“It’s a return to making monsters just what they are… monsters!” Todd McCullough on making vampires and werewolves less ‘soft’ in Who Needs the Moon?

who_needs_the_moon__3_cover_by_tamccullough-d7egc10.pngA small town full of werewolves, vampires and ghosts may sounds like the latest True Blood/Twilight wannabe, but  Todd McCullough’s Who Needs The Moon? has a dark under belly which gives this slice of American Gothic a truly pitch black heart. With issue #3 now available on ComiXology we catch up with Todd to find out what makes Who Needs The Moon? different from those other campire and werewolf books and why it’s OK for a monster to monstrous!
Who Needs The Moon volume 3

“Monsters aren’t your friends! I wanted them to be seen again as the evil blood sucking life destroyers that they are!”

Who Needs The Moon? #3 is released this week, what was the inspiration behind creating the series and the characters? 

TM: Who Needs the Moon? stems from my love of horror, and also from my disappointment that monsters are getting soft.
Who Needs The Moon? takes familiar horror elements like ghosts, werewolves, vampires and intolerant locals but seems to give it a fresh twist, what do you think makes it stand out from the rest?TM: I think its a return to making monsters just what they are. Monsters. I love TV shows like Being Human, and the first few seasons of True Blood, but at the same time I disagree with the way these handle the genre.
I think Who Needs the Moon? is a reaction to all the monster and slasher stories out there today, that champion the bad guy. I wanted them to be seen again as the evil blood sucking life destroyers that they are! Monsters aren’t your friends!
The book isn’t afraid to shy away from violence and strong language, especially in issue 3, how important is it for you to give Who Needs The Moon? a gritty and adult feel?

TM: Very important. I wanted the dialogue and story to really contrast with the toony presentation of my art.

I thought a lot about what Scott McCloud wrote in his book, Understanding Comics, and our attachment to more iconic characters. Based on that, my hope with the art, was that the cartoonish look of the world and characters would better help the reader to invest themselves emotionally in the story. And so, when the tragedy that I have planned happens to the cast, the reader is that much more shocked by the outcome.
The story takes a very dark and emotional twist at the end of issue #3, how important was it for you to have these strong emotional beats in the story?TM: I think it would be a disservice to fans of werewolves and vampires to not have a great deal of sadness and anger interwoven into the story. Fear of the unknown inspired the imagination that conjured up all these things that go bump in the night, and I thought it would be good to bring them back to their roots. Sort of. I want to tell a story that suggests a dark sad backstory, something that I think seperates it from the other vampire and werewolf series out there.
Who Needs The Moon poster

Todd created his own fonts for Who Needs The Moon to help give it’s own visual identity.

One of our favourite little touches in the book is that you mention the fonts on the opening page and you’re developing your own lettering font, how important a part of the overall book experience is that?

TM: Originally I started to use a well known comic font in the book, but it bothered me that it seemed as though all the other indie comics out there were using the exact same font. Clearly nobody else had a problem using it, over and over and over. But for me, it gave me the feeling that the book was less my own. So I felt I needed to be using a unique font.Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to make a font. That being said, I don’t think I do it very well at all, but I think the fonts that I made for the book – Drawn Icon and Canine Scratch for the title – work out well enough for comics.I’m not a designer, but I have studied the fundamentals of it in school, and have a genuine interest and respect for graphic design. I put a lot of thought into the covers, panels and lettering, so it’s nice to have someone notice it. Thanks!

It’s taken just over a year for these three ComiXology editions to be released, and I understand from reading the introduction this is due to some personal issues, how are things for you and have you used Who Needs The Moon as a distraction or has it been difficult to find time to draw a comic? 
TM: Originally, my wife and I had a plan. After my son was born she returned to school to study nursing, and I was going to work until she found a job. Then I would quit for bit and make an attempt to get a career going making comics.
Things were going along smoothly enough, but shortly after our daughter was born, my wife was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. We were told this in December 2011, and that is when everything went out the window. She was forced to quit school, and I pretty much stopped working to look after her and the kids.
We already had my medical problems to deal with prior to that. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2000 and have been getting treatment for it ever since. That being said, I’m doing really well in comparison to the majority of people I meet with the same disease.
My wife’s cancer, on the other hand, has been a lot more stubborn. Since 2011, it has gone into remission, then spread again becoming stage 4 cancer, stopped in its tracks and then spread again. Right now, after 3 years of weekly hospital visits, doctor appointments, chemo therapy and all the other drug cocktails, she seems to be doing very well.We’re fortunate to live in Canada, so there is social assistance available to my wife, and good medical coverage, because the drug costs alone for her and I every year are ridiculous. But covered.
So it’s not probably the best time for me to be making an attempt to start a career creating comics. The thing is, right now, I doubt it would be better for me to return to the work force somewhere either. My wife and kids need me here right now. When things get too tight financially I’ll go looking for work. Hopefully that happens after I complete Who Needs the Moon.
Who Needs The Moon #1-4

“I believe the best way to read this story would be in its entirety as one graphic novel, but in order to try and make some money, and to grow an audience, I thought it would be good idea to release it in smaller parts”

We believe that the original plan was to release it as a graphic novel, have your circumstance meant you’ve changed any of your plans for the story based on releasing it in smaller chunks?
TM: Yeah, I still believe that the best way to read this story would be in its entirety as one graphic novel. But in order to try and make some money while I worked on it, and to grow an audience, I thought it would be good idea to release it in smaller parts. Surprisingly its been a lot better for the story to release it this way though, because I think time has forced me to develop the plot and characters more. Had this been a book with a real publisher and a hard release date, I think it would have been rushed and be a lot less engaging. I hope its engaging anyways. I feel its much, much better than what it could have been.
What books and comics inspire you? We’re guessing you’re a bit of a horror fan?
TM: I have always had a hard time answering what my favourite books are, and which have directed me creatively. Recent comics that I have read or I am reading which are motivating me are, Girls, Alex & Ada, Fatale, Prophet, the Field, Shaolin Cowboy, We3, Jupiter’s Legacy, Kitaro, Midas Flesh and V for Vendetta (never read it or watched the film) (I know).
I have also been reading with my kids to get them into comics and have found that I am loving Adventure Time and Hello Kitty comics. Shocked to say the least that I enjoy reading through Hello Kitty as much as my little girl.
I used to read a lot of novels, but find that I have less time to do so right now. That being said I think everyone should read Zone One, Super Sad True Love Story, the Sisters Brothers, and Half Blood Blues. Which are the top of my list of recent novel reads in the last few years. I’m currently reading Ysable by Guy Gavriel Kay, because Game of Thrones is making me want to read some fantasy.
A scifi novel I’ve read several times over the years, keeps popping into my head recently, so I’m going to mention it here. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Published in 1956, it is in my opinion the book that surely must have inspired Gibson and the cyperpunk genre. One of my all time favs.
So how many issues will the series run for and how frequently will be be seeing future issues released?
TM: The whole series is going to be a total of eight issues. Issues 1 to 3 were entirely made with a computer, but on issue 4, I made the switch to real pencil and ink, which I think has sped things up and allows me to do the work somewhere other than my desktop. I think the quality of the art has improved in a subjective way too.Fingers crossed. Next month, my wife finishes this current round of chemo and my son goes into grade 1, so I hope that I can finish the remaining four issues by the end of this year. (Lesson learned though! Get at least four issues done in advance before you release it to the public!)
You can purchase issues #1-3 of Who Needs The Moon? on ComiXology for £0.69 and for a sneak peak at future issue follow Todd on Tumblr, on Twitter and on deviantART

Author: Alex Thomas

Alex Thomas is the Editor and founder of PIpedream Comics. He grew up reading comics in the 90s, so even though he loves all things indie and small press, he is easily distracted by a hologram cover.