From Transylvania, Kentucky, Monster Motors: The Curse Of Minivan Helsing – A Madcap Interview With Brian Lynch And Nick Roche

MonsterMotors_VH_cvr REPLACE WITH NEW TIFFrom IDW Publishing, Monster Motors: The Curse of Minivan Helsing #1 written by Brian Lynch, with art by Nick Roche follows the story of genius mechanic, Vic Frankenstein. The once-quiet town of Transylvania, Kentucky is under attack from Cadillacula, and it's up to Vic to come up with a solution. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of the comic, and it is fantastic! Brian Lynch and Nick Roche were kind enough to join me here on Bleeding Cool to discuss their careers, creative process, and more, in an interview that's sure to bring a smile to your face.

Christine Marie: Thank you for joining me here on Bleeding Cool. I feel overjoyed to get to interview the two of you.

Brian Lynch: I am overjoyed to talk to YOU. Most people ignore me, or look at me strangely. I think I intimidate people. I mean, I get it.

Nick Roche: It's just nice to have someone to talk to. Brian only communicates with me in Morse Code and Old English, and my grasp of both is famously weak.

CM: Tell me a little bit about how you got started in the industry. Was there a moment in your life where it hit you, "I have a knack for creating, writing, illustrating etc."?

BL: I always wanted to be a screenwriter, but I also wrote and drew comics, loved doing it…but then I had an accident with my drawing hand. A cat food can lid sliced through the thumb of my drawing hand, damaging the nerve, and I thought "okay, maybe just writing then, very good." When it happened, it flipped back, like Inspector Gadget's thumb lighter. In fact, that's what I said while it was sobbing and spurting blood in the emergency room, "this, this, this, is like Inspector OW Gadget, OH MY GOD, r—-r—-right?". The doctors and nurses didn't seem to get the joke but I like to think it moved them to seek out INSPECTOR GADGET on, then I think probably VHS, and now they appreciate it.

NR: There was never the Eureka moment of 'I have to do THIS'. It was more the vertiginous fear of having to do anything else. I climbed in the Fun Bunk (common term for 'Comics Industry' here in Ireland) nearly ten years ago. A writer friend called Dave Hendrick passed on my deets to Chris Ryall, EIC of IDW. My deets mainly consisted of frenzied renderings of robots, and luckily IDW had just acquired the Transformers license. So I started there, eventually graduated to writing Transformers (notable hardy perennial Last Stand Of The Wreckers with James Roberts) ,stopped off on some Doctor Who on the way, then more recently Marvel, with a mini-stint on New Warriors and a stab at Death's Head. It all felt like it was leading to this job with this…guy? I guess? And these characters. Monster Motors has been the most fun and rewarding job I've had in the Fun Bunk yet.

CM: Brian, you've worked on many different films and comics throughout your career, from Angel comics to films like Puss in Boots. What are the differences between writing for film and comics? Do you have a specific creative process for both?

BL: It's the same in terms of character and arc, you want to have the characters grow throughout the course of the story, you want audiences to like them, to be afraid for them, etc. The experience of writing the Minions screenplay for Illumination has really helped me with Monster Motors. It's been three years on Minions and that movie is not easily defined. It's certainly for all ages but that doesn't mean it's JUST for kids. It means EVERYONE should love it equally. If we do our job right, everyone will laugh throughout. And it's got it's own weird personality.

That's what we tried to do with Monster Motors. Monster Motors is it's own beast. It's all-ages, but it's also a little scary, and really funny, and has some epic action. It's like the summer movies they used to make in the 80s, that kids would love AND be a little freaked out by. Your Goonies and Gremlins and Ghostbusters.

CM: Nick, you're well known for your work with Transformers comics. Describe your experience dealing with such well-known characters. What were the easiest things to tackle, and the most challenging?

NR: I always say that Transformers aren't hard to draw, they're just time-consuming. I ALWAYS say it. Even if the question isn't about that, or I'm in court on a minor charge, or taking my wedding vows. Rarely – very rarely – the sentence finds context, but today is that day.

I love Transformers, and love drawing them. The best thing about working on IDW's iteration of the franchise is the freedom they give, both in the art and writing of them. My approach to them is to treat them as characters first and foremost and imbue their physical designs with as much personality as I can, amending and altering character proportions accordingly, and not worrying too much whether this can actually function as a toy.  This came in handy when cooking up the look of the vehicles in Monster Motors. They don't have 'faces' in the same way Pixar's Cars do, but there are other ways to give them some character. Giving a bit of bounce to big surly robots really trained me up for my life's – and maybe everyone's – peak, the creation of Monster Motors.

CM: Monster Motors is a recent project of yours which follows the story of expert mechanic Vic Frankenstein and his dealings with an evil vampire car, Cadillacula. What inspired you to collaborate on this book?

BL: NOBODY can do this book better than Nick. I'm sure he can do other books better, I'm not saying he's peaked with Monster Motors because the dude keeps getting better and better, his New Warriors stuff blew me away, but MAN was he meant to draw Monster Motors. The cars, trucks, robots, yes, we knew he'd kill that, and he did. You have NOT seen cooler vehicles and monsters in a book in years. But the true stars of this book are genius mechanic Vic Frankenstein and Monster Motor hunter April Van Helsing and they are human. Average humans who, next to monster cars and trucks could be boring, but Nick destroyed on those. They live and breath and they POP. Yes, people will pick up the book because there is a vampire car named Cadillacula and a monster hunter car named Minivan Helsing, but it's Vic and April that are the heart and soul of the book. Them and iGOR, the robot assistant. People seem to love him. I love him. I want one.

NR: My version of it is that we were set up on a blind date by Chris Ryall, only to find that we'd loved each other all along.  When Chris had put me forward to team-up with Brian, I'd already experienced his work in that rarest of artforms – the laugh-out-loud comic. His Last Angel In Hell one-shot for IDW's Angel series remains an entertainment highlight of the last few years for me, just utterly bonkers and relentless. Like all great couples, it took a while to get us together. We started off by holding hands, but I was seeing other people at the time. Luckily, like proper Comics Wife Material, Brian waited for me, and we got it together last year. It's been nice to fit this second series (The Curse Of Minivan Helsing) around both of our other projects, but we would VERY much like to be at the stage where our slates are clear, and Monster Motors became an ongoing thing.

CM: Brian, I found the story to be funny, kid-friendly, and an absolute page-turner. There are nods to the well-known Frankenstein with Igor and such, but you took a very clever spin on some classic spooky characters. Talk to me a little bit about how the story came to you, and what it was like writing it.

BL: I was working on Angel: After The Fall and IDW asked if I had any ideas for a Transformers book. In my head, I quickly combined Angel and Transformers and came up with a vampire car that sucks gas to stay alive. I asked my wife, and Chris Ryall, if this idea was stupid or fun and I think the consensus was it was both, but I just couldn't stop thinking about it. By the end of the first day, I had named the vampire car Cadillacula, and knew he HAD to be evil, so I had to give him someone to fight. That led to the Frankenstein truck, which led to the werewolf car, etc. I must say, it all fell into place. I think that's how I knew it was a good idea, the world kept steamrolling and building the more I thought about it. "If Frankenstein's Monster was a truck, what would that make Frankenstein? He'd have to be the world's best mechanic. So what would that make Igor?" Etc. I seriously hope we get to play with this world for years because we have LOTS of stories to tell.

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CM: Nick, I absolutely loved the way you illustrated Cadillacula in particular. Describe what it's like bringing characters like that to life on the page.

NR: Well, thanks so much for the words. They are nice the way you say them.

It's a ridiculously rewarding process, mainly for the reactions that Brian gives me when I nail it. He's the perfect mix of knowing what he wants and sending me on some reference, and just letting me take the characters in the direction I want. We exist on the same page a lot in that respects.

The main draw (HAHAHAHAHAHAcomics) for me on Monster Motors was the fact that I drew it completely in my preferred style; None More Nick. And the niggling self-doubt that comes when drawing other people's characters was gone – why CAN'T I push the proportions on this muscle car? Why SHOULDN'T a Cadillac bend like that when it's been bounced down a street by a big rig? So having the freedom to do things the way I want while retaining some boundaries and not giving the cars smiles and cocky eyebrows was the key to finding the look for the book.

CM: Do either of you have other projects that you hope to work on together in the future? If you can share some upcoming projects, or exclusive art with our audience, please do.

BL: Well, of course more Monster Motors, if audiences and IDW and Nick and our brilliant colorist Len and our insanely awesome letterer Tom are up for it.   But beyond that, yes, Nick and I get to do a lot more together, monster vehicles or not. I love working with him, it's a writer's dream to have him elevate my words like he does.

NR: If we've learned anything during this process, is that we (both Brian and I, and our outstanding colorist Len O' Grady and textual alchemist, letterer Tom B Long) work REALLY well together. He writes things that I want to draw. (His scripts are an artist's dream, by the way. So much room for interpretation and expression.) And he lies to me and tells me he likes the pictures. As of now, we only have plans to work on more Monster Motors, if the audience is willing. We've talked about recombining on other ideas too, which would rock. And Id love to do some licensed stuff with him; we'd KILL on Spidey, right? And we're both Ninja Turtles nuts. But that little rinky-dinky talkie operation out in Hollywood insist on hiring Brian to turn out their trinkets, so getting to work with him now before things get super-silly for him was a stroke of luck for me. If people need more Lynch/Roche action, show Monster Motors the love, and we'll come back paler and pastier than ever.

CM: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. I absolutely loved every moment of Monster Motors, and I can't wait for everyone to be able to read it.

BL: Thank you! The comic was delayed a week to the 25th of February initially. I think the official reason is because of something to do with shipping but the honest reason is the comic was too awesome and needed an extra week because the greatest kept exploding off the pages and scorching readers' faces.

NR: Look, we were all a bit weirded out by your tattoos of Vic and iGOR, but it never stops being magic knowing someone digs Monster Motors. I genuinely wonder if readers could possibly enjoy the book as much as we did making it; it's one of those rare jobs where that's actually the truth. It's fun, it's hyper-kinetic, it's spooky, and it's all ages. Monster Motors can be for everyone, so let's make sure everyone knows about it.

Christine Marie is a Staff Writer at Bleeding Cool, and bibliomaniac with a love for all things creative. She hopes to one day be a Superhero/Disney Princess/Novelist. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @AWritersWay or on her blog writerchristinemarie.wordpress.com.