(Photo provided by Robbie Drake)
Robbie Drake (RD): First off, let me say how happy and excited that I am to have this interview. ComicWow! looks amazing. Until the release of my novel in Sep 2016, I had never really belonged to Facebook or YouTube. I joined for reasons of promoting the book. When I found ComicWow! on Facebook, I was immediately impressed. With a presence on YouTube, Facebook, and your own ComicWow! TV, you guys are heading in the right direction. I knew that I had to contact you. Thanks again to ComicWow! for responding so quickly, and specifically you, Huck, for this opportunity.
ComicWow! (CW): Thanks so much! We are very excited to talk about Written in Red Dreams, and are thankful that you chose to talk with us. To start things off, how did you get into this industry? What made you want to release the books that you have?
RD: Since I can remember, I have always been a fan of horror and sci-fi. Programs like, Doctor Who, Gamera, Star Blazers, The Hurculoids, Grimsley and his Fright Night, all things that I grew up immersed in. I was taken to the movie theater for Star Wars, The Exorcist, Jaws and The Shining. Also as a child, I was lucky enough to have witnessed a UFO. Not a smudge on the horizon or glimmer in the clouds, this was fifty feet overhead, and definitely not from around here. The whole thing only lasted for about 6 seconds, but it left a lasting impression. Over the years, I attended the very first Doctor Who convention, where I not only met Elisabeth Sladen, the character of Sarah Jane Smith, but I received a kiss from her upon the cheek. I was also at the first and second Fangoria convention, where I was lucky enough to have met the creator of the Evil Dead, Sam Rami, as well as Bruce Campbell, and the late, tall man himself, Angus Scrimm. I’ve also been to countless other sci-fi and horror conventions, meeting Kane Hodder once at the premier of Friday the 13th Part 8. For a brief period, I apprenticed with the late, great special effects artist Steve Patino, and I have had my art in punk rock magazines, on thrash metal demo tapes and 45’s. So naturally, being a fan of all of this classic horror, fantasy and sci-fi, comic books, cartoons and graphic novels, the story of Written In Red Dreams has been brewing within my mind for a very long time. I decided about 9 years ago to start putting it all down onto paper. And I released the first book in Sep of this year.
CW: What exactly is Written in Red Dreams about?
RD: What is my novel about? That is a tough one. Well first, to get this out of the way, WIRD is actually one novel—509 pages, 60 chapters, a prologue and an epilogue. Because Amazon is publishing me with no out of pocket cost, the novel had to be split into book 1 and 2. Let’s see, WIRD is about the living Kallatonik Mountains and how it sifts through the universe while devouring orange and green planets. But, in order to swallow a blue world into its undulating orifice, the intergalactic Kallatonik must first bypass the pesky guardianship of Stellar Agents and then infiltrate the mind of the human collective. What better way to do that, then to make a deal with the infernal creatures, or demons, that are trapped within each blue planet? But, then again, WIRD is also about ancient Paleolithic bog gods and the technology that is used to repel them. It’s about alchemist vampires and their black magic fueled mechanical devises. It’s about a TV talk show host being possessed by a ghost and plunging into insanity. On a more human side, sort of, WIRD is also about true love—the undying kind. The sort that is as equally ugly as it is beautiful. It’s a romance between a mafia hit man and a unicorn riding ghost. It’s about loss, and about death. About being poor, and treated badly for a day’s work. The story delves into the effects of child abuse, and about abusing drugs and alcohol. For sure, this novel is rated R and shouldn’t be read by anyone under 18. At the same time, WIRD can also be laugh out loud funny, it’s scary, and can be rather gross; it’s mystery and fantasy, crime, drama and action. WIRD is many genres all rolled into one, bursting at the seams adventure. As I like to say. If Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Godfather went on a dinner date and Monty Python was the waiter, you would have WIRD. Over all, I hope that the reader walks away with the message of, lets all treat each other, plants and animals better.
CW: What made you mesh so many ideas (hit man, ghost, alchemist technology, vampires, etc.) together?
RD: The reason I undertook the process of combining so many genres, would again be linked to my love of everything sci-fi, horror and fantasy. I wanted to create something completely new, while at the same time, having the whole story presented in a mesh of familiar worlds. We have all read novels and watched movies about gangsters, or demons, ghosts, ancient monsters, vampires, flying saucers, black triangles, living orbs, dimensional travelers and evil cults, superhuman serial killers, secret government scientists and their technology. But to see all of these things and many others all interacting within one novel? I also wanted to go into detail on these characters. I wanted to show where demons call home. Answer the question as to if they are male and female? What do they eat? [What are] their routines? The novel also looks into the machinery used by intergalactic aliens, as well as the ghostly, plasmensional devises built by the spirits of the dead. We look into what powers the propulsion system behind a silver saucer, and take a look at the reversed technology responsible for the stealth disc fighter. We meet the Grays, looking inside their massive, futuristic cities, their love lives and their advanced science. The novel also pays homage to dozens of sci-fi and horror TV shows and movies. The careful eye will recognize the character of Dr. John Drake to be based on Patrick McGoohan, from the 1960’s television program, The Prisoner. Or, a fan of 1980’s horror will surely recognize the tribute paid in Chapter 11, Motel Hello. And so on.
CW: What is your creative process? How did you go from idea to book, and how long did it take? What is the inspiration behind this book?
RD: This whole idea of WIRD is really meant to be an animated movie. Can you imagine the visuals? Demons and silver saucers, hit men, secret scientists and hovering black triangles. The serial killer, Philip, who can walk across the air and literally kill you with his mind. The monstrous Kallatonik Mountains and its planet-swallowing orifice. The moving images and vivid colors would be fantastic. So, 9 years ago, I decided that the best way to do this was to begin by writing the novel. Then, I could get someone interested in making this into an animated movie. Well, in the end, it took me much longer than I thought that it would to complete the story. Basically, with the writing, the editing and artwork, the process has taken me 9 years. You could say, I became obsessed by my art—compelled to create the best story that I could. And what a crazy journey it has been. Seven years ago, I lost my fiancé to an accident, which was terribly traumatizing to my life. I think that this pain is reflected throughout the novel. I also lost my job, and my house. Yes, the novel is complete, and available, but I now live in a car. I guess it’s the old adage of, you gotta suffer for your art.
CW: Your artwork is unique, to say the least. How have you developed your own style over the years?
RD: Ah yes, the artwork. I am actually embarrassed by most of my drawings. I am highly critical of my work—obsessive at times. I see so many talented people out there who can really draw and paint, and I am extremely envious. Unfortunately, I don’t know any of them as friends, and I certainly can’t afford to hire anyone at the moment. In my case, I had to try and create representations for the characters within my novel. I needed to show people how different my work really is. I needed to show that if I could create these images that make people stop and go, wow, what is this?, then just imagine what a proper artist could do? Just imagine this story in animation. The idea blows my mind.
CW: What influences do you draw for your artwork?
RD: As to my influence on my drawings [and] my style and whatnot, I would say that many things have, and continue to influence me. I think that probably some influence can be seen from artists like H.R. Giger; though, I would certainly never compare myself in anyway. Also, undoubtedly, my art and writing has been influenced by my love of movies like Phantasm, or Suspiria, Hellraiser and 2010. But also, when talking about my writing in particular, by movies like Moonstruck, and Coldblooded with Jason Priestley. I’ve always been about trying to create things that make you go, yeah, I recognize this, but in an extremely warped way.
CW: Can we expect to see Written in Red Dreams in animation any time soon? Do you have plans to move to a different medium for this story?
RD: As far as seeing Written In Red Dreams put into animation, no plans yet. I am constantly trying to make contact with both Dark Horse and Adult Swim, but thus far haven’t received any replies. Well, I’ll just keep pushing forward. When you think of the original storyline, and the fusion of so many eclectic characters, WIRD would also make an amazing video game, comic book series, well, we’ll see. Maybe some talented people will read this interview and contact me.
CW: What can we expect from you in the near future?
RD: For right now, I’m focusing small. Want to advertise on Facebook. It’s really pretty well priced if you pay weekly. Though, I am not sure of the results because I haven’t tried it out yet. Oh, I have been talking a little with Tickety Boo Press, which is extremely exciting for me. It would be amazing if they were to pick up my novel. It would mean exposure to a wide audience, which would eventually mean an animated movie and series of comic books. A dream come true. The accomplishment of a lifetime. We will see. I do also have a few more interviews set up, one on a live podcast. Unrelated to my novel, I did just also finish a drawing that will be used as the cover for issue 3 of Subcutaneous magazine. Everyone should check them out; [it’s] growing really fast.
CW: Is there anything you’d like to add?
RD: Yes, in closing, I wanted to let everyone know that they can watch my horribly bad video on you tube. Just punch in “Written in Red Dreams.” On my page there, you will find a link to my Facebook. I’m on Facebook under Robbie Drake, written in red dreams; [there is] lots more art to be seen there. If you are interested after reading this interview, please visit Amazon and purchase Written in Red Dreams, book 1 and 2. Thank you so much ComicWow! for this opportunity. I’m a big fan of you guys, and I am eager for the next live broadcast on ComicWow! TV. And again, thank you Huck, for being so nice. Everyone be safe out there! I know that it can be hard, but try and treat each other with compassion. Take care.