Today we lucky enough to talk with Howard Wong and Josh Stafford about their new book Damn, Cursed Children, out now!
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Howard Wong and Josh Stafford
Jeff: [00:00:00] Listeners to support our country today on the show we had the fantastic Howard Wong and Josh Stafford.
How’s it going guys? Awesome, man. Awesome. Glad to hear it. You guys are handling from where
Howard Wong: I am from. Closest city would be Toronto, but specifically from Richmond
Josh Stafford: Ontario. I mean Ottawa, Ontario.
Jeff: Oh, Canadians where everything is better
Howard Wong: Well, we can’t work Canadians. We can only agree and say, thank you.
Jeff: Thank you. It is over the last 10 years you guys went to from our funny cousins up North, too. Paradise where we would all rather go very quickly United States. Oh my God.
Howard Wong: It’s you know, the thing is interesting about you guys right now is that your, your narrative has changed from what it was before the previous president.
And now this president with people burning, burning snow in Texas, which was [00:01:00] well it’s, it’s a little bit better, still crazy. But definitely a bet on better on better trucks
Jeff: this time. I think Texas is becoming sort of like another Florida, you know, it’s one of those things where we just kind of look at them and go, yeah, it’s them.
They try to succeed of of every few years we think every once in a while we could let them,
Howard Wong: it keeps things interesting for us. I have to admit it makes us make better. It’s the best TV that I’ve
Jeff: watched in a long time. It’s the Quebec of the United States. Oh, I’m not going to go there.
Howard Wong: I know. It’s really close to a close to Quebec. So gosh, couldn’t comment at all. He was, I don’t know that much.
Jeff: What do you, what do you like to add anything to my heinous comment about Quebec?
Josh Stafford: Gosh, never. All of Canada is good, so I want to be misquoted.
Jeff: Dry and out into the streets, but as well as a host of a podcast, I would love that kind of [00:02:00] controversy in the newspapers. Josh just bashed the entire state of Quebec, but okay.
Howard Wong: Sorry. We have the character, we have provinces, we don’t
Jeff: E that’s quaint provinces. And so have you guys been both been combo fans, your entire life?
Josh Stafford: Yes.
Jeff: No, I win. Really? Yeah. But when, when did this hit you there, Howard?
Howard Wong: Well, I mean, I knew, I knew about Kira books, like anybody on planet earth, for sure.
I didn’t collect them. I mean, I can tell you, my first comic book was a Tarzan comic. Which I picked up from Scholastic order sheet when I was in school. The second one I bought was a captain America colonic off the spinner rack at the corner store because somebody dies apparently died in it, in a horror.
Well, it wasn’t horrible. You got shot by the newsy, through the seat of a taxi cab, which was crazy when you’re a kid. But I, my collection and my all and crazy spend the true [00:03:00] of kind books started when image came out, to be honest. So, because I know it’s like everybody that’s productive just because it’s, what’s it flashy.
Yes. In the production value. And it, it was easy to jump on because it was just brand new. So it was no chasing back, back issues and stuff like that. And it’d be, I’ll be honest. I didn’t know how comics really were set. Like, I didn’t know about how we story arcs were pale. Like one first, like whatever, every five issues of story arc or what have you that was not ever, it never in a narrative in school or anywhere in the playground.
It wasn’t until I saw some friends reading image books, I started asking and then they took me to the client book shop and I was like, Oh my God. And that basically was the rabbit hole that has continued on since then, until now. And my collection is, has far, I see it. Why would like, I guess no way, because I have stuff in my living room.
Boxes wise. So it’s kind of crazy.
Jeff: So yeah, image. What’s the, for the cool kids back in the day, and if you’re in the nineties comic book nerd, that was where the coolers [00:04:00] hung out was with image comic books.
Howard Wong: So, I mean, it led to other things. I mean, I went back and looked because it’d be kind of book shop is different and The ones that I went to were into the new stuff.
But when you start hanging out with some friends who were like in downtown, like the Silverstone stuff, you get back issues of like things like, you know, th the original team and T the ones where they were not eating
Howard Wong: Yeah. Back in the day. So it’s like stuff like that. You pick up crap. I had, I was this crazy comic and I.
I just flashed in my, because I was talking, talking about the story of flashed my just flashed my head. I think it was called
Howard Wong: And I can’t remember who did it, who wrote it, but it was all painted and was gorgeous and had people special abilities. Like they’re not mutans, but you have like a DSP powers and other things.
And it was crazy. It was absolutely bonkers and I loved it. I, I have to think it up. I don’t know it wasn’t camp psycho. It was the title cycle. It had like a weird, happy face kind of thing. That’s still a stitched happy face on the pro for the logo, [00:05:00] but I still understand where it’s, where I Y where it’s from, who did it and everything.
But some stuff like that, I started picking up because it was just complete different from people in tights. So I, I dove into there and image also has things like the max, which was absolutely incredible. Anyone who hasn’t read the read, the max should read the max things like that. Which attracted me and opened up the world of client books to me.
And I just kept on going. I thank God for digital because some things that you can afford. So digital allowed me to do that. So that’s where I started from. So from Scholastic to a corner store to image, and then that was it. For Josh was a little different.
Jeff: How about you, Josh?
Josh Stafford: Yeah, I’m a, I’m a lifer like when I was a very little kid, my dad just randomly got me a fantastic four comic, like from the corner store.
And that was when I was like four years old. And when I was a little kid, you know, it wasn’t the. Pop culture phenomenon. It is now, but I [00:06:00] was still catching reruns of wonder woman and incredible Hulk. You know, the tail end of super friends or super powers was still on Saturday morning. So that was still there.
And I just read everything. When I was a little kid, it was just whatever was at the max milk. Ottawa has had some really good comic shops back in the day. And it was reading kind of slightly. Off center stuff, just like, I love to tare forest and captain carrot and Dazzler. And I’m just old enough that I could be snobby when Saturday morning cartoons Ninja turtle happened because I love the Mirage stuff.
So I got to be like this little, like ten-year-old sticking his nose up in the air and being like no Ninja turtles, I’ll have red head bands. And so. And then yeah, and I didn’t ever stop. So I w I was in high school for the, for the image revolution. And then in my college days, I got into, you know, grant Morrison and now I’m reading just everything and, and [00:07:00] I’ll never stop.
It’s just like the same way I watch movies or TV or listen to music. Comic books are a, a forever thing for me,
Jeff: for sure. It, it just gets into your blood. Doesn’t it. Once the comm book. But it gets into you. It really is hard to, you know, to, to get rid of the dumb. It’s basically like an a, it, it really is an addiction and in many, in a
Josh Stafford: real way.
Yeah. And I never understand when people say they outgrow it because very rarely do you hear people say they outgrew music or TV or movies, but you do hear people even today say like, Oh, I read Archie when I was a little kid or I watched Saturday morning cartoons when I was a little kid it’s getting better because people realize now that there’s stuff out there.
Like saga or, you know, for decades are Neil Gaiman’s and stuff like that. So, yeah. Even if you get fed up with superheroes, there is endless amounts of content all over the place. So yeah, I read a ton of superheroes, but I read every genre pretty
Jeff: much. I think what they mean is I outgrew [00:08:00] those comic books and I have not been able to find better ones.
I mean, that seems to be what the issue is that it is a lack of exposure. I would say is those who think they’ve outgrown comic books. I think there’s a combo out there for almost every kind of fan possible at this point.
Josh Stafford: Yeah. And then people are shocked when they find out that history of violence or road to perdition or ghosts world stuff that they may have seen his movies.
Are comic books because there’s still that sense of like, Oh, it’s not a guy in his underwear outside of his pants and a Cape, but
Jeff: it’s everything.
Howard Wong: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s, that’s actually a good point that you brought up because a lot of people don’t realize how many movies that they love and watching it became franchises were actually based on of, because like, when I tell people, men in black was a shitty, weird comic book that actually referenced Ray-Bans and that’s why they’re using Ray-Bans and the movie and marketing we’re talking about and they look it up like, Oh my God, like, yeah, everyone were British.
It was a big one. When I told that to people, I blew their mind because [00:09:00] there’s like, This is such a, you know, it’s pretty deep. I’m like, yeah, it is. It’s not the deepest thing you could read. I mean, there’s like Watchmen. It’s like, what’s that? Oh, so it became, it became a gateway to some of my friends who are very book nerds versus five book nerds.
And then the book, the pure book, here’s a book nerds are sort of anti kind books that see them as not books. And I don’t know, but basically it don’t seem the same level as them. That’s that’s North America, though. If you go to Europe or Asia, people read kind books, like out open, open, they’re reading it on the commute to work and stuff like that.
And it’s a whole different genre as a media medium there in those, in those kind of areas. There’s this North America, we were. If you were to say, grab any kind, but it doesn’t matter what it is, doesn’t matter. And you go to the subway and start reading it. People automatically you lose like respect point spread from a lot of people automatically.
They don’t care what the content is [00:10:00] in their book though, which is really weird to me because I always found that if you were, you know, if you enjoy something and it’s okay. Nothing weird. And it’s, you know, it connects to you in a lot of ways. Why not? Right? It’s this sorta the same way? Why people have hit some people see the cost players that they used to will respect their craft as well as their narrative that they bring to that property.
And if you don’t get it, then if one does not getting is one thing, but, you know, putting it aside and talking down to is the other thing. Cause you didn’t do their research to understand it because how some people will see wine. And stuff and go nuts over it. Some people do that for other things, too.
Right. So that’s sort of, sort of, this is you’re kicking it. You’re still geeking over something, but it may not be kind of books. Right. But it’s the same love, same passion, same devotion of time and money and energy to something that. That’s not necessarily will change your life in any profound way
Jeff: unless you let it.
Right. [00:11:00] I think you have a great point. And I don’t think there’s a lot of things that people would understand, like those who are, as you said, wine tasters, anyone who is passionate to a unusual, I would say unusual degree of one thing is a geek. If you’re a wine taster who goes wine, testing all over the place, you’re a wine geek.
That is what you are. You may not, you may think you’re more highly No mature than that, but you’re just a geek. You’re just a different type of geek, a very singular type of guy. And I think I like about the media, the way it is now with movies and TV and everything else is that geek has become an acceptable term, right.
Instead of an insult.
Howard Wong: Yes, because it’s bankable now.
Jeff: I think for some people,
Howard Wong: well, yeah, not for all, for all studios and companies, but I think geek has become synonymous to, we can make profit and it’s, it’s a viable thing. You know, because if you look, you know, once or twice, I would say on a 20 years ago, or maybe more.
[00:12:00] Not so much. I mean, think of that when the first Batman film came out with Michael keen, it was packed. Every theater was packed. Right. They didn’t expect that. No, they weren’t sure if it was going to work or not. And then especially I forget who director was Tim Burton.
Jeff: Right. So it’s like this isn’t going to
Howard Wong: work.
And it, and people didn’t realize people who had worked in the theaters die during that time. When the names came up, when Jack Nicholson’s name came up, when Michael Ken’s name killer people clapped, it
Jeff: was the
Howard Wong: most weird, bizarre, wonderful thing ever. I experienced in the movie theater where people were clapping at people’s names, showing up on the screen and then their movie finished and everybody’s like, Holy crap.
That was a great film. And there was not, and a lot of people loved it and believe it or not, some people didn’t like it because they expected the Adam West. Kind of Batman and with this, you know, kind of goofy and whimsical and stuff like that. So this product superheroes into a whole different light, but it was back then when people really started [00:13:00] realizing, you know, we can actually make this work if we do it.
Right. And that’s why we had sequels for Batman and Superman. Well, Superman was always a staple though, right? Like it was always a, you know, a go-to for, when you say superhero films, you’ll see. Superman and Batman as, as the, as the first front runners for live action right now beyond the TV series and stuff like that.
But people don’t realize that we were, we were doing that back then had they invested more time and effort back then we would have this genre would have been existing way back then. The thing is that geeks didn’t change. Those geeks just got older.
Jeff: So it is funny that six years later, The effect of the Batman TV show from the sixties is still trying to be wiped off from comic books and movies at this point.
And listen to my opinion.
Josh Stafford: Well, I like that that. Batman 66 has really been embraced because I love Batman of all kinds. That’s what I [00:14:00] love about the character is that he can be used in Batman 66, 89, super friends, dark Knight returns, Chris Nolan, and, but Batman 66, especially in the past few years with them doing.
Like the monthly comic and merchandising. And in another animated film, you really see the influence on writers like grant Morrison. And it’s almost like with Dr. Who, where even if it’s not yours, it’s still part of the legacy. And Batman 66 is crazy important because like that was comic books for a lot of people.
And you ask any comic writer, artists who grew up around them. They watched that show and it wasn’t camping, like, which I think is hilarious. Like you hear writers saying they would go to school the next day. And clearly Robin and Batman were going to die and they’d be at school and they’d be like, Oh my God, how are they going to get out of this one and be really scared?
So, yeah, it’s just very interesting how every generation now has their Batman wears like Michael Keaton is [00:15:00] my Batman. My mum, Adam West was her Batman and some little kid now. And a couple of years. Robert Patterson is going to be there. Batman and Michael Keith Batman is over 30 years ago. So people forget that too.
Like it’s, it’s giant leaps in time and it’s same with James Bond and same with Dr. Hu. So yeah, it’s very, that’s what I like about mainstream comics is that legacy I think is pretty cool.
Jeff: Well, what’s going to blow people’s minds soon. Supposedly Michael Keenan was signed for the new flash movie. Now that’s gonna blow some people’s minds.
Are you going to have Patterson Batman? Ben Affleck, Batman and Michael Keaton, Batman, all around DC at the same time. That’s, that’s going to make three generations almost of combo fans. Extremely
Josh Stafford: happy. Yeah. I hope they’re not lying to me. I want Michael Keaton back for sure.
Jeff: That that’d be absolutely tremendous.
So when did your so you got to both working on the combo damn Kurtz children think, would you be lose? Have we
Josh Stafford: just lost Howard? I was just gonna say, I think we lost Howard.
Jeff: Howard Howard ran away. He’s like, fuck you guys. He just like,
Howard Wong: just told Josh some news.
I can’t share it right now, cause I need to confirm it, but
Josh Stafford: it’s pretty cool. Howard’s getting cool stuff for our trade. Oh,
Jeff: fantastic. But I’ll, I’ll, I’ll,
Howard Wong: I’ll let him know that you hate his guts and you, you
Josh Stafford: know, I can’t say anything more without spoiling it on support of the country, but I love this person.
I just love another person associated with this person a tiny bit more. That’s all. That’s all I’m saying. I’ll let
Howard Wong: him know
Josh Stafford: when I can he’ll know.
Jeff: When you find out, please let us know. We’ll advertise it the best we can.
Howard Wong: Yeah. Well, don’t worry. We’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. I’m, I’m pulling, I’m not going to extract the code Ironman.
I’m pulling some strings of people that I’ve known online. And sometimes I met, I wouldn’t go on that really know them. Like, can we hang out? You know, and whatnot, but knowing them online forever, two people who I met actually at conventions tabling and stuff like that to have known. For a long time online [00:01:00] as well.
I mean, it’s one it’s like me knowing you sort of said kind of thing. So it’s one of those things where I’m like, no, what I’m going to, I’m going to pull some strings for the cause. I’m, I’m actually very proud of this book and it, cause it took a long time to be made. So I want to give it the right. I don’t know.
I want to call it christening of a trade, that it should get it in my book, in my book, in my, in my, in my opinion, I was going to send a weird when I said Ella.
Jeff: No, no, I think that’s fantastic for you guys. So anyways, what I want, I’m going to pause we’re going to meet for 10. We started off where we left off.
I think we left off with discussing see where we are with the collaboration for how do you guys first start collaborating in the book? It was it. We started on something else. I don’t know that was cut
Howard Wong: up for, so
Josh Stafford: I don’t think we talked about that. Yeah, we can talk about our secret origins.
Jeff: Let’s talk about secret origins of the Howard Josh partnership and we’ll go from there. And when the next fuck-up happens, we’ll I’ll get annoyed by that too, on my side, because apparently my computer hates me. No worries,
Howard Wong: man. No worries.
Jeff: All right, so I’m going to let’s pause. I’m going to [00:02:00] introduce the question and then we’ll start rolling.
All right. All right.
Yeah, you guys are teamed up on the new book. Damn cursed children. How did your collaboration first start?
Howard Wong: I was sick in bed. I was sick in bed for the umpteenth time. The kids were in daycare. So we’re bringing back the, the different versions of the plague home because it was fun. And Josh called me up on one of those occasions seeing if I would be alive and functioning to go to fend expo here in Toronto and to bring him along as my table helper.
So he can. You know, I’d help and run around. No he’d helped. He actually helped a lot. He helps a great
Josh Stafford: lot. I’m a good helper. So
Howard Wong: when Josh found out I was sick, cause I was like coughing and I think blowing like rivers of snot all over the phone, which was awesome. He asked a simple question, like, are you sick again?
Or are you still sick? Sick. And I was like, I don’t know. I think I’m sick, sick ads. Like again, I think it’s both. [00:03:00] And then Josh blurted out. You can go ahead. You can say it’s your line.
Josh Stafford: I said, I said, damn curse children and Howard laughed and basically said, that’s a good name for a comic. And I said, go write it.
And he said he was too sick and it just kind of spiraled from there. And it, it sounds goofy, but it’s, you know, inspiration comes from strange things and then you just have to have the kind of. Ambition and right time in the right place to go and do it. And now damn cruise children is like a 10 year overnight success story.
Howard Wong: Yeah. My kids are like tweens. So it tells you a lot. How long, how long ago, how long you’ve been working on this thing? So, yeah, we were collaborating from that point on it, because first I thought I said it was a joke that would make a great Colleen book title, and a great horror book. And I was like, You know what you know more about Ford and I do.
I think, I don’t know. Cause I was out of my mind, I was like drugged up on antibiotics and shit. [00:04:00] So I was like a little, like little like, eh, so when we get down to really writing it, it was a fantastic collaboration of after I have to sit down here because we never argued. We never fought. Even though sometimes I don’t agree with certain scenes and sometimes he didn’t grease that mice because we don’t like.
Slammed the table or call each other names and stuff like that. I guess it’s very Canadian, I guess, in a way, but it’s sort of like, we would explain why we wanted to do a scene a certain way or have a character do a certain thing, and then the person would challenge it. It wasn’t like challenging the way to say you’re an idiot.
This is not good. It was more like, Oh, would they think this way? Would they do this because of X, Y, and Zed. And then. You naturally create a better scene that way. So it was like a mini writers room between me and Josh, if you asked me, but in the nicest possible way possible, because there was no head writer was like, this is the way we’re doing it done.
This is the direction done. So it was always a, you know, a collaborative [00:05:00] work in a, in a, in an authentic, as a word. So it was beautifully written that way. W I mean, we joked about Y you know, about the 10 year thing. It wasn’t, because it took us 10 years to write. Thank God. And it wasn’t, it took, it didn’t take 10 years for, for Robin Simon, Inc, to draw it.
It was because we, I tried pitching it to a lot of publishers at that time. And they love the idea of the art, the story of where we’re going with it, but it wasn’t suitable for the, you know, The publisher is wheelhouse of books. So it made sense. I mean, I totally understand that. I mean, cause I don’t like go out and randomly and blind pitch to people, not knowing what they publish and you know, for those who are wondering who you should, you know, how you should pitch and how you should pitch your stuff.
Definitely don’t pitch like. You know, horrific, scary horror book to a publisher who only does all ages fund books. That’s a terrible idea. You know, you’ve got to know what they’re doing. So the [00:06:00] reason why this camp bow is because sometimes, you know, at conventions, people ask you what you’re working on.
You have anything to pitch me. They’re like, well, this is what I’ve been working on. And I really like it, but I don’t think it’s for you, but here we go. And that’s what happened. And so a lot of people out there do know about dampers children. And have been waiting for a decade to see it in book form, but it, but again, it’s one of those, like I said, Josh mentioned those happy incidents of stories of how we collaborated and got the story
Josh Stafford: written and done.
I think the key is when you’re working on anything in collaboration is you just can’t be precious about your ideas. Like you have to share them, you have to take critique. And I think sometimes when you hear about. You know, a director or a writer leaving a movie or a comic book project a lot of time.
It’s that like, if, if I was like Oh, I think she should wear converse. And Howard says, I like boots. Yeah. There was no table flipping. I was like, okay. Yeah. That’s, that’s fine. We can go the other way. And we’re very different coming at it [00:07:00] where Howard has kids. So I think that was really great because there was times where Howard might be like, Oh, I think this might be too much.
This might be too much for a horror comic, even though kids are the villains. And I would be like, nah, let’s do it. But we got that different perspective. And I think Howard brought a lot of. Of the parent point of view with a couple of our characters, for sure. Of, of putting in a bit more. Cause like our book is not as heavy as walking dead, but it has a lot of drama in it.
Our book is not as goofy as army of darkness, but it has a lot of fun action and adventure in it. So we’re kind of right in the middle there. And you know, horror is. Repetitive the same stories have been done over and over again, werewolves and Frankenstein’s and Dracula’s. So this is kind of a zombie story, but I snobby argue that they’re not zombies because they, they’re not on dead.
They’re not crawling from the grave. They’re just these feral children. So we just kind of do our best to, to bring new characters and plot lines to the genre. And comic [00:08:00] books are fun because there’s no budget. So you really get to just go crazy.
Jeff: So, so would you say that Dan Kurtz children is sort of like the walking dead meets children of the corn?
Josh Stafford: Kind of the, the, the funny thing as well, Howard and I do not know anything about walking dead. We are this weird, like no disrespect to Robert Kirkman. I’ve heard him on a number of podcasts. Seems like a great guy, just walking dead. It was too heavy for me, even though I’m a horror fan, it was just like, I was like, Oh, these guys, there’s no happy ending here.
I know this is just going to get worse and worse.
Jeff: Yeah. So if you’re listening rubber, Kirk, man, we love you please to do calm books for you. I
Howard Wong: mean, I just so happened to have met Robert last to stay as San Diego comic con and back and no crack. I’m going to say I was sick or seven. That’s the same time you actually met Josh back in Oh six and Oh seven, I think.
And it was like the last day the con was done. We’re all packing up and leaving and stuff. And he was literally, he was walking past, you know, that was at the image [00:09:00] booth with the African Cape. And so he was walking by and I was like, Hey, you’re up at Kurtman. I know that’s really stupid to say that, but I’m going to say that because I’m too tired to care.
And then we started talking about our kids and stuff, and it was nothing, nothing about books, nothing about writing. It was just talking about, you know, what the, what he should expect for, you know, cause he, at that time, you know, had, you know, a very young kid, a child as home and stuff, it was just asking dad questions, which was really cool.
And then sure enough, there’s some people came up it’s like we were walking dead and you could just see like, Yeah, here we go. And I sort of sat there like. Wow. I’m going to be adding absolutely nothing. Now I’m going to turn around and pack my crap to go to sleep. What happens like, cause he was sort of waited for me to add to it.
And then I don’t know if you remember, cause it’s a long time ago and he kind of like, he didn’t, he didn’t ask why he didn’t say anything. I was like, I honestly told him, like I. I’m going to be honest. I know about the walking dead. I never read it. I even know about the alien story thing that didn’t, you [00:10:00] know, the whole bit, but I don’t know.
I didn’t, I didn’t read it because I’ll be Frank. I didn’t have a strong desire to read. I mean, I read the first issue, I think, or two. And I was like, you know, I didn’t, it didn’t hit me at that time. And I told them that maybe later on, that happens because sometimes you read something that someone suggested and because of whatever reason you don’t like it.
And then four years later, you mean it’s like, this is the best crap ever. So, but I haven’t read it. I mean, got into it. I tried watching the show a few times and I was sort of like, Nah, not for me. I don’t want to invest this much amount of time. I think it was really busy at that time, too. So it was like a horrible time for me to try to watch anything.
So I never know. Maybe I’ll try to get back into backtracking to the walking dead, both comic books and or TV series AMC series a in the future. Could I know that he just hit Netflix and can I just, I noticed it pop up on my feed. Like a week ago. And I was like, do I want to jump in this rabbit hole, but it’s a pandemic.
So it’s a good time. Never, you never know for
[00:11:00] Josh Stafford: myself, I would say, I would say night of the living dead Georgia marrow is for sure a giant influence on me and on Robert Kirkman, I’m sure, but I think our, our character archetypes and kind of a little bit of that normal people in a world gone mad is definitely the.
The George Romero night of the living dead style. That is something that I super love.
Jeff: So, but my understanding so th that’s the world of the slow zombies. They’re your children are definitely not anywhere in the world of SLOs armies. Right? They’re they’re pretty, they seem pretty ferocious, pretty hyper.
Josh Stafford: Yeah. And like I said, Tommy’s, they’re not zombies. I, I say they’re more. I put the more akin to like Joe Dante gremlins. Cause they’re, they’re smart. They’re mischievous. They’re fast. They’re mean but they’re not zombies in that. They’re not, yeah. They’re, they’re the big thing. They’re not crawling out of the grave.
You can shoot them anywhere and kill them. It’s not just like a brain kill. And [00:12:00] it doesn’t spread. They’re not spreading to anything else, but but yeah, so they’re, they’re, I think they’re more like gremlins then than a zombie kind of,
Jeff: are you guys going to explore where whatever it is that turns the children into this came from, or you can do like a walking dead where they kind of just ignore it?
Howard Wong: for now, I can tell you that we’re not going to reveal it yet. We don’t have any discussions of as to
Jeff: when and how we would do it
Howard Wong: because it makes. Well, I’ll be honest. It makes us better writers in that sense, because it’s it’s sort of that crux of, we have notes here and there and you know, personal notes and what have you and theories and what hat and whatnot, but by not trying to work around that and then leave it open enough so that we can feed into what we’ve created to answer that question.
Makes it more exciting for us to write. And it sounds weird to say that, but it is cause every time when we write in there, I remember writing a concern scene. I was like, we need to explain this. And then, because it doesn’t kind of make [00:13:00] sense, just like, no, you don’t need to. And then he would reference like different movies, you know, like we just mentioned even, I was like, Oh yeah, Shit.
You’re right. We can work around that hell. That’s the more exciting and the more scary actually. And that’s what had happening. Like, again,
Josh Stafford: I can’t talk for walking dead, but, but night of living dead, like the cornerstone that’s his whole thing is, is they never explained it. Even throughout the whole Lake original dead trilogy.
There’s never a part where they’re like, Oh, it came from a bat or it was an alien. And I think that’s more scary. It’s just unknown and even kind of real classic horror monster things like. They never explained increase or the black lagoon where he came from, it was just there. So you don’t really need that origin story in term of the monster.
It’s really the, what they’re doing to your characters in the moment is what’s important. Not, you know, Oh, it came from toxic waste.
Jeff: Well, I’ll say one thing I love about look of your comics as well, is that it has a very, at least the cover is a very easy combo [00:14:00] vibe to it. Like it reminds me of like both of horror tales from the crypt that’s old grade school.
And so is that, was that intentional? Was that the nod? Yes.
Howard Wong: Originally we didn’t go that route. We had some coverage that I don’t know. There were great. I mean, Robin did amazing covers, but I sort of like, I sat there looking at them like, You sort of know, I don’t know if it hits you or not, and it didn’t hit me the right way.
And it was like, there’s something that’s missing. Talking to Josh about ideas of, for the covers and stuff. And we end up talking about the ISI comics and horror movies that we liked. And it’s like, how come those movies? And those comics, you know, speak to us and there’s so different ways. And I’m like, why don’t we just do Hamas is on that and see if it works or not.
Because then, you know, does he know how much it’s going to go really, really great, or it could be really, really bad. So. We, we, we asked Robin to give a, go, give it, give it a, go on a, on a few, I don’t know, a few ideas. And apparently he didn’t, he doesn’t watch a lot of horror or anything. So it was so [00:15:00] weird, you know, it’s sort of like, so you don’t know about this movie?
No, no. Have you watched any movies, but ended up happening was Josh and I basically flooded an email to him with just references after references. I mean, it was well definitely far beyond what you needed, but then it gave him the sense of what artistic direction that we wanted for it for the ECE covers because he never read an easy comic However, so I said, don’t worry about not reading them.
It’s the cover that conveys different things. And it is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t read them for, you know, at all, what they really mean the covers or the draw you in an entity, and then to keep you in with the story and not And it’s a little bit of hokiness to it. A lot of, you know, it’s, it’s a lot of lift different levels and layers for these covers.
So when I, when I try to explain to him, you know, like he’s like this, this is kind of weird and kind of like silly, like yes, but it also dark and scary at the same time. You know, it’s like for [00:16:00] issue two Which is I I should, we’ll be out actually this Wednesday, actually. I think it cover, you see children being hurled around it is, is
Jeff: it funny, kind of wrong?
Howard Wong: It’s kind of scary. Yeah, exactly. And that’s one when he sort of understood that, like this is a lot of layers happening at the same time. It’s not a heroic pose. It’s not iconic, you know, hero standing there. Victoria’s, it’s not that it is completely bonkers off the wall, everything at the same time.
So once he wrapped his mind around him that he killed it. So, from issue one to issue five. He drew more covers than what we obviously use for, from one to five. And all of them worked well, all of them are great and it took us a long time to honestly vote on which ones were going to be in with the source point a sole source point press guys.
We actually did a voting system to figure which covers we’re going to make it. Because all of them are great. So, you know, it’s one of those [00:17:00] beautiful, awesome situations to be in where you can, it can choose you not the best covers that you’re going to be in the top five, I guess, in the sense.
Jeff: So the entire series is done in black and white.
So what led to the decision to keep it as a black and white comic?
Josh Stafford: A good happy accident. And again, it’s Robin didn’t really know the genre, so he wasn’t tracing anybody, but I’m a big fan of the 1970s, Marvel horror kind of those oversized magazine comics that came out during the whole real satanic panic kiss days of the seventies.
And Robin’s art. Like if you. If you didn’t look at the cover, if you were just looking at the pages and didn’t spot like, you know, a cell phone or a flat screen TV and the comic, you could easily think it was from back then. Like his art looks so. Perfect for that era. And gladly, our publisher was just okay with black and white, because you would think that, you know, I’ve heard stories of this of saying like, no, you, you have to be in color.
Kids said they don’t like black and white or whatever like [00:18:00] that. And he just really fits it. It fits as a homage to native living dead and it fits as a homage to those old horror comics of the seventies. And, and it really works with his style very well.
Jeff: So, like I said, and I think it really is great.
Yeah. And is a throwback to the old, it feels like the hammer harder horror, classic horror movies from back in the fifties. And as I great feel to it, cause you know, like you said, it’s kinda. Tongue in cheek, but also real and scary at the same time. And I think that’s a great image that you’re doing to that.
The comic also starts it in media res where you kind of, it just starts with everything already has happened. The children has already gone nuts. It kind of has that ground PO you know, that singular singular effect feel where you start off the first page with exclamation point and every page kind of just builds on it.
Howard Wong: Yeah. It w it wasn’t like super conscious, you know, we’re going to do this, right? Like this immediately, because when we started writing all this, I, I told Josh that, you know, you know, we usually show five [00:19:00] pages of previews when you put a book out. So if you don’t give the tone and the direction you’re going within five.
You may not get people to, I mean, let me get people to pick up the book because they don’t get what you’re doing. And then Josh came back to me, he’s like, well, I’m filming. I’m like, what really? You can do this in three. So, you know, Josh is like, yeah, let’s do it in three. So we, we actually work it so that we, we attempted at that time to do it in three pages where we’d like just jumped right into the insanity of it all.
And. I CA I, I won’t lie. I actually was kind of concerned. Like we have no character build up. We have nothing. We’re not telling people anything, will this work or will this like, not work at all. And Josh, I’m going to do it, watch me do it. And then he plotted it out. And I looked at it and I remember sitting there for like the first time I looked at it, I was like, this actually works because as I imagined, the pages being flipped from page [00:20:00] one to.
And then three you’re like crap. Yeah, this is going to work because after that, it’s a page Turner right after that, and it’s beautifully executed. So, you know, I mean, I did doubt it. Josh never doubted it, kept him pushing it to the agenda to make it shorter, faster. It’s gonna start faster. Like I know that’s the same thing in any store.
You guys start, you know, as, as much into the action as you can, but I’m like, there’s no buildup though. Are you sure? But, you know, he proved me wrong and I’m glad he did because I always looked at it, but I looked back at it. I was stuff like I doubted it. I even told them that this is now may not be the best way to do it, but he stuck to his guns and here we are.
And I mean, for the intro, it’s like the best intro that I have worked on in any book so far case in point I showed my wife when I showed my wife, the pages with when I was like, cause I let her to, so I showed my wife. The first issue after page two here, all you hear was her swearing. Like it’s like, you know, like, yep.
We did our, [00:21:00] we did have a job cause it’s messing her up too. So that’s good.
Josh Stafford: Then we have like five issues. So it’s not just five issues of, of kids attacking people, but we really get to build up the characters over those five issues. And it’s the most writer cliche, but. What I fell in love with our characters is like, I felt bad about killing them and I won’t spoil who dies, but you know, it’s a horror film or a horror comic and yeah, so you really get some time to build up the characters and we’ve got some really.
Original people in there and already it’s like the biggest compliment we’ve gotten is just, you know, people we don’t know saying nice things about the book is in the most ego boost of a thing of folks we’ve talked about on podcast with podcasts or, or people on social media say nice things, comic stores.
And so it’s, it’s nice that, that one issue in we’re, we’re making a little, a little footprint in the, in in the reader’s minds.
[00:22:00] Jeff: Absolutely. Yeah, no worries. But my dog is not being a jerk. It’s going to be one of those interviews, you know?
Howard Wong: No problem. I, I, I have two dogs and I have kids. And so far they’re being very civil, which is very seldom, which is kinda nice.
So absolutely no problem.
Jeff: There’s nothing I really like about the conduct that you guys wrote is that it does start off in a very minimalist. Since, like I said, it’s sparse on dialogue. It’s basically images telling the story. And I think I got a sense in reading the beginning of the comic book that a lot of it had to do with extreme trust in the artists, as well as being someone who could tell the story without the, a lot of captions dialogue.
Just let the pictures, tell the story as well. Was that okay? Also part of the intent or was that going to be a decision regardless of who the artist was?
Howard Wong: When you knew who the artist was at the beginning, because Robin was actually an artist. I was, I wanted to work with on, after the Cape too.
But he had he, he had a child, so he didn’t have time [00:23:00] when we got agree when we got green and stuff, but I kept in contact with him because I loved his art back then and I wanted to work with them. It just so happened that when I finished, when we finished scripting this, I asked Robin, do you want to do a horror book?
It’s like, really? You write horror. I’m like I do. And then you read it. He liked it. And then he wanted to do it, which is great. So we knew the artist who the artist was going to be on it as to the conscious effort on letting the art speak for itself. That was not as much of a, of a goal as it was to reflect how a person who would really react in this situation in movies and other media, there’s always like a lot of exposition or talking a lot.
But in reality, if you had a bunch of children around you coming at you to eat you, you wouldn’t be talking a lot. You might swear a lot
Jeff: and, and
Howard Wong: scream and then figure out what you’re going to do at that second. So we wanted to reflect that feeling because. [00:24:00] You wherever it’s going in your mind. It’s not going to be rational.
It’s a, it’s a knee jerk reaction. When you have a knee jerk reaction, you’re not going to say a lot. So it’s in a lot of people. Can, you know, the experiences it’s sort of like when you’re, especially in wind, now we have winter, right? We walking and you slipped on some ice. You’re not going to go. I’m going to do a soliloquy in my head right now.
You’re going to swear and pray that you don’t like Len flatten your face or your back, right? Like you’re doing whatever you can not to fall down, but you’re not thinking about words. You might swear a lot or scream. That’s exactly the same thing here. So we took that as a conscious effort into writing the characters as realistic as possible.
In that sense. Robin did ask us, are you sure you don’t want to have word balloons here, here, here. He, a lot of space for you to do that. And we said, no, because this is the reaction. It should be, should be the, that she should have, or he has, or what have you, because of the situation they’re in, they wouldn’t be thinking about anything besides what the hell, you know, and a lot of, you know, Square where it’s after that and [00:25:00] then be at running or bashing, whichever you make happen as you know, depending on the character.
So we kept that as a conscious effort to not make them go into, I’m going to do a long, you know, by panel speech here about how I feel about this, because no, one’s going to have that in their head.
Jeff: So I think one of the interesting, interesting about your comic book that I think it brings up an interesting idea of.
Whether or not adults have a primal fear of losing control of children or children. Does anything do the kind of combo plays up on the idea that as an adult, as someone who does have kids, one of your concerns is what the fuck happens. If I can’t control them anymore, that what if they can do what they want at that point?
Is there anything, is any leadership there that you’re tapping into?
Howard Wong: That’s a really interesting question. I’m going to let Josh answer that.
Josh Stafford: I mean, it is like, as like our comic is a, is [00:26:00] a fun horror comic, but the serious moments of it, there’s two parents in the book who have to face some pretty terrible things.
And I think that is the, the. The, the highbrow portion of the comic is that is contemplating how far you might go. And just the horrors of the thought of having to do something terrible to protect yourself against a monster that happens to be an adorable eight year old. So, yeah, for sure, like that is the, the horror within our book is the horror of, of this.
Having both happened to the children and the aftermath of our characters, having to survive in this world with these children. Yeah.
Howard Wong: It’s a lot of layers there’s here for, for the adults to have relationships with young children, be it guardians, parents, uncles, or aunts, you know, kind of father’s grandmother is what ha and, and so forth it is that fact that it’s not, I wouldn’t say controlling of the child.
That’s it’s more like when you, when you [00:27:00] were in a guardianship of a child your duties to make sure that we’re safe and sound. And that, you know, obviously the best is to be happy. And what have you. So if you ask yourself what happens, if you can’t do that, and then you have to do the I, and actually the exact opposite of that.
Do you do that? How far can you go? And if you go past that line that you basically have drawn long ago in your head, what happens to you psychologically? So there’s a lot of layers there. Even when I wrote it, I have to ask myself if I was in so-and-so’s shoes, could I really do this? Because maybe not, maybe I would care up until the ball and go, I’m done.
You win, go for it. You know, I don’t know. I mean, there’s a lot of scenes where I go back and forth. In my own personal emotions to reflect how, wherever, whichever occurs we were writing at that time, how they would respond to something. So, it is definitely connection, a lot connections to being a [00:28:00] parent where some of these scenes are tough and hard.
And then are the decisions made by X character or Y character, right. That’s up to you as a reader. To me, there’s no real right or wrong answer, which is why, why, why it’s so tough. I mean, there was, there were times when we were scripting this, when Josh asked me questions, like, you know, I act like this and I give like the worst answer.
I don’t know which doesn’t help writing, but I, I really don’t know because part of me would think, yeah, I could do that. But the other part of me is like, no, that’s terrible. I can’t do that. I’ll be the monster then can’t and then it just like, you have to meet, you have to become the monster survive.
Monster is like, yeah, but I don’t know if I can. And then that’s the whole point that’s probably pushing and pulling in myself. What made you very inviting characters who have a direct connection with children in this, in the story, because it’s the toughest thing to do. It’s the toughest thing to [00:29:00] drive your characters towards either, either speck, either end of the spectrum.
I just mentioned,
Jeff: I do wonder too. Is there also part of the fun is that most adults have this need. To vicariously need to beat the crap out of unruly children as well. We’re like, thank God someone has been running kids.
Josh Stafford: We couldn’t pull punches in this book and a very early scene. I think the first violent scene is One of our main characters, a daycare teacher finds yourself in a room, filled with kids who in a snap have turned feral and one jumps at her and she clocks him with a coffee mug.
And I remember Howard being like, I think that’s too much. And so that was just a coffee mug, but it’s a great panel with this great little like thought when he gets hit. And then we go from there and it gets worse and worse and worse and worse. So yeah, I think there, I mean, there is like, I think parents are [00:30:00] afraid of their kids, you know, jokingly, like if, if a kid’s being a jerk or if a kid’s throwing a tantrum.
So just imagine that, but every single kid is doing that and they’re murderous.
Howard Wong: Wow.
Parents who dream in wish or think about, you know, putting the smack down on their kids, please don’t by the way, obviously don’t do that. But yes, it has any, every as any, as every parent thought, Hey, you put, you know, had that thought cross your head. Sometimes I’m pretty sure the app is like, you know, it’s like, You think about somebody not through it.
You think about it because at that moment you’re like, Oh, it’s so frustrating. That’s one of the thoughts that streams through your head at the same time as the other thoughts is that the that’s the end, you decide on the good thing that you should do, the right thing you should do because you have time to do that.
Right? I mean, I had friends who. Like me had kids and then, you know, asked me, you told me the kids were great. I’m like, yeah, I didn’t, I wasn’t [00:31:00] told the truth either. So have fun messily, Phoebe friends who were younger than me, who had kids. And they were like, they’re driving me crazy. And I can hear them on the phone, screaming away, toddlers going nuts, totally Bart Simpson style.
You can actually hear pots and pans being bang. I’m like, you know, it’d be like, how long has that been going on? Oh, no three hours. I’m like, wow, you let them do that for three hours straight. That’s pretty impressive. Have you tried talking to your kids? Like yeah. Tell him to stop and that’s not talking.
You’re telling him what you want to do. Yeah, we tried asking him what he wants to do and why he’s doing that. And then start from there and then maybe find something that you guys could do together that doesn’t involve banging pots and pans for three hours to watch TV surprise together though, not to sit him in front of a TV and leave them alone, like be with them.
And it was one of those things where. You get it, you can hear the frustration, your friend’s voice, you know, they’re thinking about smacking your kid and you can hear it in their voice. And they’re literally looking for [00:32:00] someone to say, yeah, do it. But, but I, I can’t, I won’t let anyone do that because there’s always another way of, you know, finding a connection with your kids.
No matter what age there are. I mean, my kids are tweens, you know, they’re obviously driving up the wall and a whole different way where it’s sort of like. Yeah, I wish he were probably out banging pots and pans so that we can talk we’d know, versus not talking at all at this point, but, you know, you find different it’s different challenges as a parent.
So it’s all those, those thoughts that you’ve mentioned about y’all I want to smack my kid. Yeah, it would, it would come into play in your head. But then the, it makes you question, what kind of parent am I that I had this thought? Why, why and why did I have this thought? And am I a bad parent? Because I had this thought and, and I can tell you right now, it’s, you’re not a bad parent.
You’re working it out because you’re learning how to be a parent. So then no, one’s going to give you no one has the right answers. There’s a thousand books out there. Trust me [00:33:00] thousands of books out there to tell you couldn’t quotation, what you can and should do with your child. Really, because if any of those were right, that would be the book, every single parent on the planet, trusting that it would be a bestseller.
There’s no perfect book because you’re learning how to navigate the kid and every kid is different. Right. So, yeah.
Jeff: So how many issues is damn curse children set
Howard Wong: for.
five right now, the first story arc is five issues. But we do have more. Depending on people want more.
Jeff: That’s fantastic. And so you said the second issue is coming out when tomorrow.
Howard Wong: I can actually tell you that one of the shops, one of my local shops hero’s world up here at market material already has their, has, has copies in their store.
They show it, they show, she sent me a bunch of photos of it. So it was kind of crazy to see that it was already here in shoes day.
Jeff: Well, it was very cool. And like I said, I hope our listeners definitely pick up [00:34:00] ditches of damn curse children. Five issues, stories, and like I said, enjoy it. On the one hand, you can be frightened of evil children.
On the other hand, you watch them get their escape. It’s great in both sense in both senses. So thank you very much. Howard Wong and Josh Stafford for talking with me, you guys are fantastic and the book is extremely entertaining. I’ve got the chance to read the first issue and produce two and three, enjoyed a lot.
Thank you guys very much. Thank
Howard Wong: you for having us be in a very doable time.
Jeff: Thank you. And I appreciate you dealing with all the crap that occurred during the interview, which normally does not happen. And hopefully it does not ever happen again. No problem. All right guys. Thank you so much. Have a very good night.
And once this goes live, I’ll give you guys the link. Okay. Thanks Kevin. Have a good night. Bye Howard.
Howard Wong: Hey, Jeff, you want to talk after this or anything or
Jeff: you’re cool. Well, yeah, I’m not sure if he’s out in two minutes, but yeah, I’m sorry about that. My mouse is [00:35:00] still fucked up and it will not, the cursor will still not work for some reason. I have no idea what happened with that, but I’m yeah, I’m concerned with, if it could be the laptops busted, I don’t even, I don’t know.
Howard Wong: You’ll find out, you’ll find out, you know, we’ll talk about the old days were not letting me know, you know, definitely can. I know, share some war stories and whatnot, not necessarily through zoom, but through, you know, maybe through Facebook or something. We were stable and stuff.
Jeff: Yeah. Definitely through a Facebook message, I’m always, I’ll be glad to talk and I’d love to know what happened on your end of things.
Like I said I think we met at Toronto Comicon, but that was my very first convention. Yes.
Howard Wong: We met at one of the Toronto Comicons and the hotel one in the hotel. I remember that because I forgot who was sitting at my table when I got there, but I got there with my wife and kids, which was hilarious. I was like, where here?
That was funny, really? That happened with my wife here, but I get so pissed off that my people were dicks. I’m [00:36:00] like, no, not really. This has
Jeff: happened. Yeah. I mean, I remember the crypto ReFacto experience started off very promising. I remember thinking this is the greatest thing ever. This is going to be like the next great comic series where we’re all working on then.
It things just when things started getting edited and all that shit, I was like, Oh, this is not what I thought it was. And it fell off the table. Unfortunately, I think pretty quickly, I think after the first, I think five to six months, I think it just kind of fell off the table.
Howard Wong: Yeah. They were very, or too ambitious trying to get the, I get to grow too big, too fast and they should have like locked in like, like a couple of books and then grow them out and then sort of expanding from that universe.
With those books. So if we get, if we get cut off, we can continue on Facebook for another like 10, 15 minutes or something. The
Jeff: other issue is with Derek. I think he had an issue with, I think he wanted to be the writer, like he hired writers, but you wanted to be the writer, I think because he kept giving like editorial as like.
But you’re wrong, you’re wrong and everything. He’s like, let’s make a story [00:37:00] later for 12 year olds, but I’m also going to incorporate rape. I was like, no, no, if you incorporate stories of rape, you’re not going to make a 12 year old story anymore. That’s, that’s an adult story and it’s story. The rest of it should be adult.
And you don’t think he ever quite understood that.
Howard Wong: No, I don’t think so.
Jeff: Yeah. I think it was your Karen didn’t he have one to have rhetoric like forcibly rape, like a girlfriend or something at some point.
Howard Wong: Yeah. He did mention that. I said no,
Jeff: first I knew that was telling the story. I was like, he’s like, yeah.