Sunday, October 27, 2013

Interview with Luke Cooper.

Full Name:
Luke Michael John Cooper, which I accept sounds like someone attempting to list the apostles.
It sure does!

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I wish I could tell you that I have cool nicknames like Johnny Rocketcock but I don’t. I used to be called Mouse when I was younger. I tried to get the nickname Ace started, but it didn’t catch on.
I’m totally going to try to get people to start calling you Johnny Rocketcock.
The only problem with that is that my treacherous brain now keeps reading it as Johnny Rottencock. That’s not good! Why do you hate me, brain? Why can’t I have a cool nickname?
Johnny Rottencock wouldn’t be such a bad nickname if there wasn’t already a guy going around with the stage name Johnny Rotten.

Current hometown:
TrenĨianske Stankovce, TrenĨin, Slovakia.
That doesn’t sound like a thing. Is that a thing?
You know Slovakia, the place from the Hostel movies? When you learn to ignore the sounds of power tools and tourists screaming, it’s quite pleasant.

Favorite city and why?
London. I never get tired of the place. Going there with my Slovak girlfriend made me love it even more because I could see it through a tourist’s eyes.

28th April 1978. I am 35 physically but about 15 mentally.
That’s okay. I keep forgetting that I’m not 25 anymore.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Unshaven and sporting a pregnant-looking belly on an otherwise slim frame.

How would someone else describe you physically?
I have been described as a piece of string with a knot in the middle and, back when I was skinny and before my black hair started to pick up flecks of white, as a burnt French fry.

The first thing people notice about you is…
My charming leave-me-the-fuck-alone expression. Seriously, I am often described as cold by people that don’t know me very well. I guess I’m just not very good at first meetings. However, once I warm to someone, I tend to latch on to them like a love-starved leech.
I believe it’s called “resting bitch face”.
Thank you. It’s fun to learn!

Hair Color/Eye Color/Race?
Mostly black, mostly brown, completely white.

Sexual orientation?
I’m an oversensitive man who likes tomboys. What does that make me? A lesbian?
I have often thought of myself as a lesbian trapped in a bear’s body.
Which, when you think about it, is preferable to a bear trapped in a lesbian’s body. That could get messy.

Religion, if any?
Agnostic. Christianity is too restrictive and Atheism has nothing to sell. “One day the universe will just stop and our existence will be nothing but a meaningless blip.” How very comforting.
I think if God exists it is as an indefinable force and not as a bearded bloke in the clouds.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I’m quite a rational person but I still feel compelled to count magpies. As for phobias, millipedes freak me out and I’m not fond of heights. I don’t have great balance with both feet on the ground!
What does counting magpies do?
One for sorrow, two for joy... Oh, fuck! There’s only one! Shoot it, shoot it! Throw a rock or something, for the love of God! No. It’s flown away. Now we’re all doomed. DOOMED!
Since I read your answer I’ve been counting crows. Thanks for the new superstition… jerk.

Do you smoke/drink?   If so, what?   Any bad habits?
I used to drink Jack Daniels. That’s not so easy to come by in Slovakia, but they have some very nice – and very inexpensive – beers. Slovaks also like to knock back shots of slivovica – plum brandy – to celebrate everything from the birth of a child to successfully making it through half a day of work.

Current occupation/Dream job:
I teach English Conversation in a Slovak private school and it pretty much is a dream job. I just sit around talking to students all day. The best part is that I don’t speak much Slovak so they have to talk to me in English.
I get on well with the students and have even started trying to get them to read comics and listen to my favourite bands. It’s still kind of educational, right?
It’s TOTALLY educational… and how do I get that job?
Move to a foreign country and with nothing to offer but the words that spill from your mouth. It worked for me.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I write and draw comics, play the guitar or watch trashy movies.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Go to the Winchester, drink a pint and wait for it all to blow over.
That sounds like a slice of fried gold!

Weapon of choice:
A plastic BB gun.

Do you have any special skills?
Well, minor telekinesis and psychic abilities, but they’re more of a curse than anything.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I did a degree in Visual Design and Advertising, although the advertising part of it was practically non-existent. I went to college when I was in my twenties as a mature student. It was fun and I used the course to develop my digital art and make some connections in the British indy comic scene.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
Fuck no. I’ve never had a job that paid enough. Slovakia is not known for its hefty paycheques.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
No. I had a dog when I was growing up, a mongrel dog called Holly. I miss that sweet little idiot.

What is your favorite animal?
I’m fascinated by isopods. They look like giant woodlice and live in the deep sea. They make my skin crawl and yet I still periodically have to Google them and stare at their photos with horrified awe.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Whining, precious little fan-boys who shit scorn over every new movie or comic, picking them apart as though performing autopsies on creativity. I used to be like that until I realised just how fucking hard it is to: A) get something in print and B) get people to read the stuff.
The worst part is that a lot of these bile-spewers are fellow comic creators. It winds me up because not one of them can honestly say that everything they’ve worked on has been a sublime work of art and I doubt they’re able to take criticism as well as they can excrete it.
I posted the complete series of Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children on Facebook as a group because I love that series and one of my new imaginary friends suggested that it was decent and I should be able to get it printed someplace if I tried.
And I was, like, “Uh, this is one of the best comic book series ever. And was published by DC’s Vertigo imprint, but thanks for appreciating it.”
I’ve never been a very critical reviewer.
Okay, that’s not exactly true, but if I can’t think of anything nice to say I usually tell the artist privately.
And by “anything nice”, sometimes I mean, “Congratulations on doing something and being able to get it done.”
I think the old saying is true: if you haven’t got anything nice to say, then shut the fuck up. Something like that. Criticism needs to tempered with tact. What some people describe as honesty, I would call cuntishness, if such a word exists.
I added it to my spellcheck, so now it’s official. “Cuntishness” is a word.

Favorite/Least favorite Food:
Steak is my favourite food. My least favourite is crushed hedgehog and pus.
That reminds me of what I think whenever someone says “Ugh! This tastes like shit!”
I always think, “So you’ve eaten shit to have a taste for it by way of comparison?”
I did hear a story on a radio show about a toddler eating dog shit, unable to tell the difference between chocolate and crap. That made me put down my Snickers bar, I can tell you.

What is your favorite quotation/motto/saying?
“Goddamn these electric sex pants.”

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Look, I’m sorry about this, but the answer is meeting my girlfriend. Everything got better for me after that. I moved to Slovakia, got my teaching job and started illegally downloading movies. I love my life now.
No reason to be sorry if that’s your honest answer. We should all be so lucky.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
When a friend of mine tried to commit suicide after the death of his father, I dedicated myself to being an on-call friend. The result of it was that I got depressed too and stopped going to work. I lost my job and my home, ended up in debt to various credit card companies and generally fucked up my life. My friends, by the way, were nowhere to be seen. A loan from my mother, a bucket-load of Prozac and endless hours of counselling later, I managed to turn things around.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I once fell for a Jehovah’s Witness girl. I told her I loved her, but it fell apart very quickly. It was doomed from the start really. She wasn’t allowed to date outside of her religion. I don’t think it was an unrequited love, but she didn’t have the guts to stand up to the ‘elders’ of the church.
The girl had a cute little quirk. She suffered from petit mal epilepsy and so would go blank in the middle of conversations. I heard that she’d once had a seizure whilst riding her bike and ended up riding round and round in a circle until she snapped out of it. How can you not fall in love with a girl like that?
In college I dated a girl that would pass out cold randomly.
She’d be standing next to you and then her eyes would flutter and then down she’d go.
It was some kind of low-blood-pressure thing that she took medication for but apparently wasn’t very good at keeping her dosage up.
One time a friend and I were walking to the dining center on a brisk fall morning and we saw a pile of something on the sidewalk ahead. Turns out it was a pile of my girlfriend. We grabbed her by the ankles and wrists and carried her back into the shelter of the dorm entrance so she wouldn’t be exposed to the cold. Someone called security because two boys carrying a girl across campus is something worthy of bringing to the attention of security. Security showed up and they wanted to call an ambulance but I talked them out of it because she always snapped out of it after a while and she would be pissed if they called an ambulance.
There’s more to the story, but I don’t want to make this interview about me.
People are much more interesting when they have little imperfections. The ones that we’ve just talked about are pretty exceptional, but the point stands. What the hell is normality anyway? Deep down, nobody believes they’re normal. Why try to hide the things that make you unique and awesome?
Because the things that make you unique and usual can also be the things that cause you to be ostracized. That’s why I love the Universal Monster movies so much. For each “monster” the thing that made them exceptional was the thing that made them feared and ostracized by everyone else. Also, if you think about it, they’re all love stories.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
When I was a teenager, I became infatuated – that’s the nice word for obsessed – with a girl who was only vaguely aware that I was on the same plane of existence. Meanwhile, there was another girl I was friends with. I only found out much later that she had a thing for me. I didn’t even realise.
I was never that good with relationships. I’m very lucky to have ended up with the girl who has now been sentenced to tolerate my clumsy affections.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve never done anything to change the world, but I love being a teacher because I feel that I’m doing something to make my students’ lives better.
Also, I’ve just started work on a new comic that feels like it may actually be about something real and important. It still has plenty of action, but it takes on some really nasty subject matter that really challenged me to write something that would respect the seriousness of the issue whilst still being a fun read.
Sounds interesting. Let me know how it goes as it comes along!
Since you asked so nicely, here’s a portrait of the antagonist.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
While I have a database of embarrassing memories I could access to answer this question, I’m going to go the other way and say it was a time when my British good manners outweighed my common sense. I had lost my home and my possessions were being taken away on a truck to be disposed of, when a former friend and neighbour came out of her flat (apartment) to yell at me about having been asked to help, which she hadn’t done anyway. I pointed out that she was a heartless bitch and she stormed off. Then, unbelievably, I went up to her flat and apologised to her. That is something I regret to this day. I don’t think it was the right thing to do regardless of what movie and TV show morality tells us. It was one of those few occasions where I could have quite happily left her with a hearty “fuck you” without any guilt.

If you could kill one person, consequence free, who would it be and why?
There are a few people I work with that I could live without.

What do you do?
Teaching is my day-job, but comics are my passion. I generally prefer to write and draw my own stuff because I have more freedom to do what I want. When I work with other writers, I never feel as emotionally connected to the project.
People seem to like what I do, but I don’t think I’ll ever find myself working on a Marvel or DC title. I like to do things my own way and that means that I’ll probably never get out of small press. That’s fine with me.
Some of my favorite comics are indie comics.
Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children by Dan Sweetman and Dave Louapre & Stray Bullets by David Lapham are two of my all-time favorites.

How did you get started doing what you do?
In college, I contacted a few small press comic publishers and got a couple of jobs. I started out drawing a cute little cartoon-style book called Rob and Ducky for Portent Comics. Because I had my foot in the door, I started putting a few little short stories I had written into the Portent Presents anthology and then, on the strength of that, managed to get my first comic, Halo Slipping, up and running. That was the first time I used my photo-based style.
I noticed that your style seemed quite photographic. But you also have an excellent sense of cell shading and use of black, white, and grey tones. How did you come by this process and who would you say your artistic inspirations are?
As is often the case, necessity dictated my style. When I knew that I wanted to draw horror, I figured that realism would be the way to go to create the right atmosphere. I work more in black and white just because I work for small press comic companies and it is cheaper to print in that way. However, I always added lots of shading to keep my work from looking too flat.
Some of my artistic influences are Mike Mignola, Steve Dillon, Darrick Robertson, Cam Kennedy, Arthur Ranson, Tim Bradstreet and Marcelo Frusin.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
If you want to get into comics, I would suggest that you do it for fun rather than for money. Business isn’t great even for the bigger publishers and you’re very unlikely to get money thrown at you for working on a little indy project. If you enjoy what you do and treat it as a hobby, you’ll have a much better time. Besides, if you are lucky enough to become a professional then the spectre of deadlines and constant notes for changes will soon beat the fun out of it.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
OK. You asked for it...
Rob and Ducky – Portent Comics – The adventures of a possibly insane man and his pet duck. Written by James Redington.
Halo Slipping – Portent Comics – A rebellious earthbound angel accidentally kick-starts the apocalypse.
Captain Elite – Portent Comics – An aging superhero gives crime fighting one last go before he hands his mantle down to his successor. Elite created by James Redington.
Empathy* – Murky Depths – A short strip in which a negotiator’s seemingly psychic ability leads to tragedy.
A Glimpse of Hell – Murky Depths – A serial starring Halo Slipping. The Devil’s Dark Gospel has found its way to Earth, its contents potentially devastating to the Christian faith. The serial was also collected as a graphic novel.
A Single Mournful Voice – SCAR Comics – A short strip that appeared in a horror anthology. A man decides to kill God to avenge the death of his family.
A Ghost Named Larry – Evil Moose – A group of apparently normal guys are brought together once again to battle against evil in a secret supernatural war. Written by Michael Saltenberger. I only drew the first episode of this potentially excellent serial.
The Bounty Hunter – Evil Moose – Halo Slipping stars in her American debut as she goes up against a killer with a dark secret. Fortunately, she has a secret of her own.
GoodCopBadCop – Jimbot/Rough Cut – A blackly comedic Scottish crime series about a Jekyll and Hyde like detective. Written by the amazing Jim Alexander.
Wolf Country – Jimbot – Settlers in a Western-style landscape find themselves fighting for their life against a pack of werewolves. Twists and turns breathlessly under the pen of Jim Alexander.
Deadlines* – Jimbot – A tabloid journalist works to prove the existence of the supernatural by tracking down a monster in the London Underground.
*Available to read free on my website:
I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to check them out. I was actually going to ask if I could get copies to check out for review. It’s amazing that you have your work posted for free.
By the way, I’m working on a post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic novel-length book project that’s going to need a few illustrations. Ever thought about trying your hand at drawing some zombies?
Unfortunately, there’s only a couple of short strips on the website, but I think there might be some stuff on the Murky Depths ‘site too.
I would love to do a zombie comic and have often thought about writing one. Unfortunately, I am having trouble finding the time to work on the projects I already have. I’m not complaining – that’s nice problem to have – but it does mean I can’t take on anything too big at the moment. If you’re just after a few illustrations or a cover, then I can probably fit it in, as long as you’re not in a hurry.
That’s exactly what I’m looking for! More spot illustrations to accompany the chapters within the book. The book is going to be a series of interconnected short stories that will fit together like a puzzle to make a larger novelic picture. If you’re interested, we’ll follow up via PM. For the time being, I could really use an illustration to accompany my demo story. I know a lot of talented artists, but getting anyone to follow-through is always difficult.

What projects are you working on now?
In addition to Wolf Country and GoodCopBadcop, I am also working on...
Hollow Girl – Blackline Comics – A vigilante is gunning down scumbags, but who is the strange girl in the mask and how did she become a killer? A supernatural revenge story that will appear both as an introductory short in an anthology title and as an adults only graphic novel.
Figments – Evil Moose (probably) – Something special that I’m not sure that I’m ready to discuss yet. It will most likely start as a serial and then be collected as a book later.
Excellent! Keep us posted!
If/when those projects come to fruition we can do a follow-up interview.
Sounds good. Thank you. Hollow Girl should be released soon. I’ll let you know when that happens.
Please do.

What are you watching?
I watched Pacific Rim the other day. It was pretty good, but didn’t offer much beyond grand spectacle. I’m also currently re-watching The IT Crowd, a superb British sitcom.
I watched The IT Crowd last month in its entirety and I also thought it was pretty amazing. I rarely laugh out loud in response to media, but it got me a few times.
I read a debate on YouTube – the home of dickheaded rants about everything and anything – in which idiots were comparing British and American comedy. Most smug Brits were saying that IT Crowd is so good because it using a more subtle British humour that Americans are not capable of producing. Firstly, there is nothing subtle about IT Crowd. Secondly, the writer and director is always citing Seinfeld and The Simpsons as two of his biggest influences, both of which come from your side of the Atlantic. So wrong again, YouTube commentators.
I recently compared every internet comment thread to the Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” in a Facebook Status Update.

What are you listening to?
The release of the newest Korn album had me going through their back catalogue. Although I’m a fan of metal and rock, I found myself really loving Path of Totality, their dubstep album. The Skrillex stuff is particularly good.

What are you reading?
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
First time through?
I’ve read books 1 – 4 before, but this is the first time I’ve owned the whole series. I’m about a third of the way through book 7 with The Wind Through the Keyhole waiting on my bookshelf.

Favorite author/book?
I read a lot of stuff, but I’m going to have to go with Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, which would suggest that King is probably my all time favourite author.
Oddly enough, King is probably my lifelong favorite author if we’re talking about longevity, but I really wasn’t that hot on The Talisman. There’s no disputing taste.
Maybe if I had read it back in the day as a boy it would have been more appealing to me, but I was first exposed to it recently in a pack of all of his audio books and it didn’t do much for me, but I’m glad it worked for you.

Favorite band / song?
My favourite band is Faith No More, but my favourite song is Saccharine Arcadia by InMe.

Least favorite band / song?
Black-Eyed Peas. Any song. They’re all the same.

Desert Island Music/Movies/Books: You know the deal. Five of each.
Music: Faith No More – Angel Dust, Mr Bungle – California, Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet, Anathema – Weather Systems and InMe – Phoenix
Movies: The Shining (Stanley Kubrick), Elephant (Gus Van Sant), The Dark Knight, The Crow and, um, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Sorry.
Books: Talisman (Stephen King and Peter Straub), Jingo (Terry Pratchett), Judge Dredd: Necropolis (John Wager and Carlos Ezquerra), The Punisher: Welcome Back Frank (Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon) and Batman: Arkham Asylum (Grant Morrison and Dave McKean).
Coincidentally I’m watching The Shining in the background as I edit the first round of this. I’ve probably watched that movie at least two hundred times. Easily.
It’s almost a perfect movie. Everything from the intense performances to the set design has been put in place just to make the audience feel unsettled.

I’m just realising that this whole interview is beginning to become a Stephen King blowjob. Purely accidental, I promise.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I would love to be a novelist. I’ve had a crack at writing prose, but it requires long uninterrupted stints in front of the computer, even more so than script writing or digital art.
It sure does, sir.
I’ve started writing a horror novel for children (!). It’s going to be in three parts, but I’ve only completed the first so far. I think that it will have to be a summer project when I’ve got enough time of work to devote the hours necessary to writing the fucker.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Garth Ennis. Dead: Tony Scott. Fictional: Hellboy.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Teaching is my answer to both. I love working with the students, but I can’t stand the administration side of the job.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Jim Alexander’s an interesting guy. He’s worked on 2000 AD in Britain and has done bits and pieces for Marvel and DC.

Got any questions for me?
What’s your website all about?
I started the blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion because I sent out a press release / interview request to a couple dozen print and online media resources to try to promote the post-apocalyptic zombie epidemic novel-length book project that I’m currently working on and received a resounding silence in return. I figured it shouldn’t be that hard to get an interview to promote your existing body of work and upcoming projects so I decided to start an interview blog where any and every one can get an interview to promote their projects. I’ve had to solicit interviews from my friends, imaginary and otherwise so far, but once I start receiving interview requests I’ll stop asking people if they want to be interviewed and just deal with incoming interview requests.
It’s only been up since the first of October and it’s just about to break two-thousand documented page views which isn’t too shabby. I’m not trying to get rich or famous off of this anyway. I haven’t really thought about monetizing it an there’s not a lot of fame in helping people to promote their projects, but hopefully people reading the interviews will check out the “About the Interviewer” section and check out some of the stuff I’m working on, and if not, that’s fine too.
God bless you, sir. I salute you, and I will certainly check out what you’ve been up to.

Closing questions / summary / and thanks:
Thanks for allowing me to subject you to being interviewed!
Thanks for thinking that I’m interesting enough to be interviewed. It was fun!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
My website: (Features free versions of Empathy and Deadlines as well as news and galleries)
Planet Jimbot: (Wolf Country, GoodCopBadCop, Deadlines)
Evil Moose Comics: (A Ghost Named Larry, Bounty Hunter)
Blackline Comics: (Hollow Girl)

About the Interviewee:
I’ve been writing and drawing comics for about nine years, most notably for Portent Comics, Murky Depths magazine and now Jimbot, Blackline and Evil Moose. I work using photography as a base and then drawing digitally over the top. It sounds easy, but it really isn’t. It takes a lot of patience to find the right balance between realism and fantasy.
I’m a Brit, but I relocated to Slovakia a couple of years ago to become an English teacher. I feel kind of like Jack Black in School or Rock – that I’m just pretending to be a teacher but no one has found out yet. It’s a good life except for the frustrating bureaucracy of the country, which reminds me more and more of Futurama’s Central Bureaucracy.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
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Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
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Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
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