Today on the show, Melissa is joined by Eisner award winning comic book writer, Paul Tobin. They chatted all about his new series, Bunny Mask, the horror genre, Plants vs Zombies, and more.
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Melissa: [00:00:00] This is spoiler country and I’m Melissa searcher today on the show. I’m excited to welcome Eisner award-winning author and comic book creator. Mr. Paul Tobin. Welcome to the show. It’s great to be here. Thanks for being here. How’s everything going
Paul Tobin: like whether it’s not too bad. I live in Portland, Oregon, so we had our heat wave, but now it’s kind of like, not bad.
Just getting out of the house. Seeing the world again, it’s
Melissa: kind of crazy, right?
Paul Tobin: How quick I’m getting back into it. I thought I would be like really shy at first, but I think one of the first things that my wife and I did was go to a soccer game. So there were 10,000 people there. So he was like, okay, we’re back into this now.
Melissa: Yeah. It’s funny how I think it’s maybe just human nature or, you know, cause it seemed like a really long quarantine, but I mean, as opposed to all the years that we weren’t in quarantine, I guess when we got back in, because I had the same thing, I, I was super anxious and I’m like, oh no, what am I, what if I can’t deal with the outside world?
And then I went [00:01:00] out and it was like, oh, this, this feels kind of normal.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. Too bad. I still kind of have the tendency to cross the street, but I see other people. But for the most part, yeah. I feel pretty good.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. No, definitely. Now you’re an Oregon. So do you guys have some crazy fires up there?
Was that near you?
Paul Tobin: Oh, yeah, we have, we have fires last year. It was like really bad. Like the entire town was inundated with smoke and it was like, it felt very apocalypse because it was depending on. And smoke. And the smoke was so bad that like, we’d get alerts at like, Hey, you 3.7 on the smoke scale is deadly to humans.
You’re at 5.3. And it’s like, well, that’s way above deadly to human.
Melissa: Yeah. I think that I’m going to start sealing my windows. Yeah.
Paul Tobin: And we did, we sealed their windows and it was like, you can’t go out, couldn’t go outside because of the pandemic and you couldn’t go outside because of the smoke. And it was like [00:02:00] a pretty good time to write horror comics, right?
Melissa: no, exactly. I I’m. I live in Northern California and we had so many fires going on too. During that same time, I think actually we had a bunch of lightning storms and which is very rare and bizarre at the same thing. Yeah. It was the sky was like orange and hazy and you know, we have this really nice backyard, but we couldn’t even enjoy it.
So yeah, we’re trapped because of the. And now we can’t even eat or go outside because it was just, yeah, it was, it was awful. But but yeah, I’m sure you did get a lot of writing done. Yeah. So, before we get into it, though, I was just curious, like, tell me a little bit about yourself. Like, how did you get started as a.
Paul Tobin: Well, I grew up in Iowa and I didn’t really, I got a very late start as a writer because I was one of those people that felt like you needed to live in a certain place in order to be a writer or really a creator of any kind. And Iowa did not seem like that place, I will say. But I, when I went to college, I ended up meeting a guy, Phil [00:03:00] Hester, who is a comic book artist.
He’s still a comic book artist. He’s great. Yeah, he’s great. He’s like one of my longest lasting friends. And he was already starting to do comics and they’re like just seeing another person doing comics was like, oh, well this is just some dude doing this. So there’s no reason that another Iowa dude couldn’t do it.
So we formed like a little coalition of, of Iowa creators and it just kinda went from there. And then. In 2004, I decided to get really serious about it. So I moved to Portland, which is, if you don’t know, Portland is the comic book town in
Melissa: America. Oh really? Okay. I know it’s really artsy and kind of hipster in some areas too.
I didn’t know. It was like a comic book.
Paul Tobin: Mecca. It’s huge. Dark horse comics is here. Image comics is here. He is here. Oh, wow. So like the comic culture is really strong here and we just decided to move here and sort of see if we could fit in. And the very first day we ended up with a general, [00:04:00] like a whole bunch of comic artists.
So it was like, oh, okay. This is our people. We’re still here.
Melissa: That’s exciting. That’s awesome. Well, I really want to get into to Bonnie masks because I’m S I’m so excited to read this. The cover is terrifying in the best possible way. First of all. Yeah, this is really exciting. You know, it just came out.
You know, without giving away spoilers, of course, you know, who is bunny mask and what does she want?
Paul Tobin: Well, that’s those two cruxes of the entire
Melissa: series. Well, we’ll talk about other characters then. Forget.
Paul Tobin: Yeah, that’s hard. That’s like the central mystery and, and to a certain degree. Okay. So here’s, I guess it’s the right show for this to a certain degree. Those questions might never be asked because or never be answered because to a certain degree, I don’t like questions answered of that type because the [00:05:00] monster in the closet is always scarier than the monster out of the closet.
And so many, so many like horror films that I’ve enjoyed, especially horror films have a tendency to do. Oh, wait, Stephen King. He has a huge like all love. Still loves Stephen King. If you’re listening steep, sorry. The, the first part of a Stephen King novel to me is very terrifying, but roundabout.
In the 80% mark, he has a tendency to say, and here’s, what’s behind all the terror and here’s, what’s why it’s scary. And it’s less scary at that point because once things are explained, you can sort of deal with them, but it’s, it’s the fear of the unknown that makes it really scary for me. So, so to a certain degree, I’m not sure I ever really want to pin down what Bennett, what bunny mask is.
I mean, I have ideas in my head, but, but once I, once I say, you know, she is X, then she becomes X and she gets boxed in a little bit, which is less terrifying. Yeah.
Melissa: That’s a really good [00:06:00] point, actually. And it’s so true because I was just watching the haunting of blind manner a couple months ago and. It was the same type of thing, you know, at first it’s absolutely terrifying.
But once you realize what the twist is in it I wasn’t scared anymore. And I’m like, okay, I can watch this now in the dark and not freak out, still enjoyed it, you know, of course. But, but yeah, there is something to be sad for having this like creepy, scary, unknown thing that you keep watching or reading because it’s like, we’re gluttons for punishment anyways, I guess.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. To a certain degree we want, we want it to be even more horrible. So if you define it, the, the infinite horror once defined as no longer in infinite. You just kind of back away from the war. So I think that’s a mistake that a lot of horror writers and filmmakers make. Okay.
Melissa: That’s a really good point.
Everyone listening, that’s writing horror and take note of that. Okay. So what can you say? What, what is the story about what would entice readers to pick up, pick up a
Paul Tobin: copy? It’s the story [00:07:00] of Tyler Severen who’s quote unquote, the main character I always think in or the, the, the villain is the main character.
So funny mask to a certain degree, but I wouldn’t say she’s a villain because through very weird circumstances, he frees her from the cave. And she sort of imprints on him. And she wants to do justice in the world, but her ideas of justice are horror, film, ideas of justice. So it’s him having to deal with that and having to answer.
There’s a girl, a main character that he’s sort of falling in love with, and she’s not sure she’s real. So, which is, you know, kind of important when you’re falling. Yeah.
Melissa: Kind of crucial exist. Well what, why this story, like, what was your inspiration? Obviously, you, you write horror, you, you were a fan of horror.
What specifically, was this based on anything loosely or more directly? What was your inspiration
Paul Tobin: to a degree? I, I I’ve always [00:08:00] loved like I, I wrote a comic book series called colder and nimble Jack was the villain in that one and everybody liked him the best and everybody includes me. So he was fascinating to me, but he was very much of villain.
But bunny mask is sort of. My answer to that in a way in that I wanted someone just as terrifying, but maybe not a bad person. Like what if the monster was still monstrous, but not bad at least by their standards. Which is something I really, I enjoy. I really liked the idea of the other. And if you can’t judge, you know, someone like bunny mask by our own standards, if she sees, you know, if she has a problem with something, there’s no problem saying, well, I’ll just wipe out this town then, because that solves the problem.
Whereas we might say, well, you killed a lot of not problems. So it was a little, a little bit of that. Like what if the monster was just as monstrous [00:09:00] but not bad. And then I’ve also, I mean, the Like a lot of the horror that I’ve loved in my life. I’m thinking of films like audition. A lot of things that to costuming in the UK director did they, they sort of blend that line between the sensual and horror, which I always kind of, because it’s like this it’s this dual tension which I think is fantastic.
The hammer films did that a lot too. I mean, they were super cheesy. Well, they’re super cheesy now. Like when I was growing up, you know, as a, like a little seven year old boy watching vampire films, you know, things like that, they felt really scary to me. It gives me like a Transylvanian town with falling and I’m like, oh no,
Paul Tobin: So in a way, I mean, in a way I don’t want to say, I don’t want to say bunny mask is inspired by hammer. But buddy mask is inspired by my memory of hammer films, which is an entirely separate [00:10:00] thing. Cause you know, you can look at something when you’re a kid. And, and, and just delve into it so much.
Like I can remember like loving a lot of Marvel comics from the 1970s. And then like maybe five or six years ago, I bought a whole bunch of reprints and sat them down and they were terrible, terrible,
you know, but I’d filled in the blanks on my own, which kind of circles back to what we’re talking about with like, it’s bad to define the horror, because if you define the horror, you take away the reader, participant reader, patients, and that’s really, that’s something that that’s there in films to a certain degree, but comic books you read at your own pace.
So the participation is, is more solid in a film. You can’t say, oh wait, oh, I see that thing in the closet. And then Flint back a whole bunch of frames to see if it was there before and things like that. But there’s really solid reader [00:11:00] participation in comics. So I don’t want to take away. I don’t want to take that away
You made some excellent points. I mean, one about the sensuality. Of horror and that sort of like weird ness that, that happens. And it, because it is kind of like a seduction in itself, I think, you know, with, with scarier films in that genre, you know, because we are being seduced to be scared in a weird, in a weird way.
Right. But like also like what you were saying about those films of the past, that. You loved as a kid or a teenager. And now I’ve had a few that I’ve just cringed watching them again, like, oh my, you know, I have to say mannequin, have you seen the movie mannequin with Andrew McCarthy? It’s like a classic eighties film where he like falls in love with this mannequin that comes to life overnight.
And he’s the only one that can see her. It’s played by Kim control. And as a kid, I just thought that was like, oh, it’s like a fairy tale. And now it’s a creepy, almost a horror film in [00:12:00] itself. I don’t think that was its intention.
Paul Tobin: Well that some films age into or films, you watch them. And you’re like, oh, don’t, don’t do that.
That’s that’s wrong.
Melissa: Right. Well, how did you come up with her with with bunny masks, like physical appearance, you know, when you were designing that, I mean, obviously you have an artist that you work with as well, but in your vision, in your mind, like how did you piece that together?
Paul Tobin: I think probably one of the main parts was I, I had been flipping through.
I’m just like, I flipped through Tumblr and things like that to like pass the time when I’m writing. And I ran across a picture of a woman in a bunny mask. And it was supposed to be essentially, you could tell, like the photographer has had said, oh, look how sexy she is. But the shading and the darkness of, of it just made her look like this lurking creature.
And that kind of just stuck in my head. So, I mean, she sort of pumped out full to me at least visually. And I sent I sent Andrea, some [00:13:00] images of like, like this and this and this there, I can remember one of a woman in a bunny mask crawling out of a car. And the car was like stuffed full of like garbage and stuff.
So she was having to literally crawl out and she looked like she was. Wow. I just, now I’m wondering if that’s where the cable came from and bunny mask. Cause she learned from that
Melissa: seed was planted.
Paul Tobin: But yeah, she just looked like an unearthly creature and and that really stuck in my head. And then there was a band that used to tour through Portland years and years and years ago, that was like a, a burlesque vaudeville thing called the yard dogs that I really enjoyed watching.
And they had a couple of bunny mask moments and that was like the first time I think that, that I felt like the other worldly aspect of the mind. So yeah, and animal masks have such a, a go back, but they just felt, they feel creepy to me. They do look at like the, [00:14:00] like, you look at modern day Halloween costumes and they’re like, you’re a giant sponge or something,
Melissa: or everything’s like a sexy this.
Paul Tobin: But like, you look even like the kids in the Halloween photos from like the forties and now yeah. I just put on a CRO mask and it’s like, kid, you’re terrifying.
Melissa: It’s like the people that still up on your door and the strangers.
Paul Tobin: Right. You know, some sort of that, that simple little change and a mask of course has mystery because you ask yourself what’s behind the mask.
Which is a huge thing. I will say that. There’s been so many covers for bunny mask. They didn’t we’ve done. I think, well, there’s two issues out now and I have all the variants and I think I have 32 different covers or something
Melissa: like that. Wow. Really? I saw a couple online and the one that really grabbed my attention was, you know, of course by Charlie Adler, I just was blown away by that [00:15:00] cover.
It was so creepy and just so well done. Like, did they just kind of come up with their own ideas and send them to you
Paul Tobin: the Adler? Yes. For the most part, I didn’t see them until I had them, which in a couple of times, like the there’s some covers where bunny mask has for mask off. And I kind of wish they’d had talked to me about that.
Cause the mask doesn’t come off. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. She’s not Batman alter ego for money mask.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. No, not really. I mean, if you read like the first four issues, there’s a, there’s a twist to that, but really what’s bunny mask is the mask to a certain degree, the woman and the mask are inseparable. So, yeah, the mask doesn’t come off.
So like the question of like what’s behind the mask, is there, there isn’t enough, there isn’t anything behind the mask. She is there several, it’d be like asking what’s behind my nose. [00:16:00] It’s like, well,
yeah, it’s like there.
Melissa: Well you mentioned, you know, a band. I’m always curious as to what music writers are listening to. I’m a writer too. And I listen to a lot of music. Did you have a specific playlist to inspire you when you were writing?
Paul Tobin: I never listened to music when I’m writing.
Melissa: Oh, wow. Okay. Is it too
Paul Tobin: distracting?
It’s absolutely too distracting. Well, I can listen to music, like if I’m. ’cause sometimes right at a bar or something like that. And, but, but when you’re out and about in a place like that, there’s so much noise that everything blends. So it’s not, it’s not too problematic, but I can listen to music. Like at the ending stages of writing, sometimes when I have like the pant, when I have a comic book script broken down to not only page by page, but panel by panel, what’s happening in every panel and all the dialogue in every panel.[00:17:00]
And it’s just, but it’s just a massive notes of that. So I need to make it so that the editor and the artist and the colorists in the letter, and everybody can understand it. I can listen to music sometimes that I’ve been listening. What have I been listening to lately? Google bordello,
I just found this I can’t even add, it’s an accordion music, but it’s like haunting, accordion music, music com. When you, when do you McNeil, I’ve been listening to her a lot. The Sadie’s boy I’m doing that thing. Like when you ask somebody is like, what are you, what are your favorite books? And it’s like, and your brain says, well, you’ve literally never read a book.
And it’s like, right.
Melissa: You have a million songs probably in your iTunes library, but yeah. Think of one. Yeah, I know that happens all the time.
Paul Tobin: When going Hormel Delos then in my mind lately, because they’re coming to town and I want to go,
Melissa: oh, are they still, I wasn’t sure if they were, you know, still performing or I’ve been listening to them for years and years.
A good friend of mine turned me on to them like 10 years ago. [00:18:00] And I wasn’t sure if they were still referring. So that’s awesome. They’re coming
Paul Tobin: with. Yeah, they’re going to be in Portland, like in August. I do hope that like I’ve seen concert footage from them before. I’ve never been to them before, but I hope they still have that energy, which would be amazing because like you say, they’re not like a new band by any means.
And of course, you know, they’ve lived in this world for the past year or two. So
Melissa: yeah, I bet that’ll be a really interesting show. I mean, I I’ve seen footage as well. They seem to put on a really entertaining, bizarre, which is awesome and fun. So hopefully that, that works out. Are they, are they performing by themselves or is it like, are there other people headlining or
Paul Tobin: as far as I can tell, it’s just them, I’m certain, there’s like some opening band or something like that.
But it’s not listed yet,
Melissa: so yeah, that’ll be fun. I’m jealous. I’ve been in the house too long. So, so issue two just came out on the 14th. And can you tell us anything about like, what can readers expect [00:19:00] and is this an ongoing series? You have like a certain amount planned.
Paul Tobin: The first arc is four issues and where I’ll say we’re very seriously considering another arc because it’s doing so very well for us.
We all, we all want to do it and it will probably happen, but it hasn’t been like, like set in stone yet. But yeah. I’ve already sat down. We’re far enough along thinking that we would like to do it, that I’ve sat down and plotted out. Well, I was going to say the second arc, but actually the third and fourth.
Melissa: this is happening. And oh, I’m sure. I mean, is it more of just, if everyone wants to do it, I’m sure. Aftershocks on board as well.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. Yeah, schedule’s always have a lot to play with with, cause like Andrea. We’re having a little bit of trouble with Andrea’s schedule from through absolutely no fault of his own, because he had a book delayed for a year because of the the pandemic.
And then it started back up. So he’s doing two books right now, which is a [00:20:00] lot for an
Melissa: artist. Wow. So it is Andrea is the mail because when I was reading it, I wasn’t sure if it was a female or a male with a name because he, so he’s Italian,
Paul Tobin: right? Yeah. He’s a grizzly old, he looks like he crawled out of a cave himself.
Melissa: I’m Italian. So I was like, I was looking at the last name and the first name I’m like, that could be Italian or it could just be an American girl, you know?
Paul Tobin: That’s great.
Melissa: Does he, does he live here in the states or is he from Italy or
Paul Tobin: Italy? He’s from Italy. I, and I’m blanking right now, but Florida is in my, in my mind where I think he lives.
Pretty sure. Yeah. But yeah, he, he came from, I forget where in Italy, I seem to work with a lot of great Italian artists. Italy is so good for artists. Yeah, I
Melissa: get it. That’s one thing that I was eating, doing this podcast and learning so much more about comics than I knew before. I’ve been really surprised at how many [00:21:00] Italian artists there are.
And I’m like, yeah, go.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. One of my best friends, Francesco Franklin is just like a monster Italian artist. And like every now and then I’ll, I’ll find some Italian artists that I didn’t know about. And I’ll say, I didn’t know about this guy and he’ll basically go you fool. How can you not know the genius?
So now when I find like a good Italian artists that I didn’t know about, I just keep my mouth shut. Cause I don’t want him to think I’m doing, but
Melissa: you’re like not in the loop or something, you know?
Paul Tobin: Like, when I took my first trip overseas, it was to Paris and I did a, a real bully. I’m very smart. I know the, you know, the world comic scene, I know all these artists and I walked into like, you know, a comic shop in Paris and it was like, oh, I didn’t know the world scene. Look at all this [00:22:00] stuff. Oh my gosh.
And it was just like this incredible wealth of material that just doesn’t. Doesn’t make it here. And I, I only read English, so it was just like me falling to my knees and weeping
Melissa: looking at everything
Paul Tobin: like clerks, or like there was another weeping on Eric and,
Melissa: Well, you know what I think there also is such a different perception of, of like storytelling that they have, you know, in Europe versus Americans.
And I’ve talked to several people about this that are, that are European and just how we’re, you know, especially when it comes to like sensuality and things like that in horror, you know, we’re, I think Americans are a lot more like prudish and conservative when it comes to things and, you know, like the French and, and the, my Italian relatives are way more open to things like that.
So it’s like a different style.
Paul Tobin: It’s a very different, like the, and they tend to do albums. So you like look at some of the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful [00:23:00] art. And you’re like, how can they do art like this? And it’s like, well, because they do like 48 pages a year sometimes. But you’re right. Like what you can put in, like, like almost a G-rated comic in Italy would be like, Well, this is adults only here.
It’s kind of sad. It’s kind of sad how many times I’ve had to. We even did some sensory and in an upcoming issue of bunny mask. Cause it was just push the line a little too much. And we all, we all almost had a sad, wonderful moment. Cause like Andrea turned a couple of pages in and they were beautiful and they were exactly what we wanted, but we knew we couldn’t do it.
Melissa: Yeah. I must have been pretty intense cause I’ve seen some, some pretty comics.
Paul Tobin: Well, it’s like, it’s part of it. Like if it had been happening in the first issue, I think we could have done it, but retailers don’t like a, like a, a later [00:24:00] issue to have a little harder rating because like they’ve already been pushing, you know, they’ve already established the.
But they can give it to, and then suddenly if you’re having like, well, maybe not that on it. So it gets a little tough.
Melissa: Yeah. That makes sense. I mean, I’ve seen that happen with shows too. Like when you take game of Thrones, for example, and like the first season is very, you know, just in your face and you’re like, whoa.
And then as the seasons continue, it gets a little Tamer. They don’t have as much of the gratuitous nudity and stuff like that. You have to wonder like, oh, was that just sort of like, let’s draw them in and then now they’re hooked and we can like tame it down now kind of, you know what I mean? That kind of a mentality.
Paul Tobin: always hate that team down though. But yeah, ours would have been the other like, as far as like, body parts seen, shall we say it would, would’ve started out kind of chain and then, and then gotten more.
Weird thing. It’s like, you can’t really show nudity in some [00:25:00] comics, but you can murder the hell out of somebody and it’s like, it’s like, which shouldn’t be better morally. What are we teaching people here? What are we
Melissa: saying here? Yeah. That’s such an interesting thing. And I’ve talked to people about that before.
It’s it’s yeah, I don’t know. I don’t get it. I mean, I guess that’s just our society the way it is, you know? Like, is that again, like you’re Europe? I don’t think has those those issues I would, I would think they would go more on the flip-flop of that, like doing less silence and more of the nudity stuff, I would
Paul Tobin: think.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, so when can you say, or do you know when, when issue three is really.
Paul Tobin: I should know, but I don’t
Melissa: tried to look it up, but I couldn’t find it.
Paul Tobin: I’m trying to, I think like August 11th, 14th, somewhere in there
Melissa: somewhere like first week of August,
Paul Tobin: mid August, whatever, whatever a Wednesday day is.
I tend to, I’m one of those guys that like, somebody will like write me and say, Hey, I just read that new [00:26:00] one. And I’d be like, oh, it’s out because I actually write a lot, quite a lot. So, I tried once it’s off my plate, I kind of try to like, not pay attention too much. Buddy mask has been a whole different working method for me though, because we, we plot each page.
Andrea turns each page in individually, and then we discuss it. And you. An artist that I work with will turn in like an entire issue and with a basic, you know, hope you like it. Cause I’m done. And it’s like, I don’t really like that. And, but working with Andrea has been fantastic. Cause we, we do things more organically and I like that, but it’s also been fascinating because he, he hates reading it.
Like at all, if I give him a script, he does not read the script. He reads a page and then draws it. So there’ve been a couple of characters that have appeared and he’s like, I really like this person. I [00:27:00] hope they don’t die in this. Like, like once it was, yeah, they’re totally safe. And once it was me just kind of whistling and looking the other way,
Melissa: you’re like, you have this script, buddy, you’re going to read ahead.
Interesting. Maybe he thinks that’s going to ask back to like his art if he, if he knows the future of it. Yeah.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. Maybe because he’s, he really likes to delve into characters and it’s like, maybe you wouldn’t delve in quite as quick. If you know that the next page they get sucked into the void or whatever.
Melissa: that’s an interesting technique.
Paul Tobin: I never, I’ve never worked with somebody before that. Doesn’t read a script, he just reads a page and then goes, which is. Makes me, like, I’m pretty conscientious as I script, because I try to think as an artist and you don’t, you never want to be one of those writers and believe me, there are a lot of them that will do things like, you [00:28:00] know, like on page 21, where there were a character has been walking around for a long time ago, you know, page 21.
Okay. She takes a gun out of her purse. Oh, I should have told you she has a purse and it’s like, you, you should’ve told me. Yeah,
Melissa: you gotta, you gotta definitely drop those.
Paul Tobin: So I make sure that like, everything is established ahead of time. So there shouldn’t be any problem with him. Like, not looking ahead, we haven’t had any trouble so far, at least maybe
Melissa: it’s like the artist’s version of.
Yeah. You know, that’s what it sounds like anyway. I mean, you know, as long as it gets I mean, obviously his work is beautiful, so it’s, it’s working for him.
Paul Tobin: Yeah, no, I wasn’t like he turned in pages and he was like, I’m going to watercolor the pages. And I’m like, I was immediately not liking that, the idea of it, but then he started turning pages in and I’m like, yep.
I do [00:29:00] like it. These are beautiful. Can continue, sir.
Melissa: I wonder what made him see the
Paul Tobin: watercolor that everything always kind of feels a little off key for me, which to me really plays into afar because it’s like, it’s it shouldn’t just be like the horror itself that feels off color. Like if you, I mean like put it in simple terms.
If there’s the monster in the closet, then you want to feel the top. You want to feel that terror from that closet, but you also want to feel the chair from the entire house, not just the closet, you want the entire world to be tense and full of horror, because it’s not like the it’s not like the person who’s terrified by the monster in the closet is downstairs in the kitchen and then walks upstairs and goes, oh, I totally forgot.
There was a monster in the closet. And that’s why I think about like, why I like Andrea’s colors just because the world to me feels a little bit off and feels, it feels like it’s tense to me. And so [00:30:00] I, I liked that. Relentless, sorta horror that even when good things are happening. And it’s important to me that like the people, the characters in bunny mask are, are actually having a good time at some times, but there’s always sort of that lurking, that lurking fear of like a bunny mask, the snitch in a way, the, the main villain for their first arc or for the arc.
He’s a, he’s a character that just is in the background and he tells the truth about everything. You know, that’s horrifying. It’s like if you gave me a list of like my top 10 people that I care about in the world and then say, and you’re a man of honesty, so go tell them everything about yourself.
that’d be all. We all have like secrets, you know? And it, it, it doesn’t have to be, yeah. I murdered seven people in high school. It can be just, you know, certain thoughts you have in your head that [00:31:00] are like, Probably way more common than, than you think, but you still have, you know, so a creature that tells nothing, but the truth is
Melissa: That is, yeah. That’s yeah. It’s like worse than lying. So when you were plotting it out, did you, did was bunny mask, like the first character you decided on or did you kind of have this story idea with the supporting cast? And they were like, oh, and then,
Paul Tobin: It was very much bunny mask at first and then just how to how to work her into the story.
And and then the second part was the that very first page where the young girl is getting her teeth chiseled out. I, I like a good, I like horror. That’s very personal. Yeah. And by getting your teeth chiseled out, nobody goes, nah, that wouldn’t bother me. It terror to me, isn’t like, you sort of have to have a sort of feel for it.
Like if you, if you told me like there’s two creatures and one of them is going to chisel your teeth out and one of them is gonna you [00:32:00] know, steal your soul and put it in a small box. It’s like, well, I’ll go, I’ll go with that second one because it hurts. And you don’t really have a conception of that second one.
And if you don’t have a conception of the four, it doesn’t really feel as horrific. Yeah. And I feel that way about like pretty much, no matter what job. Yeah, it is like, if it’s a, if it’s a, you know, heroic John Ruh and it’s like, we’re going to save the universe and it’s like, okay, that sounds interesting.
We’re going to save our dogs. It’s like, oh geez. See the dog, the dog. And it’s like, I am aware that the dog is part of the universe, but save the universe is too big a concept. I don’t want to say you dumb it down, but you focus on it, you know? Yeah.
Melissa: No, absolutely. That’s why one of like, one of the best, I think books that did that was I am legend just really focused on that sort of, you know, micro situation [00:33:00] rather than Mike, the big or picture of everything that was happening.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. You can’t deal with the bigger picture and it’s, and it’s too much. And I mean, even if you try it, it’s like. You have to, you know, it’s like, this is page one of 700 million and it’s like, oh really?
Melissa: That’s too much people don’t have the attention span for that either. I think.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. Except in Japanese comics.
It’s just sometimes I think of like, like I do humor comics too. Like one of my main projects is I write all the plants vs. Zombies novels. I
Melissa: read that. That’s so great.
Paul Tobin: And I’ve done enough of them now that I think I’m nearing 2000 pages of them. Wow. And I’m like, wow, that’s so many pages. And then I think to myself, And I’ve read so many mangas that are like on page, like 12,000.
So like in Japanese terms, it’s like my 2000 [00:34:00] pages is like, oh, aren’t you, are you past the prelude?
Melissa: Yeah, that’s the prologue. Yeah. Yeah. Plants vs. Zombies. I have to admit I’ve, I’ve spent many nights in bed playing it on my phone. How do you, you know, it doesn’t really have a story in the game format, you know, it’s just, you’re, you’re killing, you’re killing zombies and stuff.
How did you come up with a story idea for it, like to turn it into a graphic novel?
Paul Tobin: Just first, like when they gave me the job only the very, very first game was out and and there literally wasn’t anything but lines of plants and zombies fighting each other. So it was clear that there needed to be a story.
And I knew that crazy, Dave. Needed to be a main character, but nobody knows what he’s saying. So I, I invented his niece Patrice blazing. Who’s the only person who can understand him. And then she needed a friend and that became this guy or boy Nate timely. And then the town came next Neighborville and it just kind of sprang from [00:35:00] there.
I mean, I still, when I write plants vs zombies, I, I think less in terms of story and more in terms of what would be fun and what would be funny because that’s, what’s really important to me. Whenever, whatever John rye, right. I try to think of what’s important. And I’m, I’m haunted by I don’t know if you know them.
They used to be film critics Cisco, and
Melissa: that was like, my entire childhood was like, Cisco, give it two thumbs up.
Paul Tobin: Yeah, I’m haunted by. And I w I really wish I could remember what the movie was, but I do not. But they had watched a comedy and and they talked at length about how much they laugh.
And there were so many uproarious moments and they could not stop laughing. And I believe it was Cisco said he literally not even figuratively, but literally fell out of his seat laughing at one point. And then they ended the segment with. But the story doesn’t really hold together [00:36:00] two foams down. And I’m like, you know, if I’m allowed to swear here, so go for it.
And I asked her if I had written a comedy and then they had given two thumbs down to a movie, they had just said they could not stop laughing. It’s like, that was my purpose was to make you laugh. I write plants vs zombies. I, I, I, I don’t care as much about the story. And at first I would get back like some material.
No. And that would be like, yeah, Paul, this, this part is funny, but it doesn’t make sense. And I say, I don’t care about that second part. No. You know, and it’s written, I don’t want to say it’s written for young readers. Cause I write everything to amuse myself to be Frank,
Melissa: as you said,
Paul Tobin: like, like you probably were probably seven years old at one point, I’m guessing when you were reading stories that you know were full of [00:37:00] adventure and you were loving the adventure or full of drama or a full of humor, did you as a seven-year-old ever stop and go.
Yeah. But it doesn’t make sense. You know,
Melissa: now I thought a Raiders of the lost art, because the best thing ever on the planet
Paul Tobin: and you were like both completely and utterly wrong and completely and utterly. Right. It’s like it serves its purpose so well, and that’s all you can ask. So, yeah, there’s a lot of films that I, that I, that I love a lot.
Well, I was just talking about like some of the Japanese stuff earlier. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen sharkskin man and peach hip girl.
Melissa: that I know of. It,
Paul Tobin: it is a messed up piece of garbage of film that I utterly loved. And so what, what more do you want more, do you want from a film sometime or from a comic or from things?
Money mask is about story. So, but yeah, I like writing a whole bunch of stuff. Yeah. [00:38:00]
Melissa: I think that story is more important than technical skill. Sometimes, you know, there’s, there’s a craft teacher her name’s Lisa Cron, she, she wrote a book called story genius and I use it religiously and she basically explains why some books and films that were not well-written are so popular is because human beings gravitate towards storytelling.
And the average reader doesn’t know that there was a tactical mistake and he pays
Paul Tobin: it’s like, didn’t they did they turn the page? That to a certain level? That’s all you can ask. I mean, I, I just kinda wanted to entertain people. That’s my purpose. I mean, if I went up to later in the process, that’d be cool.
But if you write for a Pulitzer boy, I read some puments or novels me. Well, I’m one sentence in and I’m falling asleep. This is, you know, and it’s beautiful technical writing or beautiful literary [00:39:00] writing, but I don’t care. It’s not entertaining. It doesn’t make me want to turn the page. And it does for some people.
So I don’t want to damn books like that because I mean, that’s, the beauty of humanity is, is two people can, you know, vehemently disagree on whether a movie is good or not, and they can both eat. Right. Because they’re different people,
Melissa: right? Yeah, no, I’ve, I’ve literally tried God, probably 10 times at least to read a tale of two cities.
Because I was told I should, you know, and and there are a lot of other classics that I absolutely love, but for some reason I cannot get past like the first 20 pages.
Paul Tobin: And I just think it’s really bad. That whole list of things you should read. That was like, when I first moved here to Portland I needed a job for a while.
And I worked at Paul’s books, which is, I guess basically the biggest bookstore in the U S maybe the world. I don’t know. But I ran the science section because I have a love for the sciences. But at least back then the science section was in the same floor level with the kids section, [00:40:00] which is kind of where I fell in love with a lot of like middle grade and young adult writers.
Because I worked on that floor. I often worked on, on the information desk. Even though I was science sciences guy, if you’re working in the information desk, you need to know the whole floor. And there were so many, so many times that parents would come up and say, so my kid doesn’t read at all. And I, I really want to get them into reading.
Can you advise some things? And we have this huge Monga section and kids love Maga so much. And adults I S I still made a lot of Monga and I would take them over or talk to them and say, you know, here’s a Monga that, you know, kids love, and it’s a good one. And, and so many parents would go, no, no, no, no.
They read all that stuff, but I want them to learn to read. And it’s like, so they are reading.
And if you want to get them to read, here’s a, here’s a clue. Have them read things they love. And [00:41:00] it just, and it makes me wonder how many of them were like, basically doing what, when you were saying like, these kids. I am going to spend all night reading and then their mom would come in and say, here’s a copy of, of two to read.
And they would go, I hate reading because that’s not it doesn’t tailor it to cities. Doesn’t the language. Doesn’t speak to me. The story doesn’t speak to me. There’s very few classics. In fact, I’m trying to think of a classic, like a true, what they call a classic that’s stills. And for the most part, it’s just the general ones.
I mean, I can still pick up Dracula and kind of read it. It’s cheesy and dumb, but I love it. Yeah. I
Melissa: drank it was a good one. I weathering Heights stood up. I think for me, it’s one of my favorite books and it’s dark and toxic. And you know, now with, with the way things are, people are ripping all the classics apart for their, you know, perceptions and then how the stories played out in the, you know, whatever it was, the 16 hundreds.
Paul Tobin: they’re like, there. Of characters from the past or writers from the past that you can, you can say, well, this was that time period, but you know, then there’s certain levels of it as like you were, this guy was a jerk.
Melissa: Yeah. You’re addicted period. Totally. Yeah. I know. There’s some, some things, yeah, I should’ve been like changed, I think definitely.
It doesn’t matter like how old you are, how, whether it was how ancient time it was, I guess, but I have a
Paul Tobin: certain sympathy because like my, my wife and I did a book called banana Sunday and we did that in like, oh boy, I’m trying to remember like maybe 2004, I don’t know a long time ago. And then just a couple, three years ago we did a collected trade of it and then reprinted it all.
And we went through all the pages and it was like, even though it was me. And even though it was only like 15 [00:43:00] years in the past, there were like several lines that were like, oh no, let’s change this line. I don’t want this line to be part of my legacy. Let’s not do this. So like, if you read the very first trade of banana sundae and the very recent trade, they’re a little different in a couple of areas.
We even redrew a couple of panels just to know we were no longer, those people are or want wanted that. So, you know, like if we had done a book 150 years ago, can you imagine what would be like, oh geez. No, no, thank you.
Melissa: Yeah. Things are a little different. Well, and I think like you were saying, as far as giving kids something they want to read, you know, I think that’s where comics really comes into play too, because I think comics are.
There are diff obviously it’s different than a novel because you have things to look at as well as read. And would you say that that’s like, you know, something that maybe made you want to become a writer [00:44:00] was reading comic books as a kid?
Paul Tobin: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I, I would, I read every type of comics, so maybe that’s why I like to write every type of comic.
I mean, we’re, we’re here talking about bunny mask, which is, you know, super scary and little sexy at times. But if you asked me to write Casper, the living ghost, I’d be like, yeah, let’s do that. I love that stuff. Or Archie comics. I love that too. When I was growing up, my grandmother was obsessive about going to garage sales, like super obsessive.
She would build a light. Sometimes four or five garage sales a day. And she would just, she lived on a farm that had a lot of outbuildings, you know, several barns and things like that. And they were just all stuck. She would get carloads of stuff every day and bring them back and find some place to put them.
She was one of those people that like had rooms in our house that have like one walkway through them and the rest of the room is piled to [00:45:00] the ceiling. So like, I would just go through there and there would always be, you know, old comics. And of course, since she was kind of buying everything, it wasn’t like, it was just one John era.
It was, it was, you know, everything. So I read all those comics and it was like, primarily I was a superhero fan, but every comic work, you know, especially the old, cheesy horror comics, man, they were, they were so cheesy. Although it’s hard to say, you know how cheesy they were cause it’s. How cheesy would money mask be if I only have seven pages to tell it.
Melissa: Yeah, no, that’s true. And like, just with like technology we have now, like we incorporate that into our stories, which back in the day, you know, they didn’t, so I’m sure at the time you were probably blown away, like, oh my God, this is amazing. Yeah.
Paul Tobin: Okay. Again, we’ve spoken about that at the age of 12, these cheesy or stories weren’t, you know, [00:46:00] and I was pretty sure that that vampires existed, you know, wouldn’t they, you see, they
Paul Tobin: absolutely.
So yeah. Yeah, it definitely influenced me. I, I, I always want to, ah, I don’t want to say, I always wanted to be a writer. But I, I always wanted to be a writer to a certain degree. There were other things I wanted to be, but, but they weren’t
Melissa: practical like an astronaut or.
Paul Tobin: The big one was I wanted to be an underwater archaeologist.
Oh, interesting. But like looking into it, even as a kid, finding out two, two important things, one, one, a huge load of work. It’s not all the fun stuff. And two, they did not like you keep what you found. And it was like, what?
Melissa: And you can open your, be your own company then, you know,
Paul Tobin: I can’t, I couldn’t picture like unearthing some like [00:47:00] incredible treasure and then just handing it off to a museum.
Melissa: Yeah. That doesn’t seem fair. You’re like I did all the work.
Paul Tobin: Yeah. I want, I want that stuff. History has always been like I kind of wanted to be a historian at one point, but like, and I went to I actually went to college with an art history major. But it doesn’t take long in college as an art history major to know that basically the one job you can get as an art history major is a college professor art history.
And I didn’t want to do that. So, yeah. Yeah, there’s not a lot of, you know, art history jobs out there. So, you know, you can either be like a, a well-respected author that sells not very many books or for a teacher. And it’s like, nah, neither one.
Melissa: You can take all of these things and make them into characters.
Paul Tobin: I mean, that’s, that’s part of like, it’s a, it’s always kind of a weird question when somebody asked, you know, it’s like, is there a [00:48:00] little bit of your life in this character? Isn’t there better be that if there’s if there’s an author was ever answered? No, and it doesn’t really matter. I recently put out a book about a called earth boy, me and Ron Chan, the artist.
And it’s, it’s about a young boy. Who’s joins the galactic Rangers and he’s a, basically a ranger in space. And it’s like, I have never been to space
Paul Tobin: but that, but there’s still a lot of me in that character because of. If you’re going to make a character real, you have to, you have to have personality and you have to have a range.
So a lot of that was a lot of that was my life is in basically everything, which is nice because now I’m going to start to get to travel. Again. I haven’t traveled that much, but like every time I travel, I get more stories. And I, my, my very first, like I said, I grew up in Iowa and there’s not a lot [00:49:00] going on in Iowa.
I still love the state, but like my wife and I took she was my girlfriend then, but we took a trip to New York and that was probably one of the most life-changing moments because it was just suddenly other cultures. And when you start to think about other cultures, you start to realize that that when you’re writing a character that has a certain view.
That’s not the only viewpoint that exists. I think that’s it’s I was gonna say it’s important as a writer, but I think it’s actually even more important as a human being, as a person to understand that just because you feel one way doesn’t mean that the other person is going to feel that way. Even if you have all the same information, it’s like, they are literally a different person.
So I think that’s important. And I think that’s important when you write characters too, because I’ve seen, I’ve seen so many it’s, especially [00:50:00] in superhero comics. Now, maybe, maybe I just especially read superhero comics or did it when I was noticing that. But so many stories don’t have any character in like this.
The superhero exists to stop the villain. The villain exists to be a reason for the superhero to exist. And it’s like, if you don’t, if, if you don’t have a reason for why the villain is doing what they’re doing and it’s boring, if the reason is they can come in and want to take over the world,
Melissa: but why do you want it to go?
What’s the purpose
Paul Tobin: in why is the hero trying to stop them? And that’s, it shouldn’t be, you know, it shouldn’t be because the world is important. Like if somebody was out in the street right now saying I’m going to take over the world, but they could do it. I would not charge out in the street and fight them because I want to save the world.
But because my [00:51:00] wife is only a few blocks away and I need to protect her. And it’s like, that’s more important. That’s sorta like what we’re talking about. Like save the universe versus save the dog. It’s like, I’ll choose to save the dog every time.
Melissa: Yeah, absolutely. I think as far as superhero comics go, I think the boys does that really.
You know, as far as just making it more personal, rather than this general, like they were saying macro level of like saving the world in a general sense, but you don’t really know everybody in the world, but when you have someone personal at stake, it becomes more it adds more tension and it makes your motivation more
Paul Tobin: believable.
Yeah. It’s, it’s like humanity. We are wired so dumb because it’s like, it’s like if you had to make me choose right now between like 10 people out on the street in front of me dying. Versus 10 people, you know, versus 10,000 people dying in Europe, it’d be like, Ooh, [00:52:00] that’s a decision. And it’s like, no, it’s not 10 versus 10,000, but what you remove it from our personal, you know, stupid grasp.
And it doesn’t seem real. So that’s why stories are important to link that, to make it feel real. And whether that is, you know, you know, like it, if there is like a man and a woman who are in a story and they’re saving the universe, but they’re having troubles in their marriage, it’s like the troubles in their marriage feels real where the saving and saving the universe.
Doesn’t, it’s like, I guarantee you that more readers will we’ll turn the page to. If their marriage is saved
Melissa: because the saving the world is almost like a nuisance. Yeah.
Paul Tobin: That’s a, that’s a, that’s a vehicle that the main plot, which the mic, which is the humans, the human characters drives along. And it’s like, so.
Melissa: Yeah, well, and I think it’s, it’s [00:53:00] done well in, in a lot of different things. Like, you know, as far as, you know, I know this show is, is over hyped a lot, but getting back to the actual, the comic itself the walking dead, I feel like they kind of did that in a sense where it was like, okay, we have these zombies, but that’s not really what this is about.
This is about these relationships and how humanity reacts to, to these types of situations. And it brings out all the ugly sides of people and the good sides and stuff. And I always find myself more drawn to those types of stories. Like, I mean, zombie films are fun. There can’t be that when you get something that’s like, okay, it’s not really about that.
Those are just kind of there. And, you
Paul Tobin: know, it’s just the world they live in and you can deal with the characters, how they deal with it. So it’s far more fascinating. Yeah. You’re absolutely.
Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. It’s so interesting. Well, I, it getting back to the bunny mass because I saw this this thing that I think aftershock posted on Twitter about this bunny mask effect on Instagram, I just cracked up.
So people could actually access it if [00:54:00] you follow after shot comics on Instagram, and then you can like, make yourself, have your own bunny mask mask. And are you, have you done it yet or
Paul Tobin: yeah. Yeah. If you look on my Twitter, I posted, I look I, I did a whole bunch of them and then I went around my house and did a few of them because the, the app basically grabs a human face and puts it on.
So I like you could, I have a poster from the good, the bad and the ugly. And I just whipped the buddy mask on Clint Eastwood’s phase. It’s fun just to kind of put it on, on things, but yeah, on random people. Yeah. I made my wife do it too. I made her because she’s actually she’s the colorist for all the covers are not
And that’s it? Her name is Coleen Coover. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s so cool. You guys worked together.
Paul Tobin: Yeah, we, we do a ton together. We have a new series coming out together, wrestle castle then Bendet is R is her main [00:55:00] project and it’s the one that we both won several Eisner’s for that one, which has always
That’s amazing. Yeah. I mean, hello. You were talking about Pulitzer earlier. I’m like that you’ve won some Eisner’s. That’s amazing. Congratulations. Yeah. It’s
Paul Tobin: it’s it’s fun. And it’s like, like any creator. I mean, I, I. I don’t think you’re a real creator. If like there aren’t parts of your day where you think that you’re the number one genius in the world.
And also there are parts of your day where you think that you’re the worst creator in the world. I mean, I think you almost kind of have to have that roller coaster ride for sure. But it’s kind of, I, I I’ll admit that it’s kind of handy when I’m on one of those. Well, I’m garbage and I never know what to do to look at it.
Melissa: am I doing? Why I should just quit now,
Paul Tobin: but then I can look at a shelf that has like a rule of Eisner’s and go, oh, wait,
somebody loves me.
Melissa: You were not [00:56:00] Susan Lucci. Are you, are you looking forward to seeing body MAs cosplay at the cons?
Paul Tobin: Absolutely. And it’s such an easy one to contemplate too. I think it’s great. But yeah. It’s going to be creepy to a certain degree.
Melissa: Yeah. I definitely,
Paul Tobin: I already have a couple of friends that they’ve spilled that they’re gonna, like whenever I see a buddy mask cosplay, they’re going to go, what I don’t see.
What are you seeing? I don’t see. Where are you seeing that? And just pretend that they don’t see her until
you can tell a true friend because they want to destroy your life.
Melissa: That’s your friend group. Awesome. Well, are you scheduled to appear at any cons this
Paul Tobin: year? I’m going to get the real city con which is great because it’s actually walking distance from here. And I think, well, I think one thing that, yeah, I need a convention because I need to see some [00:57:00] friends and I need to talk to people, but I think one of the things that’s been kind of, Creators get comps of all their stuff.
And I write a lot of stuff. And so these cops, because I haven’t been doing conventions, I just been piling up and I, I know that other friends that have the same thing, cause it’s like, if you’re a, if you’re a person that gets like 200 copies of something and then you sell them at a convention and that’s a nice little pocket change.
But if, but if you don’t, then they just become the boxes you sit on at home.
Melissa: Just describe my living room. So
Paul Tobin: believe me, I’ve been there. I, I had a time period where. This was, I was first getting into comics. I had a chair, like a lounge chair, basically that was built out of comic book boxes. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing.
I like, I liked that you go, oh, that’s awesome. [00:58:00] That’s really
Paul Tobin: I was like, that was my life for a while. So yeah, I don’t have much, I don’t have much of a comic book collection anymore. I mean, the collection I have is pretty good. Like I have like 300 comics. It’s like, you know, X-Men number one, Daredevil, number one, Avengers, number one, things like that.
A bunch of golden age stuff, but yes. Yes. There’s a lot that I need to get rid of. Especially, like I say, with, with buddy mask, you know, 27 different covers for the first issue, so yeah. But it’s like that builds up.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, hopefully are you any plans to be at an Emerald city this year?
Paul Tobin: I hope so that I really love that convention and I, I love as far as conventions that I’ve ever been to in my life.
That’s the one that I love the area where [00:59:00] the convention is in.
Melissa: It’s such a beautiful area.
Paul Tobin: And I have like already like friends that are like, well, we’re going to karaoke. Right? What
Melissa: is it with Emerald city, Comicon and karaoke,
Paul Tobin: so many good venues right nearby. Yeah. And I kind of love a good karaoke night.
That’s awesome. Showcase my terrible, terrible voice, but wonderful. Enthusiastic,
Melissa: right? A for effort. Yeah. Well, hopefully you’ll be there. I’m definitely planning on being there. I think spoiler country might be there. I’ll be going there regardless, but it’s such a fun con I live in no, I live in Northern California as well.
Central central, well, it’s kind of central. I’m like two hours south of Stanford.
Paul Tobin: Where does the nice, a nice little trip up to Seattle.
Melissa: Yeah. And my best friend lives there too. So we go to, to that con every year, obviously until 2020. But so yeah, I’m looking forward to it as well. I think it’s a great, like you were saying great venue.
There’s [01:00:00] so much to do there and I still haven’t checked out the karaoke, so, but I’ve been hearing about it. I went to a couple of drag queen shows like drag queen brunches, which were amazing with Lincoln. It was so much fun. Yeah. They are. They’re really they really know how to entertain in in Seattle, so, yeah.
Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on today. This has been a blast. Yeah, this is fun. Yeah. Well, everyone listening, you can pick up issues one and two of bunny mask from Paul Tobin and aftershock comics. Anywhere comic books are sold. So, yeah, go check it out. And you can also follow Paul on Twitter at Paul.
Totally. Right. Awesome. Thank you so much.