Vitriol the Hunter Interview with Billy Martin and Brent Allen

They own the night… they yearn for the day! In this gothic sci-fi adventure, Billy Martin (guitarist of Good Charlotte) and Brent Allen bring a new grisly horror to life! As Basilika City’s last great hope, Vitriol stands as the only force that can stop Lord Barthus and his heinous vampire regime from overtaking the city.

We caught up with the creators of this book, Billy Martin and Brent Allen to talk about this interesting new title from IDW Publishing.

Horror News Network: How did you come up with the concept for this title?

Billy Martin: I started writing ideas down for a video game concept. I knew I wanted it to involved supernatural creatures like vampires and there would be some type of a vigilante. I drew some concept ideas and thought about weapons and how the game would play. There wasn’t a lot of story at first just drawings and scenarios. Brent and I had written a few script ideas before I pitched the idea of doing it as a comic book and from there we really dove in to developing the story.

Horror News Network: Have you guys always been into comics?

Billy Martin: Absolutely! I have a huge collection that I started when I was around 9 or 10. I got into comics when the Image boom happened, so Spawn was my favorite then. I used to buy books based purely on the art, because I knew I wanted to draw comics. Once I got older and started appreciating the stories and I already had a ton of books to go back and read.

Brent Allen: I was into comics when I was younger and then took some time off. Talking to Billy about comics got be back into the swing of things and then co-writing Vitriol really got me into them again.

Horror News Network: Vitriol seems like a cross between Blade and Judge Dredd. How would you describe the main character in this book?

Billy Martin: Obviously Blade was an influence, I’m familiar with the Judge Dredd character but can say I’ve ever read any books. Guess I need to! In my mind Vitriol was more of a cross between Eric Draven from The Crow and Hellboy. I wanted that sarcastic, dark, loner vibe with him. He struggles with his past and lets it cloud his future. He feels the pressure of being the city’s hero and doesn’t want to share his burden with anyone.

Brent Allen: He’s a character that is flawed on many levels which makes him human and not an all-powerful superhero. He has physical and emotional stress that is weighing down on him. He is scared to get close to people and he is also addicted to pain killers. All isn’t against Vitriol, though; he is also numb to pain to a certain extent. So there is some good to go with the bad.

Horror News Network: There seems to be no shortage of things that go “bump” in the night from this title. What can we expect in terms of blood and guts?

Billy Martin: Both Brent and I fans of over the top gore in horror movies. I have a very animated style of drawing which doesn’t usually lend itself to a dark story like this. I just really wanted to be myself and draw what I wanted how I imagined it. I think the blend of art style with all the blood splattering and chopped off heads makes for a nice fresh look to the book. In issue one alone there are multiple limps being shot and hacked off as well as some intestinal spillage, so there certainly is no lack of blood and guts!

Brent Allen: Yeah, Billy and I both love bloody monster movies and comics. When writing this book we both knew that we wanted a pretty bloody book but still keeping it interesting story wise as well.

Horror News Network: Billy, you handle both the co-writing and art chores on this book. Which of the two do you find more enjoyable?

Billy Martin: Definitely the art. I love creating characters and worlds and concepts, but sometimes I’m too excited to start drawing to really focus the ideas into a story. Luckily Brent and I work really well together in that sense. He writes fast, so after we have a brain storming session I know I don’t have to wait long to see a script to start drawing from.

Horror News Network: Your artwork definitely has a unique look to it. Did you take art classes or did you teach yourself how to draw?

Billy Martin: All self taught. I’ve been a student my whole life honestly. I’m always trying to get better and teach myself knew techniques. I spent my youth copying images off of saturday morning cartoons, and my teenage years trying to imitate my favorite comic book artists. As I got older I started reading anatomy books and learning more complex perspective stuff. Developing a style is the hardest part, you will always draw like the people you look up to at first. I’m still finding my own style in that sense, I try to draw from the gut as much as possible nowadays and make sure it’s my image on the paper versus how I’ve seen someone else draw it.

Horror News Network: This title seems to lend itself pretty well to other media (movies or cartoons). Do you have any plans to move it toward that direction?

Billy Martin: Of course, that would be awesome! No immediate plans for that, but I would love to see something happen in the near future.

Brent Allen: I think we both would love to see Vitriol in a movie/cartoon/video game platform. Billy and I actually wrote a cartoon script together around 7-8 years ago so it’s definitely something we would be really interested in doing.

Horror News Network: Billy, how do you balance working on the comic and being in a band?

Billy Martin: It has been quite a challenge but a welcome one. I really love making music and drawing. I’m very passionate about both and would hate to ever have to choose just one. It took me 4 years to complete the pencils for all 6 issues. Sometimes I’d go weeks where I couldnt work on Vitriol. I’d set up my make shift art studio in hotel rooms, tour buses, backstage, anywhere I could. This year the band is taking some time off, so hopefully people like Vitriol and want more so I can actually work on it and get it out quickly.

Horror News Network: Where can our readers find out more about you and this comic?

Billy Martin: I’m very active on Twitter, @TheBillyMartin. I’m always posting work in progress shots and making sure everyone knows when and where to get Vitriol. My website is Bloodzilla.com, plenty of info there as well!

Horror News Network: In closing, what would you guys like to say to our readers about Vitriol the Hunter?

Billy Martin: This book has been a long time in the making and I think readers will see the passion we put into it. It’s meant to be a fun book reminiscent of those 90’s era Image books where things were over the top because comics are supposed to be! I hope they enjoy it and want more so we can share all the more adventures we have written for Vitriol.

Brent Allen: Vitriol the Hunter seems like a simple story about a guy running around hunting vampires. There is a lot more to it and the future of the book goes to some fun and pretty odd places.

Horror News Network: Thanks for your time guys! Best of luck with this title. Have a comment? Post it below.

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Rob Caprilozzi
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Rob Caprilozzi created Comic Monsters in 2004 and eventually expanded the site in 2009 to Horror News Network. Born out his love for all aspects of horror, Rob still remains hardcore comic fan. You can keep up with him on Twitter @RobCaprilozzi.


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