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DID YOU READ

Alan Robert’s “Killogy” comic casts famous faces from stage and screen in dark horror story

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So a superhero, a Goodfella, and one of the Ramones go to jail…

Sure, it sounds like the beginning of a weird joke, but it’s actually the unique concept behind Killogy, an upcoming comic book by Life Of Agony’s Alan Robert. But it isn’t Robert’s pedigree in music or comics that makes Killogy a fascinating project. It’s his unique approach to casting the four-issue miniseries, which features the likenesses of three well-known faces as the story’s lead characters.

Chronicling the story of three murderers crammed into a jail cell together, Killogy “stars” (for lack of a better term) “Goodfellas” actor Frank Vincent, former Ramones drummer Marky Ramone, and “Heroes” actress Brea Grant, who have not only given the project their approval, but have taken an active role in promoting it. And Robert isn’t your average celebrity creator either, having already made a name for himself in the comics world as the creator of Wire Hangers and Crawl To Me, a pair of terrifying miniseries he wrote and illustrated.

IFC spoke to Robert about the unique concept behind Killogy, as well as the films based on Wire Hangers and Crawl To Me that are in the works.

IFC: So, first things first — where did the idea for casting Killogy with real people come from?

Alan Robert: It started out without the likeness angle to it, and after we put the publishing deal in place with IDW Publishing, I knew I really wanted to capture a type of “Twilight Zone” feel with it. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. One of the cool things about “The Twilight Zone” was that you had all these guest stars you’re already familiar with in these new roles, and you got a feel for their characters from their previous acting jobs. You felt like you already knew the characters before the episode even started. So I was thinking about that, and when I was drawing up the characters, they ended up looking a lot like the people we ended up talking to about it. I’m not sure if it’s been done before, but I’ve never seen it done in an original comic like this, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I knew some of the people through mutual friends and we approached them — and one by one it all fell into place.

IFC: Usually when you see this, it’s celebrities putting themselves into comics in order to set up future films or television projects — but this seems like a different situation altogether. How does this type of scenario change the way you made the comics?

Robert: It’s interesting to write, because their dialogue comes kind of naturally. You already know what they sound like, because their voices are in your head. It’s very cool. I’m learning new things every day I work on this, because I don’t usually work with a hard script — I create the art first. I have plot points and timelines of when things should happen, but I don’t work with an actual dialogue script. I do the art first and create the dialogue after that.

IFC: When you first hit the scene with Wire Hangers, I remember being surprised by the series — and then being surprised again when I learned that you studied cartooning in college. You have a bona fide degree in illustration. So it’s not really fair to call you a celebrity comic creator, is it?

Robert: Well, comics is what I wanted to do first. I planned to be an illustrator. I always aspired to be a penciler for Marvel or something like that, but right when I graduated, we got a record deal and the album came out, and I figured this wasn’t going to happen again, so I had to see where it went. Now, 20 years later, here I am. I still have a passion for comics, and I figured this would be a great time to do it.

IFC: For anyone familiar with Wire Hangers and Crawl To Me, how is Killogy different from those two series stylistically?

Robert: It’s actually completely different, because I’m drawing everything digitally now. That’s one of the biggest changes. Stylistically, I wanted it to look different. I’m not really using the atmospheric type of textures I was using in Crawl To Me. The closest thing I can compare it to is Frank Miller meets Mike Mignola — it’s very flat colors and a limited palette, with lots of heavy blacks. It’s distinctly different, look- and feel-wise. And just conceptually it’s a lot different, too.

IFC: This is one of those projects that’s hard to ask too many questions about, because I can tell there are some twists in the story that shouldn’t be spoiled. How do you describe the plot of Killogy to people?

Robert: What’s interesting is that each the stories sort of happen separately, and then I tie them all together. I was talking to a producing partner of mine — we’re doing some film and TV projects and stuff — and we were pitching this voodoo-related project to a network. That’s where the idea for Brea Grant’s story started out. The same goes for the gangster story which Frank Vincent’s character embodies. They all started as separate things, and I worked it out so that it comes full circle, and they’re all connected.

IFC: I can’t help wondering about the Marky Ramone character. He seems like the oddball in that mix, even with Brea Grant and Frank Vincent…

Robert: I wanted to just stick everybody in there who wouldn’t get along. It starts out that they share a tiny prison cell together, so they’re arguing right off the bat about everything. Marky Ramone plays a recovering gambler who’s involved in some kind of heist, and everything goes wrong.

IFC: How much does Marky know about the comic?

Robert: I actually met with him about it, since he’s based in NY. He loved the idea. He loves comics, and he was thrilled that his character got a baseball bat as a weapon. [Laughs]

IFC: With something like this, it’s hard not to see it as a movie in the making. Is that the idea here? Is this a pitch for a film?

Robert: Sure, this one lends itself to it because it has screen stars involved in it, and it would be great to see it that way, but right now I just want to focus on the comic. It’s always a matter of just getting it out of my system, and then we’ll see what happens.

IFC: Well, what about those movie projects you mentioned? How are things developing with the “Crawl To Me” movie?

Robert: We’ve picked up a team of screenwriters after receiving about a dozen treatments from writers who wanted to give it a crack. We chose these two screenwriters and they really have their head around it. We loved their treatment. So we’re in script mode now and should have the first draft by mid-July.

IFC: What about the “Wire Hangers” movie?

Robert: That’s taken a different path because we wanted to do it mostly in CGI, so it’s taking longer to get the visual effects in place. They’re doing a pre-vis, where they composite the backgrounds before any actors are added to it. They compile everything in the computer, with all the scenes, and you see how it’s going to look before the actors step in. So we’re at that stage now.

IFC: So I’m curious about what you’re reading these days…

Robert: You know what? I just picked up Scott McCloud’s Making Comics. I found a great tutorial of his online on how to do comic lettering in a certain way digitally, and I thought it was a great tip. So once I saw that, I wanted to check out his book.

Alan Robert’s “Killogy” will hit shelves in October (around Halloween). You can find more information about it at www.killogycomic.com. His comics “Wire Hangers” and “Crawl To Me” are available now from IDW Publishing.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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