Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NYCC 2011: Learning "Scary Tactics" From Dennis Calero

It has been more than a year since Red Dot Diva met artist Dennis Calero in person at SDCC 2010.

At the time, he was kicking off a web-comic called "Devil Inside" that he had created with his good buddy (and "Heroes" alumni) Todd Stashwick. Having built a loyal and growing fanbase in the last year, "Devil Inside" - a story about a famous demon who is trying to be a different (better?) being - is now in its second chapter!

Within the last year, Dennis also became a proud first-time Dad to an adorable baby girl. And he has also picked up a rather high-profile gig with Archaia/ Relativity Media for one of the stories in "The Immortals", an anthology graphic novel which is a tie-in to the Tarsem Singh-directed Greek mythology movie of the same name.

In fact, when visiting "The Immortals" booth at the NYCC 2011 exhibition floor, Red Dot Diva thought it was nice to see a huge display of one of Dennis' artwork up there!

"Rise of the Olympians" from "The Immortals" graphic novel

And if one is not aware of this yet, Dennis has recently launched his very own Twitter graphic novel called "Scare Tactics".

On Day 1 of #NYCC, Red Dot Diva peeked in Artists' Alley to hunt down Dennis Calero but he was nowhere to be found. A lost-looking guy was sitting at his booth and was equally clueless as to Dennis' mysterious whereabouts for the day. Persistently, Red Dot Diva returned again to stalk Dennis on the morning of Day 2, and was very glad to find the handsome, witty and ever-charming one at his table, busily drawing and fulfilling commission requests.

Dennis affably offered Red Dot Diva to sit beside him for a chat as he continued working. In between intermittent visits from people coming to say hello to him (as well as a quick order of Starbucks coffee by his assistant), she managed to ask him a few things!

Red Dot Diva: What inspired you to start the Twitter graphic novel, "Scare Tactics"?
Dennis: I was very interested in the way that Twitter was delivering information. Specifically everyone was using Twitter for textual information. So I was interested to see how it could be used for delivering art, and how you could send it on to your followers, and how they could scroll through the tweets and photos, and I thought that would be a cool way to deliver a story.

The other impetus was my curiosity about Twitter and how we use it to deliver our thoughts in a more haphazard, spontaneous way. So with "Scare Tactics", I could do it as often as I want. Sometimes it could be two to three episodes, sometimes I don't any. If you follow "Scare Tactics" on Twitter, you will always know when an episode is there because it will pop up on your feed. And you can always check it at any time.

And so, the idea was to do the art spontaneously.. which means, I could maybe spend 15 to 20 minutes to draw, and give it a some colour, and put it up. I have a very strong idea where the story is going to go, and I know the beats where I am going to hit along the way. I see "Devil Inside" as rock 'n roll and "Scare Tactics" is jazz. I have a general idea where I want to go, but it may ultimately change along the way, depending on where the beats that me.

Red Dot Diva: Can you give us a quick introduction of "Scare Tactics" for those who might be interested to check it out?
Dennis: I don't want to give away too much of what the story is about. It's in the tradition of "Silence Of The Lambs", like a 70's thriller. In the vein of "Three Days Of The Condor".. or like "The Parallax View". It's about a man who discovers that someone is running a school for serial thrillers. So, if you paid this guy, he would teach you how not to get caught. And so this guy man is trying to infiltrate this school. That's the primary premise.

Red Dot Diva: Let's talk about "Devil Inside".
Dennis: Sure, please do.
Red Dot Diva: I've already asked Todd Stashwick the same question. This is the second year for "Devil Inside". How has the ride been for you?
Dennis: We'll most probably have similar answers. The ride has been amazing. The fans' feedback has been so heartening... and so strong. We've been *so* happy. Creatively, we've been happy with the way it's going.

We work on "Devil Inside" about one day a week. Todd will really spend time prepping the script and I will labour a solid day on about half a page of comics. It's been a lot of work and we are really dedicated to it. And unless something extreme happens, like the birth of my daughter or Halloween, we will push it through. And it has been wonderful and we've enjoyed every minute of it.

Red Dot Diva: So when is Corvus coming back?
Dennis: Corvus is back... This past week Corvus came back.
Red Dot Diva: Oh! I haven't been able to catch up with it since I didn't have constant wifi connection.
Dennis grins: Yes, Corvus is back...and he's Very Angry. He came back in pieces and he's very sore about it.

Red Dot Diva: Could you give us some more hints about what's coming up in "Devil Inside"?
Dennis: Well, for the first month or so, the strip was about the aftermath of the first year but then we are going to move forward as Ronny begins to piece together what's happening. And Sophie very quickly recovers and proves to be even smarter than Jack thought she was. And Jack begins to put together his plans. It'll be good.

For the "Devil Inside" fans out there, here's Dennis with a short and very perky video greeting:

Just as Red Dot Diva was wrapping up the Q&A, Dennis' assistant finally came back with his Starbucks coffee. Red Dot Diva had a few minutes to waste before Legendary Comics' panel which was held at the other side of Javits, so she stayed around Dennis' booth for awhile.

They casually talked about her first New York experience, and Dennis was (surprisingly) curious about her Chinese name. And he showed off the cutest pics of his daughter - whom he revealed was nicknamed Monkey-Moo. Awwww....

It was too bad that Red Dot Diva had to rush off not long after, just to ensure that she will not miss getting into Legendary's panel. Hanging out with easy-going Dennis (and his lovely assistant!) was like meeting old friends, and she can't wait to catch up with him again, another time ... "soon".


Check out Dennis Calero's official website! And one can also find him on on Twitter!

To start reading the web-comic "Devil Inside", click on this page!

And for the Twitter graphic novel, "Scare Tactics", click this link here!