For more years than I'm sure either genre would care to admit, professional wrestling and monster movies have shared a common bond. It's an unspoken bond, but one that any 8-year old in the world would be able to spot in a millisecond. As a self-confessed monsterkid myself, I can remember relishing in the theatricality of either wrestling or horror on a daily basis. So why is it (with very few exceptions, i.e. Papa Shango) that the two have never merged before?Tell us a little about yourself, Jon. How did you become the monster-loving, graphically talented artist you are today?
Well, that's what Jon David Guerra is determined to change with his new web-based comic called Nightmare Pro Wrestling Co-written by his partner in crime, Nicole Guerra, regular readers will no doubt recognize their work from our weekly Nightmare Night Creatures series which features a cadre of creepy monster-sized fans as they explore the NPW universe. Jon was kind enough recently to take some time from his work to tell us a little more about the inspiration behind the series, his favorite wrestlers and why Godzilla might just be the new Lord of the Dance.
I grew up in a family of artists so I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. If I wasn’t creating my own Superman vs. Spider-man comic (Spider-man had his cosmic powers at the time) then I was drawing He-Man characters with my aunt. As for my love of monsters, I think it comes from Halloween being such a big deal in my family. We look forward to October every year and can’t wait for all the new Halloween gear to start showing up in stores and we go a little crazy with throwing themed parties every year. I also loved watching the Elvira Movie Macabre with my grandma and could never get enough of the early Godzilla movies.
I’ve been trying to get into comics since high school but those attempts always dead-ended somewhere. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to take that extra step and just go for it with doing Nightmare Pro Wrestling. Most of my development as an artist has come through trial and error and in the early pages of NPW I experimented a lot with different ways to ink and color. I’m still trying to define my own style and I try to approach doing comics as a learning process.
What inspired you to start Nightmare Pro Wrestling and why forego the traditional print medium to make it a web comic?
I just wanted to do a comic book about things that interested me. It’s been in the back of my head for years and has gone through a million incarnations (at one point all the characters were going to be robots… and then I realized I hated drawing robots). I actually tried to publish an early version but it didn’t get picked up. I felt bad about it at the time but it turned out to be a good thing since it forced me to see a lot of the flaws and realize that I could make it better.
My main motivation for making Nightmare Pro Wrestling into a webcomic was feeling like I was running out of time. I just wanted to get started already and there’s a lot of gratification in finishing a page and putting it up on the website and just knowing that it’s out there.
Your cohort, Nicole, is a co-writer for the series. How does that collaboration process ordinarily work? Do you write scripts or just map out plot points and dialogue?
We have the broad strokes for the plot written down in notebooks and then we write the dialogue after I’ve finished inking the comic pages. Our process pretty much consists of us sitting around our apartment and throwing out ideas of what we think would be interesting to have happen in the comic or lines that we think it would be funny for the characters to say. We end up with stuff that’s better than what either of us could come up with alone and we like to hope that as long as we’re having fun making the comic that other people will have fun reading it.
What kind of materials do you use to create your artwork?
I do most of the work on my laptop but I start out sketching the roughs using non-photo blue pencils on a sketchpad and then go over the lines with pencil. After that I scan the images into my Mac, ink in Adobe Illustrator, color in ArtRage, and I then make small adjustments in Photoshop.
Who are some of your favorite pro wrestlers in real life (classic or current)?
Oh man, where do I begin? Out of the classic icons of wrestling I’d have to say Jake the Snake was my favorite wrestler and then Sting, until the Ultimate Warrior showed up. But then I’m also definitely a Bret Hart fan. Now days I like Chris Jericho and I also really like CM Punk with the whole crazy straight edge business. Some of the less mainstream wrestlers that I like are Samoa Joe, Low-ki, and Dragon kid from Dragon Gate. The list goes on but I’ll go ahead and stop there for now.
If you could choose one mainstream comic to illustrate (Image, DC, Marvel) what would it be and why?
I would love to not only illustrate but also write Ghost Rider— mostly because I don’t think there has ever been a really cool story for him and even though he’s always been one of my favorite characters, Marvel has never made Ghost Rider very important in that universe. I like to think that I could really do his character justice and make him more prominent.
Who/what are some of your current influences as an artist?
There are a lot of artists that have influenced me but the first one that comes to mind is Mike Mignola. I think it’s interesting how much he can accomplish with a few lines and a lot of shadows. His comics are a work of art, being very ominous, interesting, and funny. I also really like Jamie Hewlett because of the way he uses colors to create different moods in his work. More recently I’ve been interested in Bill Wray’s work. I really like the bizarreness of his character designs and imagery.
When I want to get inspired, I go back to watching my favorite early Disney cartoons and Bugs Bunny episodes, which happen to be the ones that have a haunted vibe or monsters in them. I want to mirror that fun spooky atmosphere in Nightmare Pro Wrestling. I also watch a lot of anime, the action and gestures and expressiveness of the characters inspire me. Soul Eater is a recent one that’s been getting my creative wheels turning.
What do you do when you're not at the drawing board?
When I’m not drawing then I’m hanging out with Nicole. We usually watch a movie or two…and then we end up talking about the comic. At this point there’s no escaping it.
What's your favorite part of getting to re-design classic movie monsters?
I like giving my take on the monsters I’ve loved since I was a kid. I like to hide a lot of TV and movie monsters in the crowd of NPW matches. So keep an eye out.
Giant movie monster battle: Godzilla versus the Kraken. Who goes down first?
Godzilla wins, hands down. One atomic blast and the Kraken is cooked leaving the air smelling like fried fish. Afterward Godzilla would do the victory dance he does in Godzilla vs. Monster Zero.
Where do you see NPW in 3 years? Any plans for a printed TPB down the road?
Let’s see…in 3 years Nightmare Pro Wrestling will be a Saturday morning cartoon and Guillermo Del Toro will have just given me a call saying he wants to make it into a movie. Na, realistically I hope to be finished with the first story arc and at least be making some kind of profit selling NPW merchandise. I’m getting the first issue ready for print and I plan on making a collected edition once all the issues are finished.
What's the strangest thing you can remember doing as a kid?
I used to make horror movies with my sisters using their Barbie dolls. We would put a little plastic hose filled with water and red food coloring in their necks so we could get the squirting blood effect when their heads were chopped off. My parents always acted impressed with our low budget special effects but looking back on it, I wonder if it ever made my parents worry about us.
For more monster-infused fun be sure to follow the NPW gang on Twitter to show your support and check out more of Jon's artwork over at DeviantArt.