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EEEK!: Jason Paulos Talks Horror

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Australian writer/artist Jason Paulos is well known for his surly creation, Hairbutt the Hippo, but its his love of old school horror that'sat the fore these days. Hairbutt has been around since the 1980s, originally published as mini-comics and then Rat Race Comix. Paulos then went on to showcase the anthropomorphic private eye in the pages of the Australian version of MAD Magazine, before more recently creating tales for Judge Dredd Megazine and DC’s Bizarro World anthology.

His latest work is the kind of material that we unfortunately don't see much of in comics these days. Initially a four-issue mini-series, the ode to classic horror stories that is EEEK! has now been given a makeover in the new collection from Asylum Press, and it’s obvious that it’s been a labour of love for Paulos. For those who miss the horror anthologies of days gone by, EEK! looks set to please.

BROKEN FRONTIER: What do you think of the state of horror in entertainment today?

JASON PAULOS: I'm pretty ignorant of it. I'm only aware of the mainstream stuff like the Saw movies and stuff like that. I prefer the classic stuff and when a horror buff refers me to something I'll search it out.

BF: Do you have a day job?

PAULOS: I work from home drawing advertising storyboards for the Drawing Book agency in North Sydney. Previously to that I worked as a graphic designer on catalogues and corporate magazines for 20 years and hated every minute of it. I was busted once by my boss as I was colouring a pic of Wonder Woman ... red faces all around! These days I'm paid to draw, and paid well in comparison to comics.

BF: What’s next with Hairbutt the Hippo? Wasn’t there talk of a film adaptation?

PAULOS: Yes, but that was a lie ... started by me! Years ago I told a PR person that Dino De Laurentis was producing with Roseanne Barr and John Goodman as Hairbutt and Toots O'Toolworthy. An animation company in Canberra started work on a 3-D Hairbutt model, but that ended in disappointment. I'm open to offers. 
I was once interviewed on the now defunct Mondo Thingo program about the comics-to-movies craze and we tried to make it look like it could really happen, but it backfired on us ... the producer told us we'd have to relocate to the US!
 In a perfect world, I'd like Ralph Bakshi to produce a 2-D animated feature. I need the faceless money men to make it happen; I'm just a guy in his pyjamas that draws tampon ads.

BF: I believe you initially self-published EEEK!, so how did it end up at Asylum and are there any differences between the two editions?

PAULOS: I still self publish through www.lulu.com/ratrace but the freight costs are prohibitive... I have to rely on passing web traffic, which is pretty minimal. I can't remember how I found Asylum but I'm glad I did. They always return my emails and are 110 percent behind my book. My self-publishing efforts pale in comparison to the tireless Frank Forte and company. The main difference is the saucy new cover by Aly Fell (and a great new back cover collaboration between Daniel Cox and me) and a large expanded color pinup gallery/cover art section in the back. There's around 30 new pages I think.

BF: Who will enjoy EEEK!?

PAULOS: It's not just the mentally ill and morally corrupt that love EEEK! I've had letters from Vietnam vets, convicts, taxidermists, and dentists... you know, just regular folk who enjoy pulling on a polyester safari suit and listening to Herb Alpert while thumbing through the latest Retro Horror Mood releases.

BF: Is there a favourite story of yours in the collection?

PAULOS: How could you even ask? It would be like choosing a favorite child. But now that you mention it... I've a soft spot for Deadline of Death... even though I've since discovered the plot is almost identical to an old Ditko story called Ghostwriter. D'oh! What are the odds?!

 BF: How is the Australian comics industry these days?

PAULOS: She's doing well despite a few crushing setbacks... the talent drain to the US and the GFC for example. There's life in the old girl yet and if we all get behind her, dust her off and smack her on the bum and point her in the right direction, who knows what will happen! Visit www.pulpfaction.net to find out more or check out artists alley at the next Supanova or Armageddon convention.

BF: Are you following any comics at the moment?

PAULOS: I don't have the time or money. I'm pretty much only buying collected reprints of Golden Age comics at the moment, as well as hunting down obscure '70s horror titles in the blogosphere. I've filled up a folder with hundreds of jpegs of my favourite comics artists and when I need inspiration I print a few out and stare at them till the toner fades! I picked up some great local horror titles at Armageddon recently, namely Decay from Dark Oz and Jason Frank's Kagemono.

BF: Will there be more EEEK! in the future?

PAULOS: Asylum Press are keen to do more. Black House are releasing the new stuff on Aussie newsstands at the moment. Issue #3 (Volume Two) is due out soon. People can find me on Facebook for updated info. I'm working on new stuff all the time. I'd love to have other artists on board as I've a lot of story ideas but no luck as yet... except for pinups of course!

BF: I’d imagine you’d be pretty busy outside of creating comics, so how do you stay motivated?

PAULOS: Meeting fans and getting emails. Doing interviews for websites. Making Fangoria.com's top ten horror comic releases last year. Shaun Tan and Dave Elsey winning Oscars. Getting scripts from new writers.

The 152 page black and white Eeek! TPB collects the original four issues and is available now from Asylum Press.

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