Hello again, my fellow spawn of supernatural storytelling.
Today, I’m tempting the pentagram in an effort to understand the tortured tenacity of Gilbert Deltrez. Let us join him on a foray of flesh flying fanaticism. We’ll delve into various dark projects, crush some Kickstarter, and learn about the inspiration monster within. If you’ve got the courage, let’s do some dimension hopping with a devilishly kind comic chameleon. If we’re lucky, we’ll get back here in one piece, covered in a new shade of red of course.
Chris: Hey Gil, thanks for joining us man! First off, how long have you been dreaming up demons? Sometimes people use art to release the nightmares they have in their heads. Is your process more cathartic, or do you simply love the macabre? For me, it’s a little bit of both I’m afraid.
Gil: As an 80’s child I kinda grew up with a deep infatuation to horror. Movies like The Pit, Child’s Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Exorcist ruined me in all the right ways. As much as I love a good ghost story, they don’t do anything for me. Ghosts can’t hurt you. Demons can. Their effectiveness stems from the morality of one’s spirit. For me, the demonic subject alone has compelled me to flesh out narratives that evoke people to search within themselves.
Chris: Did your parents have any influence on your artistic choices, or even your vision to pursue art as a career? Sometimes it’s harder for parents to get behind a young artist’s obsession, especially if it has darker themes. As an artist myself, I’d love your take on things.
Gil: My artistic endeavor came after much soul-searching, and coming to the realization that a career in the arts wasn’t something that’s inherently viewed as attainable in my cultural circle as a Latin American. But in a general sense, my parents were behind me. Realistically, they didn’t view comic book writing as a career worth pursuing, or investing money in, but for me, obviously it goes way beyond a means to make money. It’s a way of life. It’s sharing a distinct viewpoint that only I am capable of. It’s a voice. Although the darker themes may spurn some, my message is ultimately one that brings light.
Chris: Tell me about “Under the Flesh.” Is that the story that got you started with indie comic dreams, or were there prior attempts? Why did you have to tell that particular story?
Gil: “Under The Flesh” is very special to me. It was my first jump into the world of comic book creation. I learned by making tough mistakes. What started as my personal love letter to the zombie genre evolved into a psycho-spiritual apocalypse story. We’ve already completed three issues of a six-issue arc.
Chris: My understanding is that LAIR is a 60- or so page, one shot graphic novel, as opposed to broken down issues of UTF. As a writer, what freedom do you experience in a one-and-done scenario like LAIR? What challenges do you experience that didn’t apply to UTF?
Gil: LAIR is all about closure. As an avid comic reader, it gets hard to keep up with all the glorious comic book fodder available for our optic spams. So many Issues. Volumes. Trades. Because of that, I wanted to write a complete story. Something with a beginning, middle, and end, where readers can gauge my work. Like a mini movie in comic book form.
Chris: What’s your process like? I love storytelling but I struggle with outlines. I tend to start with a situation and let my brain figure out the story from there. Do you feel outlines are necessary? What’s your best advice for new writers?
Gil: Everyone has his or her own method. Style. Routine. Mantra. I don’t mind outlines. I’ve written stories which started from a cool title that just popped in my head or a scene that manifests subconsciously from something else. I’ve even created a project that sparked from a bizarre dream. Usually, once key pieces are in place, I figure out the cast, plot, overall direction, and then start handwriting before I type it out. But outlines are pivotal. And in other cases, not so much.
Chris: How does the off-duty cop in LAIR differ from the super-soldier in UTF? They both seem like gritty individuals with their own personal struggles, but I’d love to gain an understanding of the character depth.
Gil: In UTF, our super-soldier is eager to channel his untapped power in an apocalyptic world. He’s unaware what he’s capable of and wants to push his limits, even if it puts himself in immediate danger. He’s a man of faith. He’s not utterly hopeless. In LAIR, our off-duty cop is a brash, irreligious man who’s tired of being typecast by society, even though he’s a cop. His pride is so strong that he’s willing to walk away from the woman he loves because he can’t stand her elitist father.
Chris: You seem like a Kickstarter veteran. As an indie creator who has learned a lot in a relatively short period of time, what is the most important piece of advice you can provide?
Gil: DON’T GIVE UP. If you’re determined, you’ll tough it out. I’m as marginalized as they come, and my path to publication is double the uphill with triple the battle. My goal is to finish what I start. As a comic book writer, there are many things out of my scope of control, so I like to focus on what I have power over.
Chris: Speaking of which, you’ve got a lot of faith and courage attached to the 10k goal for LAIR. Where does that kind of courage come from, and how can we help get it out there (besides just telling our friends, of course)?
Gil: Faith is what gives me my courage. I believe in LAIR. I financed the finished cover and first page out of pocket because I’m confident in the strength of the project. Sadly, since I don’t have a disposable income, I need to rely on crowdfunding to shoulder the burden. Anyone that knows comics can see that the creative team behind LAIR is of the highest order. We’re all self-taught artists, respectively, and we all suffer from delusions of grandeur. We’re unknown, which makes getting word of our project all the harder. We’re banking on word of mouth because my voice doesn’t hold much weight in the comic world right now. Hopefully that will change slightly with LAIR.
Chris: I see various influences in your work. I like the “Walking Dead” vibes, and with all these demons, The Exorcist has got to be in there somewhere. Based on a limited understanding of our heroes, I’m gonna guess… Frank Castle is hidden in the shadows as well? Who’s your biggest influence as a storyteller?
Gil: Frank Castle is one of my favorite superheroes after Batman and Spiderman. As far as influences? I’ve got many. Romero, Fulci, Tarantino, Stephen King, Koontz, Joe Hill, Kirkman, Snyder, James Wan, and Jordan Peele. But my biggest storytelling influence comes from a prophetic humble man who rode a donkey while claiming to be king for his people.
Chris: Finally my friend, what’s the most exciting thing in your life outside of LAIR at the moment?
Gil: The most exciting things outside of my life are the underprivileged third grade students I serve five days out of the week. I hope to inspire them as if I was clad in spandex with a gust of wind winnowing beneath my cape.
There you have it, admirers of the underworld.
My expectations were exceeded yet again. Gil is not only a well-read dreamer, but as humble as they come. He’s brave enough to explore a harsher side of humanity, and I, for one, am brave enough to follow him into the depths. We’ve not only managed to survive a stroll in the gorgeous midnight gardens of good and evil, but also somehow managed to come out brighter on the other side. Gil’s work is indeed a worthy search of the soul. Like the best storytellers, he entertains us in the most “graphic” sense of the word while also telling us the truth in secret. It seems we must grab hold of the darkness tightly if we are to find the light within.
To contribute to Gil’s Kickstarter, learn more about his work or just connect, you’ll find all those links below: