Jeff Hughes of Comic Booked talks with Richard Zerga artist and owner of Legends Of Heroes And Villains and artist Kristi Zerga about being a small press comic book publisher and the upcoming “Taffy Love Is Not A Laughing Matter” comic book debuting at WonderCon.
Tell us about Legends Of Heroes And Villains
Legends of Heroes & Villains began back in 2004 as a retail site for old toys, new toys, comic books, manga, dragons and fantasy. We did lots of conventions throughout Northern California and were very successful. It wasn’t until 2007 that we started LHV Publishing. It’s current operations are overseen by Kristi Zerga, Noel Serrato and Richard Zerga.
What comic book titles is your company best known for publishing?
It all started with Nikki Zerga’s high school project. She wanted to show how to do a manga book as her project. This was the birth of “Hotaru“, a project that we all helped on. And that gave us the kick in the butt to start doing our own line of comics.
That has led into “Hotaru” being our most popular character, with tiles such as; “A Day in the Life“, “Sugar Rush“, “Kandyland” and “If I Ruled the World”. The vampire ‘Hotaru’ is still in the works without a working title at this point.
“Taffy T. Clown” came in around 2007 with his “Halloween Spooktacular series“.
As a publisher what do you enjoy most about creating a comic book title?
“Kristi Zerga: I really enjoy creating characters, not so much writing the stories, although I do!”
Richard Zerga: I agree with Kristi as far as creating the characters. Writing can be challenging but I really enjoy it.
Having something that you have created from start to finish is really an amazing feeling! You can put the characters that you design and create into situations that you yourself have envisioned. Awesome!
Tell us a bit about “Taffy T. Clown”
Ahhh… “Taffy T. Clown”! What a great guy! Taffy is actually a life size puppet created by a very good friend of ours, Chuck Jarman, owner of Bump in the Night FX. We wanted to do a horror comic, “Dead Alive”, still in the works, and with some unexpected results one Halloween eve, we decided that people really do enjoy clowns as much as we do!
Not really, Taffy’s sarcasm has rubbed off on us! It was then that we came to the conclusion that we should use Taffy as the official spooks person for our horror comics. And now, he sits in our studio and critiques all of the horror work that we do. He’s really quite demanding!
“Taffy T Clown” bares some resemblance to those horrifying clowns from the cult classic “Killer Clowns From Outer Space” is he from the movie?
A lot of people ask us that, or come up to our booth at conventions and say; ‘Hey! I saw that klown in that movie!” And we tell them; ‘Hey! No you didn’t!’ Even though he looks like a killer klown, he was actually produced by Chuck Jarman.
Chuck is a huge fan of horror movies, and as we all know, there is nothing that scares the crap out of people more than evil looking, maniacal, life size, clown puppets!
We are going to touch on the upcoming “Taffy Love Is Not A Laughing Matter” comic book featuring “Taffy T. Clown” but what was his first appearance in a comic and what other comics can he be seen in?
The first appearance of Taffy was in “Taffy’s 2008 Halloween Spooktacular”, and that was followed up with “Garden of Souls”, which was released in September 2010.
It has become a huge success! His next appearance, aside from “Love is Not A Laughing Matter“, will be “Dead Alive” and “Asylum of Blood“.
The first two books were more of a thriller than slasher/horror, but that has all changed! Now it’s all about the slicing and the dicing, the killing and the slaying! He will be making a brief appearance in Kristi Zerga and Dianna Spain’s upcoming comic ‘Kitty & Batz’, scheduled for release in September 2011.
It’s kind of a funny story on how that came to be! Kristi and I were talking about what we should do with the next story for Taffy, and we started bouncing around a few ideas. Jeff Hughes, from Comic Book Divas, contacted us and wanted to know if we would be interested in teaming up for a Taffy themed horror comic. We loved the idea!
When Jeff and I started talking about the summary of how it should go, it was kind of creepy that we were almost even on the story! Same concept, just a little difference on some characters. Really creepy!
The actual story we still want to keep under wraps. However, some of the situations that Jeff has written for Taffy were a lot of fun to draw! I think we were a little lite on the amount of gore that we drew. Won’t hold back again! Issues two and three will be a blood bath!
Both actress Debbie Rochon and actress Deneen Melody are attached to the comic book; what did you have in mind for the characters when you approached them?
With Deneen Melody, we had the opportunity to sponsor her appearance at SAC-Horror back in September 2010, and she gave us the green light to create a promo poster using her likeness!
We spent two days with her and she is just an amazing person. Kristi and I had really wanted to do a project with her. So with our next comic book project, we really were looking at the chance to work with Deneen. So when the joint project came about with Comic Book Divas, we knew we would have a really good chance to work with her.
We needed a person who has Deneen’s beauty and portray a type of innocence, that the reader would believe and feel for when things started to go bad for.
But, to top it off, Deneen needed a best friend, and we thought Debbie Rochon would be perfect! We needed a tough, tom-boy type character, who could be tough and beautiful, but believable at the same time. She needed to be a character that would have Deneen’s back throughout the story.
Where and when can we expect the “Taffy Love Is Not A Laughing Matter” comic book to debut and do you have something special planned to mark the debut of the comic?
“Love is Not A Laughing Matter” will debut at WonderCon at the Moscone Center in San Francisco April 1, 2011! The convention will run from the first thru the third, and they’re expecting well over 40,000 attendees! We will be at booth SP-37 in the Small Press area, and we will have a special guest: Ysabel Young, who makes an appearance in issue 1.
We will have prints available and Ysabel, Kristi and I will be on hand to talk more about the story as well as sign every comic and print that we sell!
Note: Taffy Love Is Not A Laughing Matter” will debut at WonderCob with two variant covers; There Will be a Debbie Rochon cover by artist Jason Dube and a Deneen Melody cover by Richard and Kristi Zerga.
What other titles will you be debuting in the future?
Well…Let’s see… At WonderCon alone, we’ll have, along with Taffy; “HOTARU: Sugar Rush”, written, penciled, colored and lettered by Kristi ‘Batz’ Zerga, pencils and inks by Noel ‘Sapo’ Serrato. ‘HOTARU: If I Ruked The World”, written and penciled by Noel “Sapo” Serrato, colored and lettered by Kristi ‘Batz’ Zerga, with the cover penciled and inked by Scattered Comics very own Jason Dube, with colors by Kristi ‘Batz’ Zerga.
Other titles that will be released later this year: “Kitty And Batz”, ‘Asylum Of Blood”, an unnamed ‘HOTARU’ vampire story, Love Is Not A Laughing Mater” issues 2 & 3, and “Dead Alive”, and if we can squeeze out more, then squeeze we shall!
What was it like collaborating with Comic Book Divas and owner Jeff Hughes on this title?
It has been a challenge!!! Just kidding! We have had a lot of fun and look forward to the next time we have an opportunity to do so. It’s been great having him invent such creative situations for Taffy!
Everyone should find them to be a hoot!
Do you think you will be collaborating with Comic Book Divas again in the future?
We will be! We’ve already been discussing another Taffy story, but the biggest news is that, Comic Book Divas and Legends of Heroes & Villains, will be teaming up to create the comic book based on the upcoming 2012 feature film, Rose White“, starring Deneen Melody, along with Erin Breen, Daniel Kuhlman, Anthony Fleming, David Goodloe, Sheri Savage and Jay DeLaRosa, and Kitsie Duncan
We’re really excited and grateful to be approved for this opportunity and we can’t wait to get started!
What conventions are you planning to attend this year?
We are currently working out dates with Scattered Comics Studios Jason Dube for local appearances to meet and greet as many people as we can to spread the good word… And that word is TAFFY!!!
Where can we find out more about Legends Of Heroes and Villains and your projects?