electra Love, has been an interesting exploration. In Prime Cuts, the pie shop is a pizza parlor. We wanted Electra to be a strong female character. There aren’t enough of those in horror where you usually find a helpless female victim. We loved playing with her manipulative qualities. She also seems to hate the world.
John: Not to mention, most of her customers, the local gangbangers! She was a lot of fun to write. Electra isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to get what she wants.
LDM: The characters in Prime Cuts are definitely the dark and twisted variety. The comic has some pretty R rated moments (sexual assault, prostitution, brutal deaths), so clearly the series is aimed at an adult audience, and most adult horror and comic book fans are familiar with John from the Children of the Corn franchise. Are you hoping to show your fans a different side of yourself John, and/or are you hoping that fan’s association with you as a horror icon already will help them transition easily into seeing you as a horror comic book writer?
John: “Children of the Corn” is now celebrating its 30th Anniversary so the original fans are older and wiser. The older teenagers and young people of today have been exposed to far more adult language and topics via movies and video games – that make Prime Cuts actually somewhat tame. I think that the fans of the novel will appreciate the humor that is always sneaking around the corner. I cannot watch more than a few minutes of some of the current horror/torture movies – there is just violence for violence’s sake and certainly no humor. Exploitive and gratuitous.
As with any piece of literature, one must look at what character is saying objectionable words and then think about why that character would say that – sometimes the “f” bomb is necessary to make a point or to show the ignorance of that character.
LDM: John, what do you love about writing compared to your experiences acting?
John: Writing, whether with Tim or by myself is a very powerful experience. The writer is the complete lord of the universe – the puppeteer that all must obey. At least until you meet with the producers…
Acting requires a completely different set of skills as you first analyze the script (usually other writer’s words) and then try to connect with the material. Both writing and acting are very fun and fulfilling, creating a world and then bringing it to life.
LDM: What style would you say this graphic novel falls under? What do you want fans to take away from this series?
Tim: We definitely wanted to create a different look for this novel. It didn’t feel like Japanese anime or traditional Marvel comic style of artwork. It has an indie feel to it which works for the world it is depicting. I think I want fans to take away the idea that a traditional, classic horror story can take on new life with a bold, new concept.
John: Also, I hope that people get the humor in the piece, even though it’s a bit dark and cynical. The world is askew and we approach it with humor. I also hope that they enjoy the new look of the familiar Sweeney Todd characters.
LDM: What can we look forward to in the next issue and in the series in general? When will the next issue be released?
Tim: In the next issue, we learn more about Todd’s past and what has driven his vengeance. We will also finally get to the “meat” of the story as Electra discovers a unique way to dispose of a pesky, horny trucker.
John: Todd also starts realizing that what he thought was his fate is really something else entirely. Hopefully, the next issue will come out some time in 2015. A lot depends on building a fanbase for Prime Cuts to help keep demand for the story going!
Tim: And we’re really grateful to Living Dead for this opportunity to get the word out. Anyone interested in reading the book can buy it directly from Indyplanet.com. You can either get a hard copy or download it to your computer or mobile device.
John: And I want to thank all my fans who have been so supportive throughout the years. It means so much when I hear about how “Corn” and Isaac has been an important parts of their lives – who would have known?! And now I hope they enjoy our new devilish offspring, Prime Cuts. Enjoy the pizza!
LDM: Happy Anniversary Children of the Corn, and congratulations on the new fantastic graphic novel guys, we are happy to have you out of retirement.
Fans should check out Prime Cuts and purchase a copy at indyplanet.com