Friday, September 16, 2011

All Pulp Interviews: Moonstone’s Return of the Monsters - Rock Baker

Art: Rock Baker & Jeff Austin
This Halloween, Moonstone heads back to their monstrous roots with the Return of the Monsters Event. Return of the Monsters features four stand-alone tales of pulp’s mightiest heroes facing off against some classic monsters. One of those titles is Domino Lady vs. the Mummy by co-writers Nancy Holder and Bobby Nash with art by Rock Baker and Jeff Austin. All Pulp sat down with artist Jeff Austin to talk about this upcoming book.

All Pulp: Tell us a little about yourself and your pulp interests.

Art: Rock Baker & Jeff Austin
 Rock Baker: Well, I've always been very heavy into classic monster movies, period adventure stories, and I'm a cheescake cartoonist by trade, so you can imagine how much of a dream something like Domino Lady vs. The Mummy sounded when the assignment was offered to me. I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, though, because I was forced to draw everything very small in order to accommodate my rather shrimpy scanner. That matter aside, though, it was a real treat to work with a pulp character in a monster story.

AP: You’re providing pencils for the Return of the Monsters Halloween event book, Domino Lady Vs. The Mummy. What can we expect from this titanic throw down?

Art: Rock Baker
RB: A lot of creepy atmosphere. The pages are dripping with shadows. There's a vibe of unearthly violence that creeps into high society and makes even the most well-lit locale look sinister. There's also a pretty big event in the lives of these characters that fans will be excited to see!
I also want to take a second and note that the key to making all this work is that I have Jeff Austin doing the inks. He has to be the best inker in the business, and I'm blessed to have him as a partner on this book!

AP: Domino Lady Vs. The Mummy has a pulp hero battling a classic monster, a combination that even though done in some regards hasn't ever really been done the way Moonstone is doing it with the Return of the Monster event. What do these genres have in common and how do they differ in ways that complement each other?

Art: Rock Baker & Jeff Austin
RB: Well, both genres work within a world that looks a lot like ours, but plays by slightly different rules. Pulp heroes tend to take beatings that would kill them in real life, but they shrug it off pretty quick on paper. Likewise, monsters tend to be fancifully indestructible in their worlds. Touches of the supernatural often surface in hard-boiled detective literature. Tossing a monster into the mix is the same logic taken to its extreme. One has to be careful, though, to keep it from being TOO radical an addition. Crime fiction has a locked down set of rules concerning how people live, die, talk, whatever, while horror fare throws any such pretense out the window.

Art: Rock Baker
AP: The Return of the Monsters Halloween event brings back several classic monster archetypes to Moonstone’s lineup. How does this version of the Mummy compare and contrast to previous versions of the character?

RB: Most obviously, this one is female, where most classic mummies are male. More importantly, she's smart. Most mummies in stories like this function as classic zombies, they shamble around and do the bidding of another. They're usually the foot soldier of a high priest. This mummy, on the other hand, is the brains of the operation. That's a fairly fresh take when one considers the more famous Lon Chaney-type mummies we've seen. (To be fair, Karloff's Im-ho-tep was such a creature, but again he was male.)

AP: What appeals to you about pulp heroes battling classic monsters? What was it that excited you about visually pitting the Domino Lady against a mummy?

Art: Rock Baker & Jeff Austin
RB: It mixes together so many things that fire the imagination, and its nice to see imaginative storytelling isn't something we grow out of. What can be better than two-fisted adventure and a monster on the side?
Drawing a female mummy was a nice challenge. I wanted to make her a powerful monster, as she is in the script, yet I also wanted her to not be too monstrous. In her time, I'm sure this woman was a very beautiful girl. That became my hook. She's got a nice figure, loaded down with jewelry, has plenty of poise and grace one might expect from Egyptian royalty. Mostly, she's aged around the eyes, where her supernatural power is focused. Between her supernatural ways and the embalming procedures developed by the ancient Egyptians, she should retain an echo of her former beauty.

AP: What, if any, existing pulp, monster, or comic book characters would you like to try your hand at drawing?

Return of the Monsters Covers By Dan Brereton
RB: Interesting question. Sheena or one of the many similar jungle girl characters would be ideal, as I could combine cheesecake art with lush natural backgrounds. I've always been a fan of werewolf movies, so I might enjoy drawing a werewolf tale, provided I could actually draw a Wolf Man-type creature and not one of those more modern werewolves that look like bears and don't wear clothing.

Art: Rock Baker
AP: What does Rock Baker do when he’s not drawing?

RB: He watches a lot of movies. Motion pictures have always been my main area of interest. My library currently contains 1900+ titles that I've collected or taped from television. I encourage people to donate their VHS tapes to me rather than just throw them out, which would be a waste. I once wrote and edited a monster magazine, among other things involving genre films.

AP: Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

RB: My blog can be found here: (I should be posting a lot of artwork there in addition to movie reviews.) I can also be found on Facebook:

AP: Any upcoming projects you would like to mention?

RB: It's hard to keep track sometimes. I try to get an assignment finished as quickly as possible and move onto the next thing on the list. I sometimes forget what I've drawn until it suddenly comes out a few months later! This Moonstone project is one of the big ones, for sure, and I'm looking forward to seeing it in print! I'm also pretty happy about the continuing adventures of my own character Dinosaur Girl, in the pages of AC Comics!

AP: Thanks, Rock.

RB: Thank you very much! It has been an honor!

Domino Lady vs. the Mummy is solicited in August Previews for an October in store release.