Any fan of 70s horror comic staple Vampirella is familiar with the artist Buzz, the man who brought her back into the public consciousness in the 1990s, and inadvertently kicked off the ‘Bad Girl’ mania that swept through comic stores at the time. So when it was announced that Buzz would be producing an exclusive Rhode Island Comic Con variant cover for Dynamite Entertainment’s new on-going Elvira Mistress of the Dark comic book, long-time fans knew that the company made the right decision with their choice of artist.
Horror News Network was able to catch up with Buzz at RICC and discussed the origins of the cover, his favorite monsters, and what the future has in store for the popular artist.
Horror News Network: How did you get involved in the creation of this exclusive Elvira Mistress of the Dark cover for RICC?
Buzz: I’ve worked in the comic book industry for the last 30 years and I am well known to comic fans for my work with Vampirella, so when Dynamite asked me about doing a variant cover featuring Elvira, I thought it was a perfect fit. Like Vampirella, Elvira is a classic character and I was excited to do it.
HNN: How did you approach illustrating Elvira?
Buzz: Elvira is not only sexy, but she is also silly, so I wanted to portray both sides in the piece. When planning the piece, I became a kid again and started with the concept and then the breakdown stage and then the layout. Working with a character like Elvira, you need to get a lot of approvals. Once the image was done, it needed to be checked by Dynamite, the company that holds Elvira’s trademark, and of course, Elvira herself!
HNN: Not only did you get to draw Elvira, but you were also able to include a lot of classic monsters on the cover.
Buzz: Yes! I tried to keep the monsters funny and whimsical to match Elvira’s personality. When illustrating the classic monsters, you also have to be careful not to infringe on any trademarks that Universal holds. If you look at the Frankenstein Monster, he doesn’t have any bolts, so instead Elvira is playing with the stitching in his neck. With Dracula, I gave him a mustache and mischievous grin. I also tried to give the Wolfman a Wile E. Coyote look, with Elvira scratching his head. And of course the Mummy literally drops his jaw when he sees Elvira!
HNN: Speaking of the Universal Monsters, who is your favorite?
Buzz: The Gill-man. Unlike a lot of the other monsters, the Gill-man is a mystery. No one knows where he came from or why he is there. It is also the best costume, you can never tell where the suit begins or ends, and the look still holds up today. You never have to worry about seeing where his zipper is. It’s also a movie that gets better every time you watch it, especially the underwater and swimming scenes with Julie Adama. I know some Creature fans didn’t like Del Toro’s The Shape of Water, and thought that he was ripping off the character, but people need to realize that the film was Del Toro’s love letter to the Gill-man.
I always liked him better than the other monsters. Frankenstein always moved slow; basically a big zombie. I’ll never understood why people get nervous about zombies. If the zombies show up, just lock yourself in your house for a month and they will decompose and then you’re all set! Dracula always had a sense of humanity and often comes across as an anti-hero. The Mummy…is the Mummy. The Gill-man is just more unique and exciting.
HNN: What have you been working on besides the Elvira variant cover?
Buzz: I’ve been working on a lot of covers. I just did one for Live Wire from Valiant and three different Power Rangers covers for issue #30. They all sold out and featured well-known homages to classic covers such as the first appearance of the Hobgoblin from Amazing Spider-Man #238, The Infinity Gauntlet, and Dragon Ball Z.
I also plan to work with Joe Benitez on an upcoming Lady Mechanika comic. Both of us started around the same time in the industry, doing work-for-hire, and now we get to collaborate together on one of his creator-owned titles. So look for that next year (and we may go the Kickstarter route with the project).
We are also quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of Vampirella and the 25th anniversary of her relaunch in the 90s, and my own 50th anniversary-birthday! I am looking forward to being involved in the anniversary and drawing the character again.