Friday, October 25, 2013

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: George Warner


DECAPITATED DAN: Hey George thanks for taking time to talk with me about The Human Gargoyles . First of all lets talk about you. Who are you and what do you do?

GEORGE WARNER: I'm many things to many people depending on who you askSeriously though, I live and work in the borough of South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is famous for being the home of the Little League World Series, which millions of people all over the world watch on ESPN and ABC TV year after yearI was a pop culture junkie growing up in the 60's and devoured comic books, monster model kits, monster magazines, horror and sci-fi movies and musicI've worked throughout my life as a musician, purchaser (spending between three quarter to a million dollars of someone else's money a year for around 25 years) and as a graphic designerI currently provide lettering and prepress production services for various independent comic book publishersI also do digital restoration work on comic book covers and interiorsIn my spare time I publish a Skywald blog 'The Horror-Mood' and have just entered the world of self publishing this year with 'The Human Gargoyles'I've contributed material to my good friend George (Jorge) Khoury's Alan Moore books 'Kimota: The Miracleman Companion' and 'The Extraordinary Works Of Alan Moore' and Roy Thomas's Marv Wolfman Horror issue of Alter Ego #113 (all published by Tomorrows Publishing) and served as a contributor and consultant on the Skywald section of Richard J. Arndt's excellent McFarland Press book 'Horror Comics In Black And White'I'm married to a stunningly beautiful, wonderful woman, Diane, who is my true love and pillar of support, and we have two great boys (Colin and Ian) aged 12 and 15

DD: How did you find yourself getting into making comics?

GW: I'd been a graphic designer for years and when I became involved in The Human Gargoyles project I realized I needed a prepress production artist and a letterer in order to make the book happenNever having done that particular kind of work, I took it upon myself to learn how to do it by gathering together the necessary software and relying on nothing more than my own desire and natural skills to attain and achieve professional quality resultsMy first lettering and production work saw print in March of 2010 and I've continued on with it since then

DD: So what can you tell me about The Human Gargoyles? What's it all about?

GW: The Human Gargoyles was one of the most well loved and enduring character series to come out of the black and white horror boom of the mid 1970's, published by the Skywald Publishing Corporation (a small New York publishing company)The series was the most personally rewarding of all the character series that Skywald editor and head writer "Archaic" Al Hewetson had done while helming the Skywald Horror-Mood mags as they came to be known, and artist "Macabre" Maelo Cintron was his true, creative partner in the storytelling

As to what the series was about, (to paraphrase Mike Howlett), The Human Gargoyles are two European Gargoyles perched atop a cathedral and accidentally brought to life by a satanic cultRather than living as demons, they strive to be humanFinding circus work and giving birth to a child, they migrate to America to make a new life for themselvesBeing Gargoyles, as well as illegal immigrants, they experience much prejudice and hatredTravelling the country searching for respect, freedom and knowledge, they eventually become American citizens, along the way encountering Satan's minions, as well as some human monstersThroughout the story the characters show that they are full of emotion, hope, and humanity

DD: Who are the main characters?

GW: Edward Sartyros, his wife Mina and their baby AndrewSathanas is their main adversary

DD: I think the easy question to ask is, why bring this book back?

GW: Well, the original story arc was never concluded proper, so there's thatBut this came about as an alternative to what I had originally hoped to do, which was Alan and Maelo's unpublished comeback project, 'Gargoyle Justice', which was about a grown up Andrew Sartyros living and working in the West as a U.S. Marshal and married with a familyA plot by Alan along with some conceptual and finished artwork by Maelo exist, but after Alan's untimely passing in 2004, it was eventually decided that that project would not see the light of dayHowever, a newly painted cover by Maelo, along with a written piece by Alan concerning the project was published in Peter Normanton's twelth issue of his excellent horror history mag 'From The Tomb', so I'd suggest picking that up if you'd like to know more about itAfter 'Gargoyle Justice' fell by the wayside, I asked Maelo if he'd like to finish the original Skywald series properHe agreed and it was decided that not only would he redraw all of the original chapters artwork as needed, but that I would commission him to produce new artwork as well, along with having noted Skywald historian Richard J. Arndt provide additional plot and script workRichard came to know and interview Alan before he passed away so he was a natural choice as far as somone who could capture Alan's style of writing and he's done amazing work on thisSo it's a rebirth and a representation of the original series rather than a simple reprint projectMy love for this series and the characters along with the opportunity to publish it for a new generation of readers is what really drove me to do thisAlan Hewetson's writing is stellar and Maelo Cintron's artwork is absolutely breathtaking and beautifulI get goosebumps every time a new packet of his artwork arrives in the mailMaelo is not just a comic book artist, he's a master illustrator

DD: If you were to give this book a movie style rating (G, PG, PG-13, R,X) what would it get, and why would you say that?

GW: If you're referring to the level of horror in the book, then I would have to say somewhere between PG and PG-13One has to remember that this series was originally written in the mid 70's so the 'splatter' or 'gore' level had not quite hit the extremes that it did in the 80's and beyondIs there horror? Of course there isThe opening battles with Satan's cult and his 'I' monsterThe first meeting with 'Satan/Sathanas'The battle with the stone lions on the steps of the New York Public Library and the battle with the 'Living Dead'The Gargoyles are not the horror characters in this series. The horror comes from the spiritual, malevolent and human charactersHaving said that, there is Gargoyle nudity but I don't believe it's presented in a way that would garner the book an R rating

DD: What are you hoping readers can take away from this story?

GW: Obviously I'd like them to come away with an enjoyment and appreciation for what's being presented to them for their consideration, but I believe that Alan expressed it best in his own following words what he hoped the series would mean to readers

"Edward Sartyros (the lead Gargoyle) would exemplify that Man should have the right to be and think as an individual, not forever dwelling in the shadow of his demanding parent, in the darkness of the wombWe Human Beings are The Human Gargoyles, na ve and moralistic, waging war with our own souls, living in a translucent cocoon, hapless reactionaries to society's proactive engineers, trying to live our own lives in the face of absurd foes of our own inventionTrying to find peace of mind in conventionStruggling to invent inherent meaning to our existenceComic book characters in search of self-respect "

I'd say that's existentialism in it's most purest form

DD: Do you see this book as easily accessible to new readers?

GW: Of courseMaelo, Richard and myself have taken a series long thought lost and forgotten by horror comic book historians and readers', dusted it off, given it a fresh look along with adding new material to make it as relevant today as it was when it was originally publishedYou said it yourself Dan in your review of the book that"Needless to say, classic and new horror fans need to make sure that this book is in their collection " I'd have to unashamedly agree with you

DD: Were you into any horror titles growing up that lead you to want to work on a book like this?

GW: Oh most definitelyAs a young boy and teenager I grew up buying the Warren, Eerie, and Skywald Horror-Mood mags right off the newsstand as they were being published and distributedWeb Of Horror was another one of my favorites as wellBut for me, the real horror, the true horror and the horror magazine publisher of all horror magazine publishers' was the Skywald Horror-Mood Publishing Corporation and their titles Nightmare, Psycho and Scream under the editorship of "Archaic" Al HewetsonThose horror magazines were second to none and a cut above the rest of the competition in my opinionHell, who else could have topped stories with titles like 'I Left My Heart In The Burial Pit, I Had No Choice', 'Kill, Kill, Kill And Kill Again', 'The Filthy Little House Of Voodoo', or 'Limb From Limb From Death'?I've never read or seen anything like them since and probably never will again

DD: Is this a title we will see more from in the future?

GW: Yes, I have firm commitments from both Maelo and Richard to see this through to the endIt won't be easy as the original Gargoyles series artwork needs to be scanned, restored, printed and sent off to Maelo to draw over, plus the additional wait for the new material to be finishedThe most challenging part from my end will be dealing with the next two chapters of artwork which were presented in a two page widescreen format, and although breathtaking to behold, will again be a challenge from a technical standpointI'm up for it though

DD: What was the most horrific thing that happened to you when you were working on this book?

GW: I went through a series of financial and personal challenges bringing this book to fruition, as anyone who has entered the world of self publishing can tell you, but quite possibly the most horrific thing that happened to me was when I was diagnosed with a flesh eating diseaseIf I hadn't been sent to a wound unit, on a lark that what was wrong with me might not be what the doctors' thought it was originally, I probably would not be here typing these answers to your questionsIt was an extremely rare disease that scared the HELL out of my wife and children, but it appears to be under control nowReal life horror, eh?

DD: Can we expect more from you horror comic wise in the future?

GW: AbsolutelyThe Human Gargoyles will continue to be published in conjunction with myself under Maelo's Bleeding Moon Comics imprintOther Skywald related projects currently in production are a collection of original Skywald writer "Awkward" Augustine Funnell's 'Monster, Monster' saga featuring the final two unpublished chapters by Augustine on plot and script along with a newly painted cover and interior artwork by UK based Skywald influenced artist John Gallagher and original series artist Paul PuigagutA new collection of the groundbreaking first true horror graphic novel 'The Saga Of The Victims' with the recently discovered unpublished final chapter by Al Hewetson and Jesus Suso Rego is on the horizonA 'Tales Of Nosferatu' collection will also see print as I discovered the final unpublished chapter, and I promise you much, much more to comeI'm on a mission to reintroduce to modern horror comic book readers' what I consider to be timeless classicsThe Skywald character series are unlike any othersI also work on two other excellent independent horror comics, 'Terrorklowns' from Horrorfixx Comics and 'Man Of God' from Pinwheel PressBoth are definitely worth taking a look at

DD: So where can readers find out more about this book?

GW: I've created an official facebook page:that you can like and check in on for up to the minute updatesIf you'd like to know which magazines The Human Gargoyles series originally appeared in I have a complete illustrated Skywald magazine checklist at my The Horror-Mood blog: The blog is devoted to all things The Human Gargoyles and SkywaldThere are a number of books and publications available that you should check out as wellSome if not most are out of print but a search on eBay or Amazon will usually turn them upFrom Headpress/Critical Vision there's Headpress 16, The Complete Illustrated History Of The Skywald Horror-Mood by Al Hewetson, Ghastly Terror by Stephen Sennitt and The Complete Saga Of The Victims by Al Hewetson, Jesus Suso Rego and John Gallagher (also available from Chimera Arts)Comic Book Artist vol. 2 #5 has two amazing retrospectives on The Skywald Horror-Mood by Jon B. Cooke and Christos N. GageMike Howlett wrote an excellent piece on Skywald, Maelo Cintron and The Human Gargoyles in Comic Book Marketplace #55Scott A. Stine has an excellent retrospective piece in Trashfiend #1The Comics Journal #127 has an excellent piece by Al Hewetson titled 'My Days In Horror Comics' and an extensive article about a visit to Fredric Wertham by Al in The Comics Journal #133Dave Sim of Cerebus fame published an extensive interview with Al in the fanzine Now And Then Times vol. 1 #2And of course, most if not all issues of Peter Normanton's From The Tomb have articles on Skywald with the aforementioned Gargoyle Justice feature appearing in issue #12 and an interview with Gargoyles artist Maelo Cintron in issue #21

DD: So in summary give me a quick recap on The Human Gargoyles and why fans should give it a try.

GW: In the first issue we learn the back history of The Human Gargoyles and the events that lead them to leave Europe for America where they hope to lead a more normal life

As to why fans should give it a try I can only say that 'The Human Gargoyles', to paraphrase "Archaic" Al Hewetson, could just as easily have been called 'The Human Beings'It has action, humor and horrorIt's a parody of philosophy and religious dogmaIt's Edward Sartyros's search for human dignity and individualityIt's one of the most outrageous yet sane creations ever to see printMISS IT NOT

DD: Thanks so much for your time George.

GW: No, my thanks to you, Decapitated OneThe pleasure was all mine

You may purchase The Human Gargoyles directly by contacting George at Retailer inquiries for purchasing the book at discount pricing may be sent to the same e-mail address as well as requests for a PDF copy of the book for review only purposes.
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