Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight Interview with Alex de Campi

by Rob Caprilozzi

Literature: overrated. Morality: expendable. Tonight is right for some over-the-top sex and violence! Bringing the flavor of midnight exploitation flicks to comics, Grindhouse delivers four two-issue gore operas, starting with “Bee Vixens from Mars,” pitting a one-eyed southern Latina deputy against lusty alien chicks bent on laying eggs in the entire male population!

We caught up with writer, Alex de Campi to talk about her upcoming series from Dark Horse, Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight.

Horror News Network: Hi Alex, thanks for joining us. How did the concept for this book come about, have you always been a fan of grindhouse films?

Alex de Campi: I've always loved trash. I have a lot of taste, and most of it is bad. It's funny, because I'm seen as fairly literary in the genre-comics continuum… but I've seen more Z-movies than probably anyone except Quentin Tarantino and Thomas Eikrem. And I'd just finished writing these two big graphic novels, both of which were huge struggles not only to write (because they were quite personal and quite dark), but also just to get out there. And, you know, I was just like, FUCK IT. I'm writing BEE VIXENS FROM MARS. I'm writing explosions, badassery, and gratuitous nudity and gore. And, amazingly… nobody had really done a grindhouse series before. Sure, the odd miniseries has elements of a single exploitation cinema film, but nobody had said, yeah, we're going to gleefully romp through the exploitation subgenres and do a whole bunch of stories whose only link is, if they were films, they would have both bare tits AND gore. It was one of those things that was just such a pure and simple idea, but nobody had done it. And as you can imagine, we have all had so much fun creating this series. From the editors to the artists… we've all had a blast. Sometimes our email conversations are so Roger Corman-esque, I'm like, did we really just have a discussion about pus volcanoes for ten emails?

Horror News Network: What can our readers expect in terms of shock value from this series?

Alex de Campi: Tits, gore, explosions. Every issue. I actually thought some of it was pretty tame (because I'm dead inside, obviously) until our amazing colourist for the first arc, Nolan Woodard, emails us and goes, “you know I coloured 28 DAYS LATER and this is WAY more blood, right?”. This was for Issue 1, Page 10. He hadn't gotten further than that. We know what the audience wants – it's what we want. Badass heroines who make you want to punch your fist in the air. Who end up in their panties. Possibly on fire. And gross, gross, bad, disgusting monsters and people that make you have nightmares and cross your legs and go UGH.

Horror News Network: What did you find to be most challenging about your work on Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight?

Alex de Campi: Walking the line. We wanted to rate an R but feel like an X. So we had to make sure we were implying stuff that you had to imagine in your own mind… sometimes it is better to suggest than to show, because we know how dirty your minds are. But, you know, Panel 3 of Issue 1 Page 1 is a wet-panty crotch shot. So we don't leave everything to your mind. We actually got a lot of pushback from senior editoral on the first arc, because it was so porny and violent. Which means, in our mind, we got it right. If the old suits are like WHOA HELL NO, we're doing it right. The other thing was, you know, making sure it was awesome for women. I'm a woman. I hate reading exploitation comics that are basically totally from the male gaze and all the women are bimbos or zombies or zombie bimbos. I'm all for zombie bimbos but let there be one awesome Coffy-style character kicking ass and taking names. Because actually that's one of the greatest things about exploitation cinema… it has had hands-down the greatest number of awesome female characters/action heroes in all of cinema.

Horror News Network: Can you talk a bit about working with artists who join you on this book?

Alex de Campi: A couple old friends, a couple new ones. Chris Peterson and Nolan Woodard (artist and colourist of Bee Vixens from Mars) I pretty much didn't know before the book, and now they're really good friends. Those two have pretty much been a laugh riot the whole way and oh my god are they hitting the art out of the park. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll cross your legs. Simon Fraser (Prison Ship Antares) I've known forever, but we've never both been free at the same time to do a book. Until this one. We've been laughing at him working away in his studio of Serious Brooklyn Cartoonists, drawing booty, basically. Lots and lots of female prisoner booty. Federica Manfredi and I worked together before, and I really wanted a female artist for Bride of Blood (the rape-revenge book), as it is SO much darker than all the other stories and I needed it drawn from a female point of view… also the art in that begins in this beautiful, JH Williams/Alphonse Mucha-esque style, which she does so, so well. Then Gary Erskine… he's a bit of a legend, and he draws great teenagers and great mopeds, so he was a natural choice for my moped-riding field hockey team girl gang vs demon story, Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll.

Horror News Network: Dark Horse has this slated as a four issue series. Would you be interested in returning to write more grindhouse stories after this series wraps up?

Alex de Campi: Actually it's an eight issue series! Each story is two issues. But more? Oh sure. It's all going to be dependent on the sales of this first series so PLEASE PLEASE buy it so I can write more trashy, morally bankrupt stories! I actually put out a call to artists on Twitter to do fake grindhouse movie posters as pinups for inclusion in the series… maybe some of the next series will spin out of these fake posters, the way Machete did with Rodriguez. I love doing chaos-theory stuff though Twitter… have met some amazing artists and had MORE fun! We have Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Japanese grindhouse posters coming! Every part of this series has just been so much fun. I think you'll feel our joy in the genre just emanating out of the page like the singular perfume of a disembodied, rotting brain.

Horror News Network: In closing, what would you like to say to our readers about Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight?

Alex de Campi: Um, buy it? But be careful if you live in a conservative community that likes to ban books. Miiiight want to drive over the county line for this one. Seriously, if your answer to “what are the best things in life?” happens to be: kick-ass John Carpenter style heroes, utterly gratuitous gore and nudity, and plenty of thrills, this is a series you will enjoy.

Horror News Network: Thank you for your time Alex! Good luck with this title.

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